Comparing campaign finance laws in the valley | Tim Talk | Tim Hunt | |

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By Tim Hunt

Comparing campaign finance laws in the valley

Uploaded: Sep 15, 2016

Last week’s post about the Friends of Livermore prompted lots of views and some comments that invite a comparison of campaign finance in Pleasanton and Livermore.

As I observed last week, Livermore has stringent limits on individual contributions--$250. Giving to the political action committee is unlimited as the largest donors in Livermore have demonstrated. As long as the group can agree on its anointed candidates in each cycle, the arrangement allows the huge contributions and the candidates themselves can run minimal fundraising operations.

Of course, fall out of favor with the leadership as have Mayor John Marchand and Councilman Stu Gary and there are people queued up to run against you.

Pleasanton is different. There are no limits on the dollar amount of contributions by individuals or businesses. The city has an excellent, online campaign contribution reporting system so people can monitor, almost real time, where any candidate’s or measure’s financial support is coming from.

By contrast, to retrieve any information in Livermore requires a trip to the city clerk’s office to look at hard copy.

Rather ironic that the home of two national laboratories that are renowned for their computing prowess would have such an antiquated system. The more cynical viewpoint is that slow reporting saves the political action committee from having to report in a timely manner that the public can access.

Some comments questioned the Pleasanton chamber’s political activities on behalf of the business members it represents. The chamber, since CEO Scott Raty’s return several years ago, has aggressively moved into the government affairs section.

It established its own political action committee, BACPAC, and expanded its standing Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee. Both operate within the framework of the chamber’s vision 2020 (a follow-up to its Vision 2015).

The first vision was based on asking the simple, but important question: “In the year 2015 how will you reflect on the past seven years and measure success toward a better Pleasanton.”

The first vision saw 37 of the 45 objectives either achieved or partially achieved. The update boiled the question down to: “How will you measure success over the next six years toward a better Pleasanton.”

That question was asked of leaders in local economy, health care, education, public safety, housing, transportation and culture and the arts. The current vision 2020 expanded the metrics significantly and is guiding the two chamber committees.
Notably, the dozen or so members of the Economic Development and Government Affairs have a collective more than 350 years of living in Pleasanton and 250 years of working here. In short, they are heavily invested and have poured into the community for decades.

They are the antithesis of some folks who moved here and immediately wanted to put up the wall and the moat around the city. That attitude is the opposite of the forward thinking folks who planned and helped create the city that is so attractive to newcomers—both residents and businesses.