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On Foote Street, Clean Money Got Fuzzy

by Paul Bass | Jul 1, 2013 4:07 pm

(48) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Dixwell, Campaign 2013

When mayoral candidate Kermit Carolina noticed an opponent’s sign on a Dixwell front lawn, he found he had some explaining to do—about a misunderstood notion of “special-interest” money.

Carolina, the principal of Hillhouse High School and one of five Democrats seeking to become mayor this year, offered the tutorial on New Haven’s public-financing system Sunday afternoon to Valerie McKinnie Counsel as she sat with her husband Walter on their front porch on Foote Street.

The encounter illustrated the challenge of not just participating in New Haven’s first-in-the-state municipal public-financing system, but also getting out the message about it.

Carolina had been walking the neighborhood to promote his candidacy. He grew up right around the corner from the Counsels, when the old Elm Haven housing projects stood there, before bulldozers razed them and a spiffier new development—Monterey Homes—took their place. Carolina kept running into people he knew on his stroll; everyone pledged support for his candidacy.

Until he got to the Counsels’ house. There he saw signs posted for the candidacy of fellow Democrat Toni Harp.

“Can we have a conversation?” he asked. (Click on the video to watch the conversation begin.)

That was OK with the Counsels.

“I’ve got a problem,” Valerie offered.

“Uh oh,” Carolina responded “What’d I do?”

Counsel reminded Carolina that she’d run into him a few weeks ago when she was coming home from church. Carolina had made one of his campaign pitches to her: That unlike two other candidates (Harp and Henry Fernandez), he has agreed to participate in the city’s Democracy Fund. That means he agreed to limit how much money he would accept from individual donors ($370 rather than $1,000) and swear off all donations from outside corporate and other political special-interest committees altogether, in return for a $19,000 public grant plus matching dollars.

Counsel remembered that. She liked that. Then a woman who works for her called her attention to “an article in the paper” reporting that Carolina had received $19,000.

“You said you weren’t talking any political money,” Counsel now scolded Carolina. “... You told me you weren’t taking any of that.”

Carolina proceeded to break down how the Democracy Fund works, that it helps candidates like him avoid taking special-interest money.

“No one can give me more than $370. She [Harp] can get thousands of dollars from any major corporation [or] special interest group,” Carolina continued. “Whoever’s paying the bills is dictating the shots right?”

“Right.”

“So I want my money from the people. That $19,000 is taxpayer money to start the campaign …

“What does that tell you? I’m a man of the people. I want you to determine what I do. I want to answer to you. I don’t want to answer to Yale. I don’t want to answer to any developers. I don’t want to answer to the unions. I want to answer to you. Because that’s what counts to me. I grew up here, right?”

“Right.”

Paul Bass Photo Carolina asked her to think about what he said, to reconsider her support for Harp.

“I almost believed—the brother, he’s going to lie to me,” Council said.

“Do you believe me again?” Carolina asked her.

“Yes I do,” Council responded.

“I love you,” Carolina concluded. And he asked her to reconsider her campaign support.

She made no promises. Carolina promised to revisit her—and the conversation.

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posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 1, 2013  4:25pm

Thank you Kerm….many do not understand what the democracy fund means. And those that are not part of it twist it so that they do not have to answer to the fact that they will owe…those big donors if they win…which means us the residents get heard alot less!

A democracy fund candidate means that candidate is a candidate for the people! That simple!

posted by: Curious on July 1, 2013  4:42pm

I’ll happily go with Kerm to speak to them.  Democracy Fund is important.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on July 1, 2013  4:47pm

The Democracy Fund is clearly overrated and will not promise a “cleaner” government any more than believing in the Tooth Fairy will make a dollar appear under my pillow! 

Let’s stop this charade, the original purpose of the democracy fund was to enable ordinary citizens to have a shot at elective office.  To that end, it has succeeded.  We’ve currently got five mayoral candidates - though I don’t believe Mr. Keitazulu has qualified yet.  That was its sole function.  If government is that bad and if our elected officials truly cannot be trust, let’s as a people demand that candidates must only participate in the Democracy Fund and forego all private funds - even if they run as an independent.  And once those democracy funds are expended, no second bites at the apple by switching parties or running as an independent.

It cannot serious be argued that if a bundler obtains 100 or perhaps 200 people to donate $370 (or $37,000 or $74,000) and any portion of those funds are matched that a politician wouldn’t be beholden to that bundler. That politician would be wise to heed the call of the bundler for fear that the $37,000+ would go missing come next campaign.  Therefore, the Democracy Fund doesn’t clean up the system.  It merely allows entrance for those who do not already have access.

Let’s be real about how politics works, why the democracy fund was installed, and what it could actually cure.  I’m sure Senator Harp and Mr. Fernandez would still out-raise, and by likely a two to one margin, any other candidate if they participated in democracy fund.  Indeed, most of Senator Harp’s and Mr. Fernandez’s donors will give less than $370.

posted by: Razzie on July 1, 2013  5:14pm

So the idea is that at a $370 contribution the world is safe for democracy, but at anything up to $1,000 we are all sell-outs??!! Now I understand. It is quite simple.

posted by: robn on July 1, 2013  6:24pm

RAZZIE,

I guess I can see why you have no problem with the unions purchasing the BOA by outspending their opponents 3:1 in the last election.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 1, 2013  6:25pm

for though who want more info AND TRUTHS about the democracy funds.
Scroll to the bottom of this page and all rules are in pdf form

http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/Government/DemocracyFund.asp

If you believe in fair elections, elections not going to the highest bidder, big money owning a candidate then you want a democracy fund candidate! It is that simple!  I personal am tired of pay to play candidates.

posted by: Amityboy on July 1, 2013  7:06pm

Atticus, Razzie, a problem doesn’t have to disappear to be made smaller. You’re also ignoring the PAC money element—and post Citizens United that’s the really important part, because the $1000 limit doesn’t apply.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on July 1, 2013  7:36pm

I do not believe in the city’s so called “Democracy Fund.” I do not think that PUBLIC funds should be utilized to help finance PRIVATE political campaigns. Private citizens should financially support the candidates of their choice. There should be some guidelines or regulations to make transparent the source of all campaign contributions and to limit the amount of funds which may be contributed by an individual, group, or business. There are so many challenges and needs facing the city of New Haven that it cannot afford to give away taxpayer dollars to support candidates who some of us do or do not support. Participation in the Democracy Fund does not necessarily make for a better candidate, with better character and integrity than those who have selected not to participate.The Democracy Fund cannot ensure that we will have fair and equitable campaigns. Neither can it prevent the influence of special interest groups, especially if it is not a legal requirement for all candidates to participate in the fund. So, in my opinion, the Democracy Fund is a waste of the taxpayers’ money, money better spent on schools, streets, sidewalks, streetlights, more policemen and other REAL concerns of New Haven citizens.

posted by: HhE on July 1, 2013  7:40pm

Atticus Shrugged, for the argument in your third paragraph to hold, there would need to be such a bundler.  Know anyone who can compel or convince 100 to 200 hundred people to contribute to a single candidate, and in such a way that the candidate would understand that bundler made that happen? 

If the argument in your fourth paragraph has such great merit, why did Sen. Harep and Mr. Fernandez not participate?  The claim each of them made is they needed to gain more funds than the Democracy Fund would permit. 

While I find some merit in your second paragraph, I put it to you, that the democracy Fund has become a bench mark for many voters. 

As to your first paragraph, the Tooth Fairy that covers our household, delivers not money but educational toys, and will travel to China if need be.

posted by: Curious on July 1, 2013  8:02pm

Democracy Fund sure gets the big money candidate base all riled up.  Love it.

posted by: EdgewoodMom on July 1, 2013  8:50pm

It gets people fired up because this so called “Democracy Fund” is WASTING taxpayer money!!!! We have important things to fund like schools not some egomaniac that likes to see himself on a glossy piece of card stock.

posted by: Curious on July 1, 2013  9:59pm

It’s great entertainment to hear people saying that a using a small amount of public money to clean up politics is a worse crime than greasing politician’s hands in exchange for millions of dollars in city business.  I can’t get laughs like this from TV.  Thank you for making my evening.

posted by: Tom Burns on July 1, 2013  11:53pm

When you attribute something to “Unions”, please state which Unions—for we are all different—with different thoughts and different styles and different actions—The NHFT does not use their members dues to fund any political campaigns—and although we all stand for the “worker”—the backbone of the U.S.—each Union does it differently—Tom

posted by: mstratton on July 2, 2013  12:58am

If your paying attention you will see the only candidates with any campaign finance integrity are Kermit, Sundiata and Elicker. Just watch what happens when Harp and Fernandez disclose their donor base on Friday. I will guarantee you that most of their money comes from outside of New Haven, and that it comes in fat checks of 500-1000 from PACs and city contractors. Thats how Destefano did it and that’s how Unite here does it. It is sapping our budget dry repaying the campaign promises these contributions demand in return. I will eat my hat if more than half of Harp’s money or Fernandez’s money comes from New Haven.  On the other hand, the democracy fund candidates will surely be getting almost every dollar from New haven voters—not Unions, not Pacs, real people living in our city. When we say there is a “machine” we mean there is a money machine outside of New Haven controlling our politics. Whether thats people who do business with the city or Unite here, its just plain wrong and is harmful. Shame on Harp, Unite Here and Fernandez for perpetuating the harm.And Cheers to Kermit for being a stand up guy!

posted by: Noteworthy on July 2, 2013  6:49am

Unholy Alliance Notes:

1. The Democracy Fund is about disclosure and money in equal measure. Our of a $500 million city budget, a few hundred thousand every few years is nothing and it most certainly won’t do much on anything - from street paving, sidewalks, education (as if the BOE needed more money) or anything else.

2. Any bundler in city politics are generally within a company - like the construction firms involved in the overbuilt, overpriced schools; or law firms whose partners all donate and then get no bid contracts; or other law firms who then get legal work. DeStefano was a master at stripping money out of city employees and city contractors.

3. The Democracy Fund is not a total solution but it does make money less corrupting and creates candidate options for voters. The reason there were 7 candidates for the mayor’s office, and still five, is because in the last election for this office, there were three - and one took it all the way to the general election.

4. Harp and Fernandez both supported clean elections until they didn’t. Bottom line is that clean elections are one of the things that are important to voters.

5. Let’s be very clear - Harp isn’t just opting out of clean elections at the city level. She joined with fellow Dems and the governor to trash campaign finance reform at the state level. So bottom line is she doesn’t believe in it.

posted by: HewNaven on July 2, 2013  7:55am

I’m with the Harp supporters. The Democracy Fund is a big waste of money. Any political “scientist” knows that elections are won by building a machine and getting big money from big donors. What’s all this about taking small donations from little guys and building a coalition of willing volunteers? That’s a horribly naive political tactic, although honest and accountable. My vote is for Toni “Get da money” Harp.

posted by: bwalker49 on July 2, 2013  8:21am

I have a question for the entire independent user, why is it that Mr. Carolina feels the need to go after Toni is the race? There are 3 others and we all know who they are but he only seems to be concentration on the only women in the race. Why don’t he talk about policies and what he would do different instead of trying to scrape up dirt regarding her resident’s, and if I may add, Mr. Carolina lives around the corner from Senator Harp.  Why don’t he talk to the people about trying to better their conditions so they can obtain what he has manage to do in his life. He likes to quote DRAKE started from the bottom now I am here, well Carolina tell the people how they too can get there and stop acting like success is a dirty word, especially since you and your wife are enjoying the American dream as well.  So people ask yourself is Mr. Carolina in it to win it or is he a plant to suck off the votes from the only African American Women in the race, because he has yet to criticize Fernandez and Eckler.

posted by: HhE on July 2, 2013  9:27am

HewNaven, or we could change that paradine, as we almost did two years ago.  If successful, we could usher in a new era where elected officials were more concerned with the welfare of residents, rather than moneyed interests. 

bwalker49, I think the reason is many of Sen. Harp’s supporters are “poachable,” where as Mr. Elicker’s supporters are not.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on July 2, 2013  11:25am

This is a noteworthy comment from “Noteworthy”:  “The Democracy Fund is about disclosure and money in equal measure. Our of a $500 million city budget, a few hundred thousand every few years is nothing and it most certainly won’t do much on anything - from street paving, sidewalks, education (as if the BOE needed more money) or anything else.”
This statement illustrates the problem with politicians and the peoples’ money at the national, state and local level: they have access to trillions, billions and millions of our dollars, so they think that a “few hundred thousand” is “nothing.” This kind of nonsense has been the way of doing government business for quite some time. Politicians waste so much of our money because they think that you can’t do much with a few thousand or a few million.
Little becomes much when we yield it to the politicians hands without scrutiny, questioning and protest. It does add up.
It’s only common sense!

posted by: Curious on July 2, 2013  11:51am

@ Thomas Alfred Paine,

Historically, campaign contributors have expected and received kickbacks for their financial support in the form of no-bid contracts from the city and other work, which is a waste of tax dollars…but you opposed the Democracy Fund which seeks to limit that?

How can you say on one hand that tax dollars should be spent wisely, but then be against a system that limits pay-for-play politics, which is tremendously wasteful?

That’s like…believing we should have less crime, but not wanting to pay for more police officers in the city.

posted by: bwalker49 on July 2, 2013  12:00pm

corretions:

I have a question for the entire independent users, why is it that Mr. Carolina feels the need to go after Toni only in this race? There are 3 others Fernandez, Elicker and Sundiata, but he only seems to be concentrating on the only women in the race. Why don’t he talk about policies and what he would do different instead of trying to scrape up dirt regarding her resident’s, and if I may add, Mr. Carolina lives around the corner from Senator Harp.  Why don’t he talk to the people about trying to better their conditions so they can obtain what he has manage to do in his life. He likes to quote DRAKE started from the bottom now I’m here, well Carolina tell the people how they too can get there and stop acting like success is a dirty word, especially since you and your wife are enjoying the American dream as well.  So people ask yourself is Mr. Carolina in it to win it or is he a plant to suck off the votes from the only African American Women in the race, because he has yet to criticize Fernandez and Elicker and Sundiata.

posted by: HhE on July 2, 2013  12:52pm

Again bwalker49, because Sen. Harp is the front runner.  Justin Elickers supporters are not going to abandon him.  Mr. Fernandez’s supporters are largely Old Guard pay to play, many who do not live in New Haven.  Mr. Sundiata has very few supporters, albeit many of us find his story and views relevant.  So what is the populist candidate to do?

posted by: bwalker49 on July 2, 2013  1:14pm

I would beg to differ, until the other candidates get out of the race, they should all be addressed.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on July 2, 2013  2:22pm

Atticus Shrugged, the Fund has multiple purposes, all spelled out in ordinance sec. 2-821, including:
- countering the perception of pay-to-play
- insuring meritorious candidates can run
- reduce the need for fundraising and encourage candidates to talk to citizens (instead of high-money donors)
- give all citizens a meaningful opportunity to participate in the election.

The Fund has reached most of these public policy goals already thanks to the participation of four candidates this election.

Atticus’ point that bundlers can corner political power relies on a highly unlikely event. 2013 is the most the Fund has ever been used, and this possibility has not arisen. Not to say it can’t, but it seems like if a bundler wanted to buy an election, it would be easier to go to the non-participating candidates first. 

Fund candidates statistically speaking attract smaller donors.

Carolina’s first run of 200 matching donations had about 80 people who gave the $10 minimum. He has convinced dozens of people we can assume were previously disenfranchised to participate in political giving. 

Holder-Winfield’s first run of matching funds had 50 people who gave the $10 minimum. The contribution cards for these 130 people list jobs like bus driver, janitor, cafeteria worker, unemployed, student, freelance designer. 

In any election, usually less than one percent of the voters donate.  Here, between Elicker, Holder-Winfield and Carolina, was already have more than 800 individual donors from New Haven. If 20,000 people vote, we have four percent of the voters donating.

This rise in donor-candidate pairs, combined with the evidence we read here in the NHI of candidates pounding the pavement for these donations, shows the Fund is working.

Regards,
KJK
Kenneth J. Krayeske, Administrator
New Haven Democracy Fund

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on July 2, 2013  3:12pm

Atticus Shrugged -

I wanted to follow up on the idea of a bundler. State law requires the campaign treasurer to appoint even the candidates as solicitors. Prior to a filing deadline, the campaign must have a list from every solicitor of what contributions they have solicited. this transparency helps to reduce the power of any would-be bundlers.

There are strict requirements on bundling in Connecticut campaign finance law, and I have put in a call to the SEEC to explore these laws more, so as to examine your hypothesis that a bundler can buy influence on a participating candidate. 

Regards,
KJK
Kenneth J. Krayeske, Administrator
New Haven Democracy Fund

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on July 2, 2013  3:30pm

I just spoke with SEEC, and the state of Connecticut prevents state contractors and lobbyists from bundling campaign donations on a state level.

There are no per se restrictions on a municipal level for bundling other than triggering the definition of solicitor under C.G.S. Sec. 9-601(26), and all the reporting requirements attached to that.

However, as I suggested in my previous comment, the transparency requirement of listing solicitors shines the light on what “bundlers” may be doing.

While I agree that a $37,000 solicitor in New Haven politics would represent a powerful collection, I posit that remains a far-fetched scenario, given the small, local scale of New Haven politics. We’re not talking GWBush-level pioneer, ranger or super-ranger level bundlers who put together $100k, $200k and $300k worth of donations on a national scale.

Regards,
KJK
Kenneth J. Krayeske, Esq., Administrator
New Haven Democracy Fund

posted by: Razzie on July 2, 2013  3:52pm

@ Ken Krayeske

By Ordinance, participation in the Democracy Fund is VOLUNTARY, at the sole election of the individual candidate. I see nothing in the ordinance that suggests that any nonparticipating campaign should be penalized for their choice. I would think that as Administrator of the Democracy Fund it would be your role to impartially administer the Fund, and not to interject partisan views that support the efforts of participating candidates over those that elect to not take part in the program.
If the legislative intent was to have every candidate participate, it would have been easily stated in the ordinance.
While constantly eroding, freedom of choice still exists in this most sacred area of political expression. No amount of bullying by ideologues or bureaucrats can change that fact.

posted by: Curious on July 2, 2013  4:22pm

@ Razzie, Ken is answering questions about how the fund operates and what it was intended for, not issuing opinions.

posted by: HewNaven on July 2, 2013  4:51pm

kenneth_krayeske’s first comment says it all. Thank you! To paraphrase, many people who would never even dream of contributing to a political race (because previously no candidate would ever go after a $10 donation), have donated money to the mayoral candidates this year.

Here, between Elicker, Holder-Winfield and Carolina, was already have more than 800 individual donors from New Haven. If 20,000 people vote, we have four percent of the voters donating.

Those are 800 donors who are not contractors or businesses looking for political favor. They are 800 normal people, like you and me, who believe in democracy. If Carolina and Elicker would unite on one ticket (meaning either one needs to bow out), they could beat the Harp/Union machine. But, they’re likely to split the progressive vote if they run separately. I hope they both realize that.

posted by: anonymous on July 2, 2013  5:08pm

Ken’s post above proves that the Fund is working.  Thank you Ken.

In fact, the Fund is the only thing that can save New Haven politics, by reducing the influence of Big Money.  DeStefano was wise to help set it up.

I doubt that any progressive voter would support one of the two Big Money candidates, when they have the option of voting for a clean elections candidate.

Whether this is enough to overcome the monetary / PAC advantage of the Big Money candidates remains to be seen, but either way, I think it will be a competitive race.

posted by: Eddie on July 2, 2013  8:49pm

While I don’t perceive participation in the democracy fund to be the defining characteristic of a candidate, it is has certainly been a positive force for politics in New Haven.  I’m sure it made more candidates viable and probably encouraged first time contributors.  It is striking that over 800 people have donated and that around 40% of those contributing to Carolina and Holder-Winfield donated the the minimum amount.  Ken do you know the number of individuals who donated the minimum amount to the Elicker campaign?  What the total that donated to his campaign?  Do you know the average contribution to each campaign?

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on July 2, 2013  10:06pm

@HHE - I’m very glad to hear that the tooth fairy brings educational toys.  Much smarter move than money and the toys should have a longer lasting impact.  At a recent event for Mr. Fernandez, the donation requirement was $150 per person.  It’s not hard for someone within a given circle to find 50 to 150 like-minded people willing to donate.  Geez, I’d imagine that some of Mr. Elicker’s and Mr. Fernandez’s Yale colleagues could easily raise such funds.  The difference being, my tax dollars would go towards matching part of Mr. Elicker’s donors when I don’t want him to be my mayor. 

I can’t read Senator Harp’s or Mr. Fernandez’s mind and won’t speculate.  Suffice it to say, I’m happy that neither one is participating in Democracy Fund.  It’s not a benchmark to me but a farce.  And a literal waste of my tax dollars in the case of Mr. Keitazulu (should he qualify), Representative Holder-Winfield, and Mr. Elecker (should he run as an independent if he loses the primary). 

@Noteworthy, there are already campaign disclosure laws that would exist without Democracy Fund… So, try again.  2) that some bundlers are large corporations doesn’t mean all are… I believe that Mr. Elicker had fundraisers on his behalf, should we begin discounting him? 3) the elections are clean and every candidate will comport with the law.  Don’t like it, lobby to change the laws.  Until then, they are running a “clean” campaign pure and simple.

Lastly, people are going after Senator Harp because she is the best candidate and no one else has a platform or the experience to run on.  So fine, attack her because people she’s worked with enjoy working with her.  I think it’s an indicment of Mr. Elicker that only one current Alder has endorsed him.  It’s an indictment of Mr. Fernandez that if he was such an integral portion of the transition team that President Obama doesn’t support him.  Senator Harp has the support of her colleagues: plain and simple!

posted by: Razzie on July 3, 2013  12:04am

@ Curious - @ Anon - @ HewNaven
My comments stand, and I will gladly tell you why.

At this point, there have been no financial report filings by the Harp Campaign nor (I suspect) by the Fernandez Campaign. So any conjecture about what those filings MIGHT show, or what the demographics of the contributors will be, is RANK SPECULATION. It is entirely possible that no statistically significant difference in contribution patterns will exist between the DF and non-DF candidates. WE DON’T KNOW. So it is quite puzzling as to why the DF Administrator would interject his views into this discussion, especially before he has any data whatsoever.

I also will point out that Mr. K’s statement of the overall purpose of the DF is not as stated in Ordinance sec. 2-821. He makes subtle, yet significant changes in wording. For example, there is no reference to “high money donors” in # 3. There is no definition of a High money donor contained in the ordinance. Should we therefore assume that anyone giving $371.00 or more is a high money donor?

The question of transparency is not addressed by Mr. K, despite it’s red herring status raised by the DF proponents. All candidates are required to make the same filings specifying donor identification, regardless of whether the candidate is DF or non-DF.

Mr. K’s discussion of bundling unfortunately misses a major flaw of the DF program: disaggregation of contributions in order to meet the DF thresholds for participation. If a donor has $500 to contribute to candidate X, he may take the check, cash it, and find 50 people willing to “donate” $10 each - in cash. This disaggregation may be popular with students, unemployed, retired, or other similar donor categories. Instead of having 1 over the limit contribution, candidate X now has 50 qualifying, untraceable DF contributions. Well on the way to getting the $19,000 qualifying grant. This major flaw may only serve as an incentive to keep otherwise unbankable candidates in the race longer.

posted by: CopsWife on July 3, 2013  12:09am

The reason why Kermit is always attacking Sen. Harp is because he is threatened by her success and integrity.  He thinks that participating in the democracy fund ensures fairness.  The democracy fund only ensures that individual donors have to use more individual dummy donors to spread out their total donation.  WAKE UP NEW HAVEN.  YOU can view the affidavit of substantiated allegations in this paper of Kermit’s fraudulent behavior that cost a football player his full ride to college.  Those substantiated allegations forever changed the life of one of the youth the Kermit ” helped”.
Read the climate surveys for Hillhouse.  Talk to the students. Talk to the teaching staff. 
Really sad!

posted by: Razzie on July 3, 2013  12:12am

(Continued from above)

Mr. K makes another unsubstantiated observation:
“Carolina’s first run of 200 matching donations had about 80 people who gave the $10 minimum. He has convinced dozens of people we can assume were previously disenfranchised to participate in political giving.” Again, no evidence to support that ASSUMPTION of “previously disenfranchised voters now being miraculously emboldened by the DF to start giving to a political campaign.

And still another problematic observation by Mr. K:
“In any election, usually less than one percent of the voters donate.  Here, between Elicker, Holder-Winfield and Carolina, was already have more than 800 individual donors from New Haven. If 20,000 people vote, we have four percent of the voters donating.” Obviously one must ask: What election is he referring to? Is he speaking of the countless elections where no significant opposition to Mayor DeStefano was presented? Is he referring to the last primary election where 4 candidates were presented? Or maybe the last General election where Mayor D had 1 viable opponent. It is fair to assume that the absence of significant competition may affect the willingness of voters to participate. And the fact that we entered this Primary campaign with an unprecedented 7 candidates may impact the number of donors more significantly than the donation and threshold limits of the DF. Seven viable candidates, all of which are of comparable strength may entice more voters to donate more significantly than the donation and threshold limits of the DF.

Some people may like the DF scheme for encouraging more candidates to enter the race, and stay in longer than would otherwise be the case without free money from the government. But I for one do not care to have my tax dollars go towards contributions to candidates I have fundamental disagreements with, and who would otherwise not be a meaningful factor in any election contest absent the free money from the government.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on July 3, 2013  8:37am

Atticus Shrugged -

it is important to note that you already contribute, through tax dollars, to political causes you don’t like. State statute demands New Haven (and all other municipalities) staff a Republican and a Democratic Registrar of Voters office.

State statute mandates that municipalities hold primaries for both parties? For the more than one-third of the voters of the state of Connecticut who are unaffiliated, they pay for primaries they cannot participate in. Democracy is a collective action, and we pay for things we do not like. 

Public campaign financing is no different than these concepts.

Regards,
KJK
Kenneth J. Krayeske, Administrator
New Haven Democracy Fund

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on July 3, 2013  8:56am

@Razzie -

A few things -
First, of course the ordinance doesn’t mention high money donors, yet their inherent existence is acknowledged by the very fact the ordinance exists. But read Sen. Chris Murphy’s criticisms of his life in the United States Congress, where he has spent hours a day not talking to constituents, but calling high money donors. I added the parenthetical to differentiate the audiences politicians address. 

Second, you talk of disaggregation. I plan on doing a thorough audit of all the candidates. if disaggregation exists, I will do my best to find it.

Third, it is not an assumption that these voters have never given before. It is a fact. Look at Carolina’s donation totals. I’m not making these totals up.

Fourth, according to opensecrets.org, less than 10 percent of Americans have ever given to any politician at any level.
http://www.opensecrets.org/resources/dollarocracy/04.php

About .4 percent of people donate more than $200 to a candidate (in federal elections, and thus I am applying these numbers to a local election). These donors give more than 67 percent of the money to candidates. Essentially, the game of politics is played by those with money to burn.

My statement said in any election, typically less than one percent of voters donate. This election in New Haven appears to be different. Is it because seven candidates started running? Is it because of disaggregation (as you claim)? I will do my best to answer why, and I think national experts on public campaign financing will be interested to see why, too. 

Regards,
KJK
Kenneth J. Krayeske, Administrator
New Haven Democracy Fund

posted by: westville man on July 3, 2013  8:59am

@ CopsWife-  LOL- “threatened by her success”...
Let’s see- Kermit was a school teacher, championship basketball coach, Ass’t Principal and now Principal at Hillhouse. With a Master’s Degree, over 125k in salary, happily married for nearly 20 years and 2 very bright and highly-motivated sons.  I think he can stand on his own success. In fact, I’ll argue that he’s the ONLY one in the race taking a step DOWN in career and salary to become mayor.
As to your so-called “affidavit” outlining fraud, there was no fraud finding in the biased investigation. And in NHI you can read Carolina’s 20 page rebuttal if you’re really interested in seeing the other side to the bullying by King John and Mayo.  And by the way, those “findings” by King John’s attorney are on appeal.  Stay tuned.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 3, 2013  9:07am

Eddie all his contribution are online you can see them at the state reporting sight! He has nothing to hide…BUT..the question you should be asking is where are the Harp and Fernandez donations listed????

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on July 3, 2013  9:18am

@Eddie -

You asked :

Do you know the number of individuals who donated the minimum amount to the Elicker campaign? 

Elicker has submitted about 441 donations to the Democracy Fund, of which 44 were the minimum $10. 

What the total that donated to his campaign? 
I do not know the exact number, because I have only seen those they submitted to the Fund for matching grants. We will see the totals on July 10.

Do you know the average contribution to each campaign?

I do not know the average contribution to each campaign, but when I do the audit, I will try to include this calculation.

Regards,
KJK
Kenneth J. Krayeske, Administrator
New Haven Democracy Fund

posted by: Curious on July 3, 2013  9:45am

Toni Harp has no experience being an executive in charge of a city this size. 

None.

At all.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on July 3, 2013  11:54am

@Curious, NO ONE in this race has experience being in charge of a city, this size or otherwise.  However, she does have a significant track record of balancing budgets, working on behalf of her constituents and building coalitions to get things done.  Despite his message, “One City” was very divisive in the DeStefano administration. Mr. Carolina’s “employees,” colleagues, and constituents (students) roundly don’t like his leadership, and Mr. Elicker could only get one alderman to support him.  Being liked matters and having a track record of getting things accomplished on a large scale does as well.

@Ken, please don’t suggest that simply because my tax dollars go towards things YOU believe I would rather not put them to that I should be okay with other expenses.  I believe that we need a two party system and am fine with Republican primaries in general.  Indeed, I wish that Mr. Elicker would take up his Reagan Republican mantel and run for what he truly is.  But that’s just my opinion on the matter.

Messrs. Carolina and Fernandez have no independent history of success.  Hill House’s recent record is not what I would use as my accomplishment.  And his dismissive answer about its failings (kids being brought in that failed elsewhere) shows a lack of accountability.  Take pride and ownership in what you do and don’t move forward until you’ve made progress.  Their lack of record is why they attack the only person in the race who has actually accomplished many great things for the City and the state.

As for Mr. Elicker, though I won’t vote for him - at least he has the sense to keep his nose clean and run his campaign.  Oh wait, he has Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Carolina to do his dirty work for him.  Must be nice.

posted by: robn on July 3, 2013  12:10pm

AS,

Toni Harp has “balanced budgets”? That’s a laugh; Connecticut citizens have debt of $40,000/person (highest in the nation and twice as much as the nearest other).

Reagan Republican? Can you recall when you might have seen Ronald Reagan digging dirt and planting gardens with citizens in poor neighborhoods? Can you recall when Sen Harp did so? I can’t.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 3, 2013  12:13pm

hmmm attacus…you said knows how to balancing budgets?? Is that personal or on a state level? I am not touching that one.

posted by: westville man on July 3, 2013  12:18pm

Atticus Shrugged— you can cherry pick the recent survey to say the HH record isnt good.  But you would be ignoring the test score improvements, drop-out rate decrease, etc that’s happened under Kermit’s watch.  And my prior post of his accomplishents stands- he’s “independently successful” by any fair-minded person’s standards.

posted by: anonymous on July 3, 2013  12:58pm

Razzie, the fact is that, unlike the statements to the contrary by Nemerson (who endorsed Harp) at one of the debates, people actually *do* care where the money comes from. 

If it mostly comes from huge suburban contractors and PACs—as is clearly the case for DeStefano, Harp, Fernandez—then people should be aware of that fact.

I’m glad Carolina, and the other Democracy Fund participants and advocates, are helping to educate the public about public campaign financing, and the need for citizens and residents to stand up for their democracy. 

It may be a bit new to folks, but once people actually learn about this issue, they are almost universally interested in how they can also play a role in getting Big Money out of politics.  Unless they are being defensive about their own campaign (like in Nemerson’s case).

posted by: HhE on July 3, 2013  1:22pm

Justin Elicker as a “Reagan Republican?”  I have read some things in the NHI that are rather wide of the mark, but this sets a new standard. 

Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Carolina as Justin’s hatch men?  Like he is running their campaigns as stalking horses or such? 

AS, any thoughts on 9-11 or the JFK assassination you wish to share?

posted by: Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil on July 3, 2013  1:59pm

It makes my eyes bleed to watch this! New Haven will not elect a coach for mayor. The climate surveys, the grade changing, the constant excuses for the failure of the school are the reason why this candidate is always on the defensive.  The constant swipes at Sen Harp are desperate insecure actions. If his platform had substance and evidence of policy initiation, he could flaunt his successes….but he has no record of such.  It’s actually very offensive that he thinks New Haveners can’t see his desperation.  The video is embarrassing!

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