Archive for June, 2013

Choosing the Right Lt Gov can be a Game Changer

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game changer

Over the next 17 months, there will be 37 governors who will either be elected or reelected. In many of these states the candidates running for governor will have to choose a Lieutenant Governor candidate. One of the key factors to consider is the fundraising support they can add to the ticket.

Here is my analysis of what kind of candidates might exist out there for a gubernatorial candidate to help maximize his or hers’ fundraising potential heading into a general election.

  • The Millionaire – any candidate who has the ability to self-fund can instantly change the fundraising ability of a gubernatorial candidate and his ticket. This would likely be the best match for a candidate who needs cash fast in order to level the playing field. Any Lt Gov who can quickly infuse a few hundred thousand into a close race could be a game changer.
  • The War Chest – some politicians have been around for years stockpiling huge sums of cash. Anyone that has done this would be a great person to add to the ticket as instantly bring cold, hard cash ready to be used. Only a few potential candidates have significant war chests that could make them a good candidate.
  • The Instigator – in recent years we have seen many politicians become very successful fundraisers by always being at the center of controversy. “Wingnuts” as many of them are referred to as; usually make great fundraisers but terrible candidates. Think Michelle Bachman, Alan Grayson, or even Sarah Palin.

While there are many, many ways for a good Lieutenant Governor candidate to add to their tickets fundraising successes these are just a few categories that they might want to consider before deciding on who to slate with them for next election.

By Nick Daggers, Vice President, Fundraising

 

What is the Point of Campaign Finance Reform?

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Adam Lioz’s recent article titled “Half a Step Forward and a Full Step Back: Can Connecticut Maintain its Leadership on Money in Politics?” calls attention to the on-going trend of weakening campaign finance regulations across the country.  His argument included a litany of potential policy options aimed at reversing this trend. Some of the suggestions included eliminating spending caps for publicly funded candidates, a greater ratio of matching funds, and tax credits that incentivize more people to contribute.

While the policy alternatives put forth have interesting implications, an expansion of them is beyond the scope of what I seek to achieve today.  Rather, my purpose here is to discuss the critical flaw imbedded within various calls for reform (including this one), which is that there is a conspicuous absence of any specific goals that reformers hope to achieve through policy change.

First, the foundational arguments upon which progressives pursue campaign finance reform continue to be unclear.  For example, the author first speaks of Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program as welcomed solution to the “scandal and malfeasance” within Connecticut state politics in the early 2000’s.  He then goes on to proclaim, “the point of the Citizens’ Election Program is to give ordinary citizens and not wealthy donors the power to control who runs for office and who wins elections—so that elected officials will be accountable to their voting constituents, not a separate class of “cash constituents.” The difference between these two purported goals are subtle, yet profound. The former purports strict campaign finance regulations to be a means of mitigating corruption and malfeasance.  The latter professes notions of equality and constituent representation to be the primary goals of regulation.

Context also needs to be addressed. As the author notes, the Connecticut laws arose as a reaction to crisis. Thus it seems reasonable to assume that a decade later, it might be necessary to reevaluate the law to determine whether the changes were effective.

Lastly, the author refers to Senator Chris Murphy and his characterization of campaign fundraising as “soul-crushing.” Many officials have made similar complaints – often in reference to the time and energy they necessarily have to devote to raising money for their campaigns. I would agree with the author that this is problematic. However it remains unclear to me how a system by which officials are forced to spend a greater amount of time and effort in order to attract lower dollar contributions from individuals less likely to want to contribute is an efficient means of solving the problem.

Until there is agreement on specific goals that can be attained through policy change, I feel the general public will be unwilling to listen to their arguments, and will remain unconvinced that reformers are not fundamentally motivated by their own bias. For example, there was little complaint about notions of equality from progressives regarding the vast fundraising discrepancy between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

As I noted on this topic in December, my criticism of progressive calls for reform is not to suggest that it is an unworthy cause or that it should be abandoned. Rather, it is a plead for reformers to eliminate fuzzy objectives that could best be described as “better government,” in favor of clear, established goals. Only then will reformers be able to demonstrate precise ways in which their policy proposals solve specific problems.  And only then will they have a chance of garnering public support for their cause.

By Erinn Larkin, Compliance Director, PACs and Parties

Cities Look to Water for Innovation

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Cities Look to Water for Innovation

Cities across the world are going through a major shift from agrarian and rural living conditions to dense urban living.  As of 2011, for the first time in the history of man, more than half of the world’s population lived in cities.  Though there are many benefits to humans living in cities, there are also many challenges.  One of these challenges is a growing water scarcity problem in many urban areas.  How can cities provide ever-drinking water and  sanitation services  fit to meet the expectations of an ever-growing middle class? Innovation is the answer.  Nationally, cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago are leading the charge by thinking of creative and innovative ways to use the water they possess with greater efficiency.

Milwaukee sits along the shores of Lake Michigan, at the convergence of three rivers — the Menomonee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Milwaukee. The lake provides approximately 1 billion gallons of fresh drinking water each day.  Access to such large amounts of water has lead the Milwaukee Water Council, a nonprofit organization that brings together the region’s water industries and universities, to dub Wisconsin as the “Silicon Valley” of fresh water.

Indeed, innovative ideas for the use of water are taking off in Milwaukee.  The eleven county area is already home to 194 water-related companies that work on everything from aquaponics, a method for farming fish year-round on land, to innovative ways of managing storm-water runoff.  “There is nothing else like this in the United States at all,” says Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of the Water Council. “The goal is create a world hub that grows companies and entrepreneurs [focused on] developing ways to use water more efficiently and return it at a high quantity and quality.”

Chicago is another city that is providing a blueprint for the rest of the country in water innovation.  In May of 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a forceful letter to the State of Illinois stressing that the state should adopt new water quality standards for major stretches of the Chicago Area Waterway System, including the Chicago River. The EPA indicated that portions of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers must be upgraded to protect the health and safety of people who use these waterways for recreation.

Enter Debra Shore; the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.  Under Shore’s leadership, the rivers are much cleaner now than they were years ago, largely due to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s innovative use of ultraviolet light or chlorination to kill more of the bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in treated wastewater.  The MWRD has also placed considerable effort in capturing combined sewer overflows in the Deep Tunnel and reservoirs to treat storm water before releasing it into the waterways.

In the future, Shore hopes to promote green infrastructure through the use of rain barrels.  Rain barrels can be used to capture rain off roofs and then reused to irrigate gardens stays in the natural hydrologic cycle and out of the sewers. The MRWD plans to distribute 15,000 55-gallon rain barrels in the next few years. They’ll capture 825,000 gallons in each quarter-inch rain event.

Can the City of Providence be the next great water innovator?  Brett Smiley, the Providence Water Supply Board Chairman & President of CFO Consulting Group, LLC, certainly hopes so. “One of our great assets is that we have adequate fresh water; the dilemma is we have unequal distribution,” Smiley said. “Northern Rhode Island is water-rich and southern Rhode Island is water-poor.”  That is why Smiley and the Providence Water Supply Board, which services a majority of Rhode Island water customers, is proposing that Rhode Island move to a more regional system of governance of its water supply.  This ability to pool resources, which is based on best practices now employed in many other states, will improve service delivery, foster efficiency and reduce costs.

The Providence Water Supply Board is proposing, through legislation proposed in May of this year, the creation of the Ocean State Water (OSW) – a new publicly managed and resourced water authority. OSW will be a new entity, separate and apart from any existing water authority or supplier. OSW, through its regionally-representative board, will produce, distribute, and sell water.

CFO Consulting Group is looking forward to seeing the State of Rhode Island become one of leaders of water innovation in the country by enabling and supporting companies to invest in Rhode Island.  CFO hopes to help Rhode Island become a world leader in evolving field of water innovation with the creation of this new regional authority which will provide the modern governance structure essential to protecting Rhode Island’s water supply and ensuring safe drinking water in the long-term.