Why City funds for the Firetruck?

Re-reading my previous post about my proposed firetruck resolution, I realized I forgot to explain why I think Mayor Paul Esslinger should be paid from city funds. Here are a few points:

Point #1: It removes all questions about potential conflicts from donations. There is not a current system set up to record all donations. There are several hundred dollars in the fund right now without a donor recorded. We do not know who or how many people these came from. By removing the ability to give to the fund anonymously, it protects both the public and Mayor Esslinger from questions relating to influence of a large, nameless donor. If the city were to continue allowing 'toss money in the bucket' donations, anyone could approach the Mayor and say they put in the bulk of it. There is a reason why these types of donations are not allowed for campaigns.

Point #2: If we allow donations into the fund to be directly funneled to Mayor Esslinger, they should follow all the rules used for campaign financing. See above for a reason. These were set up to ensure no donor would have an outsize influence on the official. For the Mayor of Oshkosh, or any council member, the limits are $.01/person in individual contributions and $.0075/person in PAC contributions. So, if Oshkosh has 65,000 people, then you may receive a max contribution of $650/individual and $487.50/PAC. I understand there has already been a $1,000 contribution to this fund, more than would be allowed for a campaign.

Point #3: If this firetruck is an asset for Oshkosh (as I believe it is) then Oshkosh should be willing to pay for it, if Mayor Esslinger is unable to truly donate it. This would not preclude a donor fund to continue around the firetruck. There would be a lot less questions if donations could be secured without a potential direct pass-through to the Mayor. I would encourage people to continue to donate to the firetruck fund, after the City makes Mayor Esslinger whole. I'm sure people with business before the city might be more willing to donate if they knew it would not be a direct pass-through to the city.

Therefore, because of my thoughts about Point #3 above, I have added the following to my potential resolution for payment for the historic firetruck:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the finance director is also hereby authorized to continue to collect donations for the historic firetruck to repay the general fund of the City for disbursements made in relation to the purchase and maintenance of the historic firetruck.

By making Mayor Esslinger whole now, but continuing to allow donations, we can pay back the general fund, while removing the potential conflicts of interest in this matter.

That said, Mayor Esslinger should remove himself from the Council Dias for these discussions.  If he does not, parliamentary procedure allows for a member of the council to call for a vote for his removal for this resolution.  I hope a member will.

1 comment:

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