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W♥V ISSUE: Part I of a Series on Pay-to-Play Reform:  

Levinson Proposes Pay-to-Play Ban for County Government in Atlantic County.  
What about reform of Municipal Pay-to-Play Practices in Ventnor?

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson introduced Pay-To-Play legislation in late summer 2007, for adoption at the county level.  As noted on the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders website's "Recent News" column announcing the proposal, at http://www.aclink.org/Freeholders/mainpages/news_detail.asp?ID=1253 the county became the first New Jersey unit of government at that level to consider the more stringent provisions offered in the "model ordinance" drafted by the Center for Civic Responsibility. Unlike other so-called model ordinance's which leave loopholes, the Center's language addresses out-of-area "wheeling" arrangements.  As the article points out,

Wheeling is defined as the process by which individuals, professionals and others who wish to contribute to a political campaign without detection make a contribution to an organization such as an out-of-area political party with the understanding that their contribution will be "wheeled" back to the candidate for whom it was intended without directly identifying the source of the initial contribution.

Based out of Metuchen, NJ,  founded by Harry Pozyck ,  and assisted by a Board of Trustees with significant acumen and experience, the Center's "Citizens Campaign" has lent assistance to many grassroots organizations initiated at the most local unit of government, their hometowns.  

WeLoveVentnor, Inc. has been in contact with the Center's staff in Metuchen and one of its regional coordinators in South Jersey to obtain guidance in our mission for increased citizen input to local government decision making.   The Center's approach is to review the civic health of each grassroots group's local unit of government to test for levels of awareness and competitiveness.  Poor civic health is characterized by an imbalance in political vitality, with a look at the availability of options for choice at the polls and the participation level by qualified citizens in non-elective decision-making bodies.  The next to articles in this continuing series will take a look at the Citizens Campaign's "Civic Health Survey" and how one town fared under its criteria.