Philadelphia Delays Enforcing New Lobbying Law; Next Meeting August 17

On July 7, 2011, Philadelphia’s City Government Board of Ethics held a special meeting to deal with Philadelphia’s new lobbying registration and disclosure law, which was to take effect on July 1, 2011. At the meeting, the Board adopted a Resolution to postpone enforcement of the new law, until the final regulations (with any amendments) are approved. The earliest that can happen is 30 days after the next public meeting, which is scheduled for August 17, 2011; but may take even longer.

We know that the original proposed lobbying regulations were flawed. You can read my criticism in my 6/21/10 blog article (updated 6/21/11) entitled Philadelphia’s New Lobbying Law Silences Grassroots Advocacy.  The Philadelphia Bar Association, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia’s Committee of Seventy and even Common Cause of Pennsylvania acknowledged the need to amend the draft regulations.  That said, we still don’t know how the Ethics Board plans to fix it.  As far as I am aware, amendments have not yet been posted.

The point is that lobbying laws that are vague, complicated, or costly to comply with, chill advocacy rights for small businesses, charities and average taxpayers. How much will compliance with the new regulation cost you or your organization? Tell Philadelphia’s Ethics Board and City Council members how the new lobbying regulations will impact you. THERE IS STILL MUCH THEY HAVEN’T HEARD.

HERE ARE MY SOLUTIONS:  (1) raise the registration and reporting threshold to $5,000 per reporting period; (2) lower the registration fee to $100; (3) simplify requirements for tracking communications and expenses; (4) lower the penalties to $50 per late day (maximum $2,000);  and (5) reduce the ban on lobbying from 5 years to 2 years.

Remember, IT’S YOUR RIGHT to petition city hall, to talk to your local government official and to engage in grassroots advocacy!

For details about Philadelphia’s new law, its consequences for nonprofit organizations, small businesses and individual advocates, read my 6/21/10 article (updated 6/21/11) entitled Philadelphia’s New Lobbying Law Silences Grassroots Advocacy. Your comments are welcome.

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THREE QUESTIONS FOR PENNSYLVANIA’S CANDIDATES

The Scranton Times Tribune ran a news story today (10/18/10) entitled “Nonprofits fear winter coupled with high unemployment.” Leaders of nonprofits and charities in Northeast Pennsylvania announced that the coming winter coupled with growing unemployment will push the limits of their organizations. That they lack money and capacity to meet the needs of their communities is not a matter of poor management. These are sophisticated organizations. It’s the economy. Pennsylvania’s social safety net is in serious jeopardy, because unemployment is rising, new jobs are not being created, and personal wealth is barely growing for Pennsylvanians- if at all.

2010 is a critical election year in Pennsylvania. Our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, 26 State Senators, and all 203 State Representatives are up for election, as well as Pennsylvania’s 19 Congressional seats. At stake is nothing less than majority control in Harrisburg and perhaps in Washington too. At the top of ticket, Pennsylvania is a battleground for the US Senate seat formerly held by Arlen Specter. The two candidates are Joe Sestak (D) and Pat Toomey (R) and by some accounts, are racing neck-and-neck.

With only 9 days until the November 2 general election, Pennsylvanians have decisions to make — big decisions with big consequences. Whether the issue is the economy, foreign trade, the social safety net, or campaign finance reform, the candidates have positions. Some have posted their positions on their websites; others have not. One thing they all have in common. They have not provided details on HOW THEY PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. Without a plan, their goals are just empty campaign promises. So the real question is…. IF YOU ASK THEM HOW THEY PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS, WILL THEY TELL YOU?

That’s exactly what I did. I asked them. I have spent the past 6 years identifying socio-economic problems, and working with partners (building coalitions) to develop solutions and implement those solutions. Drawing from this experience, I drafted the three questions pasted below. I have shared it with them and will continue to share it with as many people as is possible… until I get a response. Then I will post their responses so we will all know whether they really have a plan or whether it’s all hype.

SO PLEASE READ THE THREE QUESTIONS BELOW. Feel free to SEND THE QUESTIONS TO YOUR LAWMAKERS. Between tourism, nonprofits and manufacturing, we can identify solutions to improve one-third of Pennsylvania’s economy– or at least know where the candidates stand.

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(1) MANUFACTURING SECTOR

In 2008, manufacturing accounted for 14% of the Pennsylvania’s total GDP (down from 21% in 1997). In 2009, manufactured goods accounted for more than 90% of Pennsylvania’s exports (down from 95% in 2002). China is our third largest export market (up from 16th in 1999). Currently, manufacturing accounts for just 10% of Pennsylvania’s total workforce (down 40% since 1990). During this same time (20 years), overall nonfarm employment in PA increased by 8%.

Some say it would be impossible to restore Pennsylvania’s manufacturing capacity. Others say that if we do not rebuild our factories, Pennsylvania’s economy will never recover. Considering that 600,000 Pennsylvanians are unemployed, I believe that restoring Pennsylvania’s factories is critical to Pennsylvania’s future.

America needs a comprehensive plan to rebuild our domestic manufacturing capacity, starting here in Pennsylvania, and starting today. American manufacturing is critical to the long-term health of our economy, to the welfare of our people, and ultimately to the survival of our nation.

Q1: If elected to the US Senate, in what three (3) specific ways would you partner with the manufacturing sector to prevent the loss of skilled manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania and attract new skilled manufacturing jobs to Pennsylvania?

(2) NONPROFIT SECTOR

Pennsylvania is home to nearly 58,000 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organizations. From hospitals, colleges, daycare centers and clinics, to soup kitchens, social service providers and foundations, Pennsylvania’s nonprofit sector employs about 600,000 FTE workers (or 11% of the workforce in PA). Together these workers earned over $21.1 billion in wages in 2003 (or 10% percent of total wages paid in Pennsylvania). For many communities, nonprofits are also an economic engine for growth and development.

Since the recession began however, Pennsylvania’s nonprofits are facing declining contributions, decreasing revenue, and losses of government and foundation funding. Resources are dwindling, but the community’s need for the services that nonprofits provide continues to grow.

Q2: If elected to the US Senate, in what three (3) specific ways would you partner with and strengthen the nonprofit sector to achieve the goals of your campaign and improve the quality of life in our Commonwealth?

(3) TRAVEL, TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

Pennsylvania tourism is the state’s second-largest industry. Together, PA hotels, amusement parks, restaurants, ski areas, stadiums, and attractions of all types, generate $28 billion in revenue each year and pay $10 billion in wages and benefits to over 400,000 workers (or about 7% of Pennsylvania’s workforce). While these are certainly impressive numbers, tourism in Pennsylvania has room to grow. Understanding what motivates people to visit PA or employers to relocate to PA, and coordinating economic development to enhance PA tourism would improve Pennsylvania’s business climate over the long term.

Q3: If elected to the US Senate, in what three (3) specific ways would you partner with the tourism industry to improve economic growth and development?

VIDEO B: Robert Egger’s Speech at Gettysburg College

VIDEO B: Last 4.21 minutes of Robert Egger’s remarks at Gettysburg College commencement ceremony May 16, 2010. (Missed approximately 20 seconds switching between VIDEO A and VIDEO B) 

I apologize for the formatting.  I’m posting this video in its raw form  so you can see for yourself what really happened on Sunday May 16. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3FZ4OlKnic 

VIDEO A: Robert Egger’s Speech at Gettysburg College

VIDEO A: First 9:49 minutes of Robert Egger’s remarks at Gettysburg College commencement ceremony May 16, 2010. (Last 5 minutes on are on VIDEO B). 

Apologies for the shaky video. It was a totally spontaneous idea to use my droid to capture his presentation on video. I’ve now watched it 3 times. Each time it gets better.  The video make lack clarity, but his message is clear.  Be the change.  Live it every day.

Watch the first 9:49 minutes on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b34rVNdR8lo

Where’s Robert?

image

Leading the leaders….

Check out Robert egger’s Commencement Speech

You asked… here it is:  Robert Egger’s Commencement Remarks.  The new “Rock Star” of hunger, coined the “next” generation, the “NOW” generation.    http://www.gettysburg.edu/commencement/2010/egger.dot.  (It was better on video.  Might have that for you tomorrow.)

Gettysburg College Graduation to Highlight Leadership & Public Service

This Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:00 am, I will be attending the 175th Commencement Ceremony at Gettysburg College. I will be blogging about the event.  Why? Because this year, Gettysburg College will be bestowing an honorary Doctorate of Public Policy on our friend and colleague Robert Egger of the DC Central Kitchen in Washington DC.  Robert is the visionary leader behind the V3 Campaign and Campus Kitchen as well as many other projects. Read the College’s press release about Robert.

This year’s themes are leadership, social responsibility, improving the human condition, service to others, service learning, and combating hunger. Gettysburg College is a replication partner of Robert Egger’s Campus Kitchen. The College also is home to the Center for Public Service which connects students’ curricula to service. Students are encouraged to volunteer and become leaders in their communities. Watch a live video stream of the commencement exercise online.

I’ll be blogging about this issue all weekend. MUCH MORE TO FOLLOW….



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