"If we have more information -- better information -- we can make better choices and build a better Philadelphia."
The Democratic National Convention is coming to Philadelphia and it is sure to kick off with a rousing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. "O! Say Can You See?" Actually, when it comes to who is paying for the festivities -- and wondering what those folks want in exchange for their generosity -- we just plain can't see. That lack of transparency is downright un-American and it's no good for the citizens who live here in the birthplace of the American democracy.
As local media have reported, the DNC Host Committee, led by local muckety-mucks has pledged to raise $60 million to pay for the costs of the event, but is refusing to make public the list of donors and donation amounts until it is legally required to do so (under federal law) AFTER the convention. But, the last time Philadelphia hosted a national political convention -- the Republican National Convention in 2000 -- the donor list was made public weeks in advance of the gathering so we all knew who gave what.
Most important, we knew who was not paying for the party in 2000 -- us, the taxpayers of the City. But hold on to your wallets, because you might just have to help foot this bill.
DNC Stands For "Don't Bill Citizens"
That's right, if the folks passing the coffers to pay for the DNC party fall short of their ambitious goals, we, the people, will be paying for it.
This does not look good at all, but, of course, it's so hard to see what it looks like because everything is happening behind closed doors, in the dark, far from the light of day.
It is the most open secret in politics that political donors very often look for a "return" on their "investment." There are a lot of itchy backs looking to be scratched in the process. The only hope we have of preventing egregious acts of bribery, favoritism, and dirty dealing is an understanding of how and where political money flows.
DNC Stands For "Do Be Clear"
If these donations were just about civic doogooderism, these voluntary payments would be front-page news as generous donors and corporate citizens line up for credit as they show off their Philadelphia pride. The big letters on the donor walls of city cultural institutions testify to the fact that local funders are very excited to let people know about their generosity when that generosity is about making our city look good. When it's about back-room arm twisting, it's a lot more, um, complex and best kept out of sight.
"Don't be afraid of the dark," you say? I'm not afraid of the dark. I'm afraid of what I'll see when we finally turn on the light -- especially if it's us holding the bill for the party.
Hey DNC host committee: we live in the land of the free so you are free to come clean. Show us that this is the home of the brave by having the guts to be transparent about who is funding this party and who is not paying so we can draw our own conclusions about what it all means.