Obama's campaign has now paid in full for the events investigated.
by Adam Lang
February 25, 2009
In a Daily News column (here or here), they reported about thousands of dollars of outstanding bills owed to Philadelphia from Obama's campaign. It was information I researched using Pennsylvania's new Open Record laws and then supplied to the paper. The column appeared on Friday, February 20th.
On 25th, I received the following email from City Hall (sender's name not being shown for privacy reasons) letting me know the money has now been paid in full on the 23rd:
Good Morning Adam,
Please be advised that as of 2/23 the Managing Director's Special Events unit has received total payment for all (4) outstanding invoices for the Obama for America events that took place in Philadelphia on 10/4 & 10/11. I want to personally thank you for your comment in the Philly.com on our quick response to your Public Records request. We were glad to be of assistance and in the process we were able to collect the fees associated for city services for these events. We welcome any event organizer to come to the City of Brotherly and Sisterly love to host their event in our fine city.
If there is anything else we could do to assist you further, please call upon us. Until then take care.
This short letter gives us many lessons.
First, it shows the benefits of transparency and open records in government. It gives support to the idea that a concerned or skeptical citizen has the ability to investigate on their own about the functioning of government.
Second, that sometimes bad publicity for an elected official on a legitimate issue will get results. Over the weekend, Obama's campaign managed to find their checkbook and cut, approximately, a $24,000 check. It also goes to show that it was in Nutter's power to get the money as well. He could have put Philadelphia in front of party and sent a letter to Obama's campaign and twisted a bit of screw (or leak it to someone else to do) to get the bills paid. A simple letter reminding his campaign to get the tab paid before some busy body makes a stink about it. He could have even painted it as looking out for the guy.
Third, we have people in City Hall that are legitimately trying to do their job and they do appreciate the occasional help from fellow citizens as well as the "good job" when they do something right. It is all too easy to point out problems, but it is just as important, if not more so, to point out when they do their job as it should be done. The Managing Director's office did a perfect job in handling the Open Records request and I commend them.
Let's take this is an example of how we can successfully help our government be better by being involved and how government can help by not blocking us from being involved.