November 18, 2011
The city Board of Ethics is delaying the start of a new lobbyist registration and disclosure program until early next year, the result of snags in developing computer software. Under the new deadlines, people who spend significant time or money trying to influence City Council actions or administrative policy will have to register sometime after Jan. 3 - technically, within 10 days after they spend 20 hours or $2,500 trying to lobby city officials. The first spending reports from lobbyists will be due in April, covering the first quarter of 2012.
November 16, 2011 |
The U.S. Department of Energy asked Solyndra L.L.C. to delay announcing it would fire workers until a day after last year's elections, according to a House Republican report citing advisers for the failed solar-panel maker. "DOE continues to be cooperative and have indicated that they will fund the November draw on our loan (app. $40 million) but have not committed to December yet," an adviser to Solyndra investor Argonaut Private Equity, who wasn't identified, wrote an associate in an e-mail.
July 26, 2011 |
The judge in the Philadelphia Orchestra Association's bankruptcy case has handed down a compromise in the clash between management and the musicians' union over the scope of an investigation of the association's endowment and finances. Noting that the bankruptcy code gives broad discretion in such decisions and is "designed to permit interested parties to 'discover assets, examin[e] transactions, and determin[e] whether wrongdoing has occurred,' " Judge Eric L. Frank ruled Monday to give the union access to documents provided to other parties in the case, and seek additional documents later.
July 21, 2011
Two unsuccessful candidates in May's City Council primary have agreed to pay $500 fines for failing to meet a preelection deadline for disclosing their campaign contributors and expenses, the city Board of Ethics said Wednesday. Lamont Thomas, who said he had delayed filing his campaign-finance report as a matter of political strategy against Democratic Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, signed an agreement to pay the fine in two installments by the end of the year, the board said. Humberto Perez, a Democratic candidate for Council at large, signed a similar agreement.
July 17, 2011
It's bad enough that federal campaign laws allow special interests to pour millions of dollars into election campaigns. Even worse, much of that money can be given through secret channels that hide the identity of the donor. Worse still, some of the secret money comes from donors that have valuable government contracts, funded by your tax dollars. When your tax dollars support a special interest that's using some of the profits to curry favor with politicians, you should have the right to know about it. Fortunately, President Obama is considering a new executive order that would require federal contractors to disclose all the money they spend to influence federal elections.
June 16, 2011 |
Two weeks before the city's new lobbying disclosure ordinance is scheduled to take effect, the Philadelphia Bar Association says the regulations go much farther than they should and wants lawyers to be clearly exempted. "It regulates conduct that most people would not consider lobbying," the association's chancellor, Rudolph Garcia, said Wednesday after testifying before the city Board of Ethics. "To me, lobbying is where someone's trying to influence policy," he continued, "not where someone's trying to . . . deal with a dispute or get a permit or do anything that people do interacting with the city on a day-to-day basis.
May 20, 2011 |
The federal government on Thursday began testing simplified disclosure forms designed to help borrowers find the mortgage that's right for them. Consumers and lenders will test two prototypes, but both do the thing - consolidate two federally required disclosure forms into a simpler one. The forms will be given to consumers who have just applied for a mortgage. They are designed to make the loan's costs and risks clear and let borrowers comparison-shop for the best offer. The two-page prototypes, developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, combine the Truth in Lending Act mortgage disclosure and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Good Faith Estimate, given to borrowers within three days of application.
May 4, 2011 |
HARRISBURG - Conference trips to faraway places like China, India, and Ireland. Tickets to pro football games. Passes for pricey receptions and galas. Dinners galore. Even in these belt-tightening times, such gifts and travel are all part of the life of a Pennsylvania legislator, according to the latest statements of financial interest filed with the State Ethics Commission. In annual filings that were due Monday, some elected officials reported no gain in 2010 aside from the paycheck that comes with the job. Others accepted meals, trips, and assorted trinkets.
May 3, 2011 |
The basic checking account is getting a lot more complicated. Banks in the last year have revamped terms to introduce new or hiked fees, change minimum balance requirements and tweak other terms. Now U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y) is calling for regulations that would require banks to provide consumers with an easy-to-read one-page disclosure form listing all fees and terms. Schumer is also responsible for the fee and interest rate disclosure form that banks are currently required to provide with credit card offers.