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City leaders hear call for public campaign financing

There's a continuing push for public financing of campaigns, arguing it removes the influence of big money and allows challengers who would have trouble raising money to run. That push made its way to Council Chambers in Buffalo's City Hall Tuesday.

There's a been a push for public financing in Buffalo elections for several years and it continues, with a report yesterday to the Council's Legislation Committee. It would probably be similar to New York City's voluntary system with matching dollars on smaller contributions, especially from the district on the ballot.

State Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner was there to push for a city system. Lerner says the same fight is underway in Albany where there is really big money.

"As the real weaknesses of the system become increasingly obvious as the U.S. attorney takes more elected legislators away in handcuffs for the 'perp walk' and indictments, it's becoming increasingly clear to elected representatives that they need a change," Lerner said.

Lerner says surveys show the public is fed up with the  situation and wants change and elected officials have to prove to the voters they get the message for change. She says her group is pushing to amend the federal Constitution to make it clear money isn't free speech in elections.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.