PERTH AMBOY – Corruption in New Jersey politics has been in the spotlight this year, but Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz is doing what she can to limit its influence in her city.
Last week, Diaz signed five executive orders and a new administrative directive tightening Perth Amboy’s ethics rules. The orders were modeled after rules crafted by the Citizen’s Campaign, a state organization that promotes civic participation and advocates political reform.
“I cannot control what happens in the federal government or the state of New Jersey,” Diaz said at a city council meeting last Wednesday. “But I can influence what happens in the city of Perth Amboy.”
One executive order limits political contributions by public contractors. An individual can give a maximum of $300 to a candidate or the city, or $500 to the Middlesex County party committee or to a political action committee. A group can give a maximum of $2,500.
Other executive orders ban campaign contributions by developers seeking redevelopment agreements; require developers to disclose political contributions when seeking approvals from the planning and zoning board; and require fair and open competition for service contracts.
The final executive order bans city employees, elected officials and appointed board members from receiving gifts or gratuities from vendors, prospective vendors, residents or businesses. There is an exception for birthday or holiday gifts valued below $25.
The council will also vote on the executive orders at the Sept. 9 meeting. If they win approval, it is less likely that future mayors might rescind them.
The administrative directive crafts a “whistleblower law” to protect city employees from retaliation if they disclose violations of law, refuse to participate in illegal acts or provide information to authorities investigating violations of the law.
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