Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Model Ordinance

Please feel free to use this template to design one appropriate for your town or county.


The people of Corvallis, Oregon, hereby ordain the following and instruct the City Attorney to insert these words in an orderly manner into the Corvallis Municipal Code:


This ordinance is designed to empower any candidate for public office to run a viable campaign in Corvallis, Oregon through communicating with voters, regardless of that candidate’s financial status, by giving free media airtime to qualified candidates.


“Qualified candidate” is a person who has met the legal requirements of filing for office necessary to be listed on the ballot in Corvallis and has presented to the Benton County Auditor a petition of support for candidacy signed by at least 1% of the eligible voters of Corvallis. Candidates may be jointly listed on the same petition.

“Media outlet” includes every television or radio station broadcasting over the public airwaves from within Corvallis and every cable television service with customers living inside Corvallis. Others who seek to inform the people of the region may choose to be included in the definition of media outlet.

“Campaign communication” means messages to the public, consistent with FCC regulations and about the advantages of electing a specific candidate. For the purposes of this act, these messages may not include statements about the disadvantages of an opponent.


Effective upon passage of this ordnance, as a condition of maintaining public trust, each media outlet shall provide without charge to each qualified candidate an equal amount of airtime for campaign communication. Said airtime will include at least 30 minutes per qualified candidate in each of the three months prior to the election for which the candidate is qualified. In addition, if any media outlet provides airtime to a candidate or any person expressing an opinion about the election for pay, that same media outlet shall provide equal time at no cost to each qualified candidate seeking election to the same position.

Whenever a qualified candidate is provided airtime by a media outlet as required by this ordinance, that candidate may choose the scheduled distribution of that airtime, within the constraints of the station’s normal scheduling practices. For example, one thirty-minute segment is the equivalent of thirty one-minute segments or one fifteen-minute segment plus three five-minute segments, assuming that the station regularly airs segments of each of these lengths. Each segment will air at whatever time the qualified candidate may specify.

The qualified candidate may decide whether the campaign communication is to be recorded elsewhere or within the facilities of the media outlet, or broadcast live. The media outlet may require that the campaign communication meet the definition in this ordinance and any reasonable technical standards, as long as those standards are no more stringent than for paid advertising.


Blogger Bobby Mauger said...

I like the idea of forums being neutral, but not sure how well this could be implemented at a local level. I know it's a big push for teh Greens & at risk since the Citizens United Supreme Court case. Have you talked to anyone in the city about it? Any luck?

Friday, January 29, 2010 at 3:07:00 PM PST  
Blogger Vernon Huffman said...

I've been talking it around, Bobby. It seems the best time to bring it up will be when the cable TV contract comes up for negotiation. That's a few years off. Meanwhile, you can help to build a buzz in favor of the concept.

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 10:14:00 AM PDT  

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