Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Real Campaign is to Suppress Challengers

The Real Campaign is to Suppress Challengers
Using the Courts and the CFB Rules to Win Elections
Every year in an annual ritual, scores of candidates, many running for the first time are denied a chance to compete in the electoral process or have their campaign efforts severely harmed by the obstacles of ballot access. New York’s election law is among the most stringent in the nation. It poisons the democratic process and is kept in place by incumbents and a political machine which gain advantage by those that it harms. Sometimes more than half of a challenger’s time and resources (for those that make it through the petitioning process), are used up to get through the obstacles put in place to deny them ballot access. Many races are decided in the courts or by Campaign Finance Board (CFB) rules, not the ballot box. It not just the petitions system that machine-backed candidates use to block ballot access, the CFB rule which allows a candidate who challenges his opponent(s) petitions to receive matching funds, but not the candidate(s) he is challenging, has become a weapon to gravely weaken ones challenge(s).

A great example how the insiders used the CFB rules to their advantage is the special election to fill the council seat of Congressman McMann. Kenneth Mitchell a machine backed candidate in this month's special election to fill a Staten Island council seat challenged almost all of the other candidates in the race. As of Tuesday morning the strongest challenger to Mitchell, John Tabacco was still tied up at the Board of Elections with the special election less than two weeks away. He was put on the ballot that afternoon but has lost valuable campaign time. The Mitchell campaign, war chest full of the city’s matching funds, has been doing mailings and hiring workers to GOTV all along. The Tabacco campaign was stalled by Mitchell's creative use of the CFB rules and now has to dump mailings made possible by the matching funds just becoming available on a public that has already tired of having their mailboxes full of promises to spend more money the city does not have.

Only the Rich and Insiders Can Beat Tammany’s Rule
Tammany Hall designed the petition scheme which is at the heart of New York’s arcane and complex ballot system, to keep machine candidates in office. The Board of Elections (BOE) also designed by Tammany, reviews petitions and rules candidate on and off the ballot, and consists of the appointees of the democratic and republican political machines. Despite generations of poor management and efforts by several mayors and newspaper editorial boards to reform it, the board continues its Tammany Hall Mission as a Gatekeeper to ballot access, knocking off challengers.

Those who support the petitions system say it prevents candidates without community support from running. What it really does is prevent challengers who cannot afford to pay for petitions, a good election lawyer and court costs - from running for office. Challengers must also have an insider on their campaign team to make it past the petitioning process. To win at the BOE you must bring a court procedure challenging the ruling of the board even before the Board has ruled. Unschooled insurgents chasing after the democratic dream of free and open elections fail to grasp the element of this logic. The machine and incumbents even use government to pay for their candidate’s petitioning by giving out election inspector jobs in exchange for collecting petitions for their candidates. It is a system that Boss Tweed is proud of to this day. It has also robbed us of our democracy and the protections the Founding Fathers designed for us.

Millions of New York’s voters are denied by Tammany’s petition racket, the chance to choose among the best of the potential candidates, who can solve their city’s critical problems. What this system leaves us with is a gang of insiders who have mastered the election process or have family or political connections to the machine and the City’s establishment.

Most incumbents have no challengers in the primary which are the real elections in NYC. Only one incumbent councilmember was defeated in both the 2003 and 2005 elections. More than half of the polling stations in NYC were closed in the last election. In Manhattan in 2008 only two of the eleven Assembly incumbents were challenged, none of the state senate or congressional candidates had an opponent in the primary. Brooklyn has 49 elected officials – 16 councilmembers, 8 State Senators, 19 Assemblymen and 6 Congress members. Only one, Senator Martin Golden, is a Republican. And that one will be gone in 2012 when his gerrymandered district is redrawn by a Democratic majority redistricting team.

Lack of competitive elections has also denied the City real debates on the issues that affect and hurt its residents. The press and campaign issues in the Incumbent Protection Society tend toward political spin designed to empower those already in power. Freedom of the ballot lies at the root of the American Political System. The Founding Fathers believed that decent opposition would not only be necessary to represent the voters, but would also reduce corruption and inefficiencies in government by getting the public educated and behind the true fixes to their problems. According to the intent of the framework of our democracy, today’s Incumbency Protection System has blocked opposition candidates who could have developed public awareness of potential government policies that might help keep the middle class in the City, build the City’s tax base beyond Wall Street and fix our city's schools.

The press and good government groups have been MIA on ballot access. Good Government groups have ignored ballot reform in favor of regulation of campaign financial practices, and the press has been going after the Board of Elections on its management screw-ups, not how it destroys the campaigns of challengers. By corrupting the CFB which was created to increase political competition, with payout delaying tactics, the machine and IPS has shown the newspaper editorial boards and good government groups that they must fight for increased political competition in New York City’s elections, not quick fixes. The Incumbent Protection Society has destroyed democracy in New York and created dysfunctional government in its destructive path, while enriching itself and its friends. Even the rich and established are its victims. Will those who can fix the system be able to fix the city? ….Will they wake up or learn how to? … The Future of New York City depends on it.

The Accidental Ballot Access Reforms
The only reform in ballot access in the last 20 years occurred because the Bush campaign tried to keep John McCain off the New York Primary Ballot in 2000. A Federal Judge ruled after the McCain campaign took the Republican Party to court, to eliminate the need for ADs, EDs and totals on nominating petitions cover sheets. Judge Edward Korman who also ruled that candidates can correct their petitions cover sheets for defects after they are submitted to the Board of Elections, did more then any Good Government group to make a very restrictive ballot access system a little bit easier for challengers.


Wall Street Mess CEOS DEFEND *** WALL STREET TANKS ON BANKS: BAM'S BAILOUT SPURS PLUNGE *** Wall Street falls on Geithner announcement... *** Geithner Introduces Financial Stability Plan - Transcript *** Geithner's Bank Plan Panned *** Geithner's Plan Short on Specifics *** Market Pans Bank Rescue Plan *** Heard on the Street: Geithner Swings and Misses *** Geithner Bombs Coming-Out Party Today's Papers *** Ryan Grim New Treasury Plan Weakens Crucial Wall Street Accounting Rules For Geithner’s Debut, a Lukewarm Reception *** The Bailout’s Next Chapter - NYT Ed ***DN Editorial: Where's the beef? *** Who might benefit from the bailout *** The Open-Door Bailout - Friedman, NYT *** Trillion Dollar Baby Despite the touting, the Treasury chief unveiled a plan short on illumination, recrimination, fine points and foreclosure closure - Dowd, NYT *** Bank bailout tab now $2 trillion – and counting *** New Treasury Plan Weakens Crucial Wall Street Accounting Rules *** Goldman CEO Blankfein Acknowledges "Broad Public Anger" At Wall Street *** Geithner's Bear of a Day - Victoria McGrane & Lisa Lerer, Politico *** Why Obama’s New TARP Will Fail To Rescue The Banks - Martin Wolf, FT *** Why Geithner's Rescue Plan Spooked the Markets - Stephen Gandel, Time *** Stocks Slide as New Bailout Disappoints - Jack Healy, New York Times *** Five Reasons the Markets Don't Like the Bank Bailout - Jeff Cox, CNBC *** ‘Vulture’ Investors Eye Bad Assets, but Warily *** Bailout Plan: $2.5 Trillion and a Strong U.S. Hand *** Merrill bonus babies netted $121M *** Another day, another $294G *** General Motors will cut 10,000 jobs *** California's Pain Only Beginning; Cuts to Parks, Schools and Roads... *** California's Pain Is Only Beginning *** States Counting On Stimulus Aid To Balance Budgets *** Newsweek: Why New Orleans Is Exhibit A For Stimulus Argument *** Foreclosure 'Tsunami' Hits Mortgage Servicers *** Curb America's Debt Culture - Christian Science Monitor Ed *** Economic Scene: To Spend or to Save? *** Toy fair attendees to focus on cheaper products *** Wal-Mart to Push Into Urban Chicago *** Nonprofits Seek to Tap Nest Eggs *** GM to Cut Salaried Staff by 14% *** Daily Intel's Economic Stimulus Plan *** Markets Slide in Europe and Asia *** PM RUTH MADOFF PULLED OUT $15M: DAYS BEFORE HUSBAND'S ARREST

President $3 trillion! _ Senate, Fed, Treasury attack crisis *** Geithner's big moment: a tough sell *** Bailout Plan: $2.5 Trillion and a Strong U.S. Hand *** Obama: "Wall Street I Think Is Hoping For An Easy Out... There Is No Easy Out" *** Obama's tough love rattles Wall Street *** FLYIN'-HEARTED: PREZ MEETS PRESS IN AIR *** More than 49 million watch Obama news conference; Less than Clinton... *** WATCH: Florida College Student Rules Obama Town Hall *** Why Did Obama Diss Helen Thomas? *** Obama's Press Conference Answers Three Formal Grade-Levels Higher Than Bush's First *** Obama and the Press Play Wiffle Ball While Americans Strike Out? *** In Retrospect, Not Such A Bad Start For Obama - Ruth Marcus, Wash Post *** Our Clever President - Tony Blankley, Washington Times *** Obama Rhetoric vs. Stimulus Foes is Disingenuous - John Dickerson, Slate *** The President Attacks a Republican Straw Man - Jay Cost, HorseRaceBlog *** The President Paints a Bleak Economic Picture - Josh Gerstein, Politico *** Obama's Bipartisanship Means Agreeing with Him - David Keene, The Hill *** Extra credit: Bam's plan to get cash to consumers *** Opinion: Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics *** Obama Wants Funds Restored to Stimulus *** MAYOR: OBAMA SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR VEGAS TRIP QUIP...

Congress Negotiations intensify on final stimulus plan ** Senate Begins Intense Negotiations *** Up Next for Bankers: A Flogging - Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times *** Bankers to appear before dubious Congress *** Bank Execs to Face House Panel Today *** Republican Strategy of Deny, Delay and Do Nothing - Paul Begala, CNN *** Obama Must Do More to Get GOP on Board - Steve Huntley, Chicago ST *** Now is No Time for Compromise - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post *** Congress Misreads Public Anger at Wall Street - Caroline Baum, Bloomberg *** 'UNCARING' SCHUMER TAKES HEAT ON SPENDING *** VIDEO: Schumer: The American People Don't Care About Pork Projects In Stimulus... *** Schumer wins some, loses some in stimulus package *** THE INFLUENCE GAME: Lawmakers in stimulus dilemma *** Public is Growing More Skeptical of Content in Bill - William McGurn, WSJ *** Drug Makers Fight Stimulus Provision - Wall Street Journal *** Stimulus Still Offers Vast Sums for Education - New York Times *** RANGEL KEEPS HOUSE CHAIR *** TEDDY COY ON CAROLINE MESS *** THE INFLUENCE GAME: Scandal hits close to senator *** House seeks testimony from Peanut Corp. president *** LISTEN: Specter To Ingraham: "Don't Give Me The Wine And Dine Baloney, Young Lady" *** High-Speed Rail Could Go Full-Steam Ahead *** CONGRESS $HOPPING CARTS *** MEDICAL 'RATION' WARNING *** HEALTH CARE SCARE: WHAT'S BURIED DEEP IN THE BILL? *** Health Care Debate Should Be Separate from Stimulus - Chicago Tribune ED *** Activists to push offshore energy drilling ban *** Palin Pulls Out Of Conservative Conference *** Taxes: Gilli says OK, Chuck says nothing

Albany Tax You 'MILLIONAIRES' EVERYWHERE - NYP ED *** 'MILLIONAIRE TAX' STILL IN PLAY WITH PATERSON *** NYS Public Radio: Karen DeWitt: Governor Offers Conditional Support for Tax Hike (Business/Economy, Politics & Elections, State Government) *** Fair Share Tax Reform Gaining Momentum *** Gov waffles on tax hikes for wealthy *** New York Allots Another $2 Billion for Unemployment Benefits *** Paterson provides $2B to buoy jobless *** State Lawmakers Ponder Stimulus Fix *** On Utility Regulators, It's 'Same Old, Same Old' *** LOTTERY MAY BET ITS MARBLES ON THE MARKET *** Paterson proposal would invest Lotto prize pool in stock market *** SCHOOL DATA AN ED. TECH WRECK *** New York parents, teachers, kids rally in D.C. for education spending *** As senator, Gillibrand shows no sign of a maverick - Newsday Ed *** Former NY lobbying watchdog scolds lawmakers (Politics & Elections, State Government) *** Albany Times Union: Bruno trial slated for November (Law/Courts, Politics & Elections) *** State Senate Republicans say the 137 tax and fee increases in Paterson's budget proposal would cost a middle-class family $3,000 a year *** Acampora to PSC: Huh? Why would Paterson do that? *** PM
Three Of Original Gang Of Four Reunite On Lippman *** Cuomo to CBC: 'Should Be a Taxpayer Revolt' *** Paterson Sets Up Infrastructure Cabinet *** Silver: Did he say this with a straight face? (Updated).

Judging the Judges Chief Judge Nominee Draws on Administrative Skill (NYT) *** State Senate to consider Lippman nomination (SI Advance) *** Lippman: Hacks, cronies, and Shelly's guy (Newsday) *** Justice is Blindsided - Shelly Silver games Governor Paterson to get his childhood pal the state's top courts jobBy Wayne Barrett (Voice) *** PM Chief Judge Picked [Politics On The Hudson] *** Lippmann: Confirmed [Spin Cycle] *** Three Of Original Gang Of Four Reunite On Lippman

City Hall COPS HANDCUFFED: DOWNTOWN TERROR FORCE ON HOLD *** Bloomberg cuts the cops *** NYC police scale back security plan for downtown *** NYPD Forced To Cut 2010 Police Class *** NYPD: Poor economy hurts Ground Zero staffing *** Kelly: NYPD to scrap 2010 rookie class, WTC patrol plans *** Police Stops on City Streets Rose Significantly Last Year *** Bloomberg to Lobby in D.C. for Stimulus Aid *** Parents protest city's closing of day cares *** BUS FUSS OVER NEW HARLEM CUTS *** Beer Distributor Makes a Deal to Move to Two Piers in Red Hook *** NYC, London vie for the bottom *** Wal-Mart cutting jobs, moving others to NYC *** City Council takes up livery cab passengers' bill of rights *** HIGH RISE IN HOUSING UNITS - housing stock increased by a record 67,792 units between 2005 and 2008, but the vacancy rate dropped from 3.09 to 2.88 percent *** LIVERY 'BILL OF RIGHTS' *** Rockaway cleanup questioned From the Daily News *** DOT car blocks Middle Village driveway From Fox 5 *** Council To Vote On Passenger 'Bill Of Rights' *** Queens Hospitals Begin Limiting Patients *** Councilman Looks To Shutter Storefront Gates *** Downzoning proposal swept under the rug From The Real Deal *** City Council eyes phasing out solid pull-down store gates *** Steinway & Sons factory goes green *** Proposal aims to grow green spaces on city roofs *** MTA spellers way off-off Broadway *** EJ McMahon ponders New York's life without the old Wall Street *** PM Greens: No to Acampora, Brown.

Reviving the City of Aspiration
This major report by the Center for an Urban Future concludes that New York’s longstanding legacy as a place that both sustained a large middle class and elevated countless people from poorer backgrounds into the middle class is now in serious jeopardy. *** New Landmarks Declared Today - Bed Stuy *** Domino Project in Williamsburg May Be Further Refined.

Alfonse D’Amato Stadium? Ratner's Atlantic Yards Stimulus Shakedown- Smith *** Ratner wants stimulus money *** From NY1 *** Lawmakers-turned-lobbyists Al D'Amato and Susan Molinari collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from Freddie Mac to help thwart government regulation *** DC 'CHARITY' BASH A CASH & LOBBYING GRAB *** A Good Power Broker Is Getting Harder to Find D'Amato was paid $500,000 by the owners of 2 Broadway to work out a dispute with the MTA, the building major tenant over repairs, even though Al was not their registered lobbyists *** Mob indictments over renovations of 2 Broadway *** More D'Amato lobbyists corruption.

Road to City Hall SO OLD & YET STILL SO GREEN: MARK'S TIRED ACT BACK - Peyser, NYP *** Former New York City Public Advocate Wants the Job Back *** Mark Green wants his old public advocate gig *** Bloomberg Miffed by Gabe Pressman "Ridiculous" Question On Would Reduce His Campaign Spending During the Economic Crisis *** Three Labor Leaders For Green *** Three Labor Leaders For Green

International HILL'S CHILL PILL ON IRAN *** Clinton holds out hope for useful talks with Iran *** US grappling with Canada's exit from Afghanistan *** Stealth bill would drop restrictions on travel to Cuba... *** Israel Rivals Both Claim Win... Developing... *** Battle Is Close in Israeli Election *** Rivals Both Claim Victory in Israel *** One Region, Two States - Shimon Peres, Washington Post *** The Prime Minister's To-Do List - Amir Mizroch, Jerusalem Post *** Rage Grows as Global Crisis Worsens - Christopher Sultan, Der Spiegel *** Mugabe Foe Sworn in as Zimbabwe Prime Minister *** Fidel Castro Writes Bizarre Editorial About Rahm Emanuel *** Obama Must End the War on Drugs -- or Mexico and Afghanistan Will Collapse *** The Rise of Extremism in London *** PM Israeli election reaction [Ben's Politico Blog]

Media Mess SIRIUS XM Prepares Bankruptcy Filing... *** Mogul Offers to Overhaul Sirius *** HarperCollins dumps Collins *** NY's Met Opera announces new season, cuts *** Upcoming Season A Challenge For Met *** Met Opera announces new season, budget... *** Daily News suspends employees’ 401(k) contributions *** A chain of eight weekly Hudson Valley newspapers is folding.