Tag Archive: Reform

Dec 07 2012

Scholar Blasts Politics As Usual

An open letter from George C. Onuorah, author of  The Political Diary of a Rising Son.

REFORM THE NYC BOARD OF ELECTION NOW

The 2012 election in NYC taught us anything, the lesson would be that our Board of Election needs serious urgent reforms. Why? The reason is that unless we redress the anomalies we saw last November, we are in for some rude awakening with the next mayoral race around the corner. Personally, I had experiences that convinced me we need to do something now or never. I waited more than an hour to cast my vote. The lines where I voted were stretched long and tempers flared to almost boiling point. In the end, I decided that I should wait it out and exercise my democratic right. For more than a decade and half I have never failed to vote and I asked myself why should I now not cast my vote. Since young age, I have learnt not to be discouraged by the discouraging vicissitudes of any game. Many civil right leaders such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for us to have the right to vote and we must not allow man-made obstacles and impediments to pull us back. Many who tried to vote in last election have different experiences and I am sure some may have given up and never voted.

Our elected representatives, civic and others must see the problem at our City board of election as endemic desiring of fixing. The New York City Council held a hearing yesterday seeking to address matter. Unless we fix it we are in for unexpected unhappiness at elections. We hear about working together or cooperation. Now this board of election issue is one that beacons those who want smooth and efficient democratic process. Democracy as we know it means and implies letting citizens vote and to have a say in who represents them. Therefore, not allowing all eligible citizens to vote runs counter to the Greek meaning of denying us universal suffrage.

Furthermore, many new and young voters get discouraged by a process that undermines their new enthusiasm for supporting leaders such as exemplified by President Barack Obama who challenged them like late John F. Kennedy in “Ask not what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country”. The youth, the young and the newly enfranchised want a process that is ‘free and fair’ not one that is marred by inadequacies and inefficiencies’. We should allow democracy to rein.

While I am not a political expert, as a citizen and political scholar, I feel we can address some of the problems at last election by adapting the following measures.

  1. We can consider hiring election / poll worker from colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. By selecting from this caliber of workers adequate premium is placed on competence not mediocrity.
  2. Do away with politics as usual, reward competence and not political cronyism. Our party leaders as guardians and custodians of our democracy should understand that how disgruntled many felt and do something now. To procrastinate may not bode well for our democratic process.
  3. Finally, politics aside, the efficiency of our voting process might be a starting point for political cooperation between the parties who pay lip service to the concept of working together and yet fail to embrace it.

George C. Onuorah

Author, Political commentator and Civic Leader

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/12/scholar-blasts-politics-as-usual-reform/

Oct 04 2012

Behar says two years later and Albany is still a mess!

For interesting and thought provoking political commentary check out www.boycottevil.com

Steve Behar, a former candidate for Assembly and campaign manager for James Sanders’ primary victory, is calling shenanigans on so-called “independent reform” candidates.

Behar’s blog, www.boycottevil.com is a must read for political enthusiasts. In his most recent article (which caught my eye), names were omitted, however I’m willing to bet the farm he was referring to State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (and other candidates too) who rode into office touting reform platforms and two years later have failed to deliver on any of their promises.

Legislative reform bills are also suggested and worth further exploration. I know they are mere suggestions but it’s more than most politicians have done in their first term(s).

Anyway, hope is not lost as another essay contest from disgraced ex-Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza’s protege may very well clean up the cesspool in Albany.

Check out the article below:

From BoycottEvil: Very soon voters in New York State will once again head to the polls to vote in the upcoming Election.  While I am NOT a candidate for office this year, the season brings me back to 2010 when I was a candidate for the New York State Assembly.  It also reminds me of how dysfunctional our state government still is and how hard it will be to fix it.

In the two years since I ran for the Assembly, our state government in Albany has once again been a miserable failure and remains a cesspool of corruption.  Two years ago nearly every candidate from Montauk to Buffalo was a self-proclaimed “Independent Reformer.”  These charlatans promised to reign in the lobbyists and special interests, to institute independent redistricting and pass ethics laws to curb the corruption in Albany.  None of that happened in the last session of the legislature.

Lobbyists and special interests still buy and own our politicians.   Many times it’s not the most informed candidates who win an election.  It’s also not the most well-intentioned candidates who win elections.  Instead, most of the time it’s the candidate who is best at selling his or her soul to the monied lobbyists and special interests who get elected.  Once these rascals get to Albany, instead of writing and passing legislation for the betterment of their communities and our state, they push legislation and push contracts that support their financial backers.

Regarding independent redistricting, while in 2010 nearly every candidate signed Mayor Koch’s pledge to pass an independent redistricting law, once they got to Albany the same folks forgot their pledge and saddled our state with hideous, politically motivated districts for the next ten years. Instead of having an independent commission draw district lines that are concise and compact and keep communities together, we once again have politically motivated districts that snake through and divide communities in order to protect the incumbent representative’s re-election prospects.

The worst act of insult was the legislatures passage of a joke of an ethics law.  The law did nothing to stop the corruptive influence of dirty money in Albany.  No one cared to pass campaign finance laws to stop the corruption.  No one cared to close the loopholes that monied interests use to by-pass the current campaign finance laws.  No one passed any laws to stop the revolving door between government officials and the lobbyists.

My suggestion to the winners of the 2012 state elections is to go to Albany and actually do something!  I suggest you start with three important pieces of legislation.

1.     It’s time to pass real campaign finance reform that eliminates the strangle hold that lobbyists and special interests have on our politicians. Arizona, Maine and Connecticut each have enacted public financing of elections laws that have worked.   It is time to create such a program for New York.  It’s time that politicians answer to the people that vote for them and not the people who finance their political campaigns.

2.   While it won’t help for until the next decade, Albany must pass an independent redistricting law now so that we don’t have to deal with the political shenanigans that we witnessed this year.

…. For the full article visit the site.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/behar-says-albany-is-still-a-mess-reform-is-dead/

Dec 26 2011

Times Editorial Calls On Leery Fence-sitter

You want me to do what!?

“Mr. Cuomo promised to root out corruption and clean up campaign money. It should top his to-do list for 2012,” according to an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Great suggestions, however, the Times neglected to mention the extravagant, family style dinners where a $23 Pecan-walnut salad is paid for by campaign contributors. So, under the present system, when that pol-to-be comes a knockin’ you might as well entice them with a bottle of fine Irish influence because they’ll just use the money to treat friends and family to a night on the town.

 

This is the wish list compiled by the cunctative daydreamers over at the Times Editorial board.

  • CAMPAIGN SPENDING New York’s law on campaign spending also needs to be overhauled. It is currently so weak that unsuspecting donors end up footing the bill for lawyers, cigars, designer luggage, country club memberships and cars. Joseph Bruno, the former Senate majority leader, once used $1,300 in campaign funds for a pool cover for his indoor pool, arguing that he sometimes had political functions nearby.
  • PUBLIC FINANCING OF ELECTIONS This is a fundamental reform that can be readily achieved if the state simply copies New York City’s system. This is a nationally recognized, voluntary system that rewards small contributions up to $175 with a 6-to-1 match. In 2009, 37 percent of the private money to candidates came from city donors who gave $250 or less. This approach would create healthier elections by encouraging candidates to seek out more small donors and promote competition among candidates.
  • LOWER CONTRIBUTION LIMITS New York State’s contribution limits should be brought into line with those in other states. New Yorkers can give almost nine times as much money to a statewide candidate as donors in New Jersey, where the limit is $6,800 for statewide races.
  • END THE ‘HOUSEKEEPING’ FARCE There are no limits on what a donor can give to a political party for “housekeeping” to maintain a party’s offices and other “ordinary activities” unconnected to candidates. But nobody in Albany really checks on how this money is used, and it’s not trivial. In 2010, New York’s political parties received $11.4 million in housekeeping contributions.
  • TOUGHER ENFORCEMENT The State Board of Elections needs more enforcement authority. The $500 fine for failing to file a campaign finance report, for example, is a pittance some lawmakers simply ignore. New York needs a strong enforcement team with heftier fines, more on par with those imposed by the Federal Election Commission where failure to file can cost thousands of dollars.
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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/times-editorial-calls-on-leery-fence-sitter/

Oct 20 2011

Queens-Politics Endorses Carrie Solages For Nassau County Legislator

Carrie Solages is running for Legislature in Nassau County. You should support him.

It’s not in Queens, but readers have encouraged me to look into the case of Carrie Solages, a Queens born Democrat running for Nassau County’s third legislative district in Elmont, Long Island that borders our borough.

They are the legislative arm of Nassau County. Like a City Council Member, but across the border.

Carrie’s campaign has faced the malevolent thrust of the GOP machine. The powers that be gave a tacit endorsement to send thug Vinny Prisco to harass the campaign with racist and sexist taunts, allegedly. While opponent James Ciotti, a Republican is under damage control, the Carrie campaign is moving forward.

Carrie is asking tough questions:

“How should the county solve its budget crisis? Should the police unions and the Civil Service Employees Association make contract concessions? Should county services be cut? Should there be a tax increase? Should the County eliminate its guarantee to refund other taxing districts’ (including school districts) share of property taxes paid in error due to County assessment errors?

This is an exciting time for our community to get real jobs that we need and have a real economic boost which we are desperate for,” Carrie said in an email.

Carrie is an attorney, former Bronx prosecutor and lifelong resident of Elmont. He graduated Georgetown University where he studied International History. He is also the former vice president of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. He was born in Jamaica, Queens and raised in Elmont.

Carrie has grown wary of politics as usual and decided to throw his hat in the ring to bring Nassau County in the 21st Century. He has a plan to bring jobs into the community and is an avid supporter of programs to support young students. Quality of life issues are a top concern, as is zoning, two critical issues a local legislative candidate should always include as part of their proposal for county government.

Cuts will be tough this year, they are all across New York state. Carrie knows we have to make a sacrifice, but these cuts should come from the top, not from public transportation and first responders. Privatization is not the answer.

Carrie is the reform candidate running against the machine.

Queens Politics makes it a point to endorse candidates that are courageous enough to standup in the face of adversity. Elect Carrie and it will help change the state-wide balance of power in our favor. For these reasons and more, Queens-Politics is proud to endorse Carrie Solages for Nassau County Legislator.

Vote Carrie Solages November 8th!

Carrie Solages keeps his ear to the beat of the neighborhood.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/10/solages-for-legislature/

Oct 01 2011

Senator Avella Feels Comfortable Being Called Senator

In an interview with Howard Koplowitz, Senator Tony Avella sits down to explain the progress he’s made since leaving City Council for his seat in the state capitol.

Avella laments that it’s still mostly “The fix my pothole problem,” but he discusses a few tough as nails state-wide issues he’s tackled including fighting for a Millionare’s Tax.

The article doesn’t mention Tony’s advocacy to ban hydro-fracking, a dangerous method of extracting energy by pumping chemicals into the depths of the Earth. My gut tells me that this bill may prove to be the most important bill for the future of the environment.   Early in March 2011, Tony introduced Bill S4220-2011 which bans all future hydro-fracking in the state of New York.

Tony received a crash course in intergovernmental affairs and admittedthat as Senator he has noticed much more power to see through his agenda for the District. Of course Tony!  This is a great thing for the neighborhood. Unfortunatly everyone thinks you’re still the City Council Member and they swamp your office with calls to fix street lights and potholes.

I’ve even heard some very obtuse people call you a quack for taking up hydro-fracking. “What’s this got to do with me?” They ask. Everything, I tell them. I’m glad you are looking at the bigger picture for the future of New York and what you can do for us in the Senate. Keep it up, especially with your plans for campaign finance reform.

Read: Avella says Albany suits him

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/10/senator-avella-feels-comfortable-being-called-senator/


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