Tag Archive: Shelly Silver

Jan 29 2015

“What About The Rest of Us?”

Frank MacKay

As the State Chairman of the Independence Party of New York, Frank MacKay gives us his first hand account of the growth of alternative politics in New York with his vivid retelling of the birth and expansion of The Independence Party of New York in his new book, “What About The Rest of Us?”

A behind the scenes look into the fastest growing third-party in New York and the case for why we really need one.

“What About The Rest of Us? poses a fundamental question in its title, and makes comparisons to the status quo hauntingly inevitable. The title is a red flag for both the left and right, in every sense of the terms. Frank MacKay, Chairman of the Independence Party of New York alludes to the compromise of one’s political integrity for the sake of aligning with dictatorial party bosses and their restrictive party platforms. The fallout is disastrous: legislative gridlock, hyper partisanship, dysfunction at the highest levels, and an inflated and inherently inefficient bureaucracy that encourages voter apathy. The best solution, MacKay argues, to stagnation in government and voter apathy is a non-partisan third major party, calling it “the most direct path to fixing our broken system.”

To the status quo, MacKay’s analysis is like shooting poisons in a barrel, but to pragmatists and reform minded centrist citizens everywhere, it’s a wake up call.

For far too long, viable third parties in the United States tend to get buried, minimized in the shrink-wrap world of red and blue politics. And all too often we hear that people are fed up with politics as usual — they don’t want to hear about republicans or democrats and if they do you’ll get an eerie cringe and a comment like “I don’t get involved in party politics,” or “It’s all rhetoric” followed by an uncomfortable silence. We’ve all been there. It’s at this point you need an icebreaker; you need an alternative, another option for all of these sensible and pragmatic people who resent partisan gridlock because it just doesn’t make any sense to them. Is it possible? Is there another option? Yes there is, and MacKay has the answer.

Brevity is the soul of wit. The heart of the book lies in a relatively simple proclamation in the Preface: “The purpose of this book is to educate the public, elected officials, candidates and future candidates on the values of the Independence Party of New York State and the emerging Independence Party of America movement.” It is from this starting point where MacKay launches an erudite tour of assessing dysfunction in modern government bureaucracy, party polarization, and the growth of partisan media.

The principal for writing this book is outlined in the first chapter where MacKay definitively lays out the position of the Independence party in stark contrast to the two-party system we’ve come to know. While both democrats and republicans have become more and more polarized, there’s a growing concern about the pernicious impact of fervently populist or ideological rhetoric in candidates running to the extreme left or right just to satisfy their party platforms and in the process compromising their own core beliefs. The results, MacKay argues, lead to voter apathy and disenfranchisement from this “broken system”.

What About The Rest of Us?Two-party system candidates have become compromised. MacKay recalls George H.W Bush, who in order to become Ronald Reagan’s running mate (and was running as an ultra conservative) had to abandon his pro-choice belief and hop on the right to life band wagon. Case in point, our two-party system severely limits a candidate’s true position, and the result leads to elected officials who don’t genuinely support said policy positions. And this is a huge problem MacKay argues, they compromised themselves and their values for the sake of an election. No wonder people are fed up!

The solution is what MacKay calls “local autonomy,” the key to the Party’s newfound success. Candidates on the Independence line do not have to take marching orders from political party bosses or follow tooth and nail a restrictive party platform insofar as policy positions and social issues are concerned, instead they are free to make conscious and pragmatic decisions as to what is best for their constituency. The Independence Party stands by the independence of their members. Such a stance scares critics and in particular republican and democratic party officials for rocking the foundation for which they have built their political power base. No wonder they assail the Party for “standing for nothing”, not realizing that they do in fact stand for their candidates and standby their autonomy, a foreign concept to many establishment types.

“There are millions of Americans who will no longer stand for this charade, and they have lost faith in the major parties and their respective leadership.   A new major party – a third choice – is what this nation needs.”

The path to reform won’t be easy, MacKay says. And campaign finance reform isn’t likely because neither party would support meaningful change and are generally protected on first amendment grounds. His response reinforces the solution he proposed in the preface, “The only reasonable path to reform is through a viable third major party movement to counter-balance the current two-party system.”

MacKay offers The Independence Party as a model for such change; with a simple and straightforward platform that “promotes political independence and centered and pragmatic leadership.” The book takes us on an inside account of the Party’s history through its formation and the evolution of leadership, both successes and failures in all its Machiavellian detail. MacKay also describes the new wave of the Independence Party, a party that has learned from factional infighting to be reborn as a beacon of hope for pragmatists and centrists everywhere.

Thanks in part to such trials and tribulations, the Independence Party is riding a wave of success — and not just in terms of political seats won but particularly among the rising number of people who like to dwell on the frontier justice of independent politics. The evidence of their success is in the numbers: The Independence Party is now the largest third party in New York with 5000,000 registered members. The tome concludes with forecasting and predictions that lay the path to victory for a nationwide independent movement with a detailed profile of an ideal third-party candidate to run for President and ultimately leading readers with the notion that it could really happen.

I found the most interesting part of the book was his interview with Laureen Oliver, the first State Party Chair and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano’s chief advisor who recounts the inside story of how the Party first achieved ballot status (with plenty of surprise insight in this chapter). In this chapter we are introduced to a true a grassroots activist that traveled through all 62 counties in New York to collect petitions and achieve the coveted ballot status. Imagine the stories she could tell? She’s a brilliant strategist and I could only hope that somehow she is still involved in independent politics.

In the recent past there have been numerous smear campaigns against the Indy Party too. Are these hit jobs politically motivated by operatives in the major parties or by a partisan media? Probably, but who really knows for sure? The biggest issue — and I use that term loosely — that the media blows out of proportion are the uninformed voters confused by the voter registration form and may have unknowingly registered in the Independence Party. Every now and again during election time some bright voter will find out that he or she unknowingly registered as an Indy when they meant not to register in a political party (and then the news will do an exposé on him or her and call the Indy Party deceitful and misleading, partisan media anyone?). Perhaps it’s not that the voter was uninformed (after all it’s nothing a quick Google search wouldn’t clear up), but rather the form can be genuinely confusing. Yes the form is ancient but even the Independence Party has advocated to move “I do not wish to enroll in a political party” to the top of the form in order to avoid any more confusion. Why hasn’t that passed into law already?

I would recommend this book to anyone has become discontent with politics as usual but is looking to learn more about the mechanism and driving forces behind viable alternative politics in New York. With Shelly Silver arrested, and throngs of democrats and republican state lawmakers breaking the law or locked in partisanship, if there ever was a time for an independent movement in Queens and across New York, it’s clearly now.

In the end, the book is a fascinating glimpse into a grassroots political party that has become the largest in New York State and for good reason: It’s fusion politics that gives movements like the Independence Party a fighting chance in New York, and for this very reason it is often at odds with Democrats who seek one party control by eliminating fusion politics altogether. We can’t let that happen. Witnessing firsthand the petty party politics, the wanton decrees from political party bosses, and the compromise of candidates positions just to meet those decrees inspired me not only to write this book review and set the record straight but  to join the Party of pragmatism where I’ve since taken a leadership post as State Committeeman in the 11th SD in Queens County (State Committee members of the Indy Party have one male and one female leader per SD) of the Independence Party of New York, the first in a long, long time. So yes, we are partial to the cause. Big things are once again on the horizon.

If you want to read the inside scoop about the Independence Party, read “What About The Rest of Us?”

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2015/01/frank-mackay-what-about-the-rest-of-us-independence-party-ny/

Oct 01 2012

Halloran Blasts Mayor For Endorsement of Opponent

In response to Grace Meng’s recent endorsement by Mayor Bloomberg, her opponent Dan Halloran sent out a press release calling the endorsement another one of Mayor Mike’s ill conceived ideas. Full context in the official communication below.

Press Release: Mayor Bloomberg Advocates Soda Ban, Congestion Pricing, and now Grace Meng for Congress

Nanny State Mayor’s Bad Ideas Just Keep Coming

Not surprisingly, the Mayor who bought himself a third term by disregarding the will of the People and overturning elected official term-limits, now moves to endorse Assemblywoman Meng for Congress.  It’s no wonder this Super Nanny-State advocate, who champions feel good measures with no shot of fixing real problems, has made this choice. Whether it’s the soda ban, his congestion pricing schemes, or the bike lanes to nowhere, Mayor Mike has found another bad idea for New Yorkers: Grace Meng in Congress.

“I have vocally fought the Mayor‘s social engineering pet projects and spending excesses.  I’ve called out the Mayor on the City Time scandal long before the others piled on, back when it was “just” a question of being ten-times over budget.  I fought to keep Queens free from the Mayor’s Congestion Pricing Plan, which would have cost local residents millions.  And despite the Mayor’s billions, I will continue to speak truth to power.   Meng, a go-along Democrat won’t stand up for New Yorkers’ right to think for themselves, has voted 99.7% with Shelly Silver in Albany. She certainly isn’t rocking the boat here in New York, and we can’t expect her to in Congress,” Halloran said.

In the past, Halloran has also warned the Mayor’s office of many unconstitutional city plans, such as the so-called Crisis Pregnancy Center Bill that Bloomberg signed into law and was struck down in Federal Court three days after he signed it, which curtailed the free-speech rights of Catholic institutions.  He spoke out against the City’s proposed taxi medallion sale, which Halloran pointed out violated the State Constitution and now jeopardizes the NYC Budget revenue projections with a $1.5 billion dollar shortfall.  Council Member Halloran also stood up for churches and other religious institutions when the Mayor sought to prevent them from renting off-hours space in publically owned buildings.

“Bloomberg’s latest suggestion for the City of New York, voting for Grace Meng, is just as detrimental to New Yorkers’ freedom and prosperity as the rest of the Mayor’s ill-conceived ideas.  This reminds Queens residents of why New York City is already faced with above average unemployment, high taxes and a huge cost of living along with ever-increasing tolls and subway fares.  Our small businesses are struggling more than ever with exorbitant fees and aggressive city ‘revenue’ programs. Our voters need Meng in Congress like they needed the soda ban,” said spokesman Kevin Ryan.

Dan Halloran will continue to fight for New York in the United States Congress, because he’s one of us.  We know we aren’t better off today than we were four years ago; we wish the Mayor and Grace Meng knew that, too.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/halloran-blasts-mayor-meng/

Dec 08 2011

Egalitarian Bill Moving Forward In Albany, Queens Set For Job Growth

 

New legislation that passed both houses in Albany is being hailed as an early Christmas present for the stagnant state economy.

The new plan includes something to appease everyone from Long Island Republicans to inner city Democrats. Parts of Queens are set to benefit. Below is a statement from the Governor on the initiative even though the actual language of the bill is still under consideration:

”The agreement includes support for a comprehensive New York Works Agenda that will create thousands of jobs with new investments in New York’s infrastructure; passing a fair tax reform plan that achieves the first major restructuring of the tax code in decades, resulting in a tax cut for 4.4 million middle-class New York taxpayers; approving $50 million in additional relief for areas devastated by recent floods; and reducing the MTA payroll tax to provide relief for small businesses.” 

The plan was backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which the state Senate passed 55-0 Wednesday night and the Assembly approved 130-8 early Thursday.

The new tax breaks will go to most households with annual earnings of $40,000 to $300,000, or single filers making $20,000 to $150,000 a year.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/jobs-bill-reached-in-albany/

Nov 28 2011

The Low Down On Shelly Silver

 Sheldon Silver (D-Manhatten) pictured here with Governor Andrew Cuomo

Shelly says I cook the fish around here pal.

An ex-staffer believes Shelly Silver is happy as a clam with a Republican majority in the Senate.

After Thanksgiving weekend, QP had a chance to meet up with an old friend, a former state Senate staffer from the GOP. She had some interesting viewpoints on Shelly Silver and how he maintains absolute political authority with the GOP majority in the senate.

Some critics think the state legislature is dysfunctional because the assembly speaker has a lot of power, others believe the legislature is not exactly dysfunctional but could use some tweaking, however Capital staffers have their own unique perspective.

According to the source,  the conditions are perfect for Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) to nurture his political gravitas.

The source  believes that Shelly, who has been Speaker since 1994, has flowered with the Republican controlled Senate because when things go awry Shelly needs someone to blame.

“With Joe Bruno and Malcolm Smith out of the picture Shelly’s power inflated because if the unions, the lobbyists and the special interests need something done, they go to Shelly and no one else – they don’t have to seek out the GOP leadership – they only need to see Shelly, and as a Republican in New York, you need Shelly Silver if you plan on seeing anything, and I mean anything through.”

The source believes Dean Skelos, who is currently serving his first term as Majority Leader of the Senate  is the legislative colleague of a lifetime.

“When things get hairy Shelly can demonize the GOP, but behind the scenes it works out because the GOP always asks for a lot less then their Democratic colleagues and Shelly really likes that.”

It used to be three men in a Smokey room but now the old cliché could be a thing of the past.

“Shelly was sick and tired with the Democrats because they all want more than the state is able to give,” according to the source.

She said Republicans are easier to work with alleging that at some point Shelly was so fed up with his party he even threatened to retire.

You mean the coup of 2009?

She shakes her head and raises her hands to her cheeks, as if she made her case in point. “The biggest freak show is the democrats, and everyone realized it.  John Samson and Malcolm Smith they couldn’t get the conference organized and Monseratte – he went to the other side,” she said, referring to the 2009 turmoil when Democratic Senators Hiram Monseratte and Pedro Espada  flipped handing power to the Republicans and bringing state government to a grinding halt for five weeks.

Monseratte, who lost an Assembly race to Franscisco Moya and his old Senate Seat to Jose Peralta, may have been a seedy character (he allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend with a broken glass), but he flipped for a good reason.

“If you would have lined up the Democrats, even Shelly would have voted Republican,” adding, “That’s how bad it was, it was total chaos in Albany and the Chamber rebuked Hiram to cover their ass.”

According to the source, Shelly didn’t fare any better working with former Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith, who is a Democrat – even though he was reported to be running power rings around Malcolm. Because senate democrats like Malcolm “wanted too much from the state coffers,” she said they couldn’t cooperate with each other.

Under the present political climate, the former staffer believes Shelly Silver is now the “kingpin of government” more so than he ever would have been with Democrats in control of the Senate chamber.

“With Republicans back in power things are running a lot smoother, and Shelly, he couldn’t be happier.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/shelly-says-republicans-not-so-bad-after-all/


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