Another political episode in my comic strip, Average Man. This strip is based on true stories of campaigning over the years in New York. I won't do a political strip every week, but since this Thursday is Primary Day in New York State, I thought another political strip was appropriate.
I mentioned in a previous posting that I was dismayed with the fact that electronic votiing machines had made their way to our state; as it happens, I was listening to 1010WINS that morning, and they mentioned that now New York State was in compliance with HAVA, known as the Help America Vote Act.
Unfortunately, this may not be for the best.
I want you to read the first chapter of VoteScam by the Collier brothers, and then get back to me.
Figuring out who to vote for in New York State this year is trickier than usual for those who want to advance labor rights, equality and democracy.
The state mirrors the national picture in many ways. Since the 2008 elections, the right has gone on a rampage, especially with the formation of the tea party, perhaps the most openly racist movement this country has seen in decades. It is at once sad and frightening, and, despite a relatively small base of support, it occupies much media coverage.
Against that, there have been significant victories under the new balance of forces that was ushered in with Obama's election, especially health care reform and the stimulus package of 2009 - but, economically and in most other ways, the country isn't out of the woods, and Obama and allied forces looking for a road forward are perpetually stymied. Every good initiative has run up against immediate obstruction by the minority Republican Party.
It's primary season, time for robo-calls, mailings and our expanded election coverage, with an array of information on all the candidates and original reporting on key races.
Gotham Gazette's coverage of City Council elections continues...
The extension of term limits has proved a double-edged sword for City Council member Alan Gerson. On one hand, it has given him a chance at four more years; on the other, it has provided his opponents with a political weapon to use against him. Alex Kane reports:
The Boyland 2009 campaign website has been posted at www.boyland09.com. Tracy Boyland for New York City Council District 41.
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).
If you're a Green for Giuliani, a Democrat for Romney, or a Republican for Clinton, you won't be able to vote for your candidate in the February 5 primary. The deadline to change parties in time for the primary came and went last October, unnoticed by many voters who may have been planning to switch their affiliation. The deadline is designed to protect the primary process, but does this deadline leave New Yorkers with fewer options? Read more at the Gotham Gazette.
I am going to save the heavy stuff for part two of this article. You know: the deep stuff; the in-depth analysis and so forth. The kind of heady stuff that will get me in trouble (as usual), because I am sure some feathers will be ruffled; the kind of behind the scenes stuff that most of you like. You know what I am talking about: the “national enquirer” kind of stuff. The stuff I held back on during the campaign. The stuff I save for the political crack-heads.
Firstly, I must take some credit for the fact that I was the first blogger in the city, to bring attention to the Haitian-American agenda of political-empowerment through this special election. It was rough road all the way, but in the end the mission was accomplished. Congratulations are in order; not just for Mr. Matthieu Eugene (some are saying “Una-gene”), but also for those in that community who have been crying out for empowerment over the years.
Some new polls have come out showing Hillary Clinton absolutely killing Barack Obama, among *black* voters. We seem to have a case here where a black candidate, Obama, is more popular among white voters than he is among black voters. And a white candidate, Hillary Clinton, who is evidently more popular among black voters than white voters.
Which brings up the question-- is Barack Obama's popularity among white voters actually hurting him among black voters? Do african american voters see Obama's white popularity as an indication that he's more white than he is black? When you hear black columnists calling Obama an "honorary white man", you get that impression.
Now the Democrats have selected Denver as the host city for the 2008 National Convention, we will soon see pundits writing how this will make Colorado and neighboring states more likely to vote Democratic for President. Previously others have written that the Republicans having their convention in Minneapolis will help them win in Minnesota & Wisconsin. For example – "The Midwest has become strategic ground," said David Schultz, who teaches politics at Hamline University in St. Paul. "Bring the convention here, get the faithful excited, and spotlight that you care about the Midwest and farmers." Schultz said it's also a "symbolic black eye" to Minnesota Democrats trying to keep alive the spirit of Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone. "It's a purple state now, and Republicans increasingly view this as a winnable state," he said.
Just when we were starting to take ourselves oh so seriously...
Most of us have not yet been able to decipher the taped answers given by Board of Elections chairman John Ravitz to the questions put to him by Room Eight administrator Gur today.
So at this point it is difficult to pass judgment on the credibility of the Ravitz statements. Hopefully Gur will soon post an acceptable written transcript of the interview together with the original statements made by Ravitz to the Sun's Azi Paybarah on July 28th. At that time we will all be able to form a fair and educated assessment of this man's competence and integrity.
Meanwhile, two things should happen. John Ravitz should be removed immediately from the sensitive and important position of Board of Elections chairperson. If someone is empowered to do so, all the Board of Elections Commissioners should also be removed. And all of these individuals should be called in for investigation by both the Manhattan District Attorney and the Brooklyn District Attorney.
So what really happened at the Board of Elections the night petitions were filed, and shortly thereafter? These questions have been the subject of much debate (a la Maurice and Gate).
So we decided to take some of these questions directly to John Ravitz, BOE head honcho. And now, we leave the real deciphering to you...
(pls note: as always, we welcome commentary from any of the officials mentioned herein - either in the comments section or via email for direct publication)