Monday, November 4, 2013

Election Day 2013 - Bill, Scott, Tish, Ken and Ballot Questions and ...

As Tuesday, November 5th approaches, there appears to be an unusual calm.  Is it a calm before a huge storm?  That remains to be seen.

The challenges facing New York City's next municipal administration are significant.  Those who allege that there are no impending crises underestimate the importance of the upcoming labor negotiations, the new modifications to police practices and oversight thereof, the potential sunset of Mayoral control over education, and infrastructure replacement costs ... to name a few issues.

Your vote on Tuesday for Democrats is an important statement regarding the future of New York.  The dominance of a more "corporate oriented" approach to governance is coming to a halt -- if not an end.-- and this will have ripple effects across the City and State, as well as the nation.  Let's give this change a chance.

Accordingly, I urge you to help elect Bill de Blasio as the next Mayor, Scott Stringer as the next Comptroller, and Letitia James as the next Public Advocate.  This is a unique team with great potential to deliver a better New York City for all of us.  Furthermore, there are a number of Democratic City Council candidates who really need a strong Democratic turnout to ensure their victories.

In Brooklyn, there is a race for the position of District Attorney -- a countywide/boroughwide role that is undergoing a transformation.  After 24 years of service, the incumbent D.A., Charles "Joe" Hynes, is about to retire due to his defeat in the Democratic Primary election this past September.  Unfortunately, Mr. Hynes has chosen a less gracious exit from his District Attorney role by campaigning as a newly minted Republican, which makes your vote for former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Democrat Kenneth P. Thompson extremely important.  Brooklyn needs a change and there is always room for improvement in an office such as the District Attorney's.

You will also find a number of proposals on the ballot for your consideration -- you must turn over your ballot to vote for these items!  Such proposals -- changes to the New York State Constitution -- are usually misunderstood due, in part, to their complexity and the lack of education surrounding them.  I often find myself as ignorant as anyone else on these matters, but I believe that all democrats (note the small "d") have an obligation to vote on important issues -- and that means you and me.
  • There is a proposal to allow for additional casinos within the State (Proposal 1).  The New York Times makes a compelling argument to vote NO on this proposal.  What I find fascinating is how so much of the paper's argument applied -- and still applies -- to the Atlantic Yards project, yet the Times made no such arguments when they were needed most in 2003.  But I digress.  Read the Times' analysis by clicking here.
  • Disabled veterans will be given more credit on civil service examinations (Proposal 2).  I will be voting YES on this proposal.
    • Communities would now be able to exclude the debt incurred on the construction of sewers from their constitutional debt limits until 2024 -- an extension (Proposal 3).  I will be voting YES on this proposal.
    • The town of Long Lake in the Adirondacks (Hamilton County) has some land issues that can be resolved through land swaps -- some 200 issues, to be a bit more precise (Proposal 4).  The net result is the addition of protected lands to the State's forest preserves. The Times and the NY League of Conservation Voters support this proposal.  I will be voting YES on this proposal.  Here is the link to some analysis.
    • A mining company wishes to expand operations into 200 acres of forest preserve in exchange for the donation of 1,500 acres to the public and the eventual return of the 200 acres (Proposal 5).  This proposal is receiving mixed reviews.  The New York Times and others, including the Adirondack Council and NY League of Conservation Voters, support this proposal (for LCV analysis, click here.)  I have just received information from the National Resources Defense Council regarding opposition to the proposal AND the Sierra Club also opposes it.  This is not my area of expertise!  Accordingly, I have little to share on this question other than the fact that I will probably be voting NO... (final vote to be determined tomorrow).
    • There is a proposal to raise the retirement age for state judges from 70 to 80 (Proposal 6).  This is a delicate subject, needless to say.  I lean towards voting NO on this proposal.  Why?  Because there is value to be had in allowing -- or promoting -- changes to the judiciary AND there are already ways for some judges to serve beyond the age of 70.  Retired judges may still be of service to our State -- as mentors to sitting judges and lawyers, as thought leaders free to share their views and recommendations without the constraints of active bench duty, and -- with some other legal changes -- as administrators of the judiciary.  We need the wisdom, but we need a judiciary that reflects the population it serves.  
      • First, we need to be able to end the tenure of judges who are either "not good" or "less good than they were."  This may sound harsh, but it's necessary.  
      • Second, to increase diversity on the bench in a meaningful and fair manner, the current retirement age should remain in place.  It's a tough call, but retirement ages for judges are not rare and we have a deep pool of jurists and potential jurists to draw upon.  
      • Third, I do NOT see this retirement age proposal as a way to reduce the workload and systemic backlog of cases.  Increase the number of Supreme Court judges and there will be a positive impact.  Pay judges fairly and there will be a positive impact.  Give judges the technology they need to operate more efficiently, and there will be a positive impact.  These things are worth the money needed in our budgets.  Further constraints on diversity are not worthy of my vote, however.
    For another perspective on these ballot questions, read Gerald Benjamin's piece in City & State.  We don't agree on everything, but that's the point, isn't it?

    I hope that you find this helpful.  Thank you again for your support of my family.

    Let's win!


    P.S. - To volunteer for Ken Thompson, click here or contact or call 718-622-1560.  Your help is needed, today!

    P.P.S. - Did you see our silly fun music video for "B-d-B Country"?  Click here!

    P..P.S. - If you have any problems voting on Tuesday, have the Polling Site Coordinator assist you OR make sure the Polling Site Coordinator calls the NYC Board of Elections immediately for assistance.  If you feel your civil rights were violated in any way, contact the office of NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at 1-800-771-7755.  You can also send me an email describing your problem (but please understand that I won't receive the email until AFTER the election.)