Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/860 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:11:55 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Could Trump & Sanders Populism Fuel Constitutional Convention Approval? http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6620:could-trump-sanders-populism-fuel-constitutional-convention-approval http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6620:could-trump-sanders-populism-fuel-constitutional-convention-approval bernie hat handshakes 1

Senator Bernie Sanders (photo: @BernieSanders)


With the 2016 presidential election over, can the populist fervor surrounding the candidacies of Senator Bernie Sanders and President-elect Donald Trump be harnessed into a new kind of revolution on a state level here in New York?

A year from now, next Election Day, New Yorkers will have the chance to vote on a referendum to call a Constitutional Convention, an opportunity to rewrite state laws that comes around once every 20 years. Proponents of the convention — at this point mostly academics and government reform groups like Citizens Union, but also Gov. Andrew Cuomo — are already pushing for New Yorkers to vote “yes” on the November 7, 2017 ballot question, saying it is a rare opportunity to take control of government, hold Albany leaders accountable, and enact ethics, elections, and other government reforms on specific issues like campaign finance, redistricting, voter registration, term limits, home rule, and more.

Sanders and Trump, both of whom won most New York counties in their respective April primaries, highlighted what they called the corrosive influence of wealthy interests and corporations on the political system and promised new kinds of people-powered government. They called the system rigged and broken, the government controlled by special interests, and spoke to the concerns of many voters who’ve lost faith in their elected representatives. They called for revolution, albeit with some essential differences.

But what will become of these movements in the aftermath of this Election Day? A New York Constitutional Convention -- or ConCon, as it is often called -- provides a chance to engage these constituencies and their sense of marginalization to literally “take back the government" by rewriting any and all aspects of the state constitution. This, at a time when legislators seem unable or unwilling to police themselves, reform democratic systems, and address long-standing problems.

A June Siena College poll showed that most New Yorkers do not trust the latest reform bills to stem corruption in Albany, and 68 percent said they’d support a Constitutional Convention. However, in the same poll, two-thirds of New Yorkers responded that they had read or heard nothing about a Constitutional Convention, and another quarter said they had heard “very little.”

The last time a ConCon was on the ballot, in 1997, it was voted down by a two-to-one margin. With scant public awareness of the issue, and powerful interests lining up in opposition, voters’ views could easily shift against the idea as the next election nears -- as was the case during the last vote. Whether or not a populist fervor can be whipped up around a ConCon vote is one major 2017 question awaiting New York.

One pro-ConCon group that has tried to capitalize on Sanders energy is the New Kings Democrats (NKD), a progressive reform political club in Brooklyn that voted almost unanimously to make ConCon part of its platform earlier this year. An officer of the group said NKD reached out to the Sanders campaign ahead of the New York primaries about the issue, but was rebuffed.

“It kind of never got off the ground,” said Brandon West, the group’s vice president of policy and political affairs. “The response we got was, ‘We’re trying to get Bernie elected president; let us know if you want to help.’”

A representative from Team Bernie New York declined to comment on a Constitutional Convention, saying before Election Day that while the team is aware of the ballot measure, it was focused electing Sanders-aligned candidates like Zephyr Teachout for Congress. (Teachout lost, but could be a powerful pro-ConCon voice if so inclined.)

Local chapters of major and minor political parties Gotham Gazette spoke with — including the Working Families Party — have yet to take a public position on ConCon.

Meanwhile, organized opposition to a Constitutional Convention is coming from labor unions and some environmental advocates who fear a nuclear approach to constitutional reform could put at risk workers’ pensions and environmental protections — such as a mandate that the Adirondacks Mountains be kept “forever wild.”

Those fears are echoed by many New York progressive reformers including Democratic State Assemblymember-elect Robert Carroll, whose political club Central Brooklyn Progressive Democrats (CBID) endorsed Sanders in the primary.

"My worry is that there are lots of worker protections, environmental protections and a whole host of other progressive safeguards in the New York State constitution, and I want to make sure those are preserved," Carroll said in a phone interview.

Carroll, and others, have noted that the ConCon delegate selection process is a main concern. The larger process would begin with ConCon approval through the ballot question on November 7, 2017. If approved, New Yorkers would then vote in 204 convention delegates on the following Election Day; the convention would commence the first Monday in April 2019; and New Yorkers would vote to ratify any proposed changes to the constitution as early as November 2019. (All proposed changes to the constitution that come from a ConCon are presented to voters for approval or disapproval.)

While technically anyone can run as a ConCon delegate, in practice, those with power and name recognition -- including state lawmakers themselves -- are typically elected, resulting in little change to the system, as was the case at a rare government-initiated ConCon in 1967.

“We don't know who is going to be in that convention or what the makeup will be,” said Carroll, warily of the hypothetical ConCon.

J.H. Snider, a ConCon expert, has written in Gotham Gazette that a truly fair and democratic ConCon vote would require legislators to be barred from running as convention delegates, and in fact, plural office-holding -- which is banned in other states -- is one of the issues a constitutional convention could address.

Gov. Cuomo, a second-term Democrat, said during his January State of the State that, “a constitutional convention that is properly held – with independent, non-elected official delegates – could make real change and re-engage the public.”

But, the $1 million that Cuomo proposed to include in the state budget to fund a preparatory committee for a potential ConCon did not appear in the spending plan approved a few months later.

During the general election, Sanders urged his supporters to embrace Clinton, and his movement has splintered into different factions, some reluctantly embracing the Democratic nominee, another segment backing the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and still other organizations — like Team Bernie New York — pushing for candidates in local races that aligned with Sanders’ message.

Every pro-Sanders group Gotham Gazette spoke to said that the ConCon referendum is not a priority on its post-primary agenda. It is quite early, but if 2016 momentum is not captured and continued, it may be gone for good.

Michael Blecher, a former Sanders activist who now runs a grassroots organization called Politics Reborn, said his group is currently focused on democratizing New York City’s district leader and county committee races, and that he is cynical of ConCon’s potential delegate selection process. However, he noted that attitudes among his fellow Sanders supporters might shift following the presidential election.

“[Sanders organizers] are about to have this existential crisis — after November 8 — as far as whether certain progressive leaders are willing to put it front and a center,” said Blecher of ConCon during an October interview.

For example, he said, Politics Reborn might consider informing the public about the ballot question as part of its canvassing efforts. Reforming how district leaders and county committee representatives are chosen could be a serious plank at a ConCon, but Blecher’s cynicism about the prospects for true reform appear fairly widespread, at least at this point and among those who know about a ConCon.

Political scientist and SUNY New Paltz professor Gerald Benjamin said Constitutional Convention advocates like himself face an uphill battle in reaching voters and expressed frustration at the lack of political organization.

“Where is the organized effort? It’s a year out and where are the resources? The people who want people to know about this are out there giving speeches — including me — but we are talking about telling millions of people that this is an opportunity to participate in major legislative reform,” he said.

In contrast to the tepid response from Sanders organizers, ahead of the election, New York Trump supporters told Gotham Gazette that regardless of its outcome, a ConCon would be a crucial part of their strategy to gain more citizen control over state government. Trump surrogate Carl Paladino — a Buffalo businessman who ran for governor in 2010 and has a history of Trump-like rhetoric — said he hoped a ConCon would dismantle the old power structures crippling Albany.

"Our state has decayed so much from the control of the progressive liberals; it has to happen, and I would want very much to be a part of it,” said Paladino. A ConCon would allow the public to pass laws without going through a Legislature “controlled by a dictator like Sheldon Silver,” he added, referencing the disgraced former Assembly Speaker, a Manhattan Democrat now convicted on public corruption charges.

Both Republicans and Democrats have an interest in enacting term limits and other governmental reforms, but if they fail to form an organized coalition, extreme voices like Paladino’s have the potential to scare voters off, according to Benjamin.

“It can only work if the reasonable and responsible people organize, but if the Paladinos come forward as a force for change, it’s going to fail for sure,” said Benjamin.

New York City, which makes up 40 percent of the statewide electorate, is likely to be weighted significantly more heavily in the upcoming vote, since it coincides with the city’s 2017 mayoral and other municipal elections. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat running for re-election next year, has expressed skepticism about a ConCon. In a recent interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, de Blasio suggested the convention would be corrupted by big money interests.

“If corporations were banned and wealthy individuals were banned from dominating the political process, I would be very interested in the Constitutional Convention that could actually fix a lot of problems in the state constitution,” de Blasio said, in response to a question from a caller to the show, “but my hesitation has always been – we’re literally talking about a rigged economy.”

If the mayor decides to take a more decisive and forceful position on the convention, it could sway the vote. Conversely, as John Kenny, publisher of New York True, points out there remains the possibility that a Republican mayoral challenger — Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich, perhaps — would come out in favor of a convention and drive a “yes” vote.

Political scientist and Hunter College professor Kenneth Sherrill, who is pushing for a ConCon, says the power of big money to derail the convention has been overstated.

“It’s a difficult political process to get on,” he said. “There are lots of big money interests, but they are countervailing interests. While the Koch brothers might give their interests, for example, they will have no interest in ‘forever wild.’ It's not as if big money is going to be a unified force in this.”

One issue wealthier interests, which can include labor unions, will likely be unified on, though, is preventing limitations on campaign contributions. A Republican state Senate has prevented the passage of campaign finance reform in Albany, even closure of the notorious LLC loophole, which allows virtually unlimited campaign donations from entities who set up multiple limited liability corporations. Cuomo has said that it appears the only way the LLC loophole will be closed is if “the people do it.” Some do question Cuomo’s commitment to a ConCon since the money did for the preparatory committee for a ConCon did not make it into the final 2017 budget, indicating little support from top state electeds. Cuomo did stump for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate, which would lead to closure of the loophole and other campaign finance reform, but that effort appears to have failed. The GOP retained its Senate majority on Tuesday, perhaps giving Democrats more impetus to pursue change through a convention.

The New York State constitution -- which dates back to 1777 -- was mostly rewritten at a 1894 convention, with significant changes made at the 1937 convention. While several amendments have been made since, parts are outdated, and some argue that a Constitutional Convention is necessary simply to update the lengthy, convoluted document. However, if Bernie Sanders supporters in this overwhelmingly Democratic city and state choose not to jump on board with the convention soon, pro-ConCon Trump voices may spook many New Yorkers, reinforcing the fears that it would endanger hard-won progressive measures, leaving the decision up to the next generation of voters — in 2037.

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been corrected to remove menton of NYPIRG and League of Women Voters as having endorsed a Constitutional Convention.

Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. ]]>
Could Trump & Sanders Populism Fuel Constitutional Convention Approval? Thu, 10 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
Bill De Blasio and the Presidential Election That Didn’t Happen http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6616:bill-de-blasio-and-the-presidential-election-that-didn-t-happen http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6616:bill-de-blasio-and-the-presidential-election-that-didn-t-happen clinton bdb inner circle appleton

Clinton & de Blasio at Inner Circle (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


Just two weeks before Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders stepped into the 2016 presidential election with his uber progressive proposals that would eventually pull the Democratic Party to the left, Mayor Bill de Blasio stuck his foot in the door. The mayor’s attempt to seize the moment for national change was borne from his own electoral success in New York City and began in earnest with a policy announcement outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., where de Blasio and his allies unveiled an agenda meant to influence the presidential race.

Fashioning himself a national progressive standard-bearer, de Blasio embarked on what would become a largely humbling journey in which he was at times a political pariah, a strong voice for liberal policies, a non-factor, and a loyal Hillary Clinton surrogate. It ended this week as de Blasio led get-out-the-vote rallies on New York City college campuses, cast his vote for Clinton and spoke in support of Clinton at the beginning of a rally outside her election night event, which itself turned from an optimistic coronation to a political funeral.

The journey took de Blasio from glowing appearances on the Sunday political talk shows to humbly door-knocking in Iowa; from an unglamourous afternoon speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to late-game weekend appearances at swing state churches where he vouched for Clinton in front of largely black audiences, representative of his base. And then to several CUNY schools where he rallied young voters in Clinton’s adopted home state, a voting booth at a Park Slope library, and the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side, where Clinton supporters expected a big night that never came.

With the 2016 election now behind him, the mayor may be relieved to next focus on his own reelection campaign. His first term, much like his involvement in the presidential election, has been defined by a lurching series of setbacks and accomplishments. He has been lauded for achieving key progressive policy goals, including the implementation of universal pre-kindergarten, expanded paid sick leave, and more affordable housing.

But among de Blasio’s failures, one that stands out -- and foreshadowed his 2016 efforts -- is his unsuccessful 2014 attempt to influence state elections and flip control of the New York State Senate to Democrats. Not only did de Blasio-backed candidates lose and the Senate, which stifles the mayor on policy matters, remain in Republican hands, but de Blasio’s efforts are under law enforcement investigation because of the campaign finance tactics used.

After the 2014 election cycle, de Blasio also went national, expressing his disappointment with results around the country in a Huffington Post op-ed, urging Democrats to stiffen their backbones and commit to “a bold, new approach” that acknowledged the need to address income inequality. The missive landed with a thud, somewhat like de Blasio’s efforts to influence the 2016 conversation and his delayed endorsement of Clinton.

It is widely acknowledged that de Blasio’s progressive credentials are indeed strong, but his attempts to push his principles at the national stage faltered, even while his preferred policies took center stage in the Democratic debate. It would be Sanders, not de Blasio, who was the left-wing star of 2016. The mayor’s past proximity to Clinton, whom he once served as a political operative and who attended his 2014 inauguration as Mayor, seemed to encourage his audacious attempts at influencing her policy positions.

The highs and lows that followed de Blasio’s initial non-endorsement of Clinton, over 18 trepidatious months, also captured the relationship, which has since been placed under the microscope following the release of stolen emails from the hacked account of Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.

The first blow to the mayor and New York City’s role in the presidential election came early, in February 2015, when the city lost its bid to host the Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn. Some said that although logistics and security were stated reasons why the Democratic National Committee chose Philadelphia, which is in a swing state, part of the problem was New York’s status as a heavily liberal haven, and a sure thing for any Democratic nominee.

That April, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” de Blasio declined to officially endorse Clinton’s presidential run. “I think like a lot of people in this country, I want to see a vision,” he told host Chuck Todd, insisting that he wanted to first gauge Clinton’s policies on income inequality. What followed was not surprising. The Clinton campaign, already keeping the mayor on the periphery, shunned him almost entirely.

De Blasio’s initial offers of unsolicited advice went largely ignored, the emails revealed by WikiLeaks showed, and the campaign’s attitude turned almost hostile as the race continued. In private, campaign staffers derided him, with one aide even calling him “a terrorist” for his refusal to attend Clinton’s kick-off rally on Roosevelt Island and a compliment paid to Sanders, her chief primary opponent.

In May, as the mayor continued to hold off on his endorsement, he unveiled the Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality, a nonprofit organization and 13-point policy platform, at a news conference outside the Capitol. Signatories included former and current elected officials at various levels and a number of advocates and celebrities, but not the Clinton campaign. “It’s time to listen to the people all over this country, to listen to their hunger for a change,” de Blasio said at the announcement, according to the New York Times. “It’s up to us to answer their call — their strong demand, in fact — that we create a more just nation.”

Prior to the announcement, the mayor travelled to a number of states to promote a conversation around income inequality, earning him much criticism at home for focusing his attention away from the city -- he had been in office a year and a half.

The Progressive Agenda group made no concrete difference and slowly faded away, particularly after a failed attempt to host a bipartisan presidential forum in Iowa. The forum, slated for December, was called off in November after none of the candidates committed to attending.

De Blasio’s official endorsement of Clinton had come in late October, six months after his initial refusal, and was met with shrugs, the expected development that it was. Politico New York reported at the time on the mayor’s coordination of the endorsement with the Clinton campaign. Emails recently revealed by Wikileaks showed this and more, with communication around the mayor’s press appearances before the endorsement.

“The candidate who I believe can fundamentally address income inequality effectively and has the right vision and the right experience and ability to get the job done is Hillary Clinton,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talk show. “I have seen her vision and her platform develop over five months, I am extremely pleased with what she has put on the table,” he said.

Besides the reception from Clinton’s team -- the two did not appear together and Clinton’s team released a lukewarm statement  -- the mayor was peppered with questions over the reasons for his delayed endorsement and the apparently failed calculations involved.

The weekend before the February 1 Iowa caucus, the mayor sought to make amends by personally travelling to the state, with no invitation from the campaign, to knock on doors and urge people to support Clinton. Clinton and de Blasio did not appear in public together and the trip seemed to have little political payoff for either. It played more as a symbolic mea culpa on the mayor’s part, particularly after the New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign had rejected a previous offer by him to campaign in the state.

The relationship slowly thawed in the next few months. The mayor’s effort to push Clinton left was virtually over, though since she did take more liberal positions on a number of issues, the mayor saved some face and later took some credit. He also regularly praised Senator Sanders, and continues to do so -- acknowledging, at least tacitly, that the Vermont senator had the impact the mayor was aiming for when he organized the Progressive Agenda.

In April, Clinton and de Blasio finally made a joint appearance at the annual Inner Circle dinner in New York City. But even that event turned sour after the two participated in a racially-tinged joke that referenced de Blasio’s reticence in endorsing Clinton. After a week or two of critical headlines, however, both emerged unscathed.

Clinton went on to debate Sanders for the last time in the Democratic primaries at an event in Brooklyn that de Blasio attended, then won the New York primary on April 19. At her victory celebration, the mayor was among those who spoke to the crowd -- months before stolen emails were released that showed him critiquing some of her debate performance.

De Blasio eventually became an active Clinton surrogate, taking to the road to campaign for her across the country. He went to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in just the last few weeks of the general election campaign.

“I’m very comfortable with the fact that I pushed the Clinton campaign to take a more progressive stance,” de Blasio said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on October 14. “And even if that meant holding out for a while I think that is part of the political process and that is how I am going to comport myself.”

This past weekend, the mayor visited multiple churches across the five boroughs to stump for Clinton. And on Monday, he rallied with college students at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, Baruch College in Manhattan, and Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

On Tuesday morning, amid a five-borough get-out-the-vote blitz, the mayor arrived with First Lady Chirlane McCray in their old neighborhood to cast their ballots at the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Speaking to reporters outside the polling site, they took stock of the “historic moment.” “I signed in my bubble slowly to savor the moment,” said McCray.

“There’s something amazing happening today,” said the mayor, who was on his way to several rallies across the city before attending Clinton’s election night event at the Javits Center. “I really believe this is the day we’re going to elect the first woman president of the United States of America. And as a Democrat I’m particularly proud. Just eight years ago we elected the first African-American president, today we’ll elect the first woman president. This speaks volumes about the values of the Democratic Party…It’s a powerful day for change in America.”

But, it was not to be. Clinton lost to Republican Donald Trump in one of the most stunning moments in United States history -- seemingly putting de Blasio’s hopes for more progressive federal policy on hold, and inserting in the White House someone who has forcefully criticized the mayor’s leadership.

De Blasio was scheduled to discuss the election results on WNYC radio Wednesday morning, but his appearance was bumped due to Clinton’s concession speech.

Instead the mayor addressed the election results at City Hall, where he expressed his disappointment in the results, but said, “I congratulate the New Yorker who won the election, Donald Trump, and I honor the New Yorker who won our city’s vote and the popular vote nationally, Hillary Clinton.”

De Blasio called on New Yorkers to “move forward together, resolute and determined to protect and preserve the city we love and the values we cherish.” He listed some of the key policies that he’s implemented in New York and wants to see nationally.

“It’s no secret that I have profound political disagreements with President-elect Trump,” de Blasio said, before promising to work with the new administration “positively and constructively.”

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Bill De Blasio and the Presidential Election That Didn’t Happen Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
Takeaways from New York Presidential Primary Voting http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6308:takeaways-from-new-york-presidential-primary-voting http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6308:takeaways-from-new-york-presidential-primary-voting trump peace

Donald Trump (photo: @realDonaldTrump)


In the 2016 New York presidential primary, Hillary Clinton won the greatest portion of New York City’s Democratic vote share by a better margin than pundits expected, substantially increasing her votes in predominantly black communities from 2008 and also receiving solid support from a number of traditionally white, liberal areas.

For Bernie Sanders, reports said he was trying to emulate the campaign that liberal upstart Zephyr Teachout ran in the 2014 gubernatorial primary, and expand the support she got in many of the small, rural areas that she did well in against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo and Clinton are seen as of the same centrist wing of the Democratic Party. Sanders, who operates to the left of the party, was not extremely successful in expanding on Teachout’s support, but he did do well and even received a majority of votes in some surprising neighborhoods not known as liberal strongholds.

The primary, especially for Democrats, was decided along the lines of candidates’ institutional and grassroots support networks, and demographic voting patterns, both familiar and new. Clinton won very few counties outside of New York City, but in the city, where roughly half of all Democratic voters in the state reside, she won competently in most election districts. In areas of New York City where support for Sanders was strong, the margin of victory was often smaller, whichever candidate won.

democrat city

There are over five million registered Democrats in the heavily blue state of New York, of which 2.76 million live in New York City according to the state Board of Elections. Roughly one-third of them, both state- and city-wide, turned up to the polls to vote on their party’s nominee for President. Secretary Clinton, who beat Senator Sanders with 58% of the state’s Democratic vote, did especially well in more urban areas, winning New York City and Long Island counties, as well as a few suburban counties just north of the city, but lost in almost every rural upstate county.

In the Republican primary, Donald Trump won all but one county statewide, receiving 60% of the 874,572 Republican ballots cast across the state. Of the close to 12 million registered New York voters, 3.2 million could not vote in either primary because of their enrollment status. Only registered Democrats and registered Republicans can vote in New York’s closed primaries, voters not registered in a party or registered with a party other than the two major ones were not eligible to vote.

In New York City, where John Kasich won Manhattan (New York County), the only county in the state that did not go to Trump, the number of Republican voters - 70,000, according to CUNY Graduate Center’s NYC Election Atlas - was nearly three times the GOP turnout of the 2012 primary. Still, close to one-third of the city’s 5,400 election districts saw fewer than five Republican voters at the polls. In almost 500 of them, no Republicans voted.

Clinton’s strongest support came from places with concentrations of middle- and upper-middle class New Yorkers, and in predominantly African-American and Afro-Caribbean neighborhoods, like the north Bronx and southeast Queens. She often received more votes in communities of color than she did in 2008 against now-President Barack Obama, even when the voter turnout was below the city-wide average this time around, according to CUNY.

clinton 08 16

Election maps provided by the WNYC Data News Team, indicate that Clinton’s two best neighborhoods in New York City in terms of the portion of the vote share she received were on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Rugby-Remsen Village in central Brooklyn. East and central Brooklyn are areas that are predominantly African-American and Afro-Caribbean. While the primarily white, middle-class Upper East Side saw above average voter turnout, according to the NYC Election Atlas, the turnout in central Brooklyn was mixed and in east Brooklyn it was below the city-wide average turnout by Democrats per election district. Clinton won in those places by wide margins - at least 2:1 - despite the lower turnout.

The neighborhood where Sanders received the greatest majority of votes was Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where a larger percentage of Democrats showed up to vote than the city-wide average. Although Clinton received a higher number of votes there than she did in the 2008 primary, Sanders still won 63.8% of the vote share - his highest margin.

In Steinway in northwest Queens - another one of Sanders’ best areas by vote share, along with Breezy Point, parts of Bay Ridge, and the South Shore of Staten Island - Clinton received far fewer votes than she did in 2008.

In New York City, many of the places Sanders did well - Greenpoint, Astoria, Bay Ridge - are places that have seen or are beginning to see major demographic changes that come with gentrification. Especially in these areas, “hipsters” have become an emerging demographic of increasing political influence in elections.

“If you think about these as young people,” said David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, who studies city election trends, “somewhat more artistically inclined, somewhat more involved with gig economies, perhaps less likely to be employed by an organization that provides health insurance, perhaps closer to or still immersed in the experience of paying off college debt - there are lifestyle implications and there are time-of-their-life-cycle implications that suggest a set of experiences that would be consonant with and responsive to the Sanders message.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Sanders’ victories along the south shore of Staten Island, where 30,467 of the 119,328 registered Democrats there cast their ballots. Staten Island does not have an influential “hipster” demographic, nor a particularly strong liberal base. When asked about it, Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service, responded, “Why?...I have no idea...I don’t even want to speculate. It’s just odd.”

In the Republican contest, Trump won 63% of the New York City vote share despite losing Manhattan, where Kasich received 45% of the 25,000 Republican votes. Trump’s best victories in the entire state were on Staten Island where he won 82% of the vote. He also did quite well in many predominantly white, conservatively-inclined communities in Queens, such as Middle Village and Howard Beach.

Statewide, Trump received a lot of voter support in the suburbs of New York, especially Suffolk County on Long Island. He also did well in the partially more-urban Erie County, home to Buffalo, where he had the endorsement of Carl Paladino, the high-profile businessperson who had strong backing from voters in western New York when he ran for Governor in 2010.

In the Democratic primary, Sanders won every upstate county above Orange and Westchester, except Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga, all of which have major cities where Clinton excels.

democrat state

In New York City, Clinton also won large swaths of the northwest Bronx, southeast Queens, and east Brooklyn with over 70% of the vote share, all of which are predominantly African-American or Afro-Caribbean, and all of which saw below average turnout at the polls. In these areas, Clinton received more votes than she did in 2008, sometimes by triple digits, according to the CUNY election study, which is based on unofficial results provided by the city Board of Elections.

When asked why he thought Clinton received greater support from black voters than she had in the last Democratic presidential primary in New York, Romalewski told Gotham Gazette, “I think conventional wisdom is that...she was not running against Barack Obama, a historic African-American candidate, and in 2008 Barack Obama did very well in those areas - the only areas of the city she did not do well in.” It is likely, Romalewski said, that in 2008 there was “a strong connection between black communities and the black candidate. In 2016 that wasn’t the case.”

This, combined with the Clintons’ robust support from urban and black Democrats across the country, Romalewski said, is a plausible explanation of her new successes in those areas of the outer boroughs, even with the decrease in voter turnout. “So that’s one theory and probably the one that people tend to think of first off.”

“When you look at the patterns of where she picked up more votes between 2008 and 2016,” Romalewski said, “it also happened to be where Mayor de Blasio, or candidate de Blasio, in 2013 did well. And not just in predominantly black communities, but also in the Park Slope area and Clinton Hill and along the East River in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, those areas. So it’s possible that de Blasio’s endorsement of Clinton helped prompt more voters in those communities to support Clinton over Sanders.”

The south and central Bronx, largely Puerto Rican and Dominican areas, also saw a landslide Clinton victory with below average turnout.

In addition to being a group that Clinton has historically received strong support from, the active competition with Sanders may have forced her to make further commitments that resonated with Puerto Rican and other Latino voters. “She took a much stronger stand on Puerto Rico, when...she typically wouldn’t speak out against hedge fund people...That’s her crowd,” Theodore Hamm, chair of journalism at St. Joseph’s College and an open Sanders supporter, told Gotham Gazette. “Because Sanders was competing, [Clinton] was also forced to spend a lot more time...in New York City.”

Clinton’s visit to a NYCHA building in East Harlem with City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito just days before the primary, where she promised more funding for affordable housing, is another example of this. Following the visit, said Hamm, she made “commitments that she hadn’t made, that she probably wouldn’t have made without being challenged.”

Hamm believes the effect of the Sanders competition was positive, at least for the politicians embracing Clinton, who wanted to leverage their endorsement. The additional heat brought on by deep Sanders campaigning in the city “allowed Melissa Mark-Viverito and others to sort of step in and say, ‘OK well we’re gonna wholeheartedly support you, but then you gotta take a few stands that we want.’”

The strength of their support networks for both Democratic candidates was fundamental to the outcomes of the primary, even as the nature of their support differed greatly. Clinton owes part of her victory last week to returning, longtime supporters and the networks of politicians and political groups who ushered them to the polls - Clinton was, of course, a Senator from New York for eight years. Many of the places she did best, including her two strongest micro-areas - the Upper East Side and Rugby-Remsen Village - saw a relatively small increase in Democratic registrants who have not voted in a presidential primary before.

Calling the state a Clinton “stronghold,” Hamm said, “Clinton has been around for a while now in New York. She’s got pretty much all the Democratic politicians in her camp. They have their networks and they’ve turned out their voters, a lot of them older.”

While her political machine in New York allowed for a decisive victory last week, what that means for the future is completely unclear, Hamm believes. “I don’t know if she could do this again four years or eight years from now, or if someone who is sort of attaching themselves to the Clinton legacy, and so on, could pull this off. They would really need to get younger voters into the mix,” he said, referring to the fact that Sanders continues to dominate Clinton among young voters.

In the Sanders camp, support came from activist bases and on-the-ground networks. Part of his unexpected success in places like Bay Ridge and southwest Brooklyn is likely due to the strength of grassroots networks there. “I’m sure part of it had to do with the ground game,” said Romalewski. Almost in the next breath, however, he said, “I’m sure part of it had to do with New York City voters in some places being unpredictable.”

“There are definitely some political activist bases” in Bay Ridge, said Hamm on the subject, “Linda Sarsour, for example. Perhaps the Muslim vote was significant there - or helps explain that.” The demographic of voters in Bay Ridge, Hamm added, may also be more inclined to vote for Sanders than Clinton, even without pointed support from leaders like Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. “Hillary actually won most of the low-income neighborhoods in the city, but most of them are predominantly black or Latino...This is a lower-income white and immigrant neighborhood now - Bay Ridge. There is not a large black population.”

But despite the get-out-the-vote efforts in Bay Ridge, neighboring communities in southwest Brooklyn saw turnout below the city-wide average and still went to Sanders. This may partially be explained by the growing number of young people in this area, who express support for Sanders, but many of whom are not registered Democrats.

“It’s so difficult to tell when the turnout is low,” said Birdsell, “and particularly when a neighborhood is in transition, as Bay Ridge clearly is right now - repopulating from an old-line, ethnic community to a relatively young-family, new-hipster neighborhood community.”

The influence of Sanders’ and Clinton’s support networks made central Harlem a closer battle than many would expect of the predominantly black area where Bill Clinton has had an office since the end of his presidency. Voters there went to the polls in greater numbers than other mostly black neighborhoods. In central Harlem, despite the Clinton victory, Sanders received relatively more votes than he did in other predominantly black areas of the city.

According to Romalewski, “part of this probably depends on local efforts, grassroots get-out-the-vote campaigns, local district leaders, that sort of thing.” The proportion of white residents in Harlem is also growing, which may have impacted the strength of Clinton’s support there. While demographic data from the last six years is inconclusive, the number of white residents in Central Harlem South quadrupled between 2000 and 2010, with white residents making up 16% of the population in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. Clinton still received a higher number of votes in central Harlem than she did in 2008.

For Republicans, the contest in Manhattan depended more on the affluent than on low- and moderate-income groups or people of color. Birdsell told Gotham Gazette, “This is sort of the home turf par excellence of silk-stocking Republicans of the old guard, and the corporatist Republicans of the perhaps not-quite-as-old a guard...and certainly not the pitchfork-waving loyalists of the Trump revolution.”

“So the notion that a candidate who presents himself as a more traditional corporatist Republican,” Birdsell continued, “who speaks more politely and talks about positive visions of the economy, even if at the end of the day the policies are, with certain signal exceptions, not strikingly different, that candidate is probably going to do better than someone who, despite being a millionaire and despite being involved in real estate of New York all his life, has hardly behaved like the discreet and genteel upper class that attracted that corner of the GOP.”

republican city

One of the only enclaves of Republican voters that supported Senator Ted Cruz in New York City was in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn where he won some votes but no delegates. “He’s the most pro-Israel of all three,” Hamm said. “I don’t know that Kasich is distinct in that...But Trump said he would be a neutral negotiator [regarding Israel], and so if that’s your primary issue...then [Cruz] was the one to go for, right? Because he has been pandering to AIPAC and the Sheldon Adleson crowd.”

Suffolk County, which Trump won with over 72 percent of the vote, is another notable site for Republicans because of the diverse demographic makeup of its conservative voters. It is one of the largest counties by area in the country, ranging from rural to suburban landscapes, with some areas, especially on the north shore, having very high household incomes. Romalewski told Gotham Gazette that he noticed something “interesting” about a week before the primary: The number of students that opted-out of the Common Core tests in Suffolk County towns like Brookhaven and others was very high. “It really struck me. I noted on Twitter that...it would be interesting to compare how well this overlays with Trump’s vote support.”

“I think that’s an indication,” Romalewski went on, “of people fed-up with the system and, to the extent that they’re enrolled Republicans, that means they’ll likely vote for the candidate who says he’s fed-up with the system.”

The surprises that have come out of the New York presidential primary, Romalewski ruminated, are “one reason why we have elections and don’t just rely on polling.” On a broad scale pollsters and pundits may be relatively accurate, he went on, “but people, when they make their decisions, they’re making their own decisions...There are unexpected results that reflect reality and what some New Yorkers are thinking.”

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, Gotham Gazette

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Takeaways from New York Presidential Primary Voting Thu, 28 Apr 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Delegate Matters: How New York’s Presidential Primaries Actually Work http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6281:delegate-matters-how-new-york-s-presidential-primaries-actually-work http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6281:delegate-matters-how-new-york-s-presidential-primaries-actually-work sanders rally

A Bernie Sanders rally


For the first time in generations, both the Republican and Democratic parties are still engaged in extremely competitive presidential primary races as New Yorkers go to the polls. While everyone is eager to see which candidate on each side of the aisle earns the most votes on Tuesday, the statewide popular vote is not the only factor, or even necessarily the most important factor, in amassing the key prize: loyal delegates.

Each party uses its own arcane system to apportion and select its bound delegates for the coming national nominating conventions. This process is now of interest to a much wider group than in the past, and will significantly influence the path ahead for all five candidates, their supporters, and millions of other Americans.

The Basics
New York holds closed primaries with strict registration rules. As Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, said, “Only enrolled party members have the right to vote." Kellner added that "The deadline for changing enrollment was last October,” with new voters allowed more leeway.

Most New York Republicans will be voting for one of the three remaining GOP presidential candidates, although a fourth, Ben Carson, will still be on the ballot. They will send 95 delegates to their national convention in Cleveland. All will be bound by Tuesday’s vote, at least through the first convention ballot.

Democrats will not only vote for a presidential candidate, but also for up to seven individual delegates, whose names will be organized into Clinton and Sanders slates by congressional district. They will send 247 pledged delegates to their national convention in Philadelphia alongside New York’s 44 unpledged “super” delegates.

Both parties use a combination of at-large delegates, who will be pledged to presidential candidates based on the statewide vote, and district-level delegates, who will be pledged based on the vote in each of New York’s 27 congressional districts. The Republicans have 14 at-large and 81 district delegates, while the Democrats have 84 at-large and 163 district delegates.

Democratic delegates will be pledged proportionally, while Republicans give a far greater share to the winner, both statewide and by district. According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, Donald Trump continues to lead with 55% statewide and “in every region of the state.” If Trump holds that broad lead, he could walk away with almost all of New York’s delegates.

New York Republicans have a two-step process to their national convention. On Tuesday, they choose how all 95 delegates will be pledged. But if there are multiple ballots in Cleveland, who the actual delegates are will matter. That is where the second step comes in: the New York Republican State Committee will choose its delegates at its own convention, likely in May.

In contrast, the Democrats will elect most of their specific delegates on Tuesday, although their at-large delegates will also be chosen at a later state convention.

The Republicans
New York Republican rules are considered “proportional” by the Republican National Committee (RNC), but in reality are “winner take most” due to their majority triggers for winner-take-all at both the statewide and congressional district levels. If any candidate wins over 50% statewide, he would collect all 14 at-large delegates. Otherwise, they split proportionately among all candidates who cross a 20% minimum threshold.

Each of New York’s 27 congressional districts gets three Republican delegates. At that level, the GOP awards all three delegates to a majority winner. If no one breaks 50% in a given district, then two delegates would go to the plurality winner and one to the runner-up.

As Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan Republican Party, puts it: "The thing to watch for on Tuesday night is whether Trump breaks 50%."

With three Republican delegates per congressional district whether an area is deeply red, deeply blue, or pretty purple, things can get interesting. The system means a few hundred Republican voters in a (heavily Democratic) New York City district could be enough to swing its GOP delegates, while it might take tens of thousands upstate.

One GOP strategist told me, "Ted Cruz is smart to focus on the Orthodox Jewish vote. About 40% of the registered Republicans in the 10th [Congressional District], which includes really liberal areas like the Upper West Side, actually live in Borough Park. That's the kind of district where Cruz might be able to beat Trump."

But Malpass, who is one of the few large county party leaders to remain neutral in the primary, said, “Cruz hasn't been able to overcome his ‘New York values’ comment.” She added “Manhattan could be Kasich country.”

With Trump polling around 55% statewide, and Cruz and Kasich both hovering around 20%, it can help to look at three possible scenarios:

  1. If Trump wins a majority both statewide and in every district, he wins all 95 delegates.
  2. If Trump breaks 50% statewide and in half of the districts but lands just below 50% in the other half, he wins 81 or 82 delegates. Kasich and Cruz would split the remainder based on who finished second in each of the districts where Trump failed to break 50%.
  3. If Trump only scores a plurality statewide and in all 27 districts, he would still win 61 delegates. Cruz and Kasich would then have 34 to split, 7 proportionately statewide and 27 to whomever came in second by district. And for each district Trump actually loses to Kasich or Cruz, another one or two delegates would swing away from him.

Regardless of which scenario occurs, Trump is almost certain to win a clear majority of New York’s delegates unless polling proves to be very wrong.

The real drama on the GOP side might well occur weeks after the primary, when the Republican State Committee meets to select the actual delegates.

Through 2012, the New York GOP selected its delegates much the same way that the Democrats do: each presidential candidate would submit a slate of delegates in each congressional district. But after some tension between the state party and the Romney campaign, the state party changed its rules.

Under the new rules, the full Republican State Committee will later name the 11 at-large delegates (the other three of the 14 are ex officio, but still pledged), while the State Committee members within each of the 27 districts will decide their three delegates.

Trump has recently taken to accusing the GOP of running a “rigged” system for selecting delegates, including in states with similar procedures. However, Malpass says "I don't think the system is ‘rigged,’ but it is complex and different in each state."

And if County Party Chairs exercise as much influence over State Committee members as is generally assumed, Trump’s recent announcement that he has been endorsed by the Republican Party Chair in 32 of New York’s 62 counties, including 16 of the 20 largest, bodes well for his chances of having at least some delegates remain loyal to him if there are multiple ballots in Cleveland.

The Democrats
New York Democrats have a total of 291 delegates: 247 pledged (84 at-large and 163 district-level) plus 44 unpledged “super” delegates. Each of New York’s 27 congressional districts elects either five, six or seven, depending on the district’s proportion of Democratic votes in recent presidential elections.

Trudy L. Mason, a vice-chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, described Tuesday’s process: “First, you vote for Clinton or Sanders, then you vote for individual delegates. Within each district, the pledged delegates are apportioned based on the presidential preference vote. The delegates are then chosen in descending order of votes received on each slate, alternating by gender to ensure equal balance.”

Mason added, “[Another] 84 at-large, pledged delegates will be chosen at the New York State Democratic Convention in May, also proportionate to the statewide presidential primary vote. This may sound like a Byzantine system, but it works.”

The Democratic Party system is designed to achieve two things. The first is proportional representation at the national convention for each candidate. The second is selection of a gender-balanced group of pledged delegates who will be loyal to their candidates, or at least nominated by their campaigns. And while the “Byzantine system” should work as planned, what it will not do is give Sanders much of a chance to catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates should he win New York. Nor will it give Clinton the kind of opportunity to deliver a knock-out blow that a winner-take-all victory could.

Get Ready for Tuesday
So what can New Yorkers expect to see after the polls close on Tuesday?

In all likelihood, Clinton and Sanders will run close enough together that the proportionate split keeps Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates intact. She is polling around 10 points ahead of Sanders across the state and has a sizeable delegate lead coming into New York, though Sanders has been shrinking her margin with a steady stream of recent wins.

On the Republican side, Trump is likely to win the lion’s share of delegates, at least through the first ballot in Cleveland. And, given the breadth of Trump’s support throughout the state party, many of the individual delegates chosen to go to Cleveland may stick with him.

Cruz has the opportunity to beat expectations by picking up some delegates on what is considered unfriendly turf for him.

And all John Kasich has to do to win his first delegate in over a month is come in second to Trump in at least one district, keeping Trump below 50% there in the process. Kasich has an even bigger opportunity to collect some at-large delegates and a lot of press attention if a late surge in his support holds Trump below 50% statewide. To paraphrase Fred Ebb's famed lyric, if Kasich can't make it here, he probably can't make it anywhere.

***
Gus Christensen is a financial consultant to non-profits and start-ups, as well as a former investment banker and political candidate.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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Delegate Matters: How New York’s Presidential Primaries Actually Work Fri, 15 Apr 2016 03:41:23 +0000
Mapping New York’s Presidential Primary http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6279:mapping-new-york-s-presidential-primary http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6279:mapping-new-york-s-presidential-primary Gotham Gazette:  GOP NYS by County 2016


A look at voting trends in New York as voters head to the polls in the 2016 presidential primaries - scroll through the presentation below created by Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Graduate Center's Mapping Service:

 

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Mapping New York’s Presidential Primary Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:23:40 +0000
Calls for Candidates to Address Urban Issues in Presidential Race http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6277:calls-for-democrats-to-address-urban-issues-at-new-york-debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6277:calls-for-democrats-to-address-urban-issues-at-new-york-debate workers nycha scaffolding

Workers at a NYCHA building (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


For the first time in decades, New York has become a competitive battleground in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the race heats up in this delegate-rich state, the two Democratic candidates, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton, have ramped up their outreach, particularly in New York City, home to millions of Democrats.

Each side has been increasingly fervent in its vollies against the other and on Thursday, April 14, just five days before primary voters head to the polls, the two candidates will meet for what may be the last debate of the Democratic race. While the candidates have been outspoken on national issues, domestic and foreign affairs, experts agree that both campaigns have largely failed to articulate policy for American cities and ways in which the federal government can improve urban life.

“It seems the Democrats have got stuck on who hates inequality more and they’re not focused on the specific things that the government can do and needs to do right away to fix our schools, to rebuild infrastructure, to invest in creative economies that help cities thrive,” said Charles Euchner, Fisher Fellow for the Middle Class Jobs Initiative, Center for an Urban Future.

Clinton and Sanders will square off at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Duggal Greenhouse in a contest televised on NY1 and CNN. Both candidates have New York ties - Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn before eventually moving to Vermont, while New York is Clinton’s adopted political home that she represented in the U.S. Senate for eight years, 2001-2008.

Germane urban issues like infrastructure, transportation, resiliency, and national security have been addressed to some extent in the campaign, but not at a great level of specificity or regarding local jurisdictions like New York City. As both primaries hit the city, the lack of attention to such an agenda underscores the long-running gripe that New York State gives more to the federal government in taxes than it receives in federal investment.

Last week, Politico reported on efforts by City Council members and advocacy groups to inject issues of housing and urban policy into the campaigns, even pushing for the two Democratic candidates to visit a public housing development in the city. Public housing is one glaring example, many say, of federal disinvestment from cities like New York. City Council Member Ritchie Torres, who grew up in public housing and chairs the Council committee on the subject, will appear on MSNBC Wednesday evening to discuss the lack of federal attention to what was once a prized investment. Torres and Council Member Brad Lander led host Lawrence O’Donnell on a tour of NYCHA buildings in the Bronx.

Housing generally is essential to the New York political conversation, perhaps as much now as ever, and NY1’s Errol Louis, who will be one of three moderators for Thursday’s debate, has indicated it might form the basis of one of his questions. As they prepare for the debate, Sanders and Clinton are likely preparing for city-centric and New York-focused questions, as well as broader material for a national audience.

“We really haven’t had an urban policy in this country for a really long time,” said Euchner of Center for an Urban Future. He insists that the country as a whole has not considered an outright policy for cities since President Jimmy Carter’s Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties, which recommended migration of people away from poverty-stricken industrial cities in the north. The commission, chaired by former Columbia University President William McGill, “basically said cities are in trouble,” Euchner said, insisting that an urban policy had not been revisited since then.

The reasons, he said, are simple - suburban and rural interests, which have a disproportionate influence on politics, have been historically hostile to cities. Euchner believes this hostility has diminished in recent years, giving rise to an opportunity to reframe urban issues.

“It really is time for a new community compact that acknowledges the challenges of cities and towns,” he said. “All communities need some good rules of the road in pursuing common interests.”

David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, believes the upcoming debate may change that. “This has been a campaign that has had virtually nothing to say about the prospects of cities,” he said, also raising the point that cities receive little attention because of how electoral votes are distributed. “This debate, given the candidate’s constituencies, may change that pattern somewhat. There are a lot of spins on national issues that look different when discussing from inside of the nation’s largest city.”

He hopes to see the candidates address issues like mass transit, immigration, global warming, and infrastructure. “These are local issues and these are national issues,” Birdsell said. “They resonate differently when you talk about them in New York.”

A nuanced local debate is exactly what Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said is necessary for concerns about infrastructure, transit, housing and counter-terrorism, which she identified as some of the biggest issues for New York City. The position of presidential campaigns so far has been to throw money at these issues without talking about the “impediments to those investments,” Gelinas said. “The reality is, no matter what they say, these are difficult issues you can’t just solve with more money. These are problems that are really hard to solve from Washington.”

Gelinas said there needs to be a better focus on the wage structures and state labor rules that eventually end up pushing up the costs of infrastructure projects, along with a streamlining of the federal environmental review process for projects under the National Environmental Policy Act.

CUF’s Euchner echoed Gelinas. “One of the things we need desperately is an approach to making government work better,” he said, chalking up much of the dysfunction in federal investment to “logistics and bureaucracy.”

Euchner also agreed that infrastructure is probably the number one priority in the country and the candidates have to rethink their approach to it. He said the federal government needs to leverage its power and funding to nudge local jurisdictions towards the right path, whether it involves issues of poverty, transportation, education, or counter-terror.

Part of the lopsided federal investment into New York seems to stem from its relative success in comparison with other cities after the Great Recession. “The disparity among cities makes it tougher to have an urban policy today than 30 years ago,” Gelinas said, pointing to cities such as Detroit, Chicago, or Flint, Michigan that are still struggling to recover from the recession.

New York largely has the means to take care of itself. It has a large tax base, especially centralized in New York City, and is a “donor state” - an issue that former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of New York, highlighted in an annual report called “The Fisc” in which he analyzed the significant imbalance between federal taxes and federal aid. Moynihan died in 2003 but the issue of “The Fisc” did not die with him. An October 2015 report by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, which mentioned Moynihan’s work, found that New York paid $214 billion in federal tax revenues in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2013 and received $19.9 billion less than that in federal spending.

“It’s no surprise that a high-income state would generate more in federal taxes than many others. But other factors complicate the picture, raising questions about equity in New York’s balance of payments with Washington,” DiNapoli’s report says, citing the state’s higher poverty rates and health care costs.

“New York’s consistent pattern of underinvestment by the federal government is nothing new,” said Birdsell. “That gap has certainly widened substantially.” He said issues of grave importance to the city, including coastal infrastructure, resiliency and counter-terror, are key in this federal investment argument.  

Euchner criticized the idea that New York City was expected to take care of its own issues without federal aid, particularly since the city and the state are early adopters of many policies that set standards for others. “It’s a place where experiments take place,” Euchner said. “It’s really the country’s biggest laboratory.”

The most recent iteration of this federal trend came in President Barack Obama’s proposed cut of $90 million from New York City anti-terror funding, a move that brought heavy consternation from Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, New York Senator Charles Schumer, and others. Just this week, Hillary Clinton took the President to task on the issue and promised to fight for restoring the funds.

Gelinas, Birdsell, and Euchner all agree that, of all issues, terror is one that affects New York City more so than any other urban center. “Even in general, the foreign policy debate affects New York,” said Gelinas. “One could argue that the foreign policy decisions made at the federal level going back 15 years have made New York City more vulnerable.”

Euchner added, “It’s imperative that the federal government not pull away from New York. We need every tool that’s available - big data or boots on the ground in the city. I would be looking for very specific commitments in this debate.”

Thursday’s debate will be watched eagerly across the state, particularly since a New York primary has not been a close contest among Democrats since 1988, when former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis won a heated race against prominent civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson. New York Assemblymember Michael Blake, a former White House aide to President Obama, indicated he would be looking to the candidates to discuss issues of diversity and justice. “From racial to gender, from economic to social, it is critical to hear what these candidates will do for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises, Criminal Justice reform and Educational equity so that communities of color go from cradle to the career,” Blake said in a statement emailed to Gotham Gazette.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will also be paying close attention. He served as Clinton’s campaign manager for her first Senate run in 2000 and is a vocal supporter. “Mayor de Blasio is looking forward to hearing Secretary Clinton lay out her plans to move our country forward at Thursday’s debate,” said a spokesperson for the mayor in an email. “He believes that Hillary has the most progressive platform of any incoming President of the United States in a generation. This platform will fundamentally increase wages and benefits for working people, it will bring us things like full day Pre-K for all. It will rein in Wall Street, tax the wealthier at a higher level. The Mayor believes these are the changes we need in New York City and across the country.”

“The Mayor has also talked a lot about the need for a federal government that supports our cities by investing more in things like mass transit and public education, and he looks forward to hearing the candidates address these issues on Thursday,” the spokesperson added.

This year, the state’s large delegate count is a necessity for Sanders, who is coming off his eighth win out of the last nine primary contests with a total of 1,069 delegates, but is still far behind Clinton’s 1,758. A candidate needs 2,383 for the Democratic nomination. If Clinton should win New York with a big margin, which she is poised to do, she would have the nomination in the bag. The state has 247 delegates up for grabs: 163 are pledged and 84 are at-large delegates selected by the state Democrat Party at the May convention and allotted proportionately based on voting results. There are an additional 44 superdelegates, some of whom have already decided to back Clinton even if Sanders should somehow win the popular vote. A recent NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll (conducted between April 6-10) gives Clinton a 14-point lead over Sanders among likely Democratic voters.

blitzer bash louisCNN’s Wolf Blitzer will moderated Thursday night, joined by Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, and Louis, NY1 political anchor and a CNN contributor. Louis told Gotham Gazette in an email that he couldn’t share any particular questions in advance of the debate. “But I'm sure that both campaigns and our national media partner all know what it means to have NY1 and the Daily News involved: a firm, fierce focus on what we need to make a great city greater,” he wrote. (pictured l-r: Blizter, Bash, Louis)

Louis also appeared on The NY Slant podcast to discuss preparations for the debate. He estimated that there would be roughly 17 to 20 questions asked of the candidates over the two hours, setting aside time for commercial breaks, introductions, questions, answers, follow-ups, and rebuttals.

“What things do you want of those twenty? Well, you want some New York questions for sure,” Louis said, stressing that he had yet to formulate specific questions. “You want some, for lack of a better word, news of the day questions,” he added, in reference to everyday happenings on the campaign trail including any latest barbs exchanged by the candidates.

Asked about how he would approach the question of urban issues and urban disinvestment at the federal level, as raised by the Politico article from last week, Louis seemed to make the same point as Baruch College’s Birdsell.

“There a lot of urban issues that are disguised as other issues,” Louis said. “If you look at say issues of policing and community relations, you tend to think of it as a criminal justice question, but then you look at where all the hot-button cases have happened -- it’s Baltimore, it’s Chicago, it’s New York -- it starts to look a little bit like an urban issue. When you talk about education, everybody has a school district, everybody has to send their kids to school. But where are the biggest problems with the achievement gap and the funding questions and the charter schools and so forth? You know, it’s New York, it's Chicago, and you‘re right back to, is this an urban question? There’s also an open question about whether there needs to be an urban policy.”

Louis went on to say that “things really happen through the state level and the relationship of cities to their state in some ways is more important than - depending on the issue or the funding stream that you’re talking about - than the issue of all of those cities to the whole United States.”

There’s been so little, Louis said, that “you almost want to have a policy discussion which is...do we need urban policy?” But, he noted, “the debate is not the place to have that.”

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Prior to the 9 p.m. debate on Thursday, April 14, Gotham Gazette and City Limits will co-host a forum in Manhattan, from 6-8 p.m., where political experts will provide their perspectives on the presidential race. There will also be multiple campaign representatives on hand. Details & RSVP.

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Calls for Candidates to Address Urban Issues in Presidential Race Wed, 13 Apr 2016 20:36:00 +0000
After New Hampshire: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6160:after-new-hampshire-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6160:after-new-hampshire-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york vote nyc boe

image via NYC Board of Elections


On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won their respective Democratic and Republican New Hampshire primaries by wide margins. This, after Sanders lost narrowly to Hillary Clinton and Trump lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa. On the Democratic side, there are only two candidates - Hillary Clinton came in second to Sanders in New Hampshire. For the Republicans, John Kasich came in second, adding a sense of momentum to his campaign.

Now, there are 48 more states and the District of Columbia to vote before the primary season is over. New York will be the 37th state to hold a vote when April 19 comes around.

It is unclear whether there will still be a race on either side of the aisle when voting comes to New York. The Republican field has a lot of winnowing to do and the two remaining Democrats could be in for a long slog - but, April 19 is a long way away.

Next up, South Carolina and Nevada take center stage. More debates are on the horizon, too, of course. The Democrats are set to debate on Feb. 11, March 6, and March 9. They're also scheduled to debate once in April and once in May, with dates and locations to be determined.

On the Republican side, there are debates set for Feb. 13 and 26; as well as for March 10. There could always be others added, of course.

As for the votes to take place leading up to New York, 34 states will have held either caucus or primary votes for both major parties, while two states - North Dakota and Kentucky - will have only held their Republican vote, with their Democratic vote coming later in the spring. The calendar is below.

Keep in mind that there are actually four election days in New York this year: presidential primary on April 19, followed by congressional primaries in June, state-level primaries in September, and the November Election Day.

The presidential primary calendar (if no party is noted, both major party votes will occur the same day):

Feb. 20
Nevada caucus (D)
South Carolina (R)
Washington caucus (R)

Feb. 23
Nevada caucus (R)

Feb. 27
South Carolina (D)

March 1
Alabama
Alaska caucus (R)
Arkansas
Colorado caucus
Georgia
Massachusetts
Minnesota caucus
North Dakota caucus (R)
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Wyoming caucus (R)

March 5
Kansas caucus
Kentucky caucus (R)
Louisiana
Maine caucus (R)
Nebraska caucus (D)

March 6
Maine caucus (D)

March 8
Hawaii caucus (R)
Idaho (R)
Michigan
Mississippi

March 15
Florida
Illinois
Missouri
North Carolina
Ohio

March 22
Arizona
Idaho caucus (D)
Utah

March 26
Alaska caucus (D)
Hawaii caucus (D)
Washington caucus (D)

April 5
Wisconsin

April 9
Wyoming caucus (D)

April 19
New York

April 26
Connecticut
Delaware
Maryland
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island

May 3
Indiana

May 10
Nebraska (R)
West Virginia

May 17
Kentucky (D)
Oregon

May 24
Washington (R)

June 7
California
Montana
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Dakota caucus (D)
South Dakota

June 14
District of Columbia 

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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After New Hampshire: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:01:07 +0000
After Iowa: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6135:after-iowa-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6135:after-iowa-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york cuomo votes elections

Gov. Cuomo votes (photo via The Governor's Office on flickr)


"There's a lot of states ahead," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC late Monday night from Iowa, where he spent the weekend campaigning for Hillary Clinton in her bid to become the Democratic nominee and next President of the United States.

And de Blasio is right - there are 49 more states and the District of Columbia to vote before the primary season is over. New York will be the 37th state to hold a vote when April 19 comes around.

As de Blasio spoke, it was still unclear if Clinton or Bernie Sanders had prevailed in the first vote of the primary - Iowa caucus goers split down the middle between the two - with Martin O'Malley garnering a few votes and deciding to suspend his campaign.

On the Republican side, Ted Cruz won, with Donald Trump coming in second and Marco Rubio third.

It is unclear whether there will still be a race on either side of the aisle when voting comes to New York. The Republican field has a lot of winnowing to do and the two remaining Democrats could be in for a long slog - but, April 19 is a long way away.

Next up, New Hampshire. Primary voting there will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Before the New Hampshire primary, though, each party will hold another debate - the Democrats on Thursday, Feb. 4 and the Republicans on Saturday, Feb. 6. The details of the Democratic debate are still being negotiated as it was a late addition to the schedule - the Democrats have been criticized for a limited number of debates and for holding several on weekend nights.

The Clinton and Sanders campaigns have reportedly agreed to add four additional debates to the two that still remain on the original schedule (those are still set for Feb. 11 and March 9). Other than this week's in New Hampshire, the other three have not been given dates.

On the Republican side, there are debates set for Feb. 6, 13, and 26; as well as for March 10. There could always be others added, of course.

As for the votes to take place leading up to New York, 34 states will have held either caucus or primary votes for both major parties, while two states - North Dakota and Kentucky - will have only held their Republican vote, with their Democratic vote coming later in the spring. The calendar is below.

Keep in mind that there are actually four election days in New York this year: presidential primary on April 19, followed by congressional primaries in June, state-level primaries in September, and the November Election Day.

The presidential primary calendar (if no party is noted, both major party votes will occur the same day):

Feb. 9
New Hampshire

Feb. 20
Nevada caucus (D)
South Carolina (R)
Washington caucus (R)

Feb. 23
Nevada caucus (R)

Feb. 27
South Carolina (D)

March 1
Alabama
Alaska caucus (R)
Arkansas
Colorado caucus
Georgia
Massachusetts
Minnesota caucus
North Dakota caucus (R)
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Wyoming caucus (R)

March 5
Kansas caucus
Kentucky caucus (R)
Louisiana
Maine caucus (R)
Nebraska caucus (D)

March 6
Maine caucus (D)

March 8
Hawaii caucus (R)
Idaho (R)
Michigan
Mississippi

March 15
Florida
Illinois
Missouri
North Carolina
Ohio

March 22
Arizona
Idaho caucus (D)
Utah

March 26
Alaska caucus (D)
Hawaii caucus (D)
Washington caucus (D)

April 5
Wisconsin

April 9
Wyoming caucus (D)

April 19
New York

April 26
Connecticut
Delaware
Maryland
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island

May 3
Indiana

May 10
Nebraska (R)
West Virginia

May 17
Kentucky (D)
Oregon

May 24
Washington (R)

June 7
California
Montana
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Dakota caucus (D)
South Dakota

June 14
District of Columbia

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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After Iowa: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York Tue, 02 Feb 2016 05:49:34 +0000
The Wisdom of Primaries http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6105:the-wisdom-of-primaries http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6105:the-wisdom-of-primaries teachout fracktivists

Zephyr Teachout, in yellow, with "fractivists" (photo: @zephyrteachout)


In her zeal to attach herself to Barack Obama at the recent Democratic debate in Charleston, Hillary Clinton at one point issued a somewhat unexpected line of attack. In advance of the 2012 campaign, Clinton charged, Bernie Sanders had "publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama." 

There's no disputing that Sanders did in fact express such a position, based on his concern that Obama was moving to the right during his first term. But during the debate on Twitter and later that evening on CNN, Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod echoed Clinton's disdain for Sanders' view that a primary might be good for the party.

Notably, neither Clinton nor Axelrod deemed it necessary to explain why in their view, such a challenge would have been a bad thing. Here in New York, meanwhile, we've seen quite clearly the positive benefits of making an incumbent answer to his party's base.

In 2014, Zephyr Teachout bucked the leadership of both the state Democratic Party and the Working Families Party by running a primary challenge against Andrew Cuomo. Though outspent by an astronomical sum, Teachout won the same number of counties as the sitting governor. Cuomo's healthy margin of victory (62-34%) came mainly because of the vote in New York City and Buffalo.

Although weakened by a novice candidate, the legendarily vindictive Cuomo has actually sought to make amends with the constituencies that did not support him in the primary.

First he surprised many upstate activists by banning fracking. Over the past year, he has responded to the teachers unions and public school parents by withdrawing his support for the Common Core (an issue central to Rob Astorino's unsuccessful Republican bid in the general election). And Cuomo has patched up his ties with Working Families Party unions by pushing for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.

Ethics reformers—another Teachout constituency—are still holding their breath. Even as the cloud of suspicion cast over by Cuomo by Preet Bharara hovered, the governor paid only lip service to changing the rules in Albany. For example, despite his stated support for closing the LLC loophole, he continued to rake in donations from big real estate developers. Bharara's investigation thus can't be credited with forcing Cuomo to shift gears.

Nor does Cuomo's sandbox sparring with Mayor de Blasio sufficiently explain the governor's leftward lurch. After all, de Blasio campaigned for Cuomo in 2014, and the latter remains the more popular of the two figures in citywide polling.

In short, absent the primary contest that allowed voters across the state to express various disagreements, Cuomo most likely have would have remained on the centrist course of his first term.

Because there no was primary challenge to Obama in 2012, it would be pure speculation to say that a meaningful challenge from the left would have forced him to move in that direction. But in his second term, Obama hasn't offered up any significant new domestic policy initiatives, suggesting that he's not terribly worried about what the activist wing of the party thinks about his presidency.

Here in New York City, it's unclear whether any candidate will wage a primary contest against Mayor de Blasio next year. But those on the left unhappy with the mayor's caution on police reform and closing Rikers, or coziness with developers, might welcome it. So, too, might more centrist voters concerned about the mayor's management of the homeless problem or the budget implications of his deals with unions.

Regardless of whether a strong contender enters the ring, this much is clear: Always be wary of politicians or pundits who argue that more democracy is not a good thing.

***
Theodore Hamm is chair of journalism and new media studies at St. Joseph's College in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. On Twitter @HammerDaily.

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The Wisdom of Primaries Thu, 21 Jan 2016 01:57:13 +0000