Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Monday, May 31, 2010

Marian Rich: How I became an Independent

by Marian Rich

NYC Independence Party activist Bryan Puertes asked me to write about how I became an independent so here goes…

I grew up in the Sixties on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – a bastion of political liberalism – in a household of staunch Democrats.  In our home, politics was always a topic of discussion. I remember going into the voting booth with my mother and pulling down the lever for JFK (I was 4).  My father was blacklisted in the 50s for his support of the Civil Rights movement within the Actors Equity union – I was taught from an early age that racism and poverty were not be be tolerated.  My mother was a working woman and she made no attempt to cover over the oppressive nature of her roles as wife and mother.  It was a no-brainer – our family was supportive of all of the liberation movements of the Sixties, and we were - quite naturally - Democrats.

By the time I was 12 (1968) I found myself in the highly politicized Jr. High School 44.  Our teachers were dodging the draft, the school was racially polarized, and in social studies we were debating the war in Vietnam and who we were going to support in the Democratic Party primary (the Republican Party didn’t seem to exist).  Many of us kids were for McCarthy but I stood with my family tradition of supporting the Kennedys and campaigned for RFK.  I used to do street work for him outside of the Democratic Party office on Broadway and 72nd Street. The campaign got a kick out of me since I was their youngest volunteer.

Then in 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and shortly thereafter Robert Kennedy.  It was a horrible time – we were deeply sad, angry and fearful.  I campaigned for Hubert Humphrey because he was not Richard Nixon. I suppose it was that year that I began to question my allegiance to the Democratic Party or any political party – I started to see that something was terribly wrong with “the system.”  Richard Nixon won the 1968 election and I remained politically engaged but no longer identified as a Democrat.  I was disgusted with business as usual politics.

In high school I started to identify as a leftist.  I didn’t know to call myself an independent but I was.  I was an independent leftist.  I remember that as a freshman at Syracuse University there was a rally against Nixon during the Watergate hearings and hardly anyone else was there.  That worried me.  I wondered why, on a campus with thousands of students, we couldn’t pull out a crowd to protest.  I questioned if protest alone was ever going to change anything.  I took some time off from college and traveled and finished as a transfer student at Sarah Lawrence College.  I studied Marxism and Women’s History and theatre.  I started to think about the role of culture in changing the world.  I attended No-Nukes rallies in the early 80s.  I got married and my husband Steve and I would spend weekends “shopping around the left” – trying to find a place to hang our political hats.

We lived on the Upper West Side and we kept running into organizers in the neighborhood who were engaged in a variety of appealing efforts – the Coalition of Grassroots Women stands out - I always stopped at their table.  We were intrigued by posters in the neighborhood about an African American woman named Barbara Taylor who was exposing the political corruption in the Democratic Party.  Then one day in 1982, I saw this green bus in the neighborhood; on the back of this bus were two women who were campaigning as independent candidates for Governor and Lt Governor – one was Jewish (Nancy Ross) and the other was Black (Lenora Fulani).  I thought I had died and gone to (political) heaven. Who were they and what was going on?  Shortly thereafter I met two organizers on the corner of 110th St. and Broadway and they asked me to sign a pledge card to pledge my vote to Ross/Fulani in order for an independent party, the New Alliance Party, to get ballot status in New York State.  I signed.  And I guess that was the “official” day that I became an independent.  That was 28 years ago and today I am a proud member and builder of the NY Independence Party.

Marian Rich is a long-time independent political organizer, an Artistic Associate of the Castillo Theatre, and one of the members of the Castillo Theatre's Brand New Improve Show.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jackie Salit to Independent Mayor Mike Bloomberg: You done good. We love a good fight!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NYC Wins When Everybody Can Vote!

New vid by Sarah Lyons (woman of many talents, including spokesperson for NYC IP organizations) premiered at last night's New York City Independence Party's 12th annual Spring Chairman's Reception hosted by Manhattan Chair Cathy L. Stewart. Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the special guest and the program included this short video progress report on IP's campaign to get an initiative for nonpartisan elections on the ballot for voter approval.  A new poster to build public awareness for the issue was also unveiled at the event.

NYC IP Spring Chair Reception Raises $50K at Wolfgang's Steakhouse

Opening video of young independents and room of 200 IP supporters at Wolfgang's Steakhouse in Tribeca, May 25, 2010, kick off $50,000 fundraiser for NYC IP ballot access drive. Event hosted by Manhattan IP Chair Cathy Stewart with Mayor Mike Bloomberg as special guest speaker. Nonpartisan elections and youth participation is high on the list. For video testimony from youth and independents before the NYC Charter Revision Commission go here.

Jackie Salit: Mike, Ya Done Good!

Jackie Salit to Mayor Mike on the 10 year history of building independent governance in NYC.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mike Bloomberg Speaks to NYC Independence Party in Support of Nonpartisan Elections

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks in support of nonpartisan elections to NYC Independence Party Spring Chair Reception hosted by chief organizer Cathy Stewart, Manhattan Chair of the New York City Organizations of the Independence Party, May 25, 2010, Wolfgang's Steakhouse, in Tribeca.

NYC IP campaign for nonpartisan elections is being headed up by young independents under the banner "NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote".

1 million independent voters are left out of the decisive round of voting in NYC, and 25% of them are under of the age of 30, 25% are people of color.

Jackie Salit on Albany Dysfunction and Governmental Process in New York

Jackie Salit, President of and NYC Independence Party campaign strategist talks about the latest dysfunction in Albany at the May 25 NYC Independence Party Spring Chair Reception hosted by Cathy Stewart.

queens independence party 2010 spring chair award

goes to youth activist Bryan Puertas (Councilman Leroy Comrie, Queens IP Chair Molly Honigsfeld, State Senator Frank Padavan, host and Queens Exec Com member Robert Giglio, and awardee Bryan Puertas on Saturday May 15)

Coming Down to the Wire on California Open Primary Proposition 14

  • Louisiana Open Primary Law Would Make Cao Re-Election Uncertain (BayouBuzz, By Christopher Tidmore) Hence the problem for Congressman Cao--who represents one of the most Democratic district in the nation. An unspoken, but key part, of the re-election strategy of the first Republican to ever represent the 2nd District was an assumption that a prominent African-American candidate would run as an Independent and divide the vote away from the Democratic nominee (currently likely frontrunner State Rep. Cedric Richmond). Several potential African-American Democrats have entertained the notion, not willing to suffer a bruising primary.
  • Idaho GOP warns of non-Republicans crossing over in primary elections (By Brad Iverson-Long, Idaho Reporter)
  • Top Two Primary Measure Looks Like a Winner, Unless ... (By Joel Fox, Fox & Hounds) Independents are stronger, with much more influence, than fourteen years ago. The movement of independent minded voters who want to buck the establishment has already churned up the political process by rejecting old hands Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Robert Bennett in Utah while jumping on newcomer Rand Paul's bandwagon in Kentucky..... If turnout is low and mostly hard-core party voters come to the polls, they may take their party's recommendation and vote No. From my vantage point, that may be the best hope for the No on 14 forces to prevail.
  • Thomas Elias: Now's the time to push for reform (Appeal Democrat)
  • Crist Leads, With Dem Help (By Reid Wilson, National Journal/Hotline) Crist's support comes from a broad coalition of partisan and non-partisan voters, the poll found. He has support from 39% of independent voters, 38% of Dems and 26% of GOPers. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

theatre 1968 outside the black tent

We Are With You Kyoto: Personal Statement from a Postmodern Independent (Arigato gozaimasu!)

It's been quite a couple of weeks for personal statements on The Hankster. Last night was Utah League of Independents'  Randy Miller's BBQ, NYC Independence Party's Bryan Puertas has a few things to say about why he's an independent, and independent attorney Harry Kresky started a blog.

So, I want to dive in too!

I just got home from the 12th annual Otto Awards and I have to say, this event blew me away! I am a child of the sixties. I grew up in the 1950's under segregation in the South (Arkansas to be exact) in a (fairly proud and unrepentant) southern Kennedy Democrat family. I'm a slightly more recent (1983) but long time builder and supporter of the All Stars Project, and I think the Castillo Theatre, Diane Stiles, Dan Friedman, and Fred Newman are the cat's meow. Yes yes yes, I think radical cultural and intellectual work by smart independent people is important for the continued existence of the species... AND I think this Sunday's event was a real knock-out no matter where you come from or where you're at or where you're going!

In particular I was very very moved by the Black Tent Theatre, which I just learned today, started in 1968 in Tokyo Japan.

As it happens, I lived on a US Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo Japan in 1969/70 -- Fujisan in sight. My stepfather, a guy from a poor working-class family in North Carolina, who met and married my mother around 1964/65, was in the US Air Force. We (one of my many weird transitional "we" units) ended up -- after my stepfather's one year tour of duty in Vietnam, and the year that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis -- at Yakota Air Base, Japan, a short 30 minute train ride to Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan.

As I shared with Makiko Ota of Black Tent Theatre today, one piece of political theater that I will never forget, and that had a big impact on me at that time, was a huge Japanese student demonstration (and there were many) that surrounded Tachikawa Air Base.

I was 15 or 16 at the time.As it turns out, Johnson High School (a former so-called Kami Kazi training school during WWII) was now a Department of Defense radical outpost for anti-war protest and educational innovation. My schoolmate and friend Dan Brown was showing up to school in a white lab coat with the word "MORATORIUM"  painted in large black letters. Another classmate and friend Ray Castro ran the student bookstore that included revolutionary works by Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung.

During that year we were often warned not to go off base, or not to travel to Tokyo because of the massive student demonstrations. Japanese police do not carry fire arms because of US requirements after WWII, but they wore and still wear very scary armor-like gear. In the demonstration that I witnessed, the Japanese student protesters wore similar gear. The Japanese students of the sixties were very militant and there were many communist and other sectarian left groupings. As an American "dependent" of US military service personnel, raised as a Southern liberal with a hatred of racial prejudice and injustice, I was very sympathetic and perhaps somewhat of a young optimistic operative.

My friend Beth and I often made the trip to Ueno Park. Invariably high school students wanting to practice English would ask us what our position was on US involvement in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was as offensive to our Japanese contemporaries as it was to us, and we proudly and invariably represented ourselves as emissaries of the American people with a simple statement: We oppose the war in Vietnam. Yes, we are opposed. We all smiled together and took pictures, no doubt as proud of our connection through language as we were of the however faint recognition of our historical moment.

My friend Debbie and I played Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band's anti-war statement "Don't Worry Kyoto" on the juke box in the BX (Base Exchange, not Bronx!) Cafeteria at Tachikawa over and over and over just to irritate people (Fond memories!! This would have been early 1970. The B-side of this record, produced by John Lennon was "Cold Turkey".)

I'm just now re-discovering this history myself.

Black Tent -- Thanks for being there - and everywhere! Nice to see you here now!

Arigato gozaimasu!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

the magic of magic

the wonder of development

"Why I'm an Independent": Bryan Puertas, NYC Independence Party

Greetings. My name is Bryan Puertas. I’m an activist and organizer with the New York City Independence Party.

I read and enjoyed the piece by Randy Miller on why he became an independent, and thought I would take a shot at doing something similar. It’s important that independents tell their own stories. Certainly there are already plenty of stories being told about us. You may have heard some of them. Undecideds. Spoilers. Soft Democrats. Soft Republicans. Flip floppers. None of them get it right. Yet if we don’t speak up and tell our own stories, we hear theirs so often that we may even start to believe them. I respectfully submit some new labels. The New Majority. The Deciding Voters. The Nonpartisans. The Youth Vote. Stories are how we share our values and culture, how we have a group conversation as a community. I talk to you every day on the phones, and there are more of you out there than you know. I challenge all of you reading this to not let other people tell you what your independence means, to share your own story here. I’ll go first.

Growing up in Queens and Long Island, I did a lot of reading. There was much I didn’t like about my life and about the world, and stories provided the escapism I needed to stay sane. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, I devoured everything I could get my hands on. The medium that made the biggest impression on me though, was comic books. Here was something exciting! Characters with incredible power taking matters into their own hands to fight injustice and corruption. This was something to aspire to. While I may have been drawn to the colorful costumes and epic battles, it was the ideas of Might in the service of Right, Great Power coming with Great Responsibility, the never ending battle, that transformed my young brain as much or more than any church sermon or boy scout lesson I sat through.

By the time I hit High School, several things happened to pull me back into the larger world. I joined JROTC, which taught discipline and how to work in a group. The second thing was that in September of my senior year two planes struck the World Trade Center. This was something out of a comic book, happening in real living color. While there might have been no one with a flashy costume to stop it, I did learn later of the extraordinary relief efforts that took place at St. Paul’s chapel adjacent to the site. If you have never been, I highly recommend visiting. It made an impression on me to see how something so good could come out of such heartbreak. I resolved to find some way to serve my country, planning to join the military. As an afterthought, I registered to vote, joining the Independence Party. Politics in my mind was a dirty business. The Democrats and Republicans fought for money, power, and influence, not truth, justice, and the American way. I didn’t think much about it though. I was just one man. I had no power, and so no responsibility.

A year and a half later, things were not looking good. I had lost an ROTC scholarship for medical reasons, had to leave school due to the cost, was depressed, and was slowly atrophying away at minimum wage. How was I going to serve my country now? Out of the blue, (or not, if you believe in providence) I received a call from the Independence Party for a survey on Politics. They patiently listened to my jaded answers, and asked at the end if I’d like to get involved. I said, “Sure. I need a job. Do you have jobs?”.

So began an eye opening time for me. I learned that while my basic assumptions about politics had been correct, reality went so much deeper than that. I learned that the Democrats and Republicans are a political duopoly, an electoral cosa nostra that has inserted itself between the people and the government. They have changed the rules to keep themselves in power, making competition from outsiders all but impossible. They force good people who want a seat at the table to be brokered through them, to pay them tribute and promise them favors. Truly these are villains fit for the Legion of Doom.

While there are villains certainly, there are also those who oppose them, those who take matters into their own hands to fight injustice and corruption. They may not be faster than a locomotive or leap tall buildings, but they have what history has shown to be the greatest power of all. The power to organize people. There is a movement building across the country to reform the rules the parties have written to keep themselves perpetually in power, to break up the duopoly the two “families” have on the political process. And it’s the organizers who are leading it, on the phones, the street corners, the blogosphere. The power of conversation, the power to organize people to work together for their common good, to dream the same dream, that is the greatest superpower, and I’ll take that any day over heat vision.

So that’s my story. While I still read Superman and Spiderman, I read Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jackie Salit now too. I think they’d get along well together. Why am I an independent? Because I’m a comic book geek, and I know who the good guys are.

Bryan Puertas is an activist with and an executive committee member of the Queens Independence Party of New York. He currently heads up the citywide college campus drive for nonpartisan elections in NYC, which has collected over 2000 signatures from young people in favor of nonpartisan municipal elections in NYC. You can reach him at

Partisan politics: "We're being told we can afford it, but frankly we can't.


Worth repeating: Friday Nite Hankster Chat Randy Miller Utah League of Independent Voters speaks out about partisan politics, Iraq, and grassroots organizing for independent voters.

Miller got on the ballot as an independent for surveyor, and is coordinating a debate among ALL candidates for the upcoming

51% of voters in Utah are independents. AND among the lowest voter turnouts.

Greetings Tonight to Utah League of Independent Voters!

The Hankster wishes the Utah League of Independent Voters continued success in your important grassroots work to bring diverse communities together and build the independent movement. To quote Randy Miller in his wonderful statement Why I'm an Independent -- "Talking to myself is ineffective."

There is no "path" to history -- we are making it together right now -- in Randy's backyard, in the New York City fight for nonpartisans, in the fight for open primaries in California, and in more places than we can count.

The Hankster is pleased to be with you tonight!

-Nancy Hanks

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poli-Tea: A Crisis of Democracy?

Voter Turnout in the Pennsylvania and Kentucky Primary Elections

Is the non-vote a vote of no confidence in the two-party state and duopoly system of government? We are told that yesterday's two most closely watched US Senate primary elections represent a significant defeat for theDemocratic-Republican political establishment: Democrat Joe Sestak defeated career politician Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania (54% to 46%), while Republican Rand Paul routed Trey Grayson in Kentucky (59% to 35%). (ViaMemeorandum.) Yet, these results are not nearly as impressive as they may seem when one considers them in the context of overall voter turnout numbers, which hovered around 30% in both states... Read more

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arlen Spector Defeated in Pennsylvania -- Where are the independents?

Rep. Joe Sestak led Sen. Arlen Specter 52-48 percent in the Democratic Senate primary as of 10:11 p.m, with 61 percent reporting. The Associated Press and other outlets called the Republican primary for Toomey, who led activist and perennial candidate Peg Luksik 79-21 percent. Meanwhile, Democrat Mark Critz led Republican Tim Burns 56-42 percent in the special election to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D), with 30 percent reporting.

Have to wonder about Arlen Specter's roots in the independent movement in PA...

Anti-Establishment Rand Paul Wins Kentucky Closed Republican Primary

Paul wins Ky. Sen. primary in test of tea party from ROGER ALFORD and BRUCE SCHREINER (AP)
Rand Paul defeated Republican establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, a closely watched race that was a test of the tea party movement's strength..... The Kentucky election was being watched around the country, especially after tea party activists helped to defeat three-term Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah and forced Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to abandon the GOP to make an independent run for the Senate....
See Independent Kentucky for local independent news

Louisiana Victory for Independents: Open primary bill wins Senate approval

Open primary bill wins Senate approval BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A plan to return the state to an "open primary" system for congressional elections is one step from final legislative passage, after getting approval from the state Senate... Good news for independent voters!

Talk Talk with Fred Newman and Jackie Salit May 16: American as Apple Pie

Talk Talk 
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Every week CUIP's president Jacqueline Salit and strategist/philosopher Fred Newman watch the political talk shows and discuss them. Here are excerpts from their dialogues compiled on Sunday, May 16, 2010 after watching selections from "The Charlie Rose Show," "PBS NewsHour" and NY1's "Inside City Hall."
Salit: I'm sure you're right about that. Alright, the Supreme Court, the nomination of Elena Kagan.

Newman: Yes.

Salit: The left is disappointed, not that they're not going to support Kagan, but the left is disappointed because they really want a "full-throated left liberal" justice on the Court to be a counter-balance to Scalia. And Kagan is not that.

Newman: Well, put another way, the left is disappointed because the massive turnout that made Obama the president is not left-wing.

Salit: Yes.

Newman: It's center-left. And they're going to pout as long as that's the case, but Obama's appointments will reflect that. That's who he is. Is he a leftist? Yes. Is he pro-socialist? Yes. Does he have the same history and ideological hard drive as the American far left? No. At least not the part that's most vocal. So, they're unhappy about that. What can I tell you. They're unhappy.
Read Talk/Talk in its entirety 

Open Primaries Would Allow Independent Voters Full Citizenship

Our highly partisan political process must be opened up -- to voices, new ideas and new coalitions. No issue has more popularity or potency among independent voters than open primaries. Open primaries allow all voters, regardless of their party affiliation, the right to participate in each round of voting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm an Independent Voter - Can I Vote in Tuesday's Primary in Arkansas, Kentucky or Pennsylvania ?

Tomorrow May 18, 2010, is primary day in some key states for independent voters: Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas. Lots of media including this one from Liz Halloran at NPR talking about the anti-incumbent mood in the country.

Pennsylvania primaries (thanks to FairVote for these definitions)  are closed (winners in 2008 2343 Clinton, McCain in the primary; November: Obama), meaning that only registered Dems or Repubs can vote in that party's primary. If you're an independent, you're flat outa luck. See Independent Pennsylvanians for redress!

Kentucky (Closed primaries: Clinton, McCain in primaries 2008; November: McCain) Voters of any affiliation may vote for the slate of any party (which seems to mean that independents can vote but can only vote in the party primary that they choose for that election, according to FairVote.) You might want to contact at Michael Lewis on Facebook or at Independent Kentucky.

Arkansas primaries are open except for runoff elections. Voters went for Clinton and Huckabee in the primary and for McCain in the general in 2008. (Little known fact: Arkansas is the birth state of The Hankster...)

See the Open Primaries page on The Hankster for resources!

Friday, May 14, 2010

it's friday night all over the world!

Friday Nite Hankster Chat TONIGHT 5/14/10 7-8pm

8:01pm -- Hankster Friday Nite Chat signing off now! Thanks for your input. Look for us again~~ -NH

7:57pm -- Discussion about the internet and politics -- what's grassroots? What's effective marketing to this generation of tech-savvy independent youth? There has to be a resonance between the content and the process. Politicians will be seen as charletons if they just try to use the internet to do politics as usual. We know about the guy behind the curtain!

7:38 pm -- Randy is having a bar-be-que for ULIV on Saturday May 22 around 4pm Mountain Daylight going until 8:30pm -- relaxed evening for independents in Syracuse. An independent political mingle! You can reach Randy at ULIV

7:21 pm -- Great, ok now Randy has called me back, he's talking about The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. "If there's anyone who I have failed to offend, I apologize!"

7:16 pm -- Wow, that was so cool! NatLuvzTito is a marketing site in Virginia (one of my *many* home states) for Michael Jackson stuff (and other Jackson family stuff...) Natalie is signing off because there is a big storm coming up (which we here in NYC will be getting any time now....)

7:10 pm -- Randy wasn't there but just got a great #ff from NatLuvzTito 

#FF @ronaldjackson @NancyHanks @nappypoet@natasharamsey @negrita @ngaio420 @ntnslykrazy@NubianSage @ObamAmerican48 *WAVES HELLO*

THANKS NatLuvzTito!

7:00 pm -- Ok, lines are now open! What are you thinking about this evening? I'm thinking about independents all over the country who are trying to take advantage of some very important opportunities given the mood of voters.

A couple of weeks ago, independent activist in Utah and founder of Utah League of Independent Voters Randy Miller and I did a Hankster BlogTalkRadio show as part of the occasional Friday Nite Hankster Chat and I highly recommend that you listen to that show. Randy just called me this afternoon so I'm going to call him back and see what's happening.... Be back soon!

Yes, it's Friday and it's Friday Nite Hankster Chat. Lines open in 30 minutes.

Comment here, email me at, twitter at nancyhanks or facebook Nancy Hanks.

No BlogTalkRadio tonight, sorry!

Talk to me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fred Newman: Nonpartisan Elections/Open Primaries "Not Very Radical"

Quoting US radical independent political strategist and consultant to Mike Bloomberg's three (3) successful NYC Independence Party campaigns Dr. Fred Newman, Michael Barbaro at the New York Times had this to say tonight about the recent NYC Charter Revision Commission mandate:

But supporters, including leaders of the city’s Independence Party, said that party politics had outlived its usefulness in city elections, and now blocked an estimated 800,000 unaffiliated voters from participating in primaries. In many races, especially for City Council, the primaries are a de facto general election, because the winner faces no serious opponent and cruises toward victory in November.
In most nonpartisan election systems, all registered voters can cast a ballot for any candidate in the first round (which replaces a traditional party primary), and the top two finishers compete in the second round. Boston, Los Angeles, Detroit and Dallas have adopted some form of it. “It’s not very radical,” said Fred Newman, a leader in the city Independence Party.
Many of the 800,000 unaffiliated voters are young people.
Read on!

good morning wasatch

scott o smith

The Hankster: Political Parties, Unaffiliated Legislators, Nonpartisan Elections and Education Reform

Bob Reid at California Majority Report says it best when it comes to explaining why political parties are against California's open primary initiative Proposition 14... Colorado House Bill 1271, introduced by unaffiliated state legislator Kathleen Curry with support from unaffiliated county commissioner Joelle Riddle, would make it easier for unaffiliated candidates, was amended Monday night to make it effective immediately... Independent attorney Harry Kresky says NYC should take another run at nonpartisan elections.... Tom Burrell echoes Dr. Lenora Fulani's comments on education at Rev. Al Sharpton's 2010 National Action Network conference.

  • HOW TO JUDGE A JUDGE (Harry Kresky, Legal Briefs blog) Obama Supreme Court Justice pick Elena Kagan
  • Voters Shifting to GOP, Poll Finds (By PETER WALLSTEN, NAFTALI BENDAVID and JEAN SPENCER, Wall Street Journal)
  • Democrat governor candidate goes after independent vote - In branding himself as an “independent Democrat,” South Dakota governor candidate Scott Heidepriem is acknowledging the growing influence of the state’s independent voters. (By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic - Mitchell SD)
  • Professor Michael McDonald, Expert on Voter Registration, Says Minor Parties Are Only Group of Voters Gaining Numerically (Ballot Access News) November 2008, the number of registered Republicans has declined 3.5%, the number of registered Democrats has declined 2.7%, the number of registered independents has declined 1.6%, and the number of voters registered in minor parties has increased 2.4%.
  • Bloomberg Takes Aim at Watchdog Agency Again (By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL, Wall Street Journal) This spring, when asked whether the Charter Revision Commission should eliminate the office, Mr. Bloomberg said he couldn't remember his campaign call to elminate it. Instead, he said, "I think it's something the Charter Revision Commission should consider but, you know, we have a good public advocate now."
  • Charter Revision Commission Decides On Public Forum Topics (By: Grace Rauh, NY1)  "Americans across the country are very concerned about the hyperpartisanship in Washington and Albany and New York City. We don't think it's the same climate at all," said Harry Kresky of the New York City Independence Party.
  • Dr Lenora Fulani Promotes a Real Educational Agenda (Tom Burrell, Stop the Brainwash) Fulani at the National Action Network Education Panel 4.15.10  (Marketing communications pioneer and Advertising Hall of Fame inductee Tom Burrell is credited with revolutionizing the image of African Americans in television and changing the face of American advertising. During his tenure as a top advertising executive, he coined the now-famous phrase, “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.” His award-winning work promoted positive and realistic images of blacks and acknowledged the purchasing power of the African American community. In 2007 Burrell founded the Resolution Project,, a nonprofit organization that promotes intra-racial dialogue and community-based new media “stop the brainwash” campaigns. “Our task is to use propaganda to eradiate negative images and replace them with a bombardment of positive words and images.” He also plans to launch the New B’s, a catalyst for stimulating thought and more dialogue. He lives in Chicago’s South Loop area. BRAINWASHED: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority is his first book.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Harry Kresky on Elena Kagan: How to Judge a Judge

Check out a great new blog Legal Briefs from independent attorney Harry Kresky! His latest post is on Obama's SC nominee Elena Kagan:

President Obama has chosen his second Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, and much of the dialogue centers around ideology. Kagan would replace John Paul Stevens, viewed as the leader of the Court’s liberal block. Liberals fear Kagan is too conservative, and conservatives point to her support for gay rights, when she was Dean of Harvard Law School, as an indication that she may be too liberal.
This made me think of what kind of judge I want to hear my clients’ cases, after almost 40 years of practicing law. It’s not about ideology. It’s about fairness, the ability to listen, respect for the law, and respect for the litigants who stand before them.... Read on...

the political fix

Jackie Salit and Doug Schoen talked independent politics at Cathy Stewart's Politics for the People last week

Independents Advance Structural Reforms: Open Primaries and Nonpartisan Elections

  • W.Va. early voting up from 2006 primary (by Lawrence Messina, Charleston Daily Mail) Twice as many Democrats voted early as Republicans, roughly in keeping with the relative sizes of the two major parties. Both have opened their primaries to unaffiliated voters. About 3,000 people who belong to neither major party cast early primary ballots, as did six members of the state's Mountain Party.
  • Broken system - Elections should replace conventions (Salt Lake City Tribune Editorial) the case of any candidate who is chewed up or spit out by Utah's convention meat grinders, can we truly say that the people have spoken? In the 43 states where the political parties value the input of all members and hold direct or open primary elections to select candidates for statewide offices, the answer would be an unequivocal "yes."
  • Feminist Candidate Drops Out of Race for Stupak Seat (Ms. Magazine) "I hope that in the future the Party will reject this interference and insist on an open primary allowing voters to choose the candidate who represents their values."
  • Stupak foe Saltonstall withdraws (By JESSICA TAYLOR, Politico)

Monday, May 10, 2010

thumbs up for california proposition 14


  • TODAY: Richard Winger to Debate California Lt. Gov. Maldonado on Proposition 14 (Independent Political Report)
  • Editorial: Prop. 14: Open invitation to bland candidates (THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER) When the Democratic and Republican parties agree on a policy matter in California it is often a red flag for liberty-minded voters. But with every rule there is an exception, and this election cycle that exception is Proposition 14, the California Top Two Primary Act, aimed at ending the primary election system as we know it, replacing it with a process that would hinder electoral choices and encourage lackluster, Schwarzenegger-esque candidates. Under Prop. 14, voters could vote for any candidate regardless of party affiliation, a change from the current practice of voting in primaries only for candidates of the party in which you are registered, with a few exceptions. In effect, Prop 14 would create a single open primary. . From there, the top two overall vote getters advance to a runoff general election. This means in some election cycles, depending on the area and voter registration, the general election could yield two Democrats or two Republicans facing off against each other for a single seat, diminishing party roles and clear, decisive policy and philosophical differences between candidates.
  • Editorial: June 8 Primary: Proposition round-up (THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER) 
  • Why Los Angeles should care about Proposition 14 (LA Anti-Establishment Examiner, Charles Nichols)
  • Legislative Lock: Evans, Allen benefit from Wiggins' connections (By DEREK MOORE, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT) Both Allen and Evans are opposed to open primaries, saying they don't want voters from other political parties to have a say in choosing which Democrat goes forward.... Sanders also supports Proposition 14, which would allow for open primaries.
  • Democrats See Hopes for West Dim in Colorado (By JEFF ZELENY, NY Times)
  • Brown: A rebel without a party (By Fred Brown, The Denver Post) She is, for now, the only officially unaffiliated member of the Colorado General Assembly. Rep. Kathleen Curry, former Democrat, still of Gunnison, doesn't regret her decision, but sometimes she wonders if both major parties are reluctant to see her succeed... "I'm on the leading edge of this," she said; it's an experiment of sorts to see if an unaffiliated legislator can still get things done for her district. "I truly believe I can," Curry said. "I'm literally plowing new ground here. There's no road map."
  • Changing Charter without strings (By Greg David, Crain's New York) In the end, the Charter proposals will likely be on term limits and on nonpartisan elections, to be accompanied by radical changes to encourage more participation. Early voting, mail voting and same-day registration would all make the nonpartisan option more attractive.
  • Charter chair needed convincing (By Tom Wrobleski, Staten Island Advance) “I said, ‘What?’” Goldstein said. “This was not something I was anxious to do since I have an awful lot on my plate to begin with. But I said, ‘Look, if I can be helpful to you, I’d be pleased to do it.’ And I continue to be pleased to do it.”

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Partisan Politics is Anti-Progress and Anti-Youth

The rules affecting voters in the primaries vary from state to state. In Connecticut, voters have to be registered in the party for at least 3 months in order to vote in that party's primary. In New York, voters have to wait until the next election cycle, called being in a "lock box". California independents ("decline-to-state") are at the mercy of  party bosses when it comes to voting in the Dem and Repub primaries. Why is this important? Upwards of 40% of voters who consider themselves independent -- and 45% of voters under the age of 30 -- are currently disenfranchised in states that allow the parties to decide who votes. At a time when we desperately need new solutions, new ideas, new ways of looking at our problems, the voices and votes of independents are vital if we are to move forward. Partisan politics is anti-progress and anti-youth.

  • Improved Picture Isn't Lifting Outlook for Democrats (By JONATHAN WEISMAN, Wall Street Journal) Democracy Corps, a Democratic polling outfit with close ties to the White House, released a memo Thursday saying independent voters, blue-collar white voters and white seniors prefer Republicans by wide margins.
  • Primary registration deadline nears (Wilton CT Bulletin) Aug. 10 will be Primary Election Day in Connecticut. Wilton’s registrars of voters, Tina Gardner and Carole Young-Kleinfeld, anticipate both major political parties will hold primary elections on that day. They also report that Wilton has 4,040 electors who are not affiliated with any political party. Connecticut law requires voters be enrolled members of a political party for at least three months in order to vote in that party’s primary election.
  • 3 GOP hopefuls seek attorney general nomination (Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau) Decline-to-state voters in California, who are allowed to choose which primary to participate in, last month hit an all-time high, rising to 20 percent of registered voters.
  • Local Races Draw Interest In Tuesday’s Neb. Primary (BY RANDY DOCKENDORF, Yankton Pres & Dakotan)
  • Editorial: Vote for reform (Providence Journal Editorial, RI) It’s not too much to ask voters to actually vote for the candidates they put in office, rather than mindlessly voting by party.
  • Freilich to keep options open on independent run (NEAL P. GOSWAMI, Bennington Banner VT)


  • Kentucky Poll: Majority want health care bill repealed (By Halimah Abdullah, Lexington Herald Leader “The independents are going to play a key roll in the midterm as they did in the general for Obama,” said James Thurber, a political scientist at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. “If you find a great number (of independents) not agreeing with the policies being passed ... that’s a significant problem for Democratic incumbents and candidates running in Kentucky.”
  • Limits of the Two-Party Primary (By Kellyn Brown, Flathead Beacon) Most of us consider Montana’s primaries to be “open” in that anyone can vote by simply choosing to fill out a Democratic or Republican ballot on June 8. But there are limits to that openness since, while you don’t have to register with either political party to participate, you are still pigeonholed into picking between the two. Well, what if you weren’t?
  • Poison Penn (Jonathan Chait, The New Republic)
  •  h/t to Salon Mark Penn is wrong about literally everything BY ALEX PAREENE
  • From the U.S. to the U.K., new political winds (By Mark Penn, Washington Post) In the United States, two mainstream movements have tried in recent years to capitalize on strands of dissatisfaction: John Anderson, a Republican congressman from Illinois who adopted liberal social and environmental views, got a modest amount of support from better-educated voters and college students as an independent presidential candidate in 1980. Barack Obama did particularly well with what would have been Anderson constituencies. The second attempt was by independent tycoon Ross Perot. His voters were primarily concerned about reducing the size of government and the deficit (large aspects of today's Tea Party agenda). At its core, the movement behind Perot was anti-government, while Anderson voters were for restrained but activist government. [NOTE: Actually, the second attempt was Lenora Fulani's historic run in 1988 when she became the first woman and first African American to be on the ballot for President in all 50 states. She ran as an independent and laid the groundwork for both Ross Perot's run in 1992, as well as for Barack Obama's win in 2008.]
  • Political Animal (Steve Benen, Washington Monthly) First, Penn characterizes "independents" as a relatively cohesive group of like-minded centrists, turned off by liberal Dems and conservative Republicans. That's both lazy and wrong, as has been made clear over and over again.
  • British elections: Why U.S. should care (By John Avlon, Special to CNN)