Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Monday, November 22, 2010

Independents sent Barack Obama to Washington to shake the sucker up and the parties ate him for breakfast

As Jackie Salit said last week on her conference call to kick off her organizing for the national conference "Can Independents Reform America?" coming up in NYC over the weekend of February 12, 2011, independents are among the most misunderstood constituencies around. Today's round-up of news about independents below is a glowing example of just that. Independents, Salit says, sent Barack Obama to Washington to "shake the sucker up" and "the parties ate him for breakfast."

While indies are increasingly calling for, voting for -- and winning -- reform of the process, reforms that would help America break out of partisan shackles (i.e. the Top Two Open Primary that won in California in June, Proposition 20-which expanded the California Redistricting Commission's mandate to include Congressional districts-passed by 20 points; Proposition 27, a bi-partisan ploy to dismantle the Commission, was defeated by a similar margin; and in Florida, the voters passed Amendment 5 by a 25 point margin, establishing clear, non-partisan guidelines for the drawing of legislative districts), the pundits search around for some equation they understand. Obama + Palin + Bloomberg = trouble for the Dems - or trouble for the Repubs, depending on your ideological slant...

By the way, Jackie Salit's next national conference call "DOES POWER SHARING IN WASHINGTON MEAN THAT THE PEOPLE WILL HAVE MORE POWER?" will be on Monday, December 6th, 8:30 EDT. For more information contact Nancy Ross or Gwen Mandell at or phone:  800-288-3201 or 212-609-2800

I ran into City Hall News writer Chris Bragg at the paper's holiday mixer down at the Woolworth Tower Kitchen (a fave City Hall restaurant). He had just interviewed NY State Independence Party chair Frank MacKay (please see his wonderful portrait below) which lead to a conversation about the corruption of partisan politics. MacKay, a wheeler-dealer from way back, has completely isolated himself from the reform movement led by grassroots independents in favor of brokering deals with the Wilson Pakula in New York.

In the meantime, the NYC organizations of the IP keep organizing the grassroots. New York City's first independent Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was elected with 150,000 votes on the IP line in 2009. In 2010, they recruited 4,200 independents to join local County Committees, and supported the fight for a "top two" open primary system for New York City. Coming up Sunday, December 12th is the 11th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards, this year going to Dr. Omar H. Ali and Bradley Tusk.

Omar H. Ali is a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, a respected author who has written extensively about shifting political alliances in the black community, and a frequent commentator on CNN, PBS and the History Channel. He is one of the country's foremost advocates for open primaries and non-partisan elections.

Bradley Tusk is the founder of Tusk Strategies, a political and strategic consulting firm based in New York City. He served as Campaign Manager for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2009 re-election campaign, and is a staunch supporter of structural reforms that would curb the power of the parties and increase the power of voters.

The event will take place at the Tribeca Grill in lower Manhattan.

And now for the news:

  • The Real MacKay - A glimpse into the Independence Party chairman’s mind, and into his castle (Chris Bragg, The Capitol) MacKay throws four-course meals with Oheka’s owner, Gary Melius. They facilitate meetings between donors, politicians, investors and developers. The lunches also serve as a chance to woo MacKay, who has near-total control over many of the party’s local, and all the party’s statewide, endorsement decisions. Pretty much every major statewide candidate attended this year.



  • Contrast between old, new (By Jim Boren, Fresno Bee) That means the extreme factions of both parties won't be the ones deciding the people who will run in the general election. The candidates will be more moderate and that means the Legislature will be much more willing to compromise as it moves to the political center.
  • Bloomberg picks media boss as NYC school chancellor (By Stephen Millies, Workers World) “I think Bloomberg’s decision to appoint Cathleen Black is arrogant, absurd and unacceptable,” declared City Councilperson Charles Barron, who was the Freedom Party’s candidate for governor.
  • Teachers Unions Not Representative of Teachers’ Changing Views (Gary Beckner, Town Hall) Unfortunately, teachers largely have been pushed aside as education reformers determine how to help America’s students catch up with the rest of the world. Teachers can thank the teacher union leadership for being excluded from the education reform decisions.

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