Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Monday, January 31, 2011


No, David Axelrod, what independents want is inclusion in the process

    California special election Feb. 15 is the first to take place under the new open primary law... No, David Axelrod, what independents want is inclusion in the process -- structural political reform, not politicians cooperating with other politicians... Utah debate on the caucus system between a rank and file member Bill Miller and Chair of the Salt Lake County Repub Party. Miller says "Mike Lee would have been a great example. As a lifelong Republican, I voted mostly Democratic last election after being disenfranchised by the Republican caucus meetings and convention. I want my party back! I want an open primary!"
  • Register by Jan. 31 to Vote in Feb. 15 Special Election (By Paul Chavez, Manhattan Beach Patch - CA) The special elections for state Senate's 28th District and 17th District will be the first governed by the provisions of Proposition 14, the open primary law passed in June that went into effect Jan. 1. If one candidate receives the majority of the votes cast (50 percent plus one), another subsequent election will not be held. If no candidate receive the majority of the votes, a special election will be held April 19, with the top two candidates who received the most votes in the special election facing each other, regardless of party preference.
  • Q&A with David Axelrod, President Obama's departing senior advisor (By Christi Parsons and Peter Nicholas, Washington Bureau, LA Times) Q: The president needs independent voters. What do you think those voters want right now? A: They want cooperation. Their feeling is that there are things more important than party. That's a feeling we share. It's going to be harder to win over those voters if you take a harshly partisan, dogmatic stance.
  • Obama Needs Real Supporters--Not Cheerleaders (By Eric L. Wattree, Black Star News) So it's very important that Obama supporters speak out loud and clearly so we won't be drowned out by the Washington's special interests. In the final analysis, we're the only one's he can depend on to tell him what he needs to hear as oppose to what's convenient for him to hear.
  • Utahns want independent redistricting commission (BY LEE DAVIDSON, The Salt Lake Tribune) “The less that the politicians have to do with how they are elected, the more I like it.”
  • Caucus extremists make voters irrelevant (BY BILL MILLER, Salt Lake Tribune) The Utah caucus system is undemocratic and unfair. It makes voter opinion and participation meaningless and allows total control by a few activists, extremists and special interests. It stifles accountability to the voters. It is a disservice to Utah citizens.
  • Keep party caucuses (By thomas wright, Salt Lake Tribune) As the chair of the Salt Lake County GOP, I have had a front-row seat in seeing just how great this system is. A candidate can win without the big machine and big bucks required by candidates in states that pick nominees in a primary election.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Independent Hotspot: Arizona

It's common knowledge that independent voters decide elections. Lately the number of independents is growing, and not just those who recognize themselves as independents, but voters who register as independents. Arizona, specifically, will be a hot state in 2012. Independents in the state have reached an historical milestone in having more registered independents than the other major parties this year.

  • Obama, not Clinton, favored over McCain (Des Moines Register) Barack Obama would carry Iowa if he were the Democratic nominee running against McCain, if voters feel in November the way they do now. But McCain would carry Iowa in an election matchup with Democrat Hillary Clinton if the election were held now, according to the new poll.
  • Independents could change tone of voting (BY TERRY ROSS, Yuma Sun) There is a complication, however, in the independent movement. Under our election process candidates are picked by the parties. The choices available to voters — including independents — mostly come from the two major parties. Independents are outside this system.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Can't Trust "Promises"

Politicans continue to make promises that they can't keep, simply to garner enough votes to win an election. A prime example of this is the subject of independent redistricting, a heated topic that has been put on the table for ten years. We can't trust these "campaign promises" anymore, because partisan issues continue to be put ahead of what the people need. This issue of redistricting is what politicians use to control the voters; they dread the idea of losing the power to create favorable districts for themselves and insure there stay in office.

Redistricting Roundup: Even as full census data has yet to be released, already 4 states have lawsuits (By Geoff Pallay, Ballot News) Lawsuits pertaining to redistricting have been filed in 4 states – Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
Redistricting commission picks Angelo Ancheta for vacant slot (Sac Bee) The panel must consist of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independent or minor-party voters.
My View: Only truly independent redistricting will do (By Colin Schmitt, Times Herald Record - Hudson Valley) What we need, and what these politicians will not allow, is an independent commission committed to ensuring fair redistricting. The politicians have already failed in making this commission binding. If they truly believe what they promised on the campaign trail, they will enact redistricting reform that is truly independent, so that all voices from all citizens will be heard.
Redistricting Hearings Open to the Public Saturday - Session in Toms River will discuss state legislative map, as New Jersey prepares to lose a representative due to Census (By Catherine Galioto and Daniel Nee, Brick Patch) A 13-member commission will redraw the congressional boundaries. The president of the Senate, the speaker of the General Assembly, the minority leader of the Senate, the minority leader of the General Assembly, the democratic state chair and the republican state chair each appoint two people to serve. One independent member is appointed by at least seven of the previous appointed members.
Honey, Do You Mind Leftovers Tonight? (Jim Yardley, American Thinker) Independent voters, particularly those in blue states, are those who will make or break this nation. Their choice in the voting booth is of supreme importance, and if the Republicans offer "leftovers" one more time, they are likely to rebel, even if that rebellion would be self-destructive. [The author is a libertarian]
Guy Velella, 1944-2011, State Senator, Rascal, Stand-up Guy (By Tom Robbins, Village Voice) The transcript is the alleged product of another rogue politician named Pedro Espada Jr. Espada claims to have been secretly taping his talks with Bronx political powers in a bid to get out from under his own pending corruption indictment.
Rhoads Acknowledges Role in Cutler Files Website (Maine Public Broadcasting Network) "And while I disapprove of his involvement and make no excuses for his actions, I love my husband and I stand firmly beside him. That being said let me reiterate that campaigns should be about issues and ideas should be open and honest. "

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Great Divide...

There is a great divide in our country between elected officials and those who put them in office--the voters. In New York and Massachusetts, ordinary citizens voted for non-partisan redistricting 72% and 66% respectively. Yet in Massachusetts, the concept was completely butchered by the state legislature 34-5--makes sense? No...

  • Obama gets second chance from independents (By Michael Maslansky, Special to CNN, CNN Opinion) Independents seem willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt. Almost on cue, independents reacted positively at the mention of bipartisanship, so he was wise to fill this speech with examples of government doing what's best for the people, not just what's best for the party.
  • The politics of Rhee (Ben Smith, Politico) Now Rhee is in the process of a shift from political naif to full-fledged power broker. She has created an emphatically political new organization, StudentsFirst, and she told POLITICO she hopes to raise and spend an astonishing $200 million annually – a large sum even in the deep-pocketed world of education philanthropists.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2012: It's All About the Independents

Six states and the District of Columbia have already passed the "National Popular Vote Plan", a plan in which the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia would win the election. Discussion below by FairVote ED Rob Richie of a 2012 scenario where the election gets thrown into the House of Representatives. Who would you rather picks the President of the United States?

Speaking of which, President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012 might be easier than everyone thinks. Why? Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEightBecause says because he has far fewer crucial decisions to make and now can refocus his efforts towards the independent voters who will determine the next president.

  • Tennessee Bill to Establish Registration by Party, and Also to Lower Petition Requirement for New Parties (Ballot Access News) Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has introduced SB 129 which provides that the voter registration form ask voters if they wish to register into a party, and provides that voters would not be allowed to vote in a primary unless were registered members of the party. Currently, Tennessee doesn’t have registration by party.
  • Charter panel OKs 10 proposals (By Nick Dutro, Tiffin OH Advertiser Tribune) They also discussed open primaries, which would allow candidates to run with or without party affiliation. Under the proposal, the top candidates who garner the most votes in the primary would move on to the General Election regardless of party affiliation.
  • Ties Go to the Loser: A 2012 Electoral College (Rob Richie - Executive director, FairVote, Huffington Post) Earning bipartisan support in states around the country and grounded in constitutional powers given to the states, the National Popular Vote plan would guarantee election of the president who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Every president, every election, would be determined by the votes of ordinary Americans.
  • Shuler to introduce bill mandating bipartisan redistricting commissions in each state (By Aaron Sarver, Washington Independent) Detractors of the bill say redistricting commissions just shift the political process into different hands. But in the Knoxville News Sentinel article, Shuler decries the partisan nature of the process, saying, “you have elected officials whose jobs are to make sure their political party gets more of an advantage over the next political party.”
  • Rep. Shuler introduces Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act (Posted by David Forbes, Mountain Xpress blog - Asheville and Western NC) An equal number of commissioners would be appointed by the minority and majority floor leaders in each state’s legislatures. The appointed commissioners would then elect, by majority vote, the commission chairperson.
  • Obama’s Paradox of Choice (By NATE SILVER, NY Times/FiveThirtyEight) But here is the worry that I would have if I were a Republican. Precisely because there aren’t likely to be as many pressing political decisions before Mr. Obama in the next two years as there were in the last two, he will have more time to attune his message to independent voters and to concentrate on his re-election efforts, all the while branding them as bipartisan comity.
  • Haven't the Democrats been here before? (By: Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner) What is disturbing about the Democrats' present condition is that America needs two healthy, vibrant major parties capable of attracting moderate and independent voters. But there is nothing moderate or independent about the agendas of the Four Horsemen of Big Labor, Big Green, Big Lawyers and Big Insiders.
  • New York State Sen. David Valesky: 'Frustration with leadership' led to split (video) (Oneida Daily Dispatch, By MATT POWERS) New York State Sen. David Valesky, D-49 said the “hyper-partisan nature” of the Senate has not served the people of the state well. “So this Independent Democratic Conference gives us a much greater ability to work in a bi-partisan fashion — in this case with the new Senate Republican majority,” he said. “It has an opportunity to create a new way of doing things in the state Senate.”
  • Diaz Wonders: Where's The Outrage? (By David Freedlander, NY Observer) "I'm listening hard but I don't hear even a whisper from any Democratic leader of their criticism of those Senators who have abandoned the Democratic Party. Is the snow muffling any outcry? Will the Daily News' Mr. Bramhall render this new caucus as the new Cosa Nostra? Are the actions of Hispanic legislators held to a different, higher standard? Has the Democratic Party decided those non-Hispanic Senators should determine what's best for all New Yorkers with no accountability?"
  • Maziarz is number three (by Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times Union/Capitol Confidential) Maziarz was a principal legislative architect of the Republicans one-month alliance with Democratic Senators Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, who sparked a stalemate with their defection on June 8, 2009.
  • Lenora B. Fulani Makes Her Acting Debut At The Castillo Theatre (By Deardra Shuler, Black Star News) "Mr. Hirsch Died Yesterday” at the Castillo Theatre, located at 543 West 42nd Street in Manhattan, but lives on spectacularly through the lively cast consisting of Lindsay Arber, Dana Berger, Zoe Geltman, Ben Prayz, Debbie Buchsbaum, Joseph Mallon, Katya Pucci, Moshe Yassur, Reynaldo Piniella and community activist Lenora Fulani, in her debut role. Renowned producer Woodie King, Jr., also makes his debut as director in this production. King skillfully etches a course through history and the nature of human kind which makes the show a thought provoking piece of theatre.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Solving the Education Crisis in America: A Special Report LET'S PRETEND

Drs. Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani say pretending can solve the education crisis in America. It is an intriguing idea: children, who have developed the "capacity to pretend to be who they are not", which in this case is a good learner, will also develop the "capacity to become the thing they are pretending to be."
Dialogue on Top Two continues to gain ground, Ricardo Pimentel says that the result of having a TTVG primary forces candidates to have a broader appeal to the voters, which in turn makes elected candidates more bipartisan. More party politics are going on in Rochester, where Democrats attempted to pass a proposal for an independent redistricting commitee...notice how the party "out" of power at the state level is calling for "independent redistricting".... hmmmm....

  • Beyond bipartisan imagery (O. Ricardo Pimentel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) The top two. Or, we could switch to a top-two-vote-getter (TTVG) primary. In these open primaries, you don't have to vote a straight party ticket, and the two candidates with the most votes - even if they are of the same party - go on to the general election. The result: Candidates have to appeal broadly and moderately throughout campaigns and are, therefore, more bipartisan once elected.
  • Independent redistricting proposal for Monroe County voted down in committee (By Erinn Cain, Irondequoit Post) A proposal to have an independent redistricting commission in Monroe County has been voted down in committee, but Democrats said they will continue to fight for what they said will be a nonpartisan process of redrawing the county’s districts.
  • New Panel Holds Key to Minority Political Power in California (By Nina Martin, New America Media in California Progress Report) Members include a retired high school principal, an architect, a chiropractor, and an insurance broker—but also a former director of the U.S. Census and a number of people with experience in nonprofits and local government. By law, five are Democrats, five are Republican, and four are either independents or members of smaller parties.
  • Obama Woos Center to Embrace His Vision of Future (By GERALD F. SEIB, Wall Street Journal) To those independent voters who abandoned him in November, and to those disillusioned admirers who had begun to doubt that he actually represented the post-partisan leader advertised in 2008, Mr. Obama sketched out a kind of grand political bargain to move the government and the nation in the direction he wants.
  • Analysis: Obama, GOP, Frame Debate For 2012 (CBS News) Obama's speech was relatively subdued. "He avoided competing with his audience," said Wayne Fields, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who studies presidential rhetoric. "They seemed as much a part of the show as he was. The message from both sides was that we're going to work together in a civil society."
  • Solving the Education Crisis in America: A Special Report LET'S PRETEND (by Fred Newman, PhD and Lenora Fulani, PhD, All Stars Project, Inc.) Inside the school system, as Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada will tell you, the pressure on everyone for the kids to do well on tests and to satisfy endless metrics used to evaluate progress leaves very little room for development, which is fundamentally a qualitative process, difficult to measure but obvious when it is present.
  • The State of the Union: No Time to Slow Down on Education (Kati Haycock - President, The Education Trust, Huffington Post) Better evaluations can help to raise performance in two ways: by giving teachers the clear expectations they deserve -- with evaluations based on well-defined public standards -- and by using those assessments to identify the supports teachers need in order to improve when they don't measure up. President Obama needs to stay strong on this issue, along with the members of Congress from both parties who insist that we can't afford to continue employing teachers who aren't effective, and we can't afford to continue assigning our least effective teachers to the students who desperately need our best.
  • Obama addresses future of education (By DAVID LOWENSTEIN, Daily Trojan, University of Southern California) “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline,” Obama said.

LEGENDmag -- Purple State: 17 politically independent websites (links)

From cultural indie Rai-mon Nemar at LEGENDmag:
So we’ve been getting asked more and more about independent politics. Thanks to our friends at CUIP and No Labels we’ve had alot of answers and solutions to send people. Today we attempt more of the same by giving a solution to the the “where do I look for independent political news stories”. We asked our friend Nancy Hanks of The Hankster to put together a list of websites to make it easier for you. We hope you enjoy and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Live-blogging Pres. Obama's State of the Union Address from an Independent POV

9:54pm -- Obama: This era requires reform and innovation, freedom, justice, dignity.... Check this link for live coverage from CNN.

9:47pm -- I'm disappointed but not discouraged in the President's SOTU address. The independent movement, even though independents were the margin of victory for President Obama, in both the primaries and in the general election, is not big enough and doesn't yet have the political clout to get his ear.

9:44pm -- Even before the address is done, I'm left wondering if Prez Obama has heard NOTHING over the past 2 years from the independent voters. These voters in open primary states put him in office. We need structural political reform so that ordinary Americans have a voice in the policies and decisions of our country.

9:42 -- repeated pleas to Dems and Repubs to come together and solve these problems...

9:37pm -- now talking about infrastructure [NYC MTA public transit is increasingly unreliable for ordinary workers in NYC -- ed.] But somehow O wants to build infrastructure...

9:35pm -- Talking about American competitiveness in education.... Prepared to work with Dems and Repubs to work on immigration issues.

9:28pm -- Education reform - family, turn off the tv, science fair winners, success is hard work and discipline... Classroom should be a place of high expectations... Race to the Top is successful... [hmm...]  [not sayin' that NCLB was better... reminds me of a statement that Lenora Fulani made at Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference last year where Dr. Fulani and Sec. of Education Arne Duncan made statements...

9:25pm -- Develop science and technology as an alternative to subsidizing oil companies... (?)  Urges Dems and Repubs to work together to make this happen....

9:22pm -- Winning the Future... creativity, innovation is how we (Americans) make our living, our free-enterprise system drives this... this is our generation's Sputnik moment...

9:14pm ET -- recall the assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona... Says the future hangs on the coming together of the parties. (Dems and Repubs)...

9:09: Check this link for live coverage from CNN. Pres introduced by Boehner... begins to speak. O congratulates ppl but seems to be pointed at Boehner... pray for health of Gabby Giffords (recent attempted assassination victim from Arizona)...

9:05pm: The President has been introduced. I am currently searching for a livecast... bear with me.!

8:56pm: Joint Session of Congress - mostly ceremony now, with SC justices walking in.. no other coverage on network broadcast media at this point... Michelle Obama arrives...

The "speaker's cabinet"...

8:47pm: Repub spin is Obama is moving to the center, Dem counter -- no, a compromise on behalf of the country...

BTW - Post-SOTU address from the "opposition" party (because politics in our country is over-determined by a partisan system and in a TWO party system, one is out and one is in.... Apparently an interesting feature of the responses from the "opposition" is that they are both from "tea party" representatives -- social conservatives who seek to take over the Repub Party -- def reminds me of Jackie Salit's Christian Science Monitor article "Tea party activists: Don't confuse them with independents"...

8:45pm - Presidential Motorcade leaving the WH... Bloggers clustering in Statuary Hall.... B-roll.... Live from the floor of the House...

8:39pm - House is now being called into order... some of the chatter before hand had to do with the concern about projecting a "unified front" between Dems and Repubs. Apparently the Supreme Court only sends members of the Party appointed by the Ruling Party to this address. However some exception has been made because of the assassination of a judge in Tucson AZ a few weeks ago....

8:37pm - Talk of "bipartisanship" "good will" -- Congress people now walking in to Statuary Hall at the US Capitol building.

8:33pm Watching C-Span's pre-speech coverage about the history of this address and points about the pols who will respond to Obama's address.

Independents Taking Charge

Independents are gaining ground in Arizona, now outnumber Dems, hot on the trail of Repubs. The parties continue to attack voter-approved open primaries. And a lawsuit is brought by an independent in Oklahoma challenging the exclusion of independents from new redistricting commission.

  • AZ Independents outnumber Democrats (KYMA TV Yuma - NBC 11) The latest state registration report puts the number of Independents at 1,010,725 as of January 1. That’s about 2,000 more than the total number of Democrats registered statewide.
  • Independents now outnumber Dems in Arizona (by Ginger Rough, The Arizona Republic) It also marks the first time the number of independent voters is greater than those registered in one of the state's two major political parties - in this case, the Democrats.
  • Party Movement: More 'Independent' Voters (KSAZ Fox 10 Phoenix)
  • Independents inch past Democrats in statewide registration (Rhonda Bodfield, Arizona Daily Star/Pueblo Politics) Independents grew the fastest since the general election, with more than 28,000 registering since November. Democrats added 5,800. Republicans garnered about twice that, at 10,800…. "There's mixed reviews about whether open primaries actually have higher turnout than closed primaries," she said, "but what is clear is that in terms of the way people register, the primary really does influence the numbers."
  • Voter Registration Numbers: Independents Overtake Democrats in AZ (POSTED BY JIM NINTZEL, Tucson Weekly) “This is an interesting political shift we’re seeing,” Secretary Bennett mentioned. “Over the last three years, this category of voters has gained about 255,000 registered voters. We’ve been watching this trend for quite some time now, and it’s fascinating to watch where it is headed.”
  • Two special election candidates avert run-offs in Louisiana (By Tyler Millhouse, Ballot News [A NEW WEBSITE SPONSORED BY BALLOTPEDIA]
  • Parties keep slogging against peoples' wishes (TriCity Herald WA) Washingtonians did not, and most still do not, like to be told they have to join a party to vote. We prefer to vote for the best candidate, even in the primary. And we can under the top-two primary system. Best of all, the top-two system doesn't violate the constitutional rights of the political parties. That's what the nation's top jurists have repeatedly found. Even so, the parties continue to argue that primaries are for the parties, not the people, and apparently not for the candidates either.
  • Independent Voter Challenges Oklahoma State Question (Oklahoma's Own News on One) The state question increased its members from three to seven and requires the governor, speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate to each appoint one Democrat and one Republican to the commission. Duffe's lawsuit says that discriminates against independent voters and makes the state question unconstitutional.
  • Lawsuit challenges Oklahoma’s redistricting revision plan OK’d by voters in SQ 748 (BY MICHAEL MCNUTT, The Oklahoman) Independent voters are left out of a bipartisan commission that would be formed according to State Question 748, which 58.5 percent of the voters approved in November. The commission would be formed if lawmakers and the governor can’t agree on new lines for the 101 House and 48 Senate districts by the end of this year’s session.
  • Huntsman: A star is born (By Brent Budowsky, The Hill) Cable pundits thrive on incendiary attacks, but smart Democrats hope, and smart Republicans fear, that a divisive GOP nominee could lose in a landslide in 2012. Jon Huntsman offers great appeal to independent voters who wield great power in national elections.
  • School Choice Week highlights lack of freedom for Kentucky parents, urgent need for education reform (PRESS RELEASE Bluegrass Institute) According to a 2009 study by The Boston Foundation, charter school students improved math performance by an amount equal to “moving from the 50th to the 69th percentile in student performance. This is roughly half the size of the black-white achievement gaps.”
  • Worthy gains could vanish amid reforms (Gary IN Post Tribune) While some measure of accountability should rest with teachers who are on the front lines of education, there hasn't been a whisper about another education gap. Indiana falls behind most states with a school start age of 7 and is one of eight states that don't finance early learning programs.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Math of "Top Two"

The GOP is dead in California according Duf Sundheim; this statement comes in the wake of the drastic status change to blue this past November. The most obvious piece of evidence? Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who had a series of non-partisan election victories, but lost the 2010 state attorney general's race to San Francisco Democrat Kamala Harris, simply for the 'R' next to his name.

CORRECTION: As California independent Jon Blankenship points out, it pays to "do the math" when it comes to statements by politicians and the media. And it certainly pays to "read between the lines." For example, what gets left out of most reporting and editoralizing about the new Top Two open primary system that Californians adopted last summer, amid all the chatter about party labels and giving the minority party a better shot at getting their candidates elected, is the simple fact that 3.4 million independent (decline-to-state) VOTERS will be able to have a voice. THAT is the change that's needed if we are to move forward as a country. [A previous version stated that Jon Blankenship said it pays to do the math when it comes to Top Two, which was erroneous.]

  • Jon Blankenship, Red Bluff: Do the math (LETTER to the Red Bluff Daily News) As an independent, I try to stay as informed as possible. Both major parties are prone to make mistakes, but sometimes they do it on purpose. I would like to correct mistakes by checking out the truth.
  • GOP brand pronounced dead in deep-blue California (Carla Marinucci,Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle) Some believe the open-primary law California voters passed in November could breathe new life into the party. Under the law, the top two finishers in the primary - no matter what party they're from - will move on to the general election. Some believe the new system will allow more moderate Republicans to prosper in districts that now swing Democratic.
  • With California election reforms, state GOP might rebound (By Tom Elias, LA Daily Breeze) The new system will let all voters opt for anyone they like in primaries, meaning Democrats can cast ballots for Republicans if there is no serious contest in their own party's race - as when Gov. Jerry Brown ran last spring - and Republicans can vote for Democrats. Party registration may not mean so much anymore, even in fall runoff elections, for study after study has shown that when people vote for a candidate once, they are comfortable doing it again and again. This bodes extremely well for two Republicans who lost last year: Steve Poizner and Abel Maldonado.
  • Sample Ballot Released for First California “Top-Two” Election (Ballot Access News) In May 2010 CA Lt Gov Abel Maldonado was on television in New York city, being interviewed, and he said under the California top-two system that he sponsored, any candidate could choose any party label. He said, for example, that a candidate could prefer the Farmer Party. Also, in December 2010, when he received an award from IndependentVoting, he told the group that under his plan, all candidates can choose any label they wish.
  • Editorial: Let others in on the redistricting (The MetroWest Daily News) The advantage of an independent commission is that it can keep purely political considerations out of the process by ignoring certain factors, like party registration, precinct voting histories and the addresses of potential opponents. In Iowa, where an independent body has drawn the district lines for decades, such data cannot even be put in the computer.
  • State of the Union a 'fundamental moment' for Obama (By Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons, Washington Bureau, LA Times) Obama has been moving steadily to the political center since his midterm election drubbing two months ago, agreeing to extend tax cuts for the richest Americans, calling for business-friendly regulations and attempting to repair his relationship with the business community. His speech Tuesday is an opportunity to showcase that transformation, especially to independent voters.
  • Mayor Lashes Out at Judge (By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL, Wall Street Journal) On Thursday, Judge Emily Jane Goodman issued a temporary restraining order preventing the city from laying off nine deputy sheriffs and demoting three supervising deputy sheriffs.

an independent president

A Call To Convention. On a recent national conference call, Jackie Salit invited independents to attend the national conference, Can Independents Reform America? being held in New York City on Saturday, February 12, 2011.

"What we need to be talking about is that we, a small movement, are changing the political conversation in the biggest, most powerful, most complicated democracy on the planet. That is huge and we need to keep going. So come to New York and tell us your story about the independents you've spoken to and if we do that, I'll give you my guarantee, we will do more than change the conversation.We will change our country."

Listen to Salit's full talk here.

Yes, West Virginia -- Independents Can Vote In the Primary

Lots of chatter about how Obama's State of the Union Speech will be "centrist" to appeal to "independents". If the Prez really wants to appeal to indies, he'll talk about the need for structural political reform. When 37% of voters refuse to register in a party, we need a voting system that includes these voters. Disenfranchisement of independent voters needs to end.

  • City clarifies voting rules for independents (By Jim Balow, Charleston WV Gazette) After reading state code and checking with the state's two main political parties, City Attorney Paul Ellis said Thursday that independent voters will -- for the first time -- be able to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary.
  • No Labels group pushes for bipartisanship (BY ANNA M. TINSLEY, Fort Worth Star Telegram) "We want to start with creating a civil dialogue, but we have a strong consensus that the debt and deficit must be addressed," McKinnon said. "We also support democratic process reforms like open primaries and redistricting reform that will help create a less poisonous partisan environment."
  • Fickle independents return to Obama (By: Alexander Burns, Politico) “Independents are anti-politician in general,” Jensen said. “We find very few elected officials who are particularly popular with them and that’s partly because choosing not to identify with either major political party is a general sign of skepticism toward our political system and the politicians who fuel it.”
  • GOP Pushback To Independent Redistricting Plan Begins To Take Hold (By Chris Bragg, City Hall News) “We negotiated with the Senate Republicans and amended the proposal to make it more acceptable to them,” said Citizens United executive director Dick Dadey. “Senator Libous knows what independent redistricting is. He didn’t sign that pledge lightly.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

winter sunset

Let's just rely on "experts" again..they know what's fair

A huge win for voter reform took place in a Washington State courtroom; U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour rejected arguments by the major parties that the proposed system under the law confused voters who might misinterpret a candidate's party preference as an official endorsement by that party. Coughenour however rejected these claims stating that the ballot and its accompanying information concisely and clearly explain that a candidate's political-party preference does not imply any endorsement or association with that party and that the instructions actually eliminate the possibility of voter confusion and a threat to the First Amendment. The most important aspect of this upholding is that it creates a precedent that weakens opponents arguments on the fight over California's Prop-14. An attempt at redistricting reform took place in Massachusetts but was completely shot down 34-5. The new bill presented a redistricting commission headed by a panel of experts. This differs greatly from California's redistricting commission which has a quota for its partisan and non partisan members. This is by far more fair than the Massachusetts proposal, and leaves more opening for change.

  • MA - Senate Democrats scuttle independent redistricting panel (By Kyle Cheney, Dedham Daily News Transcript) Tarr pointed to a recent poll showing that 62 percent of Massachusetts residents support an independent redistricting commission, and he also pointed out that Secretary of State William Galvin had voiced support for an independent advisory panel. Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) argued that independent redistricting commissions appeared to be “gaining favor” around the country.
  • MA - Beacon Hill Roll Call: How did you legislator vote? (By Bob Katzen, EXCERPT Wicked Local Stow) The commission would include a dean or professor of law, political science or government from a Massachusetts institution of higher learning appointed by the governor; a retired judge appointed by the attorney general; and an expert in civil rights law appointed by the secretary of state. The other four members would be chosen by the above three members from a list of candidates nominated by the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader.
  • MA - Let’s talk . . . in 10 years (EDITORIAL By Boston Herald) The state’s track record on transparency and fairness in redistricting isn’t exactly stellar, but the Senate rejected 5-34 a bid to appoint an independent redistricting commission.
  • NY - New York State Sen. David Valesky, D-49, to discuss redistricting Jan. 22 (Oneida Daily Dispatch) Valesky is the co-sponsor of the Valesky-Gianaris redistricting bill that would establish a non-partisan redistricting commission.
  • CA - UPDATED: Scott Wilk: Redistricting: You now have a voice Right Here, Right Now! (By Scott Thomas Wilk (The Santa Clarita Valley Signal) Proposition 20 was approved by 61.3 percent of voters last November and added the task of re-drawing the boundaries of California's congressional districts to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. According to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's website, we join 12 other states that use independent commissions to craft redistricting plans. The new commission is comprised of 14 members: five Republicans; five Democrats; and four Independents.
  • The GOP’s Demographic Ills (By Asher Smith, Emory Wheel - Emory University Ohio) Ohio serves as a microcosm for a more general problem afflicting the Republican party. At the 2009 Republican National Convention (RNC), held in St. Paul, Minnesota, an astonishing 93 percent of delegates were white. In the 2006 elections, 69 percent of Latinos, 57 percent of women, 90 percent of blacks, 60 percent of voters under 29 and 57 percent of independent voters voted Democratic. At the 2004 RNC, a slightly less staggering but still disproportionate 85 percent of delegates were white. Only 6 percent were black.
  • Operatives on the Move (By David Freedlander, NY Observer/Politicker) Helmstetter comes to the WFP from Blue State Digital, the online fundraising firm that worked on Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Is White House Avoiding Independent Voters?

The U.S. House will be voting next week on abolishing public funding for Presidential candidates that can raise at least $5,000 over twenty states. This vote is the first of many that will try and abolish some sort of federal spending. Another bill in the Massachusetts senate was voted down in a landslide which proposed having an independent panel control redistricting lines, citing that "there’s no evidence that states with independent commissions draw better maps than those that rely on legislative committees". We also have an interview between ABC's John Tapper and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. An interesting aspect of this interview is when Tapper asks Gibbs what he thinks Obama needs to do to "win back independents", why does Gibbs so carefully avoid using the word "independent"?

  • Pedro memoir an 'El'-raiser - Raged at Spitzer: scribe (By MITCHEL MADDUX, NY Post) When former state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. hired a ghostwriter to pen his memoirs back in 2006, he intended to use the tome to launch a political attack against Eliot Spitzer, the writer told The Post.
  • State Conservative Party's Michael Long praises Gov. Cuomo's fiscal agenda (BY KENNETH LOVETT, DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF) The grass-roots effort will be financed with money from the party's campaign coffers, which in July received a $1 million donation that funded ads opposing the controversial Ground Zero mosque the Conservative Party ran.
  • Bloomberg Targets Unions in State of the City (by Courtney Gross, Gotham Gazette) With the exception of the mayor's pension and labor proposals, his address was light on major public policy overhauls. New initiatives the mayor did announce were on the smaller scale -- such as forgiving health code fines if a restaurant received a grade A on its inspections.

another day, another snow storm

Thursday, January 20, 2011

February 12 in New York - Independents Get Together

Jackie Salit, president of, talks about the importance of the upcoming  February 12 (Presidents' Day) national conference of independents with host of Interviews With a Black Independent Lenora Fulani at the Harlem State Office Building last Friday.

For more go here...

The Time for Structural Political Reform is Now

But the quantitative success of independent candidates is still minimal, while the obstacles remain high. Even if they can win over voters and donors, independent candidates face huge institutional hurdles. Most states don’t have open primaries, in which the top vote-getters advance to a general election regardless of party. Instead, primaries are open only to voters registered in one of the two major parties, while independent candidates have to clear often-insurmountable barriers to get on the ballot. Runoffs are another issue in most states. As the system is set up now, a voter who doesn’t pick a Democrat or Republican risks essentially throwing away a vote for a distant third-place finisher….
...An instant runoff system essentially offers insurance. A voter could choose an independent first; if no candidate passed the 50 percent threshold, the last-place finisher would be dropped, and a voter’s second choice would count, alleviating the fear that one’s vote would be wasted. California’s Proposition 14, passed in 2010, creates a single primary from which the top two vote-getters go on to the general election. It’s a big step in the right direction, says Anderson, who hopes it will encourage others states to pass similar reforms. 
(From Did Joe Lieberman Screw Independents by David A. Graham, The Daily Beast) SEE BELOW

  • Redistricting commission is all about partisanship (EDITORIAL Central Redistricting should be a nonpartisan effort — since the bipartisanship being manufactured by the 5-5 split of Democrats and Republicans on the commission isn't a cooperative venture. Instead it's a system of two parties trading off chips and balancing partisan demands. In the end, deadlock is virtually inevitable, and a 11th-member to serve as tiebreaker is appointed by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. But even if that 11th member is genuinely independent, the negotiations leading to that tiebreaking decision will have already tainted any final product.
  • Endangered Dems sound alarms about redistricting (AP, The Review - Ohio) But Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is making the most noise as he enters his eighth term by actively shopping around for a new district… Several legislators, as well as new Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have endorsed an effort by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch to create an independent redistricting commission. Such efforts have generally flamed out in the past, but widespread public disgust with New York's dysfunctional state government has given new credibility to Koch's crusade.
  • Scalia, Thomas and Citizens United (By: Jeanne Cummings, Politico) To mark Friday’s anniversary of a court decision that allowed corporations to sink millions into politics, Common Cause, a reform group, is asking the Department of Justice to investigate alleged conflicts of interest involving two Supreme Court justices – in hopes of forcing the court to vacate the 5-4 ruling.
  • The trouble with Joe (By: Charles Mahtesian, Politico) The speed and arc of his political decline is stunning: In 2000, Lieberman won reelection to a third Senate term in a landslide, even as he spent the bulk of his time campaigning outside his home state as Al Gore’s running mate. By 2006, Lieberman couldn’t even win the Democratic nomination for his own seat. He was forced to run as a third-party candidate, winning with a bare 50 percent of the vote.
  • Did Joe Lieberman Screw Independents? (by David A. Graham, The Daily Beast) The retiring senator suggested that free-thinking elected officials are doomed. But maybe Lieberman himself is the problem? Newsweek’s David A. Graham reports on the lawmaker’s record and the stacked deck against unaffiliated candidates.
  • Local resident appears Off Off Broadway (North Playing with philosophy, theatrical forms and storytelling, "Mr. Hirsch Died Yesterday" explores human identity and shared history when a Jewish writer named Fred meets an African-American woman named Freda and find they share more than childhood memories.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Independent Redistricting and Open Primaries May Help California's Woes

Californians continue to look forward to the first election under the new Top Two open primary system voted in by referendum last June. And in the meantime, Repubs in Utah ponder ways to get around the state's open primary system...

  • Opinion: Gov. Brown's budget and a path forward (By Bob Hertzberg, Tom McKernan, Capitol Weekly) From our beginnings, California Forward has encouraged ways to improve governance and bring about changes that restore the public’s trust. Redistricting reform and open primaries hold the promise of restoring the Legislature’s ability to solve problems.
  • Hatch Places Third in New GOP Poll (By Kyle Trygstad, Roll Call) Utah has open primaries, However, it’s possible the Republican nominee will be decided in the state party convention, where only locally elected delegates are eligible to vote — something Chaffetz noted to the Deseret News. “The only poll that will matter is of Utah state delegates in May of 2012,” he said.
  • Goodbye Enthusiasm Gap (Public Policy Polling) If I had to name the two biggest factors that cost Democrats the 2010 election cycle it would be 2 e's- economy and enthusiasm. A huge part of the party's problem was the bad economy, which drove independent voters strongly toward GOP candidates. But just as important was the enthusiasm gap and the fact that Republicans turned out at a much higher rate than Democrats in almost every state in the country.
  • Lieberman, Conrad Retiring: Who's Next? - Former Democrat Is One of the Few Remaining Moderates in the U.S. Senate (By JONATHAN KARL, ABC)
  • Mayor Bloomberg Suddenly Stumbling (Ron Hart, Yahoo News) While he has repeatedly denied any plans to run for president, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 68, may be the perfect candidate for many 'purple' parts of the electorate. He has been a Democrat. He has been a Republican. He is now an independent.
  • Medicaid pulls plug on Pedro's Bronx clinics (By CARL CAMPANILE, NY Post) State Medicaid Inspector James Sheehan's Office notified both Espada and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, that they've been "excluded" from receiving or handling Medicaid dollars from the Soundview Healthcare Network.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Partisans Don't Like Open Primaries - Independents Do

Voters are begging for a revival of the open primary system in Alaska. (And -- strangely -- Ballot Access News's Rich Winger parses the impact of this on candidates. Maybe Winger thinks voters don't exist?) Open primaries are important for independent voters across the ideological spectrum, and particularly to the progressive wing of the independent movement. As Jackie Sailt pointed out on Friday night in Harlem at Lenora Fulani's "Interview With a Black Independent", so-called Tea Party candidates won in closed-primary states.

Hankster readers might be interested in this language from the decision of U.S. District Judge  John C. Coughenour who recently upheld Top Two against a further challenge by Washington’s political parties.
h/t to Harry Kresky:

“The political parties also argue that I-872 [the Top Two initiative] has harmed them because some of their official nominees have not advanced past the primary election to the general election. (Dkt No. 257 at 11–14.) The Democratic Party complains, for example, that in one particular race its official nominee lost the primary election because “the Democratic Party was forced by the State’s implementation of the Top Two [system] to have three other ‘Democratic candidates’ on the [primary] ballot” alongside the Democratic Party’s chosen nominee. (Dkt. No. 257 at 13.) The argument misses the point: “Whether parties nominate their own candidates outside the state-run primary is simply irrelevant. In fact, parties may now nominate candidates by whatever mechanism they choose because I-872 repealed Washington’s prior regulations governing party nominations.” Wash. State Grange, 552 U.S. at 453. The primary ballot did not include “three other Democratic candidates.” It included four candidates who stated a preference for the Democratic Party, one of whom the Democratic Party officially endorsed. “The First Amendment does not give political parties a right to have their nominees designated as such on the ballot,” id. at 453 n.7, and the political parties are not entitled as a matter of law to have their nominated candidates appear on the general-election ballot. I-872 did not prevent the Democratic Party’s nominee from advancing to the general election; the voters did. The political parties may not admire Washington’s new election system in which their designated candidates do not always advance to the general election, but that disappointment does not raise constitutional concerns.”

And now for more news headlines:

  • Closed party primary would end under Gruenberg bill - OPEN SYSTEM: Top 2 vote getters would move on to general election. (By BECKY BOHRER, The Associated Press, Anchorage Daily News) Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, said that for years he has had people stop and "beg" him to revive an open-primary system, in which voters can choose any candidate for legislative or executive branch offices regardless of party affiliation.
  • Alaska Bill for a Top-Two Primary (Ballot Access News) [For Winger, it's all about the candidates -ed.]
  • State Senate elections may be settled in first round of balloting (By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times) Charness said he is affiliated with the "coffee party," a group formed to counter the conservative "tea party" organizations. The group is not recognized by the state, so he was stuck with the no-party label. Peace and Freedom party members Jan B. Tucker of Torrance and Carl Iannalfo of Littlerock, in the Antelope Valley, contend that the "chaos" caused by the new system prevented them from collecting enough signatures to get on the ballots in their respective districts.
    Bill would do away with closed party primary (By Becky Bohrer, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Juneau Empire) Gruenberg said the existing system has “put the nominating process for Republicans in the hands of a small group” and led to the nomination of less centrist, more conservative candidates. He cites as a glaring example of this the selection of Joe Miller as the GOP nominee over incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who then mounted an outsider write-in bid to win back her job.
  • What We Learned: Top 10 Political Lessons for 2011 (By Solomon Kleinsmith, WNYC/It's a Free Blog) does some great work in other areas, but their hypocrisy on this issue has been disturbing to many of us who watch developments in election law across the country. They should pull the wool from their eyes and see how much truely open primaries have helped their close ally (who they literally share an office with), the Independence Party of New York. If they do not, they will be seen as just another partisan group that will use their power to game the system to their advantage, rather than work to make it more open.
  • Marist poll: Most voters say Obama will improve performance (Poughkeepsie Journal) "I think he's doing the best he can." A majority of independent voters — 55 percent — and even a plurality of Republican voters — 41 percent — think the president will make greater strides in his performance during the next two years than he has in the past two.
  • Obama improves standing vs '12 rivals (By: CNN Political Coverage Manager Steve Brusk, CNN Political Ticker) The poll indicates Obama leads the potential GOP challengers among independent voters, by 10 points over Romney, 5 over Huckabee, and 28 over Palin.