Tuesday, November 01, 2005

NYC election endorsements

OK, I know I promised not to talk politics here, but if I limit it to NYC politics, will you forgive me, dear reader(s)? I'd happily talk about a food or science and NYC politics, but as far as I know, no chefs or scientists are running for office, alas. (But see below, for an almost-scientist!) I would certainly vote for either one over, say, another lawyer, wouldn't you?

The election is next Tuesday. Here's how I'm voting, and why:

Mayor: Bloomberg (R)
Yes, he's (kinda) a Republican, and yes, Ferrer has been endorsed by the Clintons, Dean, and any number of high-profile Democrats I respect, and yes, he donated $7 million to the GOP National Convention last year, but dammit. He's a really really good mayor, and Ferrer is a political hack who's worked his way up the Democratic machine. Mike's the kind of mayor I'd be if I were a politician -- he's ridiculously honest and clean, he's a bit headstrong, he's terrible at baby-kissing politics, and he really likes numbers. There are plenty of reasons he's going to get 65% of the vote in a city that's 80% Democrat.

Public Advocate: Gotbaum (D)
She seems fine, and has no real opposition.

Comptroller: Thompson (D)
I like the fact that there's an elected comptroller, who oversees the integrity of the budget process. Thompson seems progressive and smart, and again, he has no credible opposition.

Queens Borough President: Marshall (D)
My understanding is the the Borough Presidents used to have some actual responsibility for budgeting, but that got taken away from them at some point, and now they're mostly just paid cheerleaders for their borough. This doesn't seem like a very good thing, but what can you do? Anyway, I'll vote for the Democrat, I guess.

City Council: Kann (G)
Our city council rep is the fairly prominent Peter Vallone, Jr., son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., and grandson of Judge Charles Vallone, whose name graces the school a block away from where I live. He's on the ballot under the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative parties. But I don't find him very compelling. And there's an alternative, Jerry Kahn, a Green party activist whose day job is as an editor for a scientific publishing house! He seems like a really bright, progressive guy, and even though he doesn't have a chance in a million, I'll still vote for him.

Ballot measure #1 - NY State Budget Reform: NO
This is tricky. The New York State budgeting process is, by all accounts, the most screwed-up in the entire nation. It's been late almost every year since the Eisenhower administration. It's a total disaster, as is the State legislature generally. This ballot measure would reduce the Governor's influence over the budget, and would create a default budget, continuing the previous year's allocations, if a new budget isn't passed. Although budget reform seems like a really good idea, it's not clear to me that this reform would be very effective. Interestingly, there are progressive organizations both supporting and opposing this ballot measure. Another note is that we're almost certainly getting a great Governor a year from now, when Spitzer should win election, and I'd rather have him have budgetary control than the disfunctional legislature...

Ballot measure #2 - Transportation Bonds: YES
This has literally been endorsed by every public official and advocacy group East of the Mississippi. (That's a river a ways West of the Hudson, for any native New Yorkers reading this blog.) It would let the state sell $2.9 billion in bonds to be split evenly between road construction (desperately needed) and public transportation in and around NYC (even more desperately needed). With a little luck, and this thing passes, and they may actually start building the 2nd Ave. subway and LIRR access to Grand Central! Fantastic, to this rail fan! This is arguably the most significant vote on the ballot!

Ballot measure #3 - Ethics Codes for City Judges: YES
This is apparently overkill, and didn't need to be a ballot measure, but everybody's endorsing it. And really, with a name like "Ethics Code for City Administrative Judges", who could oppose it?

Ballot measure #4 - Balanced Budget for NYC: YES
Back when NYC almost went bankrupt in the 1970s, they passed some really really strict budgeting laws that are expiring soon. Everyone thinks that the laws were a very good thing, and this ballot measure would extend some of the aspects of the law. In general, I think balanced budgets are a good thing (as long as rainy-day funds can be built up when there are surpluses), so continuing these budget measures seems like a good idea too.

Whew! Usually the people I vote for lose, so I'm hoping for better this time around! Oh, and kudos to the NYC votor guide, sent to all registered voters, which had really good summaries of all of the races and measures. That's a great thing. Oh, and groans that this election will once again be held using voting machines older than my parents. Last I heard, NY state is going to be the only state in the Union to fail to meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act, and is going to lose a bunch of matching funds that should help it buy new voting machines. How inept can you get...


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