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The Farce Continues in Albany

Posted by Pete Healey on January 22, 2010 at 1:23 AM Comments comments (12)

When the state legislature wants to act, they can act quickly and decisively. Just the other day both houses passed an ethics reform bill and there were only three votes cast in opposition(we will endeavor to find out their names and applaud them here in the near future). This action was in response to the Governor's call for sweeping ethics and election reforms for state government in his state-of-the-state speech just ten days before. The Governor for his part has already sworn that he will veto this legislation which he says doesn't go nearly far enough, and legislative leaders have already responded that they intend to override his veto. This is Albany at work, full of half measures and politically charged threats. The real prize for this year, apart from the governorship itself, is control of the state senate, which will determine how the legislature is governed for the next ten years. You see, the legislature elected this year will determine district boundaries next year during the apportionment process, which happens once every ten years, after the census. If the Dems take control, they will draw radically new senate districts which will ensure their control of that house as surely as they control the Assembly now and into the future.

Redistricting was the one major area of ethics and election reform that the governor never mentioned in his recent state-of-the-state address, and we're not surprised. The Governor may find it politically advantageous to attack the legislature but he's not interested in bringing modern democratic reforms to Albany. He sat quietly in the state senate in his own gerrymandered seat for more than twenty years and assumed the governorship without being elected to that post. We await the day, far off in our point of view, when David Patterson will turn away from a career spent as an insider in an insider's game, and call for a constitutional convention in New York, and real modern electoral reforms like a single house legislature with 200 members, half of whom are elected from districts drawn up by a nonpartisan commission, and the other half elected by proportional rules in a statewide ballot, with a 3 or 4 percent minimum threshold for parties to gain seats. Until then, we'll call a farce a farce. 

It's Good Enough for the President, And It's Good Enough For All Of Us

Posted by Pete Healey on January 12, 2010 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Barack Obama only won the Presidential Primaries in the Democratic Party in 2008 because of the proportional (PR) method used for counting the delegates won in each state. If the primary contests in each state were winner-take-all contests, Hillary Clinton would have been the nominee of the Democratic Party last year. Ms. Clinton won almost all of the big states, with all their big delegate counts, but usually only by very small margins.


Obama and his staff understood the proportional process better than the Clinton people and tailored their strategy to fit it. The Democrats have a rule that anyone who gets 15% or better in a primary gets that proportional number of delegates allocated to him or her. New York may provide a good example. Since Hilary Clinton was US Senator from New York and it was assumed she would win easily, Obama didn't spend much time campaigning here. But whatever percentage of votes he won actually counted in his favor because that was the percentage of delegates he won. Clinton didn't win all the delegates from New York even though she easily won the primary. She only received the percentage of delegates that corresponded to her vote totals.


The point is that the Democratic Party accepts PR for their most important internal election process. Why wouldn't they support this or a similar process for all of us? Of course, as long as they are a 'small d' party as well as a 'big D' party, this is exactly how they should act.