Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fusion Buzz - Part 2

Deanna Zandt, who manages the Start Making Sense project over at Alternet refers readers of her blog to the Nation story about the WFP and fusion politics.

Towns' CAFTA Sellout was a Flip-Flop

The crack research staff at Public Citizen have documented Rep. Edolphus Towns' flip-flop on CAFTA. Check out this research report:
The Nov. 19, 2004, congressional floor speech of Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) left no doubt that he opposed a proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The lengthy statement described, in detail, why CAFTA would harm most people in the affected nations. Yet nine months later, on July 27, Towns cast a decisive vote in favor of CAFTA that allowed the controversial trade pact to eke through the U.S. House of Representatives 217 to 215. Although the CAFTA text was unchanged between Towns’ 2004 speech and the congressional vote on the six-nation expansion of NAFTA, Towns provided one of the deciding votes in favor of the trade agreement.

Selling out is bad enough. Going back on his word? A look at campaign finance records makes one hesitates before saying priceless.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Statement from Dan Cantor re Poverty Stats



Reacting to news from the Census Bureau that the poverty rate in New York City rose significantly, from 19 to 20.3 percent, Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party said:

"It would be nice if the mayoral candidates talked less about tax cuts and rebates and more about realistic strategies for lifting the one out of five New Yorkers who live in poverty into the middle class."

The WFP has not yet endorsed a New York City mayoral candidate.


Some Bad News for NYC's Working Families

Annual poverty stats are out from the census bureau. Poverty rose again in George W. Bush's America.

Locally in New York City, the news is especially bad: "The only city with a million or more residents that exhibited a significant change in poverty level last year was New York City, which saw the rate increase from 19 percent to 20.3 percent," the AP reports.

Fusion Buzz

Discussion around Alyssa Katz's Nation story on fusion voting and the WFP is really percolating. Good post on MyDD from Scott Shields. Scott writes:
One system I've always been a huge fan of is New York's fusion voting... Why would anyone vote for a major party candidate on a third party line? Well, by supporting Eliot Spitzer as a Working Families Party candidate rather than as a Democrat, for example, voters send the message that the issues Working Families champions -- universal healthcare, a living wage, strong labor protection -- are very important to a significant segment of their base. It also gives independent voters an excuse to vote for major party candidates that they might not otherwise vote for... Fusion may not be a silver bullet. And it may not be a realistic proposal for every state. But it's an interesting alternative and one that I think reform-minded Democrats should give some thought to.

And he rebuts the argument that fusion could help the right as much as the left:
I can understand the concern about the right using fusion to their advantage as well. But with the Republican Party already skewing so far to the right, it's hard to imagine that a conservative third party could pull the GOP much further and still win elections. And to the extent that progressive third parties can support progressive Democrats, I'd argue that the risk is worth it.
Bravo to Scott for taking on this argument head-on. What else do folks think about this question?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Super-Duper Story

Check out Alyssa Katz's fantastic story in The Nation. Here are some tidbits:

Fusion is powerful. Voting in the Working Families column is no wasted
gesture--every ballot counts. It sidesteps the Nader Effect, since voters can
show their support for a progressive party agenda without spoiling the chances
of a candidate--usually a Democrat--who has a shot at winning. And if there's an
opportunity to take out a bad Democrat, like former Albany DA Paul Clyne,
Working Families can run its own candidate...

Working Families has become a fixture in local political races in the state's bigger cities and in the suburbs of New York City, delivering a get-out-the-vote apparatus and its progressive WF brand label in exchange for influence over candidates' policy agendas. Some of those relationships spawn legislative breakthroughs, including a 2002 living-wage law in Westchester.

Sorry - subscription required for the full text at The Nation site, but email the wfp at if you're interested in a reprint.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Say a prayer for Peter King

Hard to think of anyone in Washington more obnoxious than Long Island Congressman Peter King. With IN THIS TOGETHER's help, a multi-denominational group of religious leaders visited his office yesterday to implore the Congressman to defend the social compact of Social Security, and urge him to oppose privatization. "It's our duty as Christians to take care of the elderly, widows, orphans and persons with disabilities and Mr. King knows that," said Mary Dewar, of the Long Island Council of Churches. "It is this deep moral concern for maintaining and building a compassionate society that brings us together."

King's response as reported today in Newsday?
"God forgive them for they know not what they do. I base my decision on facts, reason and informed social conscious and not left-wing pseudo-theology."

Time to get Congressman King a radio talk show and get him out office, no?

(Read more about the fight to hold New York's elected officials accountable to defend the promise of Social Security at, the WFP's statewide action coalition)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Meeks Update

David Sirota has the latest:

Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY) is quickly becoming an important cautionary tale about what happens when Democrats sell out their working class base. After voting for things like the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the bankruptcy bill, Meeks has been the target of much local criticism in his home district. And he hasn't taken it too well.

First, New York's powerful Working Families Party and top unions held a public rally to demand the House Democratic Leadership remove Meeks from his committee assignments. Meeks responded by having a staffer claim that the criticism of his votes were somehow "racist." Ridiculous.

Now, Meeks' hometown paper hammered him for selling out. Meeks responded by trying to stop other papers from publishing critical stories about his votes (see
one of those stories here).

Here's a little advice to Meeks and other Democrats who are consistently undermining their party and America's middle class: if you don't want to be criticized for selling out, THEN DON'T SELL OUT. It's just that simple.

But what's a little bit of thuggery to a sell-out, right?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Against HCSA? Murdoch's Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

Today's Post editorial objects to the Health Care Security Act, which the City Council is on the verge of passing. HCSA would ensure that city supermarkets do not pass on the cost of their employees' health care to the taxpaying public. (Kudos to Jobs with Justice, the Brennan Center and the entire coalition that has pushed the bill to this point. The WFP made support for HCSA a key priority in its City Council endorsement process this year.)

For years and years, the Post has railed against the rapidly rising burden that Medicaid imposes on New York's taxpayers. How surprising then that the Post would oppose legislation that seeks to control these costs. Could it be that the only thing Rupert Murdoch dislikes more than a society in which we share the burden of caring for one another is an alliance between the labor movement and high-road employers?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Slouching Past Deadwood

Erie County government is apparently leapfrogging the 19th century and heading straight towards the 18th as it struggles to find an affordable level of public services. First the housing police were eliminated in Buffalo. Now it's county sheriff patrols that are on the chopping block.

Even, Deadwood, that model of frontier public sector efficiency had a vigorous sheriff.

The cornerstones of government in Erie County are being demolished, in part, by the region's failure to move towards a fair and stable revenue mechanism and regional planning that doesn't undermine Buffalo's economy.

Look for pirates on Lake Erie soon.