Corruption explodes in the Mayor’s race. A State Senator, City Councilmen, Republican Party County Chairmen allegedly collude, with bribes as the prize, to provide a single document to permit a Democrat to run in the Republican primary.
Newspaper stories, TV cameras, bloggers celebrate another example of New York politics “at its best”.
New York University’s Brennan Center, a nationally respected think-tank, called New York’s State Legislature the most dysfunctional in the nation and nothing in it has changed. Nothing.
So just in case the public was only concerned about its failing education system, a lack of jobs, ‘stop and frisk’, gun control, rising transportation costs and a whole panoply of problems – here comes an exciting case of corruption to amuse us and take our minds off our real troubles. And right in the middle of a Mayoralty election which was intricate enough to begin with.
The Liberal Party lost its candidate for Mayor when business pressures forced Tom Allon to step out of the race. Now what?
As those who follow politics know, the Liberal Party remains what is called a ‘non-ballot’ party – a political organization which must petition for a place on the ballot for every single election throughout the city or state. We can regain the ballot status we held for 64 years by collecting 50,000 votes in the next election for Governor – in 2014
Yet, knowing how important the NYC Mayor’s race was to the future, the Liberal Party abandoned its usual method of candidate selection and chose to support Tom Allon for two important reasons:
- the need for good government. The Brennan Center didn’t use the terms ‘ most crooked or corrupt’ because they were referring to the result rather than the cause of New York’s government dysfunction;
- the need for a completely new approach to fixing our schools because everything else had failed for thirty years
Despite his inexperience in government and politics (as a journalist he knew the facts – but had never worked with them) we’d found a New Yorker who was determined to make both things happen – good government and good schools – if he won the opportunity to do so.
And because the NEW Liberal Party is again based on policies and programs not simply on electing people to office, we believed Tom had potential. The fact that he lived and grew up on the West side of NYC inspired his liberal instincts…and his DNA was excellent: his Mother and Father had been enrolled members of the Liberal Party.
And Tom’s campaign made an impact. He forced the point about education…driving a new approach based on extensive teacher training that delighted the education community even if they all didn’t agree with it and impressed many of the other candidates in the race.
His ideas about the minimum wage, helping small business, working with the outer boroughs and with those communities most involved with ‘stop and frisk’ were all part of a campaign committed to smart, clean government.
Tom promised to help the Liberal Party grow throughout the city and we count him the first among our new leaders.
We move on. The Liberal Party has opened its candidate selection process to all those still in the race. We’ve heard positively from three: Adolfo Carrion, Joseph Lhota and John Catsimatidis.
Conversations have indicated that all three recognize that the Liberal Party’s endorsement will help them win the Republican primary and gives them a strong chance of winning in November despite the huge enrollment huge held by the Democrats.
History shows no Republican in the modern era has won the Mayoralty without Liberal Party support.
While we continue to vigorously impress our ideas for true educational reform by seeking an acknowledgement and adoption of these ideas in the campaign of a new endorsee – should we make one – we also want a clear indication that a new Mayor, with a very full plate of problems to begin with, will also begin working to clean up City government.
The free use of money in the City Council in the so-called ‘member items’($150 million) is an instrument of control by any Leader. Such an instrument of power exists in the State Legislature as well. Tax money used so freely and willfully by sitting legislators to help their communities is another way of saying “This will keep me in office…” Hundreds of millions of our money is being used this way – and while many decent organizations benefit they do so at their and our peril – working to help them but also working to keep office-holders in their jobs. And in NYC the decision on these grants come from Christine Quinn or any Council Leader.
The same is true throughout the State despite the Governor’s promise (gone but not forgotten, Andrew) to finally make changes that will free New York from a generation of corruption under the watchful eye of the State Assembly Leader. Our Chris has nothing on the master – our Shelley.
And so the process of candidate selection moves forward – pausing at this moment to wait for additional fall-out from the latest example of corruption – if it will.
In the weeks just ahead there will be a meeting of the Liberal Party’s leadership group to consider the options.
We will keep you informed and welcome your comments.
Martin I. Hassner