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Looking at Voting, National & Local

Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth he becomes smaller. And his recent insults targeted at LeBron James, a sports icon, a philanthropist, a man his superior in every way, demonstrates he can always shrink a little more. It is curious that missing in the analysis of the change in voting among suburban white women, now “disgusted” by Trump and voting against his endorsement, is that they knew he was a pig when 52% voted for him when his opponent was a super-qualified white woman. Absent that dynamic, they’re now able to come back to rationality and Donald Trump is suddenly in a lot of trouble with that demographic.

That so-called Blue Wave of independent voters in the midterm elections can have a powerful local effect as well. A 2016 Board of Elections report shows that Brooklyn had only a 9% turnout in the state and local primary election of that year. This means that there wouldn’t take much of an increase in voter turnout beyond an incumbent’s base to make a huge difference as Congresswoman Yvette Clarke’s close call demonstrated most clearly recently.

If there is an event or personality that motivates voters to come out, say Donald Trump and his agenda, many of the new voters will not have the same emotional connections to current local officeholders, who are as new to them as the opposing candidates.
A vote does not happen in a vacuum. People need a reason to vote for a candidate. What I like about Tish James is that she’s litigious and has been so on behalf of tenants, poor people and those with no voice. Her wide support among party leaders raises the question of whether her expert lawyering will extend to the legislature as well. Corruption hurts the poorest people and certainly communities of color the most, because corruption runs on money and poor people have none. The New York State Legislature has been continually plagued by corruption eruptions, and a commitment, if not to an independent investigatory body, such as the Moreland Commission which Governor Cuomo created and then shut down, then to leaving political considerations out of the administration of the law is needed. And when the money trail is found, having the will to follow it to wherever it leads.
That is not a concern with Zephyr Teachout, coming as she does from outside the establishment. And she certainly has the background to continue her challenges to Donald Trump. But then you can wonder if her dealings with the stratosphere of politics leaves her with less time to focuse on the immediate concerns on the streets of Bed-Stuy.

One of the things that caught my eye in Cynthia Nixon’s just released economic development plan, was the part about the state’s W/MBE goal of 30% W/MBE spending. “Currently, there is a lack of transparency and accountability for meeting these goals.”

Unlike New York City, where the comptroller’s website has full disclosure of spending, “the Cuomo Administration has never released real-time data about state agencies contracting with specific minority groups or firms,” states Nixon’s plan. This has the effect of “ensuring that watchdogs and community members are kept in the dark about who exactly is benefitting from its programs and whether individual agencies or the state as a whole are meeting specific participation goals established for MBEs and WBEs.” This is the kind of information that is readily available for the city, where we can see that over 90% of W/MBE spending goes to Asian-Americans and women. Release of the state’s data would pull back the curtain on the spending, or lack thereof, going to African-American and Hispanic firms.

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