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Submitted by Justin Krebs on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 3:38pm.
We've gathered for the primaries. We've turned the debates into communal spectacles. Now, it's the World Series -- and you don't want to watch it alone.
We're collecting Election Night listings in one place. Stay tuned as the list grows over the next week.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 12:49pm.
The vote is over, but you can stay involved in the fight at ItsOurDecision.org.
Maybe someday people will look back at "The Great Term Limits Vote" -- or maybe it will be completely forgotten. We have no idea. But in the chance that it does become a memorable moment, you have a ringside seat.
I'm at City Hall, in the Council chambers (photos coming soon) to watch as 51 City Council members decide to go along with a plan by the Mayor to extend their own and his terms of office.
The background: in the 90s, New Yorkers twice voted by popular referendum to impose limits of 2 terms. Mayor Bloomberg -- reminding us that rich people don't like when other people tell them what they can or can't do -- wants to run for a third term. His popularity probably could have swayed the public to support his quest through a new referendum -- but rich people don't like to follow process or convince others. So he is trying to railroad it through City Council.
The Speaker, Christine Quinn, is going along with him. And now it's a question of whether 26 Council Members will say no.
Yesterday, three of the undecided Council Members -- Gale Brewer, David Yassky and Alan Gerson -- proposed an amendment, that this law would not take effect unless and until it also passed a popular referendum. Opponents to the Mayor's plan are willing to support this idea as it will still give the public a say. The Mayor's supporters seem to be against any public involvement. But that vote did change the scenario.
And there are still a few undeclared. Are they feeling pressure from their constituents? Having their arms twisted by the Mayor and Speaker (rumors swirl of having committee chair posts stripped over disloyalty)?
In the front row of the balcony, next to Franz Hartl who is working with the Working Families Party -- leaders of the "It's Our Decision" campaign to defeat the Mayor's plan (as well as the "Vote Change Like You Mean It" push -- and we'll report anything that happens...which is nothing yet.
It's 5-to-1pm...every chair is already full and the Sargent-at-Arms has warned us that if we leave the chamber, there are others waiting for our seats.
...and this doesn't start for an hour.
1:23 - Opponents Expect Bill to Pass
Dick Dadey, head of the Citizens Union, arrived up in the balcony. His group has been vocal about this issue -- acknowledging the Council's right to take this vote, but questioning the appropriateness of it.
As he just told us, he suspects there will be 27 or 28 votes in favor of the Mayor's plan...not happy news coming from one of the captains in this fight.
He also says that anything can change; that lobbying is still happening; that votes may change on the floor.
(Video coming soon)
Not great news, nonetheless.
1:27 - Security is Strict-ish
When I left the balcony, I had to tell the Sargent-at-Arms I was leaving so he would let me back up. I had to tell him what I was doing. It was like getting a bathroom hall pass. As I came back and lurked by the stairs, he told me "No hanging out; head up if you want your seat."
It's less security-theater and more people-flow, but it was surprisingly intense. They seem to expect some clamor and controversy.
I did have the sense, though, that I probably could have talked my way past him. But maybe that's just my own self-aggrandized sense of chatty persuasion.
1:38 - ACORN in force
Given all that the GOP has recently been saying about ACORN, you'd be surprised to realize when you talk to them that they are not, in fact, out to shred our country and democratic process. In fact, they fall squarely on the side of process.
There are some very sweet, sincere ACORN folks next to us. They are carrying on a conversation (I'm eavesdropping) with a man in a suit (not ACORN) who just declared: "If this were happening in Mississippi, the Justice Department would get involved."
I'm not sure I'd go that far...but there is a lot of concern about how this is getting rushed through.
The woman from ACORN just asked me (rhetorically): "Are you telling me that these City Council members are going to give away their power like this? They have families, parents who are immigrants -- they should know how much it matters to vote. How are they going to tell their children that their vote doesn't count."
That's the feeling up here. Council Members have started to arrive.
(Franz is taking photos, but the internet is real sloooooowwwww)
Everyone has a different vote count...and of course we're up here in the balcony, away from the lobbying.
1:58 - Chamber is Filling
About half the Council Members are wandering around. Nobody looks particularly elated or deflated. Maybe they don't know yet
Everyone says it's uncustomary to be so uncertain about a vote.
The downstairs is fulling with local reporters, lots of cameras, overflowing with staff. The balcony is not overflowing. They regulate the crowd very carefully (probably firecode). When the Sargent-at-Arms announced "The balcony is packed," we all looked around and laughed. People could be sitting on stairs, standing in back, but they are not allowed. There are angry people who want to be in here and can't be.
It's also a very diverse crowd -- reflective of New York City. All ages, all colors, all attire up here in the peanut gallery.
2:15 - About to begin
Announcements tell us to turn off cel phone ringers.
Somebody heard there may not be a vote for a couple hours; I have no idea what authority she was speaking on. But we are about to begin.
Bill de Blasio, one of the generals against the Mayor's plan, is here -- but I can't tell what strategy he's working. Looks more like he's waiting.
And David Yassky, an author of the amendment, keeps chatting with Ramon Martinez, a deputy for Quinn (and a former boss of mine from Senator Clinton's office) -- is that a sign? Are they just being soical?
Quinn has entered the hall...smiling...
2:19 - Everyone has a tell
I'm not a good poker player, so I don't pretend to be able to read everyone's expressions, but:
Quinn is smiling right now.
Dominic Recchia, a feverish supporter of another term, is smiling too -- but he always swaggers a little.
Robert Jackson is studying his blackberry. Interpret as you will -- i think he's bored.
James Oddo, the Republican Leader and an opponent, has a serious look -- as though a brave face...maybe I'm just projecting.
Charles Barron looks like he's ready to pick a fight. But that's sort of his thing.
Dan Garodnik looks like a class President I'd like to vote for -- that's sort of his thing.
so...maybe not the most informative post of the afternoon...
2:25 - Pledge and Roll Call
Betsy Gotbaum gaveled us to order. She's the Public Advocate. We stood for the Pledge.
Now the Roll Call.
Response: "Unfortunately, here."
Gale is one of my favorite Council Members, dedicated and smart and intellectually curious. I wonder what we'll hear from her today.
2:30 - Controlling the Room
You get a sense of how the Speaker gets certain advantages, just in the way she controls the room. The Public Advocate may be the chair, but the Speaker stands up front while all the other Council Members sit...or if they walk, they go to outer aisles.
(Photo from camera phone -- sorry for blurriness)
The center aisle is blocked by several guards, and only the Speaker's deputies are roaming it. (This photo attempts to capture that.)
She owns the room, the flow. Her deputies do a good job making traffic move to their advantage.
2:33 - Quinn's Opening
Quinn is introducing it.
There are hisses and catcalls from the balcony.
When Quinn says, "This isn't some backroom deal," a chorus wells up in the balcony.
When she said "It's about a third term instead of two terms" -- people murmured, almost in unison, "or 4, or 5, or 6."
2:37 - Laugh Line
"Opponents say we support this because we think we're indispensable...believe me, we don't think we're indispensable."
Laughter -- not intended by the Speaker -- ensued.
2:40 - The Yassky Amendment
David Yassky is respected by a number of friends I respect. I haven't followed his decisions closely (and I also know some Williamsburgers who are strongly opposed to him) -- but folks generally agree he's a smart guy.
He's speaking now about the amendment proposed by Brewer, Gerson and himself. The amendment would require a referendum to actually pass this resolution.
And -- here's the fun kicker -- in these tough times (the Mayor and Speaker's argument), the government needs the public's trust and cooperation.
2:44 - Applause Line
Yassky: "We shouldn't lead by the polls, but in a world where 60-40 is a large margin, then 80-20 should make us think about reflecting the public's will" (or something like that)
Applause from the gallery. The sargent quiets us. A woman keeps waving her arms joyously.
Let's hope he lives up to that promise if the amendment goes down.
2:46 - Signs
In the gallery, being held up:
"No King Bloomberg"
"When Christine Quinn opens her mouth Michael Bloomberg's words come out."
"Bloomberg's billions can't buy de Blasio" (she was just instructed to put that sign away for being "too big" -- only 8.5x11 allowed
"Bloomberg Blog: What's Wrong the Democracy...the Voters"
now she's being told she can't hand out signs, event though people want them and are asking for them.
2:49 - "Under His Watch"
Charles Barron just brought up Bloomberg. "It was under his watch we got into this economic mess; it was under his watch that he came in worth $5 billion, and is now worth $20 billion."
He then encouraged Bloomberg to follow Hugo Chavez's lead and listen to the people.
...now David Weprin is up. In the past, he's not been a favorite of mine because of his unnecessarily fear-mongering comments when Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia...but he's totally right here -- good for you, Council Member!
He's also against term limits, but in favor of process -- and he notes that the second referendum in the 90s was very similar to the current proposal.
2:53 - What Happens When the Amendment Fails?
So, these speeches are great right now -- Alan Gerson, Council Member for and friend of The Tank for the past couple years, is up now supporting the amendment.
But it's not clear that the amendment will pass; in fact, some whispers up here are that it's going down.
And where do these voices go after? Do Yassky and Gerson -- who were undeclared -- vote no to the Mayor's plan and live up to their rhetoric?
That's right -- sorry, kids -- unless someone's rhetoric is so remarkable that it changes hearts right here on the floor, we're really just going through a pre-arranged dance...that will lead this amendment to fail.
2:57 - Tish James
Letitia James just gave a stirring statement on the legality issue. I'm no lawyer, but it sounded good. And she got applause up here.
There's a great woman who keeps cheering silently so she won't be hushed. I'm hoping to have some video of her soon.
3:05 - Quoting Lincoln
A Council Member I don't know just read the seal above the Chair's seat: "A Government of the People, By the People, For the People." How can anyone argue with a little Abe Lincoln?
Otherwise, we're hitting a "no new arguments" phase of the debate...we get it...and sadly, you don't get the sense that anyone's going to change their minds. I hope I'm surprised.
Ooh...and I am. He ended with: "Let your constituents reward you, don't reward yourself."
3:15 - Gioia, Oh Boy-a
Eric Gioia has been great on issues of supporting voter registration in the past -- so he means it when he talks about getting people off the sidelines. (He started Voter Registration Day, for one.)
He just voiced his concern: nothing says "Stay on the sidelines" like the Council overturning a popular vote.
If this amendment fails, I hope he'll stay principled and vote against the Mayor's measure.
As a sidenote, pertaining to nothing, Gioia once lived on foodstamps for a week to demonstrate how difficult it is to eat healthy that way. I thought that was cool. Not surprising to learn, he's friends with Morton Spurlock.
3:19 - Voting on the Amendment!
After Koppell, staunch supporter of the Mayor's plan spoke, it went to vote.
That means it was a parade of pro-Amendment comments, one or two in opposition, just to usher it along.
Happening now...seemingly as predicted (Foster, an undecided, just voted against the amendment)
3:21 - No Votes
No votes -- on the Amendment -- are getting hisses up here. Lappin just voted No.
Sanders just abstained to groans.
Vacca just got hissed.
3:22 - Amendment Fails
22 affirmative, 28 negative.
Now we see who will stand up against the bill. Will those Yes votes on the Amendment stand strong?
Barron is up and speaking -- saying we need to check the Mayor. And that's what this vote represents.
3:24 - Race
Barron just pointed out that pre term limits, the Council was mostly white. Now it's 50% people of color. He's telling black and Latino members who say Yes to the Mayor to be ashamed.
Most of these members are only here because of term limits...
The guards are having trouble keeping folks quiet. One woman just got "a warning."
3:30 - Enraging the voters...
"Enraging the voters is not a way to engage them in this coming fiscal crisis."
3:31 - Not stand on ceremony
Bill de Blasio just said he's not going to respect civility. That's kind of awesome.
He just said George Orwell would have loved the arguments made by the Mayor and Speaker.
He calls this "stealing like a thief in the night the shape of our democracy."
Sonded like he was trying to agitate.
3:32 - Yassky folds
Yassky just rose in support of the bill after his amendment failed. He folds. So now he just lost that half of my friends who had championed him.
3:33 - I got hushed for laughing
Yassky says he has thought it through and "A twelve year term limit is much better than an eight year limit."
I suppose if it's your job, that's true.
I thought it was funny enough and I laughed out loud. I mean at -- not with -- him.
Gotbaum just had to hush Yassky. "But, Madame, I only have one paragraph left." "David, I have to maintain time limits."
Not a proud day for him. Scolded. And shamed.
3:36 - I wish I had video of Letitia James
She just railed against those who say this is about giving voters "choice." When you have an incumbent whose aides brag of $80 million in a campaign warchest, as she argues, that "obliterates choice."
Then something weird happened with Lew Fidler. Called on, but didn't want to speak. Not clear what that was about.
3:40 - One of the dumber arguments
Vacca just complained that until two weeks ago, his office got calls about police issues. Then he started getting flooded with calls, from both sides, about term limits. Therefore, he thinks it's time this debate ends.
What? Because his constituents care about an issue, they distract him from what constituents care about?
He then quoted his mother's fear: "Jimmy, you mean I won't be able to vote for who I want?"
3:44 - Avella Rising
"Why did they wait for now?" Tony Avella exlaimed. And he's right -- if the Council Members wanted this, why did they vote -- as he claims, so they could argue that there isn't enough time for a referendum.
He then said he thought they all should be voted out.
Cheers from the balcony; gavel; threats of being removed.
Gotbaum: "Are you finished, Council Member?"
3:46 - Blowhard
Recchia just praised the Council for getting work going on redevelopment of Coney Island. "But if I can't be on Council, how will I know that the work will get done?"
Um...by ensuring other capable people are elected; by remaining involved in your community; by checking your ego at the door...
He then tried quoting Lincoln too, urging people not to swap horses mid-stream. Which is why I favor another term of Bush.
I was wrong before: quoting Lincoln is not always a winning idea.
3:50 A real argument
I've now seen Koppell speak twice on this issue -- Tuesday night at a forum, and today. And while I totally disagree with him...I respect his argument. He lays out that the law does provide for several ways to amend term limits and gives the Council the right to do so; he notes how little we decide by referendum in this city; he makes a case for representative democracy.
I think he's making an honest argument about this.
That said, the point de Blasio hammered him on during Tuesday's debate was the illegitimate process by which this is being rushed through: backroom deals, limited public comment.
With these two minute statements, there's no debate...no back-and-forth...I'd like to hear Koppell respond more to those issues. I think he'd have trouble.
3:59 - Debate Over
Alan Gerson gave the final comment. Disappointing. He made an interesting argument: now that a referendum has been shut down, he -- as a legislator -- has two choices: vote for or vote against extending term limits. He can't choose something that isn't an option.
I don't buy it. And I don't like that he brought up the "these are tough times" argument. There have been other tough times that we've found our way through. It's a really weak argument.
Now the vote is happening. Roll call.
Barron is explaining his vote: "To my colleague, Dominic Recchia, we got to prioritize the will of the people over the fish of your aquarium."
He then thanked the people for attending, and we applauded ourselves.
4:03 - Brewer...
She's explaining her vote -- didn't speak in the debate...
4:04 - Brewer's dilemma
She gave a long-ish comment. She's opposed to limits, but thinks there needs to be a fuller debate, and thinks this approach was lousy, and is not immune to attacks of hypocrisy.
She's speaking over her time -- ignoring Gotbaum. She keeps going.
She thinks 12 is better than 8. But she thinks she has to listen to her constituents.
Gale votes No.
4:08 - One More Note on Gale
I loved Gale's final comment, nearly lost in the gavel clatter: "I am no profile in courage." She's not holding herself up as some exemplary judge in this matter. She was honest about her conflict. And unlike some of the other extremes -- on both sides -- she recognizes, with some humility, her place in a larger landscape.
Compared to Council Members who think they are needed by their constituents, Brewer is a profile in modesty.
And the thing is that she's a great Council Member; and loves being a Council Member. She'll probably, after all this, get re-elected.
4:12 - It passes
Tish James is speaking now. But the vote is basically over. (Unless I'm really off in my count, but my neighbor here is keeping a checklist on a Council scorecard.)
I'll be offline after this, hearing what's being said outside: especially, what's the next step?
Will provide some updates when I'm back online.
James just got applause.
4:14 - One surprise
Lappin just voted No. I don't think we expected that. Not sure where the count stands, but I still think we're over.
Miguel Martinez just said, "If my constituents don't like the way I voted, they'll vote me out." Peanut Gallery shouted back: "Yes, we will!"
It's note-worthy, and maybe not surprising: up here, all the exclamations are against the Mayor's plan. Down there, the Council is for the plan.
4:33 - West Wing
The vote is over, but you can stay involved in the fight at ItsOurDecision.org.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 12:43pm.
Is "Prop 8" a dirty word for you yet? It should be. It's the effort to take away marriages from same-sex couples in California. It's anti-American. It's ugly. It's absurd.
So, you should vote No On 8.
Oh, but you're not a Californian? Well, it's a pretty damn big state, so chances are you know one.
The No On Prop 8 folks just launched a great tool to message your friends. Yes, it's pretty standard to pass a call-to-action along. What I dig is the transparency: there is a running counter. They tell you how many people have sent the message.
And when you send the message it goes up. It's incredibly satisfying.
You know what else is satisfying? Marrying the person you love. Go send some messages to Californians right now.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 9:29am.
Our economy's broken, despite McCain saying it's strong,
Our healthcare's broken & the GOP's prevented
Iraq is broken, but McCain insists
And now amidst GOP race-baiting & fear-mongering,
If the Powell doctrine was "You break it, you buy it,"
We are still buying beer & spreading cheer
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 11:53am.
We at Drinking Liberally like to talk -- that's why we do it over beers every week. We think talking is a pretty powerful way to connect to people.
So naturally, we smile when a telephone company figures out yet another way to be an awesome progressive partner.
CREDO is giving its customers free Election Day calling. So, don't worry about burning your minutes as you call everyone you know to remind them to vote, or phonebank with a campaign calling voters, or work in the field and need to check in with fellow canvassers.
It's all free. You could call it, ahem, Talking Liberally.
This is on top of their "Text Out the Vote" plan which allows you to set up text GOTV reminders to friends that will be sent on November 4th. Plus their newly-launched Go Vote which confirms registration and gives you polling location. And their totally rocking voter registration widget.
Oh, also they don't censor pro-choice texting and they didn't help the government spy on you.
In past years, I burned through my minutes in the months leading up to elections, so much so that I invested in bigger plans, earlier evening hours and unlimited texting. I don't know other people's plans for Election Day, but I hope it involves talking -- constantly -- in person, at doors, online, and on the phone.
You can become a CREDO customer and get the unlimited calling -- and the includes all the excited calls you'll want to make as the results start coming in.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 12:27pm.
In June, after Senator Obama disappointed me with his FISA vote, I told someone who had come to Drinking Liberally to promote a fundraiser that I was going to withhold my donation. It was my own way to signal that I disagreed with the candidate I would ultimately vote for anyway.
Hearing the Obama campaign raised $150 million last month may make me wonder whether my deferred $25 made a difference. But we do have to find ways to pressure Obama, his advisors (and, hopefully, his administration) if we want to push a progressive agenda. As David Sirota asked earlier today, "If not now, when?" -- when can we challenge Obama, who we support for President, to live up to our standards?
In New York State, there's one good answer: you can send that message by voting for Obama on the Working Families Party Line.
Their "Vote Change Like You Mean It" campaign allows you to add your vote to the Obama total, but also send a message that you believe in higher wages, expanded healthcare and progressive tax structure (and right now they are the leading voice against Bloomberg's power grab)...and at the same time you can increase the power base of a group that will scare safe, cautious Dems on the state level.
The WFP is a progressive third party in a state that allows fusion voting -- i.e., a candidate endorsed on more than one line receives the sum of each in his or her vote total. They can set higher standards for candidates to sign on to, and they can apply different pressure on people in office.
Largely, they cross-endorse Dems (although a WFP candidate did win a Council race over a Democrat a couple years ago)...but how they decide who gets the benefit of their tremendous field operation is one of their leverage points. You have to earn their canvass support, which has helped win Congressional and State Senate races as well.
This year, New York will see huge turnout. If people vote on the WFP line, it tells Obama something about your values. It also helps the WFP increase its influence in subsequent elections where, on downticket races, they can have even more impact.
They are not a perfect organization (many of us disagreed with their strategy to support incumbent Sheldon Silver over Paul Newell -- but we'll give them a year to prove that strategy was wise), but they are making a real run at shaking up Democratic politics.
And in a year when my $25 protest against FISA may not be heard so loudly, at least there's a way to continue my challenge at the ballot box.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 5:05pm.
Sometimes defeat is victory.
That will be the story when California's vile Proposition 8 gets defeated, leaving marriage equality in place in that state.
The folks on No On 8 are working hard to promote awareness of why Prop 8 is such a bad idea. But a political campaign isn't the only way to tell a story.
Films like Freeheld -- which tells the story of a police officer dying of cancer and her partner being denied benefits because they are the same sex -- help. It won the Academy Award, and now screenings around the country are calling attention to discriminatory laws and how they affect people in real ways.
San Francisco's Screening Liberally hosted a showing of Freeheld this weekend. Check out the trailer.
Discussing this film is one more way to remind people to vote No On 8.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 4:39pm.
Laughing Liberally regular Lee Camp got a chance to say good morning and tell America what he thought about the candidates' political performances:
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Sat, 10/18/2008 - 9:52pm.
I spent the day campaigning with the Obama team in Easton, Pennsylvania, one of thee three cities that make up the Lehigh Valley. Obama's campaign has been moving staff into PA -- making sure this state, which often boasts results closer than polls predicted, stays in the Democratic column.
I wasn't here with Drinking Liberally; I was here with the Krebs family, and scores of other New Yorkers who bused in to knock on doors. When the sun went down, we didn't go home -- we went to the phones -- in the sweet and photogenic storefront that hosts Obama's Easton operation.
What keeps this place going is a core of team members -- staff, fulltime volunteers, a 13-year-old kid that made calls next to me -- and, the secret to every good operation, plenty of food.
The staging area for canvassing was filled with sandwiches, birthday cake and hot coffee. And the office at night shows that munches together stays longer.
In particular, Pearl made delicious meatballs. Not to be confused with Pearl who is letting us crash at her home, with her husband Jonathan, the most welcoming hosts imaginable.
Today, we heard frustrating comments: one woman who heard the rumor that Barack Obama hadn't invited any white people to his wedding; men who slammed the door on us before we could talk to their wives; folks who told us there was no difference between the candidates.
But we also met people like a libertarian who was going to vote Obama instead of Bob Barr because of how scared he was of McCain; the children who shouted "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" as we approached; to the woman who answered the door": "The Jesus people just came by and we ducked; when we saw you, I told the kids it was safe."
We also met people like Russ (pictured in the office), the fulltime volunteer who greeted us when we arrived yesterday, and was still there when I left at 9:30pm tonight.
The energy here is good. People are passionate. The operation is impressive. We were told that if we hit the phones -- after a 9 hour day of walking the turf) -- we could break 2,000 calls. Then they upped the number to 2,500, then 2,750.
When you have a goal, you work towards it; when you have a team, you stay energized; when you throw yourself into it, anything is possible.
Here's how the day ended up...
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 10:56am.
In New York City, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is trying to extend term limits so he can keep his job...but despite his high popularity, he doesn't want to let the public have a say in this decision.
We at Drinking Liberally don't endorse candidates -- but we do support democratic processes. And we kind of get worried when billionaires change the rules.
We've been voicing our concerns; last night, during the Presidential debate, the WFP aired our concerns on TV:
Check out "It's Our Decision" to see where the City Council Members stand. If you're not in NY, you may be wondering, "Why do I care?" Well, you've seen the wealthy try to circumvent the law before -- often, that's where lobbyists come into play. This is part of that same battle.
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