4 Responses to “Liu wins comptroller runoff amid low turnout”

  1. Victoria 5 October 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    David Yassky was one of the prime movers behind proposals to eliminate member items. Like every other Council member, he used them, and there were some questions about DiBrienza’s organizations, but in no way can he remotely be called a “prime player” in the slush fund scandal. Obviously, none of the three major city dailies that endorsed him thought so, nor would anyone who was familiar with the record.

    I find it bizarre that anyone — particularly someone who supports a candidate who is widely viewed as having made all sorts of odd backroom deals on the path to nomination — would define term limits as a guarantee of democracy against a corrupt system. Voters are the guarantee. I absolutely agree that the procedure for getting on the ballot in New York is absurd and must be changed, but that doesn’t excuse anyone from expecting a coercive system to do the evaluative work that he or she should be doing. If a local official is doing a poor job, that official should be challenged and defeated. That’s democracy, not this artificial construct that arbitrarily penalizes good public servants. An eccentric and vengeful rich man, Ronald Lauder, who repeatedly wasted his money attempting to run for office and was defeated because his extreme right-wing politics were totally out of step with the mainstream of New York political thought, decided instead to throw his money into a faux-populist movement. He had a lot of money and his opponents lacked both that and time. Then another deeply odd rich man, Mike Bloomberg, decided to negotiate an exception — with this man that wasn’t, and could never be, elected to anything. The whole thing is nauseating.

    I completely understand Yassky’s position on the issue, because I myself am wrestling with the fact that, although I detest term limits and very possibly would have voted for Bloomberg’s reelection had this not been an issue, I feel forced to vote against him just because of his sleazy dealmaking — even though this makes me sound as if I’m in favor of the term limits that I despise. There’s a lot of nuance to this issue, no matter where one ends up on it.

  2. Richard Jannaccio 5 October 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    It’s true that questions have been raised about Liu’s campaign commercials.

    Weigh that against the smoking gun of Yassky’s abuse of tax dollars as a prime player in the city council’s slush fund scandal.

    That was the choice for the runoff election.

    As for the term limits issue, it is hardly “highly principled” to first declare that term limits should be decided by the people in a referendum, and then do a 180-degree trun and vote to overrule the people’s choice in all of the referenda we’ve had so far. That’s what Yassky dd.

    Is term limits “incredibly anti-democratic”? Yes, you could argue that if you consider it in a vaccuum that assumes that we have fair elections.

    But, in a system where incumbents strategically use tax dollars (“member items”) to buy votes, where election laws the most repressive in the country) and control of both the Board of Elections and judges allow political machines to toss challengers off the ballot, and where the re-election of incumbents is such a foregone conclusion that often the incumbents run unopposed or with only token opposition, in that situation, term limits, especailly when coupled with campaign finance reforms, is an enabler of democracy.

    Indeed, that’s what we’ve seen in 2001 and also this year in districts where the incumbents chose not to run for a third term.

  3. Victoria 1 October 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    How often do the editorial boards of The New York Times, Daily News and New York Post agree with one another? It was clear to them that David Yassky was by far the superior candidate.

    It is also bizarre that the main points in Councilmember Liu’s advertising were all demonstrably false — and that, when Councilmember Yassky pointed that out, Liu, rather than defend his lies, just accused his opponent of going negative, rather than just emphasizing the truth.

    As for the term limits issue, if Mr. Jannaccio read the record, he would see that it was Yassky who proposed a referendum to put the matter back in the hands of the voters rather than go along with Bloomberg’s cynical deal with the very strange and very wealthy Ronald Lauder. To his credit, Liu supported Yassky’s proposal. After its defeat, Yassky made a statement stressing that, while he did not support what Bloomberg, Lauder and Quinn had done, he would have to vote for it simply because he has always been against the incredibly anti-democratic institution of the term limit. This is a nuanced and highly principled stand.

    I have never been involved in a campaign in which the good-government types and the union supporters were opposed to one another. I’m still terribly upset by this and wonder what odd deals Councilmember Liu made. For this reason, I am seriously tempted to vote for the Republican and doubt that I can ever support Liu for anything.

  4. Richard Jannaccio 1 October 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    At least in one citywide race, the better candidate won.

    While so much fuss was raised about whether Liu’s recollection of his childhood was accurate, far less attention was paid to the much more relevant issue of Yassky’s deep involvement in the city council slush fund scandal.

    That alone was enough reason for me to vote for Liu over Yassky.

    A second reason was the fact that Liu voted against legislatively extending term limits, while Yassky voted to override the will of the people as expressed in referenda.

    A third reason was that I am opposed to runoff elections, and I felt Liu should have been declared the winner after getting the most votes in the Primary.

    Do we really have to spend tens of millions to hold a runoff election that attracts only a trickle from the voting pool? Democracy is not served in that predictable scenario.

    Liu got about 38 percent of the votes with four major candidates running in the Primary, but because nobody reached the magic number of 40 percent, a runoff was necessary.

    The price tag was reportedly about $75 million for the Board of Elections alone. What a complete waste of our tax dollars!

    The runoff requirement should be changed so that our tax dollars can be put to better use.


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