The Flaws In The Matching Funds And Ranked Choice Voting Laws

Misfits

New York City, New York

This Democrat primary race for the New York City’s Mayor’s Office in 2021 has been without a doubt the most weakest and indistinguishable as well as the biggest and most boring one in this century and probably in history. Although the debates are finally done and the electoral polls are officially open, the democratic process will be truly put to the test with the new rank choice voting system with a dozen candidates on the ballot to choose from.

Make that five to choose from, because the old one person one vote way of Democracy was deemed too inequitable conceptually for any regular ambitious civic-minded individual without the influence, connections and moolah to run for executive  government positions. So in last year’s NYC election, city voters decided to fix the ballots to give other people a chance to campaign and rank by having electoral ballots repurposed for more choices and also lifting the cap on matching funds for fundraising from 1 to 1 to a mind boggling 8 to 1 for aspiring candidates, money which that was going to be re-allocated by city residents tax dollars.

What could possibly go wrong? Especially in one of the most allegedly progressive cities in the U.S.A.? Fucking plenty, since these new electoral rules has done the total opposite of what good intentions they were set to do and has actually exacerbated the cutthroat culture of electioneering and ossified the predominance of money and politics in campaigns. Instead of producing populist candidates powered by the people, it’s led to the SAMO crop of upper class establishment politicians, bureaucrats and for and non profit business execs with questionable or no ethics and dubious accomplishments and qualifications for the city’s chief executive position.

Let’s start with the elephant with diarrhea in the room, and that’s the money .With 90% for every donation up to $2,000, every city taxpayer automatically and technically becomes a straw donor that keeps the campaigns of cellar dwelling candidates alive and bolsters the campaigns of already leading candidates enriched by corporation and plutocrat money. And being that these mediocre candidates raise more money than they initially raise, it’s a glaring statement of how immensely unpopular they are with the constituency, which is why even late in the election over 35% of registered voters polled are still not sure who they want to choose.

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Making this collective vote of no confidence the true front runner in the mayoral election even after $100,000,000 has been spent of city taxpayer straw donations. In fact, given the massive amount of funds contributed to these campaigns as well as the smaller and equally crowded races for City Council district seats and Borough President, it also makes the taxpaying voter a virtual money bundler as well.

But thanks to this supposedly progressive and profligate redistribution of campaign funds, the lamest can still run without reflection or shame. Take this whiny trustafarian Shaun Donovan, who currently at the bottom of the race is till soiling the internet and television with ads of still photos with him and President Obama and his wife while he worked for him at HUD (interestingly none with 2 term and illegal 1 term mayor Bloomberg who he worked with as head of NYC Housing). The only reason why this shitlib bureaucrat is still around is because his dad was the only one funding his campaign. After Shaun’s pop initially gave his boy a million dollars for his campaign from a PAC he runs (a super daddy PAC!), which was followed by another cool million by his daddy and then another million by a couple of Rockerfellers , Shaun was suddenly under scrutiny by the Campaign Finance Board and it looked for a moment that they were going to kick this rich boy to the curb.

But despite this obvious conflict, the CFB found there was no wrong doing and no links between the super daddy PAC and the Donovan campaign and awarded the entitled candidate over 1.5 million of matching funds from donations from people who didn’t bang his mom over 50 years ago. This enabled Shaun’s dad to continue giving him his weekly million dollar allowance for another two weeks.

The matching funds orgy continued with breakneck speed as the money rolled right in for the top contenders Andrew Yang and Eric Adams and even for lower-tiered also-runs like Maya Wiley, Katherine Garcia and Scott Stringer because of the CFB’s fecklessness and unpreparedness to regulate big money super PACs and 501 c 4’s , all aided by the fucking Citizens United rule that equates donating money with talking and a corporation as a person.

But it’s not just corporations that are doing all the talking. Plutocrats pounced once Shaun got the O.K from the CFB to take his daddy’s millions. Andrew Yang and his Comeback PAC’s welcomed two out of state Republican billionaires half million dollar donations with open arms, which substantially added to the candidate’s outside NYC and NY state funding that has fueled his campaign along with the taxpayer straw donor matching funds. Although to be fair to Andy Yang, one of the oligarchs does have a residence in the city and it happens to be the most expensive one, a 240 million dollar condo in a tower overlooking Central Park and the plebes below,

Funny thing about Yang’s acceptance of rival party filthy lucre is that oligarch townie  also donated 500 large to his super foe Eric Adams’ own side hustle super PAC Strong Leadership, run by a woman who happens to run a charter school that was founded by a recent donor to Adams SL PAC. In the meantime garnering donations from the plutes and the taxpayers, Eric Adams has also benefited quite hugely from his own One Brooklyn PAC while serving as Brooklyn Borough President, getting away with the same shady pay to play donations with developers and their lobbyists thanks to the “legal” precedent set by Maya Wiley “agents of the city” legalese and Bill de Blasio’s Campaign For One New York  501 c 4 slush fund.

For the time being, the figurative horse race with Adams and Yang has led them to get the bulk of attention from the city’s wealthiest political philanthropists and also real estate developer overlords.Maya Wiley who just got bumped up to the top 3 in the race after the collapse of the Morales campaign (whose manager wound up joining Wiley’s, no act of sabotage there) and the sexual predatory rumors marring Scott Stringers, got a cool million from fauxgressive liberal billionaire and DNC party gadfly George Soros. And just recently, developers contracted with the Gentrification Industrial Complex’s city’s luxury public housing program have piled money bundles to Cinderella contender and local corporate news media darling Kathryn Garcia. The wiley Wiley also got 500 grand from liberal plutocrat George Soros.

The plague wrought by Citizens United to the matching funds system has also enabled other townie oligarchs the likes of Hudson Yards hermit Stephen Ross and Bloomberg 3rd term creator Ronald Lauder to join forces and create their own little PAC to try to influence the council district elections to run attack ads targeting opponents of their favored candidates while funding five figure donations of their ranked choice picks against them. Thanks to the new RCV system, democracy has become a literal horse race , a glorified version of placing bets to win place and show, and place and show again.

But the most obvious flaw that’s emerged from this profligate tax dollar wasting chaos is that it has made the election campaign industrial complex even bigger. More candidates running means more brains have to be piled and assembled behind them by hiring lawyers, public relations, graphic designers, consultants, social media and data miners, and organizers to bring the volunteer plebians to promote and worship your every word and policy. To give an idea of how landscaping this has become, a young woman used 3/4 of taxpayers matching funds cash like fuck you money to contract a consulting firm from South Carolina to help her win a Council seat in Queens and still lost. In all certainty, this will not discourage future or in Yang’s case current candidates to rely on professionals and donors as long as this matching funds abomination continues.

As for the RCV system itself, it’s already shown to utterly uninspiring to the 3.8 million registered NYC voters even given the opportunity to vote early for 10 days, only 4% of them showed up. Although it’s easy to be voter hesitant and apathetic given the candidates, the ballot itself is enough reason to discourage people considering how the ballot looks like a high school Regents test than a contribution to the Democratic process for the Republic.

Another reason why early voting was probably underwhelming is that the city waited until the last few weeks to get people fully informed and prepared for the ballots with a hardly noticeable ad blitz, which was quite hard to compete with the taxpayer matching funds funded ad blitzes by the top mayoral and comptroller candidates. And Mayor de Blasio didn’t help matters at all when he and his minions set up a Pizza topping ballot that was more ridiculed than heeded and it seem more for the Blaz to have an excuse to stuff his face during a press conference than to inform people, since  he didn’t tell anybody voters didn’t need to vote for 5 or even had the option to write in a candidate (which yours truly did).

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Knowing this guy, he should have boogers and cum on the ballot

Yet surprisingly, over a million voters did turn out this time including over 200,000 absentee ballots which was a helluva a lot better than the last two elections The Blaz won to get his job (with much condolences to the city of New York). But it wasn’t all good for Democracy, because not only did the voters have to deal with a cumbersome ballot as lots of voters had to get new ones because they filled the bubbles in wrong which was even a problem for top tier and token shitlib mayoral candidate and RCV booster Maya Wiley who fucked her own ballot up, they also had to deal with the inevitable fracas brought upon them by the NYC Board of Elections, who were even more unprepared to deal with the RCV system just like how they purged hundreds of thousands of  Brooklyn ballots, fucking up thousands of absentee ballot envelopes  and keeping their machines protected from the elements in the last few elections from the past 5 years.

After two elections in Eastern Queens districts which served as trial sessions for the new voting system. The NYC Board of Elections waited til the end of May to find a contractor to supply the  RCV software for the polling machines. Leaving them with only a month to get their shit together.

What could possibly go wrong?

When election day was winding down, it was astonishingly nothing much. Eric Adams wound would a double digit lead over Kathy Garcia and Maya Wiley who were neck and neck, but at the end of the day Adams would not get the clinching 50% of the votes so it was off to the recount of the ranked choices and the decisive victor would be announced in three weeks with an announcement of where the lower ranks would wind up the next week. Now with only 42% of the ballots where voters filled 5 bubbles, this really wouldn’t be hard to get a determined result without some freak of nature calamity to occur with all the time and the new technology the BOE to accomplish this historic use of RCV.

But the freak of nature calamity happened anyway with Chutulu like proportions. The BOE, for some reason known only to them decided to continue testing the software while they were counting the legitimate ballots by leaving the test ballots in and they wound up being counted as well. So instead of the news of the prospect of Katherine Garcia narrowing the gap on Eric Adams lead by 2% with the potential of her pulling off a Harry Truman-esque comeback victory after Adams proclaimed himself the face of the nation for the Democrats, the BOE had to throw those results in the garbage as if the whole count was a bad dream and had to do it all over again the next day.

Although this was expected of the BOE, so notorious for being an establishment cesspool of cronyism and nepotism that even The Blaz finds how they operate offensive and was willing to give them 20 million dollars to fix themselves. But to be this incompetent, the BOE’s botch of the primary count has reached a whole new level and the tipping point of FUBAR. And given their systemic notoriety, it raises a high level amount of suspicions. Given that immediately after they left the trial ballots in, the top officials and cronies had secret meetings on how they were going to reveal their errors. And since a do-over would require more work, it’s a certainty that this could have been done on purpose to get more overtime pay.

Since this debacle has got universally pilloried by officials and the constituents and political wonks on media and social networks in NYC as well across the country and maybe around the world, Eric Adams immediately filed a lawsuit against the BOE and other candidates have stepped in line with lawsuits, including most of the city council candidates running in Queens. Big shot lawyer Maya Wiley went even further in her suit against the BOE by going after her rival candidates to assure that every single vote is counted by hand, which not only is going to cost taxpayers even more money after spending 100 million dollars promoting her and other candidates they didn’t want or care about, but Wiley is ironically channeling Donald Trump who did the same thing after his loss to Joe Biden when he sent Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to find the Kracken of extraneous votes that were added to the rolls leading to his loss, just like with the extra 140,000 trial ballots the BOE left in. Surreal.

Although they seem like they tried, the BOE didn’t really fully dissuade people from condemning the RCV voting system on account of the cesspool government body that was tasked to make it work and also that it got a wide majority of votes when it was placed on the charter in the 2019 election. But was it really a mandate for change? Considering the horrendous turnout that year were no major offices up for grabs and even though RCV (and matching funds) did get 70% registered support only 10% of registered voters showed up to vote for it.

Showing that half the city voters aren’t that politically wonky or social media obsessive as the corporate news and social media influencers thought there was (at least the 30% of them that showed up, which further establishes how disconnected these smarter people are). The only mandate evident in the RCV system is how it benefits the wonkiest and the big political players, whose advice and activism from experts in those fields their PACs, the campaign teams and the tax payers wind up mostly paying for and which has shown yet again that all the money went to biggest establishment candidates once again. Which is why things might turn out different when RCV gets put back on the ballot for a charter vote next year for it to continue or to get abolished, no matter how low the turnout will inevitably be.

Which shows that the flaws in the RCV and matching funds laws are supporting and enabling a guided democracy than a democracy for the people. And as long as money and politics continue its predominance in every election, voter apathy and disenfranchisement will exacerbate, because every choice will be rank.

Andrew Yang’s Underhanded Bribe Initiative

New York Fucking City, New York

Spring has thankfully arrived in the city of New York. And along with the blooming leaves and flowers along with an influx of (weaker) vaccines about to come to town while public spaces and streets are still barren during this stubborn pandemic, the Democrat primary race for mayor to rid this town of de Blasio will truly commence until it’s final destination on the second day of summer. But one candidate has already taken over your city’s poltical zeitgeist, and according to corporate local news, that candidate is Andrew Yang.

It wasn’t that hard for Yang to conquer all the attention, he already ran for president of the United States and his unlimited basic income proposal from that campaign actually influenced national policy, with the last three congressional budgets with checks of $1,200, $600 and most recently $1,400* given to every citizen during this pandemic (although incrementally, since Yang’s UBI was supposed to be for a check every month and the 1,400 payout was means tested and limited to an earned income cap, not to mention that Biden promised 2 grand and lied). And now with the celebrity and name recognition, jumping into New York City’s Democrat primary mayor’s race was an easy transition since the competition is pretty stale across the board with career city bureaucrats like current office holders Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Comptroller Scott Stringer, Ex Sanitation Chief Kathryn Garcia, Big banker Ray McGuire and two ethically challenged candidates in lawyer Maya Wiley and prodigal son bureaucrat Shaun Donavan. After Wang’s announcement on the Coney Island boardwalk, the first poll immediately put Wang at a commanding lead over his opponents at the time.

But after that auspicious start, reality and even logic has crept up to Yang in only a few months, revealing himself more as a dilletante huckster than the political outsider he’s being portrayed as.

As with his presidential campaign, there is nothing much or distinguishable from the other candidates about Yang’s mayoral platform to run this city except for his Basic Income proposal, which he marked down from a grand a month nationally to a one time payment for the city’s check to check working class. There is a lot to like about it because it does target residents who needs this money the most, even if it can barely pay the rent and utility bills but might be just enough to play lottery scratch tickets. The big hairy but to this is how as mayor is Yang going to come up with the city funding for this and his answer was quite startling but expectantly and obviously vague.

last week, Yang was talking to reporters about the movie he planned to see on the first day that New York City theaters reopened since the pandemic shut them down. He also fielded questions about he’d fund his basic income plan and gave an admittedly “vague” response, suggesting it’s still unclear if he’d rely primarily on existing city funds, hit up private investors, rely on a rollback of state tax breaks — or a combination of all three.

First, he said that even in its “diminished” state, the city has the “level of resources to commit to this, in part because it’s going to save us a lot of money on things like homelessness services and shelters that are very, very costly.”

“Keeping people in more secure and stable environments will actually, in large part, pay for itself,” he said.

But Yang did not say where in the ailing city budget he intends to draw the $1 billion it will take to pay for the plan.

He then added that he’s been in talks with “several New York-based philanthropists who are very excited about this program and so hopefully we’ll have some private sources of funding as well.”

When asked to name who those potential financial backers are, he replied: “Of course I’m not going to tell you right now after I just gave you, like, you know, like, this vague, like, several private sources because, you know, we have to have things to announce for later.”

NY Daily News

At least Yang’s fumbling and his campaign manager’s pathetic sop defense of the candidate’s ambitious program has a scintilla of honesty even if for the past 2 months they didn’t even have a solid budgetary plan to justify it, considering how it’s the main driver of the candidate’s platform.

His career bureaucratic competitors smelled the blood in the water and pounced on it. Eric Adams, BP of Brooklyn and who has been persistently polling second; “You can’t call it a plan if you don’t explain who would benefit and how you would pay for it. New Yorkers are struggling right now — they need serious action, not empty promises.”. Comptroller Scott Stringer’s spox response was delish; “Andrew Yang has a plan written on the back of a napkin that would be pure comedy if the times weren’t so serious.”

Although you got to feel a tinge of sympathy for Yang for being so flummoxed about how to fund New York’s UBI for the working poor and low income families, because it’s 180 degrees removed from how he was going to fund the monthly UBI “freedom dividend” that he proposed during his presidential campaign run, because under President Yang that UBI was going to extract funding from national social safety net programs for the poor like housing vouchers, food stamps and social security and the monthly stipend was based on a prospective rise in unemployment caused by automation’s usurpation of industrial, retail and restaurant jobs. It also should be worth a mention that Yang’s  UBI has solidarity support from every tech billionaire who would benefit from a society solely dependent on a meager dividend every month like how they have massively benefiting from a world wide pandemic for the past year. Yang is not just selling a benefit plan to voters, he’s buying them as well.

This has exposed a major vulnerability in Candidate Yang, for he was easily caught off guard when he was queried about something substantive after being on the receiving end of a glut of flattering profiles from the local news blogs while spending the majority of his time on Twitter to the delight of his adoring Yang Gang followers, a horde that has been relentlessly battling naysayers (like yours truly) doubting his qualifications and capability to run New York City with absolutely no prior civic experience whatsoever. Not even with the basic civic duty of voting in an election his entire adult life living here.

But to run NYC you got to be quick and have a settled plan and it’s utterly disturbing that he has nothing behind his basic income program that he’s been touting for months since yelled “Can You Dig It” in Coney Island at the start of 2021 (even though the gangbanger Cyrus who said that, yelled that line in a park in the Bronx before he got assassinated). Now instead of a policy to help the most vulnerable populace, it now comes off as a bribe to win their votes.

Another flawed thing about Yang’s basic income proposal that he’s not sure how he’s going to fund is his plan to build a People’s Bank in City Hall. Yet again it sounds like a good idea, tying it to the NYC ID the city put out a few years ago to help working poor people and undocumented immigrants get access to municipal and commercial services requiring identification and using the NYC ID as an ATM card to access it. But if “Mayor” Yang still is unable to fund it, then who will. In a way, this resembles the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York PAC that’s already available in the Mayor’s Office and de Blasio’s redundant and corrupted Campaign For One New York 501c4 PAC he ran to fund Pre-K and “affordable housing”. If the funding isn’t enough to keep Basic Income and the People’s Bank running, will it rely on money from “philanthropists” that do business with the city and yearn to get more of them?

Yang’s Basic Income and his hypebeast social media fueled campaign has all the elements and mannerisms of pushing a startup company or an app, and like those ventures, it’s all hype and show and no substance and all risk; Citizen Yang’s ventures belie his status and bonafides to run a city as an entrepreneur. Starting with his last one when he started a fellowship non-profit to inspire other entrepreneurs and college graduates to invest and work in smaller cities and after 3 years it only produced 4,000 jobs. Normally a disaster like this would make you reevaluate your decision making abilities and recognize limitations, but Yang would follow this up with running for the highest office in America.

Yang has transferred his own quixotic run for president into his current quest for mayor, but fortunately for him the competition for the role of hizzoner (or herzzoner) is a lot easier as they poll in the signal digits with only him and Adams polling in the doubles. Although Yang via his startup strategy had to buoyed his top rank by citing a poll made up by his consultants before he even announced his candidacy.  Despite how unethical it was, that little issue went ignored and he was able to gain momentum as later polls continued to favor him with bigger leads, even though he’s running neck in neck with voters polled who are not sure or undecided who they want to vote for.

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Another thing that has buoyed the Yang campaign, is his Yang Gang following on social media running protection for him as he was making startling gaffes and displaying general cluelessness about city life and issues, like his notorious visit to a “genuine bodega” and his defense of staying at his second home in upstate New York because he was agitated to work remotely as CNN pundit while watching his two sons in his two bedroom apartment in The Heights, which must have been thrilling to families that had no other housing option like Candidate Yang had and lived in smaller apartments or even a homeless hotel room.

Corporate news media interest is also enamored with Yang, notably Washington DC based website The Hill, which captured Yang giddily greeting people on a line stretching about a mile on the sidewalks of Flushing waiting to get food as he gave elbow bumps while Assemblyman Ron Kim vividly described the food insecurity that has exacerbated during the pandemic in what is practically an integrated news segment/campaign ad. Although it was quite noticeable how the people were used as props.

Yang’s campaign and narrative strategy also includes avoiding the mayoral debates, which is easy to do because of the existing distancing guidelines and the Zoom platform, when he was absent for was an essential debate centering on the homeless crisis. Although he did have an excuse for bailing on a Zoom debate because he contracted COVID, he still had the strength to appear on a Zoom fundraiser for his campaign.

While Yang is being portrayed and portraying himself as an outsider in the primary, his pandering to the Orthodox Jewish vote by condemning the BDS movement against Isreal’s government’s apartheid treatment of Palestine and the West Bank shows his willingness to pander like any run of the mill establishment politician; this may be the most New York thing he’s actually done so far with his cognizance of a key demographic and the reach of powerful lobbies,  shown most recently when an aide of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards had to resign (aka fired) after only 3 days when he got appointed for only tweeting his support of BDS.

Last but not least, Candidate Yang last few public engagement attempts have come off obviously contrived going by his appearances with fellow candidates Maya Wiley and Kathyrn Garcia (twice) to establish an RCV prospect to his and their bases and an awareness rally to address the anti-Asian violence from a recent shooting massacre in Atlanta (where White women also got killed). But his naivete of city and state politics hit a nadir during a recent debate on his desire (and frankly everyone’s) on getting NYC Transit out of New York State Control and back under the purview of the NYC Mayor by asking a mindlessly picayune question about “who do you complain to?” as if the MTA is some disembodied omniscient entity and not under the grip of a despotic megalomaniac elected official for the past 10 years.

This is exactly the type of unadulterated ignorance a person exhibits when he never voted in NYC elections his entire adult life as well as national ones also.  And another thing to kill this outsider myth that’s been manufactured about Yang is that he’s scared to call Cuomo on his scandals, especially his sexual harassment and assault accusations. Candidate Yang knows Cuomo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and will have to deal with him, and even through his pink washed virtue signal tweet, he’s already folded to the governor.

This why Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign is all hype and no substance and is barely thriving on a foundation of cult of personality worshipping hypebeasts on social media and this has manifested in the most recent polls too. Yang went from a commanding lead in the last two polls hovering around 30% and nosedived to 17% in a recent poll that relied on phone tallying, putting him barely above Eric Adams at 13% and way behind Not Sure/Undecided at 50%, making candidates polling in the single digits actual contenders again thanks to the ranked choice voting system. This probably came as a shock to the Yang and the Yanggangbangers who realize that astroturfing is a lot harder to spread on a landline than on the internet.

It’s really not hard to fathom Yang’s current plight as just another bland candidate in the fight the city hall. To think only a few months ago he could seemingly walk up to a crowd in say Union Square and flip the bird and grab his junk towards them and would strut away in slow motion still with a commanding lead. But he’s not in total peril because it’s clear as day that half the legal voting age citizens of NYC have absolutely zero confidence in everyone on the Democrat primary ballot.

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It’s not hard to see how this has regressed for Yang as the weather gets warmer and the election near. And it also confirms how tainted those initial polls favored Yang; because they relied on online tallying, and not every constituent in the five boroughs has a social media account. Or they do but don’t have the time or interest to Stan anyone, especially during a stubborn pandemic and an economy in purgatory.  Another thing this city doesn’t need is a mayor who wont be accountable and transparent and Yang doesn’t show much hope for a return to those values by inducing non-disclosure agreements on his campaign staffers.

And the last thing New York City need is some dilettante entrepreneur who suddenly decided he can run city government after being disconnected from it for so long and show up with hollow polices (or continue established incremental policies)  cloaked with wondrous optimism. Because NYC already has gone through 7.4 years of that with de Blasio.

That’s why Yang is where he’s at now. Like the Blaz, all he knows how to do is tweet. He’s all platitudes, nice words and neat ideas but no sense and no functional plan to save New York City.

That’s Candidate Yang.