Friday, October 02, 2009

Discord in Eden

Who Won It for Liu?
Icing on Winners' Cake?
Malanga Warns on WPF

By Henry J. Stern
October 1, 2009

Four current articles reflect the rising influence on the Democratic Party of the Working Families Party.

The most comprehensive coverage appears in City Hall News, a subsidiary of Tom Allon's Manhattan Media, which, under editor Edward-Isaac Dovere, has done considerable investigative reporting in this complex area.


It is said that victory has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan. In the case of John Liu, two of the fathers seem to be at odds. In today’s Post, at the top of p8, we read an article by Maggie Haberman, LIU AIDE WHACKS LAX WFP; Says Party Was MIA. LIU here is not Long Island University, nor is LAX Los Angeles Airport.

She reports: "A top adviser to John Liu’s campaign for city comptroller said yesterday that the labor-backed Working Families Party is getting credit it doesn’t deserve for his history-making win. The adviser described the party’s role as ‘tangential’.

“The bottom line is, the WPF made a lot of promises and they didn’t keep any of them… Once they couldn’t run the whole show, they basically took their marbles and went home,” the source told the Post, insisting that the union-based political party wanted control over a range of things, including installing top-level staffers.

“The comments put some daylight between Liu, whose campaign was largely overseen by Bill Lynch Associates’ Kevin Wardally, and the headline-generating WFP…”

“Concerning the problems between the WFP and Liu, a source noted that the party wanted Team Liu to hire DFS, but the campaign opted against it. Instead it hired its own field coordinators and canvassers to identify voters, the source said.” (Rule 14-M:"Follow the money")

The problem here is that a political party which operates a for-profit subsidiary will inevitably run into conflicts of interest in supporting candidates. Politics is enough of a business as it is without enabling political parties, which are empowered and privileged by state election laws, to directly or by alter-egos, straw men, nominees or surrogates, operate as engines of profit, even if the net profits after salaries are devoted to ‘the cause'. Existing laws regarding these ambiguous entities gives them the additional advantage of avoiding or minimizing reporting rules and limitations that may be imposed on individual candidates.


A Daily News editorial on p23, NO MONEY FOR JOHN AND BILL, is clear in expressing its wishes. “Congratulations to John Liu and Bill de Blasio for primary runoff victories that insure their inaugurations New Year’s Day as controller and public advocate. This morning, they must do their first services to taxpayers.

“Both Democrats must refuse to accept the more than half-million dollars that they are due to receive today in public campaign financing for the general election in November. They have less than token opposition. They cannot decently claim to deserve even a dime of the money that the law would grant them.

“It would be an obscene abuse of the public’s goodwill in funding political races were Liu to grab $350,000 and de Blasio to glom $220,000 to bankroll self-promotional TV ad campaigns while running against Republican ciphers. Their opponents are weak to the point of nonexistence. Neither has raised even the $25,000 necessary to qualify to appear in official debates.”

In our judgment, the Daily News is spot on. There are many other races, however, which are obvious runaways for the Democratic nominees. All should be scrutinized to make certain that the taxpayers are not being fleeced to permit unbeatable candidates or hapless losers to publicize themselves.

One way to do this would be to require candidates to post a deposit, subject to forfeit if they do not receive some minimal percentage of the race (say 10 per cent) or if they receive more than a maximal percentage (say 80 per cent).

For genuine contests, the CFB performs a useful public service by amplifying the resources of the candidates to reach the public. The problem is that the current law has been misused to pay for runaways, and the kindly and honorable souls who comprise the Board have not yet devised a way to prevent this waste of public funds.


A longer-term perspective on the influence of the Working Families Party appears today in a Post column by Steven Malanga, senior editor of City Journal, a publication of the Manhattan Institute. On p31, under the headline: HOW THE WPF DOOMS NYC DEMOCRATS, Malanga writes:

“The Working Families Party – an alliance of public-sector unions and social-service advocates, co-founded by ACORN chief Bertha Lewis – has taken control of the city’s Democratic Party from within. But in the process it has driven the Democrats so far to the left that the one prize that matters in New York City, the mayoralty, is further out of reach than ever.”

The WFP has influence over the Democratic Party that the Liberal Party never achieved, even during the lifetime of its irreplaceable leader, the extraordinary Alex Rose. That is because, with its allies, the WFP mobilizes troops, paid and unpaid, to intervene in primaries where the vote is light. The traditional Democrats are weaker than ever, as social service agencies have taken the place of political clubs in helping to support individuals. The problem is complicated by the absence of leadership at the state Democrats’ highest levels.

What former Governor George Pataki did for twelve years in weakening the Republican Party, the absence of a Pataki, or anyone else to provide leadership, has done for the Democratic Party. What the WFP can do for the Democrats will parallel what the Conservative Party has done for the Republicans, driven them to the right and made them less appealing to independent voters, who once voted for Javits and Rockefeller on the Republican line.

StarQuest #603 10.01.2009 962wds

1 comment:

  1. We'd like to have you add the Greenbelt blog to our list of blogs:

    Many thanks.