Three Notes: Please Vote, Wear Your Mask, and Socially Distance

I did not publish a post yesterday evening for a reason: because I wanted to start off early Tuesday, Election Day, with a reminder for people to vote if they have not voted already.

Many of you who’ve read this will have already voted; if you are one of them, great! But if you are eligible to vote and you haven’t voted, then today is your day to vote. If you are voting today, please wear your mask and socially distance when going to the polls.

Speaking of mask wearing, I’ve noticed quite a bit of vitriol from anti-mask people. I don’t know if this is a post that will reach any such individuals, but let me be frank—before we knew about the science of mask wearing in New York (and elsewhere), the COVID situation here was a living nightmare. Hospital sirens were constant. My family went through a 10-week period where we lost, on average, three people we knew a week. A hospital in my county lost thirteen individuals…in 24 hours. This was the world without mask wearing. I beg people to wear their masks.

On Voting During a Global Pandemic

Under normal circumstances, I would be telling all of you, my readers, to vote when Election Day comes in the United States (sorry to readers who don’t live in the States).

But these are not normal circumstances. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, so given the crowds that accumulate at many polling places on Election Day, some may hesitate to go to the polls. That is understandable.

However, that is not an excuse to avoid voting. Many places have early voting—a period of voting before Election Day where you can go to a polling place at a time that works for you, during a time when crowds are hopefully light. Many places allow you to cast a mail-in or absentee ballot, which would allow you to get a ballot delivered to you and then you can send the ballot back via the mail. There are even a few states that only have vote-by-mail, but contrary to what President Trump may like you to believe, there is actually very little fraud that goes on with this method of voting—just ask Washington’s Republican Secretary of State.[1]

If you’re not sure of what your options are for sending your ballot, contact your local Board of Elections office. It is the job of your local Board of Elections to give you the proper information on when and how to vote. Don’t be shy about using your Board of Elections in that manner. And, if you’re not sure how to reach out to your local Board of Elections, please let me know—I can try to find that information on your behalf.

But regardless of how you vote, make sure that you vote and vote safely. If you go to a polling place, either for early voting or on Election Day, please wear a mask and practice social distancing. If you are voting by mail, don’t waste your time with your mail-in ballot, as Election Day is two weeks from tomorrow. But please vote.

P.S. As I was getting ready to schedule this post for publication, I realized that this is my 200th post. So yay for this milestone post being about voting!


[1] Almost all voting in the state is by mail: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/01/898184573/how-washington-state-s-mail-in-elections-play-out

Heading into a Major Election Year…Without a Functioning Election Commission

I am not one for hyperbole, but the 2020 Presidential election is extremely important. In addition to many local- and state-level races, the election will determine who will control Congress for the next two years, and who will occupy the White House for the next four years.

Heading into such consequential elections, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) would be a helpful tool in making sure that candidates for the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, Presidency, and Vice Presidency were not running afoul of federal campaign finance law.[1]

There’s one problem though—the FEC is not in a position to enforce federal campaign finance law heading into this. Why? Because the FEC needs at least four commissioners (out of six that could be in place) in order to enforce federal campaign finance law, and right now, the FEC is at…three commissioners. It was an issue noted the previous time the FEC lacked a quorum (which was just mere months ago),[2] and it’s an issue again.

The reality is that this situation has been in the making for quite a while now. Back in 2018, one of the commissioners at the time, Lee Goodman, resigned and the FEC went down from five to four commissioners—the bare minimum needed for quorum.[3] What this meant was that if one additional person resigned, retired, died, or was otherwise not present for an FEC meeting, the commission would lose the power to enforce campaign finance law. Therefore, when another of the commissioners, Matthew Petersen, resigned in August 2019,[4] the FEC was left with only three commissioners, which was short of the quorum of four they needed to make any substantive decisions. Only when Republican Trey Trainor was confirmed did the FEC regain its ability to enforce campaign finance law,[5] but it once again lost that ability when another of the commissioners, Caroline Hunter, resigned.[6]

While we wait for there to be a quorum with our election commission, I can’t help but think that heading into this election year, we actually do have a major election integrity issue. But, the issue is not with fraud resulting from absentee voting—it’s with the lack of enforcement of campaign finance law because of an election commission that is not functioning properly. Unless this issue gets resolved, I worry that 2020 will be a bit of a “wild west” in terms of adherence (or lack thereof) to campaign finance laws.


[1] Read more about the FEC here: https://www.fec.gov/about/mission-and-history/

[2] https://www.npr.org/2019/08/30/755523088/as-fec-nears-shutdown-priorities-such-as-stopping-election-interference-on-hold

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/it-s-going-be-crisis-turning-out-lights-undermanned-fec-n1048376

[4] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/a 2020-election/it-s-going-be-crisis-turning-out-lights-undermanned-fec-n1048376

[5] https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/498619-fec-regains-authorities-after-senate-confirms-trump-nominee-as

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/26/fec-caroline-hunter-resigns-341396

Twelve Years of Bloomberg as Mayor: A New Yorker’s Perspective (Part Three)

Those of you who’ve been on my blog during the last week or so will know that I’m doing a mini-series on what it was like to have current candidate for president Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City. I explained in Part One why his record as mayor is relevant, and I explained in Part Two the multitude of problems he had with his treatment of others. Today is the third and final part of my mini-series, which will go into his record on some other issues, as well as where we should go from here with the Bloomberg candidacy.

One of the most important issues this campaign is that of trying to “save our democracy.” And rightfully so, because there is a genuine fear among many that President Trump is dangerous to American democracy. However, if Mayor Bloomberg’s record tells us anything, it’s that he would also be a danger to American democracy. New York City voted not once, but twice, to have term limits for people holding elected office in New York City government (mayor, comptroller, public advocate, council members). Yet, Bloomberg, with the help of the city council at the time, overturned the voice of the people, and changed the limit from two terms to three (it was changed back to two terms…after Bloomberg won a third term).[1] People fear that President Trump would try to overturn the election if he loses, or ruin our democracy further if he wins—those are understandable fears because he has been, for example, not always indicated a willingness to concede an election to a winning candidate, even if it is clear he loses the election.[2] However, Bloomberg, with the help of the New York City Council, managed to do something that not even President Trump has managed to do (yet): actually overturn an election (Bloomberg overturned two, after all). If he becomes President of the United States, let’s hope he leaves his ability to overturn elections in New York City, and not bring that ability to Washington, DC.

He gets praise for his stance on the environment. And, in theory, I agree with him on the fact that the environmental crisis should be treated with urgency. However, I find that praise hollow when he drastically cut funding from public transit while he was mayor,[3] even though use of public transit instead of the car does a world of good for the environment. It’s also hollow when his own environmental practices were subpar, such as having an entourage of SUVs that often idled (mostly to keep on the air conditioning unit on in the SUVs so that he could stay cool during the summer)—he apologized for the idling, but not for the use of the SUVs in the first place (or even an explanation of why those environmentally-unfriendly gas guzzlers were necessary for his team), to my knowledge.[4]

Bloomberg also tries to cultivate an image for himself as being just on health care. Yet, his record on health care in New York City was anything but. Noteworthy was the number of community hospitals that, under his tenure, were forced to close. The New York Times editorial board accused Mayor Bloomberg of having long ago “checked out” on this issue, and a then-mayoral candidate by the name of Bill de Blasio got arrested for protesting the proposed closure of one of the hospitals.[5] Bloomberg also vetoed a proposed law that would have required many city businesses to provide paid sick leave,[6] so if he got his way (he didn’t, ultimately), then tough luck to those working for businesses that didn’t provide the paid sick leave—you’d better work through your flu with a fever of over 102 degrees, even though that would, of course, endanger yourself and others.

Economically, the wealthy became even wealthier. There’s no doubt about that.[7] But if you weren’t wealthy? Not so much. While he thought that taxes on the wealthy were a dumb idea,[8] he thought it was preferable to shoulder the burden of “fiscal responsibility” on unions[9] by letting the contracts of every single one of New York City’s 153 unions expire—unions where many of the members are in the middle and working class.[10] The most painful example of economic inequality under Bloomberg’s watch, however, was that was the increase in homelessness that happened while he was mayor[11]—an increase that continues to this day. While I acknowledge that there may be certain factors with such trends that may not have been in his control (such as policies at the state or federal level), this is a fact worth reflecting on. Given that economic inequality is such a major issue of this era, it’s puzzling that the Democrats would even consider nominating someone for President of the United States who oversaw economic inequality become substantially worse when he was mayor of his own city.

The bottom line is that, when doing a thorough examination of his record as mayor, his record was overwhelmingly an ugly one on social justice issues. Even more alarming is the fact that many of these social justice issues he was poor on are issues that are relevant today, for whoever is President of the United States—issues such as racism, sexism, economic inequality, and protecting our democracy. As to whether you think Bloomberg is still better than the other candidates in spite of all the baggage I’ve presented, that’s for you to decide. Just make sure you vote whenever you have the opportunity.


[1]https://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/23/bloomberg.third.term/?fbclid=IwAR0jYgjb3aq9zstmvO0PFWXcGBpZ2F6AwME3wYTcMY8OK5tYZw9VV9K0e50

[2] https://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/will-trump-accept-2016-election-results-230932

[3] https://www.gothamgazette.com/transportation/361-improving-transportation-above-ground

[4] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/mayor-bloomberg-room-air-conditioner-parked-suv-idle-pollution-heat-wave/1948668/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/opinion/wrestling-with-dying-hospitals.html

[6] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/mayor-michael-bloomberg-vetoes-paid-sick-leave-plan-passed-nyc-city-council/1997646/

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/01/michael-bloomberg-new-york-mayoral-record

[8] https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2012/10/taxing-the-rich-is-about-as-dumb-a-policy-as-i-can-think-of-bloomberg-says-000000

[9] https://observer.com/2013/12/bloomberg-sounds-alarm-over-labor-electoral-complex-in-final-speech-as-mayor/

[10] https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2019/01/13/labor-commissioner-who-settled-expired-contracts-with-entire-city-workforce-leaving-administration-788294

[11] https://ny.curbed.com/2019/11/25/20981929/michael-bloomberg-2020-campaign-housing-homeless-nyc

A Few Words Heading into the 2020 United States Elections

Image of someone casting a ballot.

This calendar year, we already know what one of the biggest stories will be: the elections for President of the United States. The first part of the year will focus on the Democratic Party primaries and caucuses, while much of the second half of the year will have campaigning for the election in November between the Democratic nominee and President Donald Trump.

For all my readers who live in the United States (which is most of my readers), I ask that you keep in mind issues such as economic justice, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues, environmentalism, immigration, and more, as you consider which candidate to support. In other words, I hope my readers keep in mind the sorts of issues that I try to talk about here on a weekly basis.

Too often, these issues, and other issues relevant to those on the margins in American society, are not taken into consideration as much as they should be. The good news, however, is that every voting American has the power to change that in 2020.