9th Congressional Data

The Ninth Congressional data is very revealing and worthy of spending the time to understand it by size, shape, and its many places as defined by our representative to Congress.

CD9 & Stress

Exploring the following group of analysts will produce one of the more fascinating introductions to key indicators of economic stress. Have a good long look at the work of the EIG. It will give you an RTC. Put your zip code in the search box and for the Ninth Congressional District, insert NY-9 in the map below.
In NYC, opportunities to become involved in innovation for economic recovery could be the Ninth Congressional District. Find people who have read Section Subchapter Z— Opportunity Zones in the Tax Reform Act.  (pdf is HERE)  Only 25% of CTs (defined as low-income can be nominated by the State.  NYC has several of these ‘zones’ from previous designations.  (EIG explanation).   If anyone has any insight into this EIG outfit, please share.

The Ninth CD is the only one that is all in Brooklyn



go ahead drop me a line or comment below:

Corruption

A look at the last few years in NYS to go forward.

“The examination of people that get swept-up in offering or receiving a corrupt benefit reminds me of the punchline in a joke describing a negotiating process.  ‘You and I have already decided what you are; now we’re just haggling about the price.” The “what you are” list that society would see eliminated with the threat of punishment and mitigation resources is compelling and long.”

Rex L. Curry

Embezzling, conspiracy, extortion, mail and wire fraud, bribe solicitation, tax-evasion, intentionally soliciting illegal campaign contributions, and judicial extortion payments have all been committed by New York political leaders include theft of honest services, bribes and kickbacks, felony and a variety of misdemeanor charges. The results involve expelling leaders from office, hefty fines, and terms of imprisonment.

Most of those in the photo collage (above) did not commit a major crime. It is everyone since 2000. Of the forty-eight state political leaders arrested from 2000 to 2018, fourteen went to prison, less than one per year.  It is statistically embarrassing.  It is alarming due to the expected “high-bar” of public service but not out of line with bad human behavior in general. Over 18 years, troubles with the law affected fourteen Republicans and thirty-four Democrats, representing a third of NYS lawmakers (source listing the crimes).

Seriously, How Bad Is It?

To make a comparison, I pulled arrest data by state from Table 69 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program (UCR). I culled it down somewhat roughly to executive/professional collar crimes.  Annually all arrests in New York State average in the area of 260,000, of which fraud and embezzlement make up about 7,000 arrests per year.

The idea that this is a “few bad apples” issue is wrong. Legislators (including staff) are hagglers in every aspect of their political lives. Those who get out of control and get caught end their careers in political life and much of their personal lives. None of us are saints, nor do we expect our political representative to be candidates for divine recognition.  What I (we, people) want is an aggressive public effort to discover wrongdoing whenever there is a hint of it.

The concerns of an ordinary, reasonably thoughtful citizen are focused on the growing number of new ways our leaders are corruptible in today’s political climate. The front of the line has people (corporations) who want a part of the state’s $10-14 billion in capital budget spending or a few more campaign bucks, but today that line extends around the block and back ten years to Citizen’s United vs. FEC (SCOTUS pdf).

The New York State annual operating budget is approaching $180 billion, and it will make yearly capital investments between $11 to $14 billion (2020 Report pdf). New York City’s budget is approaching $100 billion. While it is a “creature of the state,” a discussion of corruption and money requires a separate review that connects the nation’s metropolitan regions to the political process embedded in public benefit corporations that cross state boundaries. NYC’s creation of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) has proven to be a highly effective provider of fact in this regard. The New York state legislature is considering a similar option.

Well-funded investigation divisions in the Attorney General’s local and state offices, the Election Commission, the Controller, and the FBI are institutions that citizens need to believe are doing their job well and with integrity. They cannot confirm the political honesty of all the people who seek to lead. Still, they can “follow the money,” which is where a network of community-based and national advocacy groups plays an essential function if unbreaking our democracy is to get some local traction.

Essential Institutions

The Office of the Attorney General led by Letitia James (D) went from New York City’s Office of Public Advocate with a budget less than $4M budget to the AG’s $230M+ statewide operating budget. Drilling down into the role this office plays in preventing political corruption is on the public’s radar. A detailed look at AG’s responsibilities and resources is ongoing.

The New York State Comptroller is the State’s chief fiscal officer ensures that New York State and local governments use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently. It is the sole trustee of the $207.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. An audit released March 31, 2018, revealed the fund as one of the world’s largest institutional investors. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit to find out if Empire State Development had met its statutory reporting requirements and revealed that between April 2012 and September 2016, 17 programs didn’t undergo mandatory, independent evaluations, and public reports weren’t issued on 12 programs that received more than $500 million in total funding. 

The New York State Board of Elections is responsible for administering all laws relating to elections in New York State and operates with a budget of about $12M.  Another $41M is from legislation reauthorizing the BoE obligates expired budget authority through )reapportionment. The role of BoE will also be the subject of a detailed look at NYS through the lens offered by proposed legislative changes in voting practices and campaign financing at the city and state level.

The strategy of changing local laws to bring about national change begins at the local level.  In New York, the citizens have the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.  The question is, how well do the Laws of New York State legislature and the home rule work of NYC hold up against the demands for change by RepresentUs and the work of its NY Chapter. This link will lead to a report on JCOPE’s reports (here).

An argument for one other institutional analysis of political behavior (both APAs) or private, professional psychology or psychiatric team. As this review of NYS implies, it is not just the money. It is the power for the imbalance that money represents. See the post Control vs. Balance for a look at the control balance theory.

Examples Worthy of a Close Look                       

During policy and budget negotiations, the give and take practices of a healthy democracy are like fencing. Participants will thrust, and reprise, even produce the third intention.  Another often-used metaphor is, if not achieved after three attempts, punt.  Give the other side a try if you can get them in the game.

The most severe forms of corruption occur in the reverse of the authorized/allocated condition where funds are authorized in the sense that they will meet a need or support a project on which there is consensus. Still, the actors who seek the funds use a strategic means to secure the allocation. Understanding this fact is the best way to find the line in the sand that matters. It helps separate political banter and partisanship from what is factually determined by standing authorizations and measured allocations to which the actors can be held accountable.

Since 2010 concerns regarding the economic recovery of Western New York were agreed to politically and based in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo and the surrounding counties.   With “we have to do something” well established, a good analysis offered by the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBC) finds the current NYS Budget in the areas of growth and reductions by program reasonable. It points out that steps to improve transparency and accountability still continue to make outcomes obscure — see (10 Billion Reasons).

The following examples illustrate corruption as an agent of change at the state level. The dangers of attacking public institutional efforts to implement reforms are critical and should not be part of political dialogue unless it is an independent evaluation of excesses and errors. The bills the legislature state Senate has offered solutions that would prevent the condition in which New Yorkers find themselves.  It is your busted, “post-trauma” and catastrophic resolution policy ending in the prosecution of criminal intent.  That is not good enough.

When a Corporation Controls a Market

The Cor Construction Company is a mid-sized, upstate development corporation that got greedy for a guarantee. Despite the bid-fixing controversy, Cor still boasts of 50 employees and many large development projects. Like a business remains interested in drawing on the NYS investment in their economic sector and sections of the state requiring more jobs and economic development. Just outside of Syracuse, Cor built an attractive building for $15 million in state funding. The project also resulted in discovering significant crimes, bid fixing, and bribery by company executives involving the participation of a top aide in the governor’s office and many others.

As the dust of litigants continues to settle, the state gave the building to a nonprofit corporation created by Onondaga County for one dollar. With about $2M in additional seed funds, the project became the Greater Syracuse Soundstage (GSS).  Not exactly Kaufman Studios, but it remains a capital investment that is not forgotten, it is in local hands, and the pressure to get a return on that investment continues.  With more local control, it is likely to be successful but slow.  Will the forgetful citizen of the state follow-up on this public investment?  Will the GSS succeed, create jobs, become an important new institution.  Who wants to follow that one, if it is you leave a reply?

When a Corporation Walks Away

The $90 million used to build the factory for the Soraa LED lighting company resulted in them leaving the deal with no penalty even though its developer was implicated in the bid fixing, bribery, and wire fraud by the agent in charge of the project. Meanwhile, NYS added up to $15 million more, so NexGen Power Systems, a semiconductor company, would retrofit and lease the plant outside Syracuse. Lesson learned: in the new deal, NexGen will repay $2.5 million if the company failed to create ten jobs in 2018 – it did.  Another $2.5 million will be due if it fails to employ 30 people by the end of 2019.  Another $2 million will be due if it fails to have 58 employees in 2020. Known as “clawbacks,” the company agrees to 290 jobs by 2024 measured in annual increments increases requiring $2M payments each of the next four years.  As in the case of criminal prosecution, the practice of assuring accountability or the lack of it stands with those who hold the clocks and triggers of fact. Will these targets be met or penalties assigned? Who will follow that one if it is you leave a reply?

In these two examples, and the slow appeals process only leaves names to follow to learn if punishment is a real deterrent – these are Alain Kaloyeros, Stephen Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, (Cor) and Louis Ciminelli, (LPCiminielli) and Joseph Percoco. All of whom are appealing prison terms. Also watch for Fort Schuyler Management Corp., a corporation created by SUNY Polytechnic Institute which oversaw the corruption-tainted projects regarding all the above.  It may be the reforms proposed will not occur unless the law provides its proof as a deterrent. at

When a Corporation Gets it Right

The Western part of NYS is economically depressed. Increased public spending demand falls on the shoulders of its local development agencies and the state. New York is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) and its ten regional economic development councils. The state’s human capital investment arm is the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) system.  It also works with several community-based nonprofits partners who are asked to play a role or develop initiatives.   The two examples above were obvious screw-ups that need follow-up. To sustain trust, the CEO of Empire State Development will point to the positives Howard Zemsky — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, (3,000 jobs) for $31 million in grants and tax incentives. He will also tell you private-sector jobs continue to grow in NYS, and he’ll give EDC credit.  Should we? If you want to follow that one, leave a reply.

The ESD is a business. Of its $77M in annual operating budget (pdf) for 2020, just $9M is from NYS program-specific budget appropriations and some federal funding. The ESD runs on commercial receipts, its assets, fees, and bond financing. As the NYS Controller recently observed, it may be a small agency, but its reach and economic power are considerable. Corruption can occur honestly, through stupid eagerness aimed at capturing fast-moving capital. If the Great Recession of 2008 or the ridiculous excess of Wells Fargo and others is not a signal to this, then the world is going blind.

What Will NYS Legislators Do?

Three bills (S6613B, S3354, S3984A) to address this question are supported (see descriptions below plus a snowball).  They have passed the Senate, still await the Assembly, and are not codified (Article VII) as law.  Briefly, they:  1) create a “database of deals” on economic development, 2) establishes a unified economic development budget, and 3) reforms procurement by restoring the State Comptroller’s oversight of contracts made by SUNY and CUNY, and the state’s Office of General Services to heighten the quality of monitoring.

A unified economic development budget on the costs of all economic development programs is essential; the use of metrics for comparability across all programs would confirm benefits from private sector participation. All these steps can lead to program design improvements and the efficiency of public tax and capital expenditures.

The Senate is calling its passage of ethical reforms historic.  The thing to pay attention to is they do not carry the force of law yet, and there is a lot more left to do.  Voting reforms, and an independent redistricting agency ready to go following the 2020 census, and so on.

The number of those who have a strong interest in ethical reforms in the NYS legislature needs to grow. Their numbers are few. A strategy toward “exponential” participation is needed. The question is direct. When will you know if and how any of the following reasonable ideas become law and have access to the final content?  Take one step, leave a reply to subscribe.

Developing a Searchable Subsidy Database S6613B

Sponsored by Senator Croci, it requires creating a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would benefit New Yorkers and policymakers by helping monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state’s economy create jobs. The database would include the participant’s name and location, the period of received economic development benefits, the type of benefit received, and the total number of employees at all project sites.   The number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project is in the contract.  The number of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, canceled, or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant. 

New York State Procurement Integrity Act S3984A

Sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), it prevents self-dealing in the government procurement process by enhancing the integrity, transparency, and accountability of the state’s procurement process. Historically, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has performed this essential oversight function. Still, in recent years OSC’s ability to do so has been eroded by executive and legislative action. The bill, called the New York State Procurement Integrity Act, would:

  • restore the state Comptroller’s independent oversight (eliminated in 2011 and 2012) of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts; 
  • expand the Comptroller’s oversight of the procurement process to include contracts over $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation; and 
  • prohibit state contracting through state-affiliated not-for-profit (NFP) entities unless explicitly authorized in law;

Making Economic Data Available to Help Measure Effectiveness S3354

Sponsored Senator Liz Krueger (D, Manhattan), directs the state Division of the Budget (DOB) to prepare an annual Unified Economic Development budget that outlines the aggregate amounts of state investments in economic development projects statewide, the benefactors of these investments, and the number of jobs created or retained by businesses as a result of this development assistance. The legislation also standardizes the types of information that state entities and recipients of development assistance must report to the DOB.

Lastly, there is this little snowball:

Creating an Independent Budget OfficeS2325

Sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), it creates the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. At least 23 other states, including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, and Vermont, have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.

Oddly interesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office is not mentioned in the Senate’s description. It is a very valuable independent tool in relation to the city’s massive OMB.

Help to find out what it will take to get these measures passed and signed by the Governor.  One more time — leave a reply.

Ranking Leaders

“Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) improves democratic participation for three reasons. First, it feels ethical and principled; second; it reduces conflict through majority rule by supporting more choice. Third, RCV supports a politics of joy and civil argument.  Finally, in a society that tends to leave the critical things unsaid, RCV is cheaper. It avoids the cost of close race run-offs and recounts. The second and third picks of voters remain choices and get used if none of the candidates get to the 50+% threshold. Democracies require consensus to function, and that means we can make choices on issues and for people to which we can agree to some extent. Ranking your options is a step in that direction.”

Rex L. Curry

Two party systems should become more sophisticated than a thumbs up or down decision with obvious limits in our ability to choose leaders. The ranking alternative not only expands the values inherent to voting; it encourages and builds new practices in leadership and encourages people who want to lead to find their way in politics. We should also never forget an idea in the United States Constitution that says we have to work for a perfect union. To this end, the popularity of RCV is significant. Given Maine’s experience presents one difficulty. The possibility of litigation and its cost. If there is pivot point to watch, that will be it.

Watching and reviewing the Maine experience will be useful in this regard as the practice is now settled law. With this precedent, it is the first state to use RCV, and the lessons here have been rewarding.  I would refer you to three articles presented in chronological order to illustrate the path taken, the questions asked and the lawsuits filed to get it done. The first article examines the prospect and examines its impact, the second article reviews the litigation on this legislation over the next year or two, and third, the actual practice of voting in Maine today as described by the League of Women Voters.  Praise the victories of suffrage. 

  1. Ranked Choice Voting: What’s in it for you? August 2016 (here)
  2. Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Experiment Continues November 2018 (here)
  3. How Does Ranked Voting Work (Main LWV website) (here) also see (cool video)

Watching the New York Experience begins by testimony on May 2nd or by write to the Charter Revision Commission to tell them to put RCV before voters on the November ballot. Ranked choice voting will advance voting practices as if it was the 21st Century.

Imagining a similar process for the voters of New York City as a creature of New York State is a daunting one, but this is one of those “fix-it-even-if-it-isn’t broke” ideas worthy of your efforts, sweat and I don’t think I’m nuts, blood for the bank, if necessary. Lowering the cost is the sane approach that calls for “instant run-offs” that takes into account a voters second and third choices. A bill in the New York City Council does that is (here),

Common Cause took up the mantle on RCV (here) and defined the issues as follows: voting as “the lesser of two evils” is part of the political value system and needs to change. Accepting the value of the majority vote win on the other hand is vital, today that is no longer true and that needs to change. The NYC Public Advocate’s win with 33% of the vote is a still win, but politically it can be used as a criticism. Ranked choice solves that problem by confirming the existence of voter confidence. Lastly, the overall downward pressure on the validity of the vote with algorithms allows political power brokers to ignore whole sections of he population and reduces elections to battleground states or neighborhoods.

The opportunity to make this happen is this year because the 2019 Charter Revision Commission is considering the placement of Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot by voters in November. The opportunity to show support will be in Borough hearings- locations and dates are TBA . The Commission’s website was launched 3 April. It is a bit difficult to navigate, but covers the bases well with links from “lists” to sections with more content.

They have two in-depth articles on the subject. The Tipping Point — The Impact of Candidate Field Size on Multi-Candidate Primaries in New York City 4/2019 and A Case for Ranked Choice Voting in New York City, 11/2018

The articles make sense, much of the critical thinking is complete, and it is top on the list of the commission’s voting reform proposals. The Charter Commission offers a look at what this revision of NYC’s voting system would be like:

Note

Let NY Vote that continues to enjoy many successful election reform campaigns At one time they included ranked-choice voting on its list of reforms and then the calendar item went 404 – files not found. (URL here). The priority of getting the vote in the hands of people from whom it has been taken is the current priority. Several political districts in upstate NY get to count the population of their prisons to determine the apportion public office, but this population is not allowed to vote.  If advocating for a ranked choice system of voting in NYC is less of a priority than work that increases voter participation in the process, I recommend attending their events.

Represent Us is putting this idea on there national list of victories and the New York Chapter is calling out all of their recent success and making sure the city’s representatives understand a the power of a very strong movement in the grassroots of every election district. The message is simple if you are in politics — pay really attention.

My Represent Us Story

The folks at Represent Us in local and state elections all over the United States present three major issues in Unbreaking America (above). Every once in a while people get their act so together that you know exactly why you have to do what you have to do. Watch it.

In 2018 When Indivisible established a network I did some homework on my political back yard. I conducted research and built some tools. I live in Brooklyn. I use the Ninth CD as a lens capture a view of local and state representatives. Take a look at it below. I am looking for some help for 2020, 2022, 2024.

What I Found

Represent Us is correct. Yvette D Clarke received 82% her of campaign contributions ($537,295) from outside her district. (Rank: 206 out of 421.) and she received 32% of campaign contributions ($211,772) from outside NYS. Source: the Center for Responsive Politics.

Who or what Clarke represents becomes a logical, honest question. RepresentUs asks this question of every single member of our city, state and federal legislature. Corruption can be removed only one way by the people.

Finding a new member of Congress. Clarke ranks 381st among the 435 in the House. She had estimated net worth of $115,502 in 2014. This is super important because the average net worth of a U.S. House of Representative is over $6 million (2014) despite the annual salary in the House is less than $200,000.

I took a look at every election district in the Ninth Congressional District (see NYC Election District Map here). I want you to use the location tool and share your ED with me if you live in the Ninth or know some one who does. In the 2018 primary I gave some friends and myself some instructions and tried to elect Adem as a replacement for only one reason. Change works. Clarke is still in office, but it was fun trying.

The proof came with AOC. New people with voter backing make a real difference because most incumbents have stopped paying attention to their districts and they tend toward complacency with a 98% re-election rate.

NYC’s Network of Election Districts

The table below describes registered voters by party in the Brooklyn’s Ninth Congressional District by status. The shock is in the number of voters it took to re-elect Clarke for yet another term in the tables that follow.


All Voters in the Ninth CD

Ninth CDDEMREPCONINDOtherTOTAL
Active275,79925,427 9557,35255,498365,031
Inactive 28,635 2,519 109 983 7,039 39,285
Total304,43427,9461,0648,33562,537404,316

New York City is a city of Democrats and Independents. It is the cities that make New York State blue. The Democratic Primary is the most important vote if a change is needed. When 10% of the people of the Ninth make that decision the Represent Us video above is frighteningly accurate.

All Who Voted in 2018 Primary

CandidatesVotes%
Yvette Clarke (incumbent)16,20253.0%
Adem Bunkeddeko14,35047.0%
Margin 1,8526.1%
750,000 People and 276,000 Registered Democrats

One More Thing

If you are interested in “working the Ninth for 2020” let me know with the reply option below. All the rest of the effort can be seen (here) in various, largely unedited narratives about the Ninth. A more detailed volunteer form is here. The tool I use takes the Ninth CD and links that to local and state representatives using the two menus below. This is far as I’ve gotten. It is a big job. Thanks for reading.