Non-partisanship of the purse: a note to New Yorkers

Please vote no tomorrow on Ballot Question 3, the proposition that would eliminate party primaries for certain elected offices in New York.

As is evident from a quick skim through the official election ballot that you got in the mail, there are an equal number of union officials and party functionaries lined up on either side of this proposal.

However, those political scientists and non-partisan public-policy experts who submitted statements for the brochure are unanimously against this proposal. They lay out several reasons for opposing it:

In those few cities in which non-partisan elections for mayor have been implemented -- it is indeed only a few; the 50+ figure cited by supporters conflates several different sorts of election design -- the blessing claimed by its supporters have not materialized. No massive spike in participation.

New York is by far the largest and most complicated city to implement such a drastic change. But the process by which the change has been proposed has been driven entirely by the desires -- I won't say whims -- of Mayor Bloomberg. I have nothing against the Mayor, but his attempt to portray himself as a populist is not convincing. He convened a commission to advise him on the change when his decision was already a fait accompli, and the popular movement he claims to head is only the movement of many "small pieces of green paper" (to quote Douglas Adams) out of his pocket and into the accounts of various political-advertising agencies.

I fear that our own apathy and Bloomberg's massive spending will guarantee victory for the proposition. The Times has a good article about the partisan politics motivating the "non-partisan" referendum.

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