All Politics Is Local…This Year, Anyway
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 27, 2010 | 3368 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It's time to start thinking about the fun races that are taking shape for this fall.

Alex Powietrzynski is the likely GOP candidate in the 28th Assembly District, which includes Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. Powietrynski is a recent graduate of Fordham Law School. He is 26 years old, and his chances would be a lot better if his name were a household word (like Hevesi), but this race is all about Albany and a lot less about incumbent Andrew Hevesi and his challengers, which are coming at him from both parties.

Powietrynski is the type of GOP candidate that the party needs. He is an educated Polish immigrant from a working-class background. Odds are he will get help from Queens County Chair Phil Ragusa, but will the New York State Republican Party help him. It often does little by way of helping its farm team.

Powietrynski can get traction in this heavily Democratic district if he emphasizes the lack of leadership in Albany. It is the collectively confused state government that has not made the appropriate efforts to rein in New York’s budget. Powietrynski can run an effective campaign if he gets party support.

The conventional political wisdom is that the Democratic Party in Queens will be putting its resources in tighter races, like the State Senate race in the 15th District, and that might make Hevesi vulnerable.

Paterson Drops The Hedge Fund Tax

Governor Paterson has wisely stepped back from imposing a tax on hedge fund managers that live outside of the state. On the surface, this kind of legislation is understandable; hedge fund managers often come to New York and use city services while they work here. They make tons of money, and the city and state need tons of money.

The realization that Paterson came to late last week was that hedge fund managers can always take their business to neighboring states. Connecticut is already competing with New York in this area. New York has Wall Street, but hedge funds do not really need to be in New York, and since many managers live in Connecticut, it stands they may be tempted to just keep their business in the Constitution State.

The issue of a commuter tax as a revenue producer has always been important to city residents. It would bring in $400 million a year, but if the tax is targeted to a select population, that begins to look less than fair and could be financially risky.

Campaign Finance Reform – An Idea That Everyone Hates So Far

In a brainstorming session with a few academics last week about campaign finance reform, I thought about the Yankees (these conversations can do that to you). That thought led me to the standings, and then to the coming trade deadline, which brought my mind to the luxury tax.

The Yankees pay a luxury tax to the league if their payroll gets too high. That money then goes to other teams with less money. It’s still worth it for the Yankees. But what if a local political campaign boasted a war chest that was over $250,000 at a designated point in the campaign (say August 15th)?

If that were to happen, and the opponent had less than 25 percent of that amount ($62,500 or less), a luxury tax would send 25 percent of the spill over (whatever money exceeds the $250,000) to the opponent’s campaign. These figures, or course, could be changed.

People with whom I shared this, and I assume you as well, thought this was nuts, including the big lefties. But remember, that if a candidate had $250,000, and his or her opponent had less than $62,000, they can just hold off on fundraising for a week or two, and not have to send any money to the opponent. This works to make candidates more conscious of the amount of money going into campaigns, and it means the public does not have to finance campaigns with taxpayer dollars.

Sure, the idea is a little grandiose and new, but does it make more sense to give 4-to-1 in matching funds from the tax coffers to a candidate that has almost no chance in many races?

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