Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vote for stupid. It's important.

Today is primary day in New York state, and you know what that means.

Well, not much, I guess. It means a number of idiots and jerks waiting to shove their faces in the public trough will be fighting with a number of other likewise, and then in November they get to do the same thing again.

Mild language alert.

I'm maybe a little cynical about politics. I'm somewhat distrustful of politicians. I think it's a better world when people distrust politicians. Keeps them on their toes.

In the years following Watergate, Americans were grossly untrusting of our politicians. The culture has shifted somewhat, and our cultural elites are only untrusting of the wrong kind of politician, the ones that aren't our type, you know.


The most interesting primary race in the Hudson Valley, in my opinion, is the Republican primary to replace retiring Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt. Now, you're wondering A) Who cares about the Assembly? Those guys are pitiful. And B) What does it matter when the state is so anti-Republican that they elected the most evil governor in the country---a guy who singlehandedly caused the housing collapse and crippled the world economy---just because he was not the Republican?

This Orange County race, in a much more right-leaning district than those on the east bank of the mighty Hudson, may be for a state office but it's all about local issues. Because of New York's stupid rules, the town of Monroe is actually made of several villages: the village of Monroe (duh), most of the village of Harriman, and the village of Kiryas Joel. And there's the spark that's caused a local fire.

Kiryas Joel is a large village made up of Satmar Hasidic Jews from Brooklyn. The way they live is quite different from the rest of the people in the area. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the women do not drive. When a large portion of the population can't drive cars in suburbia, you wind up recreating the city environment where you are. So Kiryas Joel looks like little Brooklyn, and not really a nice section of Brooklyn, either.

The problem is that Kiryas Joel votes as a bloc, but for a handful of anonymous dissenters who occasionally leak what goes on to the rest of the town. So, as the population of KJ has risen faster than the population of the rest of Monroe, by exercising iron voting discipline they have become able to call the shots for the whole town. The rest of Monroe is predictably squabbly and divisive over politics, just as politics should be in a democracy, and has not been able to resist. People who want to get on the town board pretty much have had to pander to KJ, so when building codes are violated (for example), everyone looks the other way. There are zoning laws in the town, like restrictions on the height of buildings, but some villages are more equal than others, it would seem.

The burning issue now is that KJ wants to annex hundreds of acres to add to their village. Monrovians see this as a new KJ population boom that will ensure the rest of Monroe remains a subsidiary of KJ forever. And not just a subsidiary but the ones footing the bill; with an "official" standard of living said to be well below the poverty line ("According to 2008 census figures, the village has the highest poverty rate in the nation. More than two-thirds of residents live below the federal poverty line and 40% receive food stamps" says Wikipedia), guess who's paying the freight for them? How many more can the rest of Monroe pay for?

A party called United Monroe has arisen as a counterweight to KJ. Trying to see past other political differences, those in UM are dead set against the proposed annexation. Last fall they had a huge turnout, though, and still lost the town elections. (Fraud was alleged, do I even need to say?) Poll watchers were proposed for today's election but the asshole running the Board of Elections was too chicken to allow them.

Today there are four candidates running for the Republican nomination for the open Assembly seat. One (Karl) advertises himself as a tough conservative and never mentions the annexation issue in his flyers at all. Although not Hasidic, he is considered to be the KJ candidate. A second (Dan) is the official UM candidate, whose flyers address the annexation issue only (although in other elections he has run as a conservative, he is perhaps keeping an eye on not alienating local Democrats in November). A rematch from last year? Maybe, but there is a third non-UM candidate (Mike) running who is anti-annexation and pro-all the conservative and anti-all the Cuomo positions. He claims he respects UM, but not their candidate. And then there's the fourth guy (Kev) who seems to be the left-wing Republican, whose reasons for running are mysterious.

So there you have it: A KJ agent, a UM op, a wild card who will probably split the anti-KJ vote and allow the village a clear victory, and a fourth guy who is likely just a vanity candidate. And on top of that, this election is for a district larger than the town of Monroe, so Monroe's problems are sucking the oxygen out of the rest of the district.

When Tip O'Neill (supposedly) said that all politics is local, he could have been describing this mess. Maybe we should give monarchy another shot.

UPDATE: Writing Wednesday morning, and all has happened as I have foreseen. The KJ candidate won because Mike and Dan split the rest of the vote, with a little extra going to Kev. I'm sure it came down to turnout. A disciplined (I might say, dictator-like) political minority will swipe what it wants in a democracy. It leads to a one-party system that results in things like Detroit.

Karl Brabenec 1,756
Daniel Castricone 1,361
Kevin Hudson 162
Michael Morgillo 635

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