Document:New York Newsletter September 1999 Free New York
Free New York A Quarterly Publication of The Libertarian Party of New York September 1999
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Let your fellow libertarians know what you are doing to further the cause of liberty in New York State.
Elections and Party politics come first. But, we will consider other stories of interest to libertarians
September 14 Primary Elections
November 2 General Election
November 13 Deadline for Articles
November 20 (Sloatsburg) State Comm. Meeting
December Next Issue of FNY
April 29, 2000 LPNY Convention
Popkin Elected to Brooklyn School Board
by Gary Popkin
I was recently elected to the nine-member Community School Board 15 in Brooklyn, making me the only dues-paying member of the LPNY to hold public elective office. The voting was by a form of proportional representation and preferential voting in which each ballot helps to elect at most one candidate, that allows minority interests to be represented. After all the (paper) ballots had been counted, recounted, shuffled, and reshuffled, I ended up winning a seat with less than 7.2% of the votes cast. Six of the winners held more than 60% of the votes cast, and the remainder of the vote was distributed among the three other winners and exhausted ballots, ballots that did not help to elect any candidate.
I ran as a one-issue candidate and intend to make that issue the focus of my term in office. My issue was liberty as it relates to education. In New York State, parents can gain consider- able freedom in connection with their childrens education by invoking a little-known provision of the 1998 Charter School legislation that allows an existing public school to escape from the oppression of its central board of education and be run by parents and teachers as a conversion charter school. Charter schools are public schools that are free of all state and local regulations except health, safety, and civil rights. They have no captive customers as ordinary public schools do; their custo- mers must all ask to be there. Charter schools are funded from the public trough according to how many students they attract.
New York was approximately the 35th state to enact charter-school legislation. Minnesota was first, in 1991. There is already substantial evidence that giving parents and teachers freedom to innovate and compete leads to dramatically improved results, especially in the kinds of failing schools for which conversion was envisioned.
Among bloated, obsolescent, and useless bureaucracies, New York Citys Board of Education stands out as a particularly egregious example. Out of this years budget of $10 billion, only $4 billion will be used in instruction. The central board will manage to make $6 billion (more than the Gross Domestic Product of most nations) disappear. Worse, the central board is a detriment to education in that it mandates uniformity among the Citys schools in a way that is entirely unsuitable in a population as heterogeneous as New Yorks.
During the campaign, some of my hard-line collectivist reactionary opponents found the idea of increased liberty, no matter how slight, absurd. One thought it couldnt work; another was appalled at the idea that some people might benefit more from increased liberty than others would; and a third thought that increasing liberty was running away from the problem. There are, after all, still three strongholds of collectivism in the world: China, Cuba, and New York City. And even China is beginning to see the light. Sometimes running away from a problem is the best solution, as escapees from the Soviet Union found.
Part of my educational effort during the campaign was to explicate to my audiences and opponents some of the features of the free market of which they were apparently unaware: first, if a charter school did not attract customers it would lose funding, and second, the competition provided by the charter school would force other schools to improve or risk losing customers. Charter schools are still government schools whose students must meet state competency standards, but the market forces that are thus brought to bear in the education industry are a step in the right direction.
New Yorks charterschool legislation allows for the conversion of existing public schools one by one. After all schools are converted, the Board of Education can melt away, as can the school boards, and we can all go home and spend more time with our families.
Mr. Popkin was the Libertarian candidate for US Congress in 1994 (11th district).
You Are A ### - ## - ####
by Matt Z. Siegel
I was already well-informed about the misuse of Social Security Numbers when an application to renew my Drivers License showed up in the mail. So, I knew what would happen when I sent the application back to the DMV with a refusal to disclose my SS#. A couple of weeks later, I received a response indica- ting the DMV would not renew my license unless I handed over that number.
Any logical person knows that possessing a SS# has no bearing on your ability to drive a car. Supposedly, the reason the DMV wants this number is to track divorced parents who are delinquent in their child-support payments, which also has nothing to do with driving a car.
If a government agency honestly wanted to track delinquent parents, and nothing else, it would create a database of couples who were married, or better yet, couples who were divorced. And if it really didnt want to pry, it would only track couples who were divorced with children. This is not whats happening, and the implementation is equally dishonest. A detailed account, written by Bonnie Scott, of how this law came into being and how it is administered, is posted on our website: http://ny.lp.org.
I immediately knew Id be fighting this in court, I just had no idea how. So, I figured a good way to begin a lawsuit is to exhaust every possible option available before getting a lawyer and filing papers.
So, I sent a 12-page letter to the DMV explaining my position, and containing legal arguments. While I was compiling this letter, mostly from internet sources, I realized just how many people are fighting this abuse of power. Most of them share the view that this is the thin end of the wedge, and has to be stopped. Also, there is much more to this than is evident on the surface. This initiative is being backed by organizations that have nothing at all to do with child support, the DMV, or the NHTSA.
Initially this sounded like conspiracy theory to me until I got back a reply from the DMV, stating that I would have to deal with their legal department, as well as my original 12-page letter WITH MY SIGNATURE CUT OUT OF THE PAGE. Anyone I spoke to about this agreed that the only reason to physically remove paper containing my signature would be to perform a handwriting analysis. A simple xerox copy doesnt provide information about how much pressure I place on the pen when I write.
It was at this point that Libertarian attorney, Dan Conti, came into the picture, and by the time you read this, an Article 78 should be filed in NYS Supreme Court. (An Article 78 is a formal request for an answer from the state.) I have been dealing with the Legal Bureau of the NYS DMV, which cannot cite the law that empowers it to collect SS#s, but continues to do so anyway.
My lawsuit is based on the Privacy Act of 1974, which states that any agency specifically empowered to collect SS#s has to inform citizens whether collection is voluntary or not, and speci- fically what federal statute authorizes the agency to collect SS#s. The NYS DMV has failed to comply with these regula- tions. It is also in violation of the privacy protections and discrimination prohibitions of the Social Security Administration itself.
Its pretty well known that if someone, particularly the govern- ment, wants to know what my SS# is, they can find out. So, why not just give them the number? Because this is not about child support, or driving a car, this is about tracking all Americans and information pertaining to them. I refuse to be part of the generation that allows this to happen.
Im eight months into this process, and my refusal to disclose a simple number has drastically changed my life. Last year, my family and I had to explain to my ninety year-old grandpa that it would be a good idea for him to stop driving because we felt he was becoming a threat to others. He didnt like the idea, but part of the deal was that Id be able to drive him around when needed.
Im the only member of my family that lives in New York. And now, for different reasons, my grandfather and I both find ourselves effectively grounded. Him because of his age, and me because of my National Identification Number.
Suffolk County Leads the Way
Once again Suffolk County is demonstrating that it is New Yorks strongest and most active chapter. It has assembled a slate of eight candidates and has filed petitions to obtain a place on the November ballot.
Unfortunately, it was necessary to hire paid petitioners to collect enough signatures. Hiring petitioners eats up scarce funds that could have been used to spread the candidates views.
They are looking for volunteers to help with the campaigns. If you would like to help, contact Bruce Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (516)924-8680.
The candidates and their targeted offices are:
Bruce Martin Candidate for Suffolk County Legislature, 3rd LD
Jim Fuller Candidate for Suffolk County Legislature, 4th LD
Audrey M. Pappaeliou Candidate for Brookhaven Town Supervisor
Gary C. Heine Candidate for Brookhaven Town Superintendent of Highways
Philip W. Clark Candidate for Brookhaven Town Receiver of Taxes
Thomas A. Fordham, Jr. Candidate for Town Council, Town of Brookhaven
Amy E. Fuller Candidate for Town Council, Town of Brookhaven
Michael E. Walter Candidate for Town Council, Town of Brookhaven
Operation Politically Homeless
- PrideFest 99
Nobody was in the closet at the 1999 Pride Parade, except those with Libertarian leanings. Well, we managed to out a few potential members, and obtained about seventy names of people who fell in the Libertarian quadrant of the Nolan Chart.
Of the people we quizzed, we saw an interesting pattern emerge. Most of those who were Libertarian did not, or would not give us their contact information. Those who were Liberals, or Authoritarians gave up all their personal contact info without being asked, as if it was somehow required.
During the day we distributed over one thousand Lesbians & Gays For Liberty flyers. A woman told me she had proof that the Libertarian Party is really a front for ultra-right conservatives to push their agenda on the people of this country. We met a conspiracy theorist who said Hillary Clintons entire campaign for Senate is a plot to ensure victory for Giuliani. And some guy thought that Blay Tarnoff was the sensitive type.
Next year, in addition to bringing more bottled water, well be out there with literature that is better tailored to the event. Were currently working on a revised Nolan Chart, ordering more of the literature that proved to be popular, and printing everything we can on pink paper.
Outing Libertarians, particularly in the gay community, requires that we talk to people about the issues that they are already Libertarian on. This gets them on the bandwagon, and the rest of the philosophy may (or may not) come later.
Disagreement and debate is sometimes what holds us back, but it is the people who are drawn to that kind of environment which make us the most intelligent and diverse political party out there. And if youre looking for intelligent and diverse people, youll definitely find them at the Pride Parade in 2000.
Hope you can join us.
Albany Gun Show
The Albany Gun Show at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center was the site of an OPH booth on June 19th and 20th.
The Worlds Smallest Political Quiz was taken by 343 atten- dees. While there were many Centrists and Conservatives (and even a few Authoritarians), 159 of the quiz-takers (46%) scored in the Libertarian quadrant. Of these, 51 people left their names and addresses so they could receive more information about the LP and libertarianism.
The volunteers manning the booth were: Leo Smith, Herb Hemmings, and Dave Hopwood (all from the Capital District), Scott Campbell (Cortland), and Jim Harris (Nassau).
LPNY Committee Meeting Minutes - June
New York Libertarian Party State Committee Minutes: June 5, 1999 Sloatsburg, NY Present: Dave Harnett, Brad Arter, Blay Tarnoff, Caryn Cohen, Don Silberger, Audrey Capozzi, Bonnie Scott, Jim Strawhorn (representing Queens), Jeff Doty (non-voting), Bill McMillen (representing Albany)
Secretarys Report: The minutes of the April 25 meeting were approved.
Treasurers Report: We have $6,000 in our account. We owe Jim Harris $7,400. Over the past year, we made $46,127 in payments and had $33,927 in deposits. We agreed that the new check signers will be Audrey Capozzi, Blay Tarnoff, John Clifton, and Dave Harnett.
We will reimburse the following people:
Jim Harris: $2,000 - for May and June payments on his loan to the Party. Jeff Russell: $1,250 - for newsletter Blay Tarnoff: $300 - for payment to a petitioner
After these payments are made, we will have approximately $3,000 in the Account, not including the amounts in reserve. We also need to pay for the web site, which costs $600 per year. The State Committee approved $100 for an OPH booth plus one-half of the hotel fees for Scott Campbell, an activist from Cortland, who will be holding an OPH booth at a gun show in Albany. The Committee also approved $46 for Audrey Capozzi for reimbursement for the new PO Box. Bonnie Scott moved that the Chair can authorize spending on individual items for party business up to $200, a maximum of five times, between meetings. The motion was
seconded by John Clifton and approved unanimously.
Convention Report: The Convention made around $2,800 for the LPNY. Eighty people registered. There were around forty people present at the meals.
Budget: The LPNY will garner around $9,000 until the end of this year. Two newsletters will cost $2,800 and Jim Harris will be paid $5,400.
Newsletter: The Committee discussed acquiring a bulk mail permit for $125. Jeff Doty will investigate the pros and cons of this option. Jeff will call Blay, who has some information about this. Jeff will also investigate costs of sending the newsletter to a printer. Six issues of the newsletter cost around $7,500 per year. The Committee discussed developing a response form to
gather opinions about the newsletter and to give people the option to opt out and get the newsletter on e-mail.
Bonnie Scott volunteered to design this form. Dave Harnett suggested we go to a quarterly paper. Jeff Doty indicated that he is willing to do the newsletter at cost rather than make a $200 profit as Jeff Russell did. Jeff also outlined some of his ideas for the newsletter, including a campaign information column which would include contacts and ongoing activities, the minutes of the State Committee meetings, and the upcoming calendar.
The State Committee officially approved Jeff Doty as the newsletter editor. Don Silberger moved to reduce the frequency of the newsletter to four times per year. Bonnie Scott seconded the motion, which passed with one opposed.
Candidates: Dave Harnett sent a letter to 485 people in upstate New York on May 19 to solicit money and candidates. The letter raised $400. There were around twenty responses. There were several potential candidates as a result, including Scott Hurst of Binghamton, Nathan Horwitz of Albany, Frank Coradino of Rome, and Anthony Futia of North Castle. There is $1,250 in the election fund, which includes $500 from Don Silbergers treasury and other donations. Bill McMillen volunteered to meet with potential candidates in August.
By-Laws Proposal: Jim Strawhorn moved to table the proposal until the next convention. He withdrew this motion when the Committee agreed that the proposal had already been tabled by the Convention delegates.
Success 99 Workshop: The National Party has asked our opinion regarding when and where the workshop should be held. Dave Harnett will ask Steve Dasbach to postpone the workshop until next year.
Petitioning in 2000: The Committee discussed the recent letter from National suggesting that we may be able to collect enough signatures for the presidential candidate without their help. Dave Harnett will write a letter to clarify this issue.
Publications Committee: Audrey Capozzi, John Clifton, and Jim Harris would like examples of campaign literature sent to the PO Box. Bonnie volunteered to help.
Web Information: Bonnie described the Page Talk option which provides free phone/voice updates on the website. To hear
the information, click the icon on the website. Bonnie also provided information about e-mail for the press and campaign contacts, as well as a phone number for the press or activists. For more information about these items, please contact Bonnie.
Miscellaneous: Dave Harnett asked Bill for a copy of the Platform. Bill has a copy from 1985. Copies will be mailed to members. There will be some city electoral positions open in 2001.
Matt Siegel is working on forming a Brooklyn chapter.
Blay Tarnoff and Brad Arter will be working on a Manhattan chapter.
Dave suggested moving the state convention to November.
The meeting adjourned at 2:45 PM.