Sunday, April 30, 2006

Justice Requires Immigrant Voting Rights

Ron Hayduk, the author of "Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States" (2006), and co-director of the Immigrant Voting Project explains the reasons for allowing immigrant voting on Alternet. Here are a few excerpts:

"Although it's not widely known, noncitizen voting is as old as the Republic itself and as American as apple pie and baseball. Noncitizens voted from 1776 until 1926 in forty states and federal territories in local, state and even federal elections. Noncitizens also held public office. In a country where "no taxation without representation" was a rallying cry for revolution, such a proposition was not far-fetched. It was common sense that government should rest on the consent of the governed. The idea that noncitizens should have the vote is older, was practiced longer, and is more consistent with democratic ideals than the idea that they should not."

"Discriminatory public policy and private practices -- in employment, housing, education, healthcare, welfare and criminal justice -- are the inevitable by-products of immigrant political exclusion, not to mention racial profiling, xenophobic hate crimes and arbitrary detention and deportation. Non-citizens suffer social and economic inequities, in part because policy-makers can ignore their interests. Denying immigrants local voting rights makes government officials less accountable and undermines the legitimacy of public policies. Immigrant voting rights would help reverse inequities and make the American political system more democratic. Most immigrants want to become U.S. citizens, but the naturalization process can take eight to ten years. That's more than the cycle for two-term mayors, governors and state and local representatives. Moreover, not all immigrants are eligible to become U.S. citizens, unlike earlier times when nearly every immigrant could naturalize.

"Advocates of noncitizen voting support opening up the naturalization process and creating new pathways to citizenship. Noncitizen voting would facilitate civic education and participation and better prepare incipient Americans for eventual citizenship. This burgeoning movement to create a truly universal suffrage calls forth America's past and future as an immigrant nation.

"The right to vote ensures that American democracy is inclusive and fair. Extending the right to vote to noncitizens would help keep government representative, responsive and accountable to all. It would not only restore a tried and true American practice but would also update our democracy for these global times. The immigrant rights movement is today's civil rights movement and noncitizen voting is the suffrage movement of our time."

Immigrant Rights Rally in Ithaca, May 1

I will be attending the Immigrant Rights Rally in Ithaca tomorrow and hope to speak. From the press release:

On May 1st, 2006, a broad coalition of 42 immigrant, community, labor, and student groups will join together, in coordination with millions around the nation, for a rally on The Commons (Bernie Milton Pavilion) in Ithaca to declare that “no human is illegal”. Students from Cornell University and Ithaca College will be marching from their respective campuses to join with the rally at approximately 12:15.

Some current immigration proposals in Congress threaten to criminalize millions of immigrants. We recognize that all immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. society and economy, and continue to be an important force. Latino Civic Association President, Carlos Gutierrez says, "The Tompkins County immigrant population, both documented and undocumented, fill key roles in our local economy, enrich the local cultural landscape, and they are productive members of our community who pay taxes, raise families, and contribute to our schools, churches, neighborhoods, and communities."

The United States has always been, and will always be, a nation of immigrants who have traveled from around the world to seek a better life. “As the debate around immigrants goes forward in our Federal government, we believe that any reform of the system must involve a path to citizenship for hardworking immigrants, as well as reunification of families and a safe and orderly process for enabling willing immigrant workers to fill essential jobs in our economy and ensure full labor rights”, says Larry Shinagawa of the Ithaca Asian American Association.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Remarks on Eminent Domain Abuse

My remarks at the eminent domain rally in Albany today:

I welcome this opportunity to speak to you on an issue of common concern to Libertarians and Greens--the use of eminent domain for the benefit of private developers.

This is a fitting location for our topic. Not only are we here on the steps of New York's capitol, behind us is Empire State Plaza, which is often described as one of the most ambitious urban renewal projects in America. In the late sixties and early seventies, thousands of low income homes and small businesses were destroyed, 98 acres of historic downtown Albany destroyed to make room for these empty stretches of concrete.

After many years of authorizing eminent domain for so-called urban renewal projects undertaken by governmental agencies, on June 23rd of last year the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Kelo vs. the City of New London, Connecticut allowing a city to use eminent domain for the benefit of private developers based upon the promise of increased tax revenue to the city.

Exactly two months after the Kelo decision was issued, on August 23, 2005, a huge hurricane formed in the Atlantic. The hurricane came ashore in southeastern Louisiana on August 29 and created devastation all along the coast. The city of New Orleans is now facing urban renewal on a far vaster scale than Empire State Plaza.

Who is going to make the decisions about how New Orleans is rebuilt——the hundreds of thousands of small homeowners, who were evacuated from the city, many of whom do not have enough money to return, most of whom were black——or private developers?

What we are facing here is legalized theft. It is theft from the poor for the rich. Working class and low income homeowners are the primary targets of almost all development schemes. Justice Thomas noted in his dissent to the Kelo decision that the decision encourages victimization of the weak. Justice Thomas further noted that urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; and that in cities across the country, urban renewal was known as ‘Negro removal'.

Greens in New York have been fighting predatory development plans in which residents and small businesses in minority neighborhoods face mass removal under these new strengthened powers of eminent domain. In Brooklyn, the Park Slope Greens are working with other local activists in the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Coalition to head off an attempt by billionaire developer Bruce Ratner to seize homes and businesses in Fort Greene and Prospect Heights.

We need legislation that would require local referendums before eminent domain can be used. We need democratic decision making by the communities that will be affected by the development. Senate Bill 5938 currently pending in the New York Senate would require eminent domain decisions to be subject to approval by a vote of an elected legislative body, but we need to go further than that. We need to allow the residents of the community to make the decision. We need to require a referendum of the voters in the legislative district.

The Kelo decision shows that liberals are as likely as conservatives to side with wealthy and corporate interests. Republican and Democratic officials — including many liberal and progressive Democrats — accept huge gifts from real estate interests that want to clear out neighborhoods for new development. Greens refuse all corporate contributions.

We in the Green Party look forward to working with Libertarian Party members and candidates to protect the rights of ordinary people. We need to form a new spectrum of parties dedicated to protecting the rights of ordinary people and the health of the environment against the parties dedicated to protecting corporate power.

I would like to leave the last word to Jane Jacobs, who died earlier this week. Jacobs worked in New York City to stop the urban renewal projects that threatened Greenwich Village. She strenuously objected to bulldozing low-rise housing in poor neighborhoods and building tall apartment buildings surrounded by open space to replace them.

"There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder," Jacobs wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, "and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Two Rallies in Albany

I will speak at two rallies tomorrow in Albany: an Eminent Domain Abuse Rally starting at 12 noon on the steps of the New York State Capitol and a Peace Rally starting at 4 PM at Townsend Park.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coverage in Elmira Star-Gazette

Thanks to the Elmira Star-Gazette for quoting the heart of my statement about voting rights and why I am running.

Hammondsport woman announces bid for attorney general
April 20, 2006

ROCHESTER — Rachel Treichler, 54, a Hammondsport lawyer, formally announced her candidacy for the Green Party nomination for attorney general Wednesday in Susan B. Anthony Park in Rochester.

“I am running for attorney general to address the ways our laws allow the short-term economic interests of a few to override the long-term life, liberty and happiness of all,” Treichler said.

Treichler, who practiced law with two large New York City law firms for eight years, and then ran an environmental book store in Brooklyn, now has a part-time law practice in Hammondsport. She sells environmental books online at

She ran as the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 29th Congressional District in 2002.

Treichler could face Elmira native and former Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro, who is running as a Republican, and face one of six Democrats — who are seeking their party's nomination.

“I am announcing my candidacy at this historic location,” Treichler said in a prepared statement, “to draw attention to the voting rights issues still faced by the people of this state.”

She said some Americans face major impediments in exercising their right to vote.

“What does it mean when many people can't vote, when we don't have candidates representing our views on the ballot, when candidates with money are allowed to dominate the forums of debate, when election districts are gerrymandered to favor incumbents, and when we have a winner take all voting system?” Treichler said.

“It means that important issues are never debated — that crucial decisions are made without input from and contrary to the interests of the majority of the people in this country,” she said. “We need elected officials who are not beholden to the two major parties and the interests they represent. We need to make sure that our rights to vote and our rights to free and fair elections are protected.”

For more information about her campaign, visit her Web site,

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Candidate for NY Attorney General Addresses Voting Rights

Rachel Treichler, 54, an attorney from Hammondsport, formally announced her candidacy for the Green Party nomination for Attorney General of New York this morning in front of the Susan B. Anthony House on Madison St. in Rochester. The statewide nominees of the Green Party will be chosen at a nominating convention in Albany on May 20, 2006.

"This is the house where Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872, where she served as founder and president of the National Women's Suffrage Association, and where she died 100 years ago last month without having seen women obtain the right to vote. That right was not granted to women in New York until 1917, and was not granted throughout the United States until the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920.

"I am announcing my candidacy at this historic location," Treichler said, "to draw attention to the voting rights issues still faced by the people of this state. Although our country made great strides during the past century enfranchising classes of citizens who formerly were denied the right to vote, such as women, blacks, native Americans, poor people and young people, numerous barriers to voting limit our franchise.

"There are six major barriers we face today in exercising our rights to vote.

"First are barriers to actually voting through voter ID requirements, not allowing same day voter registration, having election day be a work day, citizenship requirements, and prohibitions on felons voting. All these impediments should be removed and all residents of our state should have a say in electing the lawmakers of our state.

"Second are techniques and devices used to keep our votes from being counted after they have been cast. We need to use hand counted paper ballots like they do in Canada. This is the safest method of counting votes, and the cheapest!

"Third, restrictive ballot access laws reduce the number of candidates allowed on the ballot. Voters have fewer candidates to choose among for almost all public offices today than voters did a hundred years ago. We need to remove these restrictions and give voters more choices.

"Fourth, money is allowed to dominate the forums of debate, so that the vast majority of the voices people hear speaking on issues are the voices of money. We don't have free and fair elections if voters don't get to hear the voices of candidates without money. We need public forums where all candidates have equal opportunities to speak.

"Fifth, we have the gerrymandering of election districts to favor individual candidates of the two major parties. Multi-candidate districts with proportional voting would reduce the significance of individual districts and allow more segments our society to be represented in our governmental bodies.

"Finally, we need to switch to methods of voting like instant run-off voting that allow everyone's choices to be counted.

"What does it mean when many people can't vote, when we don't have candidates representing our views on the ballot, when candidates with money are allowed to dominate the forums of debate, when election districts are gerrymandered to favor incumbents, and when we have a winner take all voting system?

"It means that important issues are never debated—that crucial decisions are made without input from and contrary to the interests of the majority of the people in this state. We need elected officials who are not beholden to the two major parties and the interests they represent. We need to make sure that our rights to vote and our rights to free and fair elections are protected."

Treichler, who practiced law with two large New York City law firms for eight years, and then ran an environmental book store in Brooklyn, now has a part-time law practice in Hammondsport and sells environmental books online at She ran as the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 29th Congressional District in 2002.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Candidacy Announced Tomorrow

I will be announcing my candidacy for the Green Party nomination for attorney general of New York tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19, 2006, at 10:30 am in Susan B. Anthony Park on Madison St. in Rochester. The statewide nominees of the Green Party will be chosen at a nominating convention in Albany on May 20, 2006. I will speak briefly about the voting rights issues we face today, and call for giving immigrants (resident aliens) the right to vote. For more information about my campaign, visit my website,

Hand Counted Paper Ballots in 2008

I have long-supported hand counted paper ballots and will be speaking in support of them in my press conference tomorrow, so am delighted to see the excellent article Hand Counted Paper Ballots in 2008 by Sheila Parks now on Tikkun's Magazine's website. As Parks says, "HCPB are an alternative to the current widespread and increasing use of electronic voting machines. An HCPB system of voting has the following major advantages over electronic voting machines: (1) Counting of ballots is publicly done, observed and filmed by everyday citizens who are registered voters in the precinct where the counting takes place. (2) Security safeguards are much more easily built in to protect against tampering. (3) The cost is far less. " She reports that, "There have been two recent efforts to promote an HCPB system in the United States, and a third will take place later in 2006. In 2004, voting rights activists Sharona Merel, Kaen Renick, Ellen Theisen, and Kathleen Wynne proposed federal legislation for federal offices. In 2005, four voting rights activists (this writer and three members of CASE Ohio – John Burik, Phil Fry, and Dorri Steinhoff) began work on a protocol for HCPB. Some of this writing has been modified and is included in this paper in the specifics for HCPB. In November 2006, voting rights activist Joanne Karasak plans to promote a state constitutional amendment for HCPB in Ohio. " The full article is well worth your time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The New Politics of Voter Suppression

Came across publicity for an excellent new book this morning while I was researching voter rights. The book is Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression
by Spencer Overton. The book is being published by W.W. Norton and will be available in June. Prof. Overton's website describes the book as follows:

"While politicians spew shallow sound bites that describe a 'free' American people who govern themselves by selecting their representatives, in reality politicians from both parties maintain control by selecting particular voters. Incumbent politicians maintain thousands of election practices and bureaucratic hurdles that determine who votes and how votes are counted--such as the location of election district boundaries, long lines at urban polling places, and English-only ballots. Spencer Overton uses real-life stories to show how these seemingly insignificant practices channel political power and determine policies on war, schools, clean air, and other issues that shape our lives. He also exposes the pressure points in this Orwellian system and provides strategies toward restoring self-government, such as making voting easier for all Americans, removing redistricting power from self-interested partisans, and renewing parts of the Voting Rights Act that expire in 2007. Overton's insights are vital to the future of our democracy."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Democracy School April 28-30, Binghamton

When Corporations Wield Constitutional Rights to Deny People's Rights... Democratic Self-Governance is Impossible

Some of you have heard me speak about Democracy School. We have a wonderful opportunity in Binghamton at the end of this month to learn from the two founders of Democracy School--Thomas Linzey and Richard Grossman. This is the only school this year at which both are presenting!

Democracy School April 28-30, Binghamton
Dates: Friday to Sunday,April 28-30, 2006
Place: The Spiritual Center, Windsor, NY
Cost: Commuting: $225, Live In: $300

Many say Democracy School is a life changing experience. If you can't make Binghampton, there are five other schools in New York this year. Click here for the schedule.

Green Party Campaign School April 22-23, New Paltz

I will be attending what looks like a great weekend organized by the New Paltz Green Party for volunteers and candidates. Anyone interested in traveling together from our area, let me know.

Village Hall, 25 Plattekill Ave, New Paltz, NY 12561
April 22-23, 2006

They will have national and state campaign and election
specialists teaching us how to plan and manage campaigns,
how to fundraise and keep proper account of the campaign
contributions and budget for successful campaigns. There
will be workshops for those potential candidates who would
like to or are interested in running for elected office.
We will be introduced to new campaign internet and database technologies which will help us be more efficient and effective.

The school will train campaign volunteers and leaders to increase their effectiveness in voter registration, get out the vote efforts and overall campaign management and help develop an infrastructure for Green candidates to win more elections.

The school will offer workshops on campaign management, treasury and finance, public speaking and speech writing, internet and campaign technologies, and canvassing.

Costs: The two day campaign training is free to attend,
however we will be asking for donations for the food which
will be available throughout the weekend. One day of
training is possible but we highly encourage planning to
attend for the two days if at all possible.

Space is limited so send your registration request as soon as possible to: Margaret Human at mlcufbtswihe at yahoo dot com or call it in to Edgar Rodriguez at (845) 255-9652.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Two-Party Oligarchy

Excellent article today on by Ivan Eland, Wanted: A Freer Market in U.S. Politics. He says:

"Although globalization has opened markets around the world, the U.S. political system remains closed to true competition. Curiously, Americans are equally proud that they have one of the freest and most vibrant economies in the world and a two-party oligarchy that restricts competition among political parties. If greater competition is better in economics, why not in politics?

"Although no specific constitutional or legal requirement limits the number of major political parties, the United States has had only two dominant parties throughout most of its history because of the way the Constitution is written. The “winner take all” nature of the political system provides powerful disincentives for two stodgy, fairly broad political parties to break up into smaller, more competitive parties that would actually stand for something. Direct election of the president by the people, the presidential electoral college, and representation in Congress based on geographical areas all mean that only one person can win each election—giving political groups incentives to maximize their strength by hanging together in two disparate coalitions.

"In contrast, a parliamentary system—in which parties earn the number of seats they have in parliament based on their percentage of the vote (proportional representation) and choose a prime minister based upon a party leader’s ability to form a coalition of parties that commands a majority in the legislature—is more competitive. Governing coalitions formed after a rough and tumble election campaign that give voters a wider choice among multiple parties are much different from the electoral coalitions of the two-party system, which cause political groupings to mute their differences in an attempt to allow their coalition to win. Some decry the instability of multiple party systems, but it isn’t easy living free. “Freedom” is just a politician’s fancy word for choice, and multiple party systems offer greater choice and less behind-the-scenes collusion between the parties. In a multi-party system, the collusion among the parties occurs only after the voters have spoken—not before—and is out in the open."

A Response to Scott Ritter

Much as I admire Scott Ritter's work to end the war in Iraq, I could not disagree more with his recent post, The Art of War for the anti-war movement . It sure goes to show that you can take the man out of the army, but you can't take the army out of the man.

As an active Green Party member and student of nonviolence, I question many of his assertions and premises. It does not dilute the anti-war message to tie it to other messages--it IS tied to other messages. The centralized, hierarchical approach to planning is what the global war machine is all about. It will not work to oppose it with a centralized, hierarchical approach.

It will not work because a centralized, hierarchical structure is the core of the system we are opposing. It is the structure that put us into war. It is the philosophical antithesis of what we are working for. As a practical strategy, it would be the easiest type of structure to co-opt. All that needs to be done is to corrupt the people at the top of the hierarchy. This has happened to alternative movements in the past that were organized hierarchically.

In his book The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp says, "Nonviolent action tends to turn the opponent's violence and repression against his own power position, weakening it and at the same time strengthening the nonviolent group. Because violent action and nonviolent action possess quite different mechanisms, and induce differing forces of change in the society, the opponent's repression. . . can never really come to grips with the kind of power wielded by the nonviolent actionists." ( Part II. Pp. 111-113). Sharp compares this approach to the martial art of jiu-jitsu--in which the violent party loses its balance when confronted with nonviolent opposition.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

First Meeting of Alfred Campus Greens

We had a beaufiful warm, sunny day for the organizational meeting of the Alfred Chapter of the Campus Greens this afternoon at Pollywood Holler in Belmont. The meeting was organized by Krista Carlson, a graduate student at Alfred University. Six students attended, one from Alfred State, along with faculty advisor Bill Carlson, Dave Fagan from the Allegany Greens and myself. The students planned a public meeting at the Terra Cotta coffee house in Alfred on Thursday, April 6 at 7:00 pm.