I can’t vote for Trump

I think of myself as a pro-freedom Republican. This means I seek to expand freedom and liberty in forming public policy positions. I support capitalism and wish to advance free markets and free trade; lower taxes, controlled government spending and reformed tax code that roots out corporate welfare; strong national defense and support of our military; protection of the personal liberties enshrined in the Constitution (in particular the First Amendment which is under assault); people living their lives free from discrimination; immigration reform that provides a path to legality or citizenship; healthy environment with clean air and clean water; and protection of private property rights (including opposing eminent domain abuse). I’m concerned about our privacy rights being trampled by government security efforts. Bernie Sanders is correct that the system is rigged for elites, but he’s incorrect on the cause – it’s the massive growth of the federal and some state governments (like New York) that lead to policies that greatly favor wealthy and powerful elites.

Because of these views, I cannot vote for Donald Trump in the primary or general election. On top of being rude and vulgar, Trump is wrong on immigration, civil rights, civil liberties, trade, economics, foreign policy, entitlement reform and other issues. His mean and dumb comments about people I respect like John McCain and Megyn Kelly are way beyond the acceptable give and take by candidates in campaigns.

To explain further, I will rely on the paragraph below (with excellent links) from a recent post on The Volokh Conspiracy blog by Ilya Somin entitled “Time to Unite Against Trump.”

“I will only highlight a few of The Donald’s lowlights. Trump openly advocates massacring innocent civilians. He wants to use bogus lawsuits and FCC censorship to suppress the speech of his critics, and recently pined for the “old days” when his supporters would have been allowed to beat protesters to the point where they have to [be] “carried out on a stretcher.” He has lobbied for the government to condemn a widow’s home so he could use it to build a casino parking lot. He has utter contempt for constitutional property rights, and other constitutional limitations on government power. He wants to deport millions of people to lives of Third World poverty and oppression, including hundreds of thousands of children born in the United States, who have never known any other home. And he would engage in massive discrimination on the basis of religion.”

The polls show I’m not alone, as a significant percent of Republicans will not vote for Trump in the general election. Because of Trump’s professed views and bullying personality, I can’t be part of helping him obtain the powers of the presidency – it’s a frightening proposition. I will be watching closely over the next few months to see if my fellow Republicans are wise enough to select a better candidate than Donald Trump (while watching Trump nemesis Megyn Kelly each night on Fox News).

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

Cruz Robocall Reaches New Low

confed flagThere’s been shameful moments for candidates from both parties in the presidential campaign, but Thursday night’s Ted Cruz robocall attacking Donald Trump & Gov. Nikki Haley for taking down the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina is a disgrace. We can expect that Cruz campaign hacks will say they can’t control their friendly Super PACs, but that’s hard to believe. This incident proves that Cruz is not president material. Let’s be clear – South Carolina elected officials debated this sensitive issue and decided to take down the flag in a democratic and legislative manner. The issue is resolved. With Cruz making it an issue again, it just proves once again how divisive and extremist he truly is. The Cruz campaign is now manipulating the racial aspects of this issue and should be ashamed. See link on more about robocall.  http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/pro-cruz-robocall-attacks-trump-over-south-carolina-confederate-flag-n522131

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

Hypocrisy & Supreme Court Nominations

Hypocrisy is unattractive in politics. There’s certainly an argument to be made that the US Senate should review and vote on who the president nominates for Supreme Court this year, but that argument cannot be credibly made by President Obama and Senator Schumer, who are both all over the news doing exactly that. Based on their prior actions, they are both hypocrites. Obama was part of a filibuster against Justice Alito nomination in 2006, and here’s what Schumer said in 2007 – at the end of Bush Presidency:
“Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least: I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee.”
 
Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

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It’s Election Day – Please Vote – Let Your Voice Be Heard!

ballotboxI’m always shocked at how few voters show up at the polls on Election Day in odd years. In today’s elections here in New York, it’s doubtful whether 30% of the registered voters will turnout. In my county, we’ll be electing county legislators and elected officials for cities, towns and villages. We’re electing the representatives who are closest to the people. They will decide important matters like annual budgets, tax increases, zoning, economic development and services like road repairs, garbage pickup and leaf removal. These local officials regularly make real decisions that affect our everyday lives, but sadly, a large majority of voters just don’t seem to care. And on top of the low voting rate, there will be many voters today that have not studied the candidates and are not informed about the issues they are debating, so they will just vote the party line. There are places in my county where only one party has won every election for every position for decades (usually the Democrats). If we don’t all play an active and informed role in picking our leaders, we will have governments that are less responsive to our needs and hopes for what our communities can and should be.

We started this blog with the hope of increasing voter information through nonpartisan posts about the issues. While we hoped to post more regularly, we’re pleased about our “hits” and more than 4,000 Twitter followers (Link: https://twitter.com/FreeVoterBlog). We recognize that our little blog cannot fix the voting problems discussed above, but we’re going to keep trying.

Most importantly, please vote today, and beginning tomorrow, try to become more informed about the issues being debated in our local, county, state and federal governments. Our communities will be better served by a genuine participatory democracy.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator)

Do both political parties have a libertarian streak?

I enjoyed this post on Reason.com by Nick Gillespie:

https://reason.com/blog/2015/10/13/the-demdebate-clarified-that-many-libert

LibertariansGillespie points out how the Democrat candidates for president agreed on several issues that could be deemed libertarian: “When it came to endless wars and constant buildup of defense spending, for instance, or the need to end awful criminal-justice policies, or to be more humane and welcoming to immigrants.” He contrasted these positions with the Republican candidates, which are very weak from a libertarian perspective.

However, Gillespie still cannot bring himself to vote for any of the Democrats because the “economic plans of everyone up there tonight ranged from terrible to truly awful.” He discusses how the Republicans were more libertarian on economic issues.

Gillespie is pleased that “each party is espousing an increasing number of positions that fit within a consistent libertarian approach to the role of government.”

I certainly appreciate Gillespie’s viewpoint and continue to believe that if a libertarian leaning candidate could ever emerge from the Democrat or Republican presidential primaries, he or she would be unbeatable in the general election. However, with the frustrating status quo of American politics being left-wing voters dominating Democrat primaries and right-wing voters dominating Republican primaries, we don’t appear too close to electing a libertarian president any time soon.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

Is Your Kid Graduating College With A Marketable Degree?

Unemployed-College-GradsEarlier this year, I noticed a brief article, Look to Smartphones for Unemployment Solutions, in the New York Post business section, and it has popped back into my mind several times since then, so I thought it should be shared:

http://nypost.com/2015/01/31/look-to-smartphones-for-unemployment-solutions/

The premise of the article is that about half the students graduating college are unemployed, despite the fact that many companies cannot find adequate job candidates with the necessary technical skills for the modern marketplace. I find this remarkable – why don’t young people leaving college have marketable degrees, especially ones that reflect the education necessary to perform available technical jobs? What are these “hot” technical jobs with nice starting salaries? The article cites mobile data engineers, wireless network engineers and mobile app developers for tablets and smartphones. According to the article, 3.5 million technical jobs go unfilled. A tech executive stated that once promising technical candidates are identified, firms “need to hire quickly and be prepared to extend compensations and benefits packages that beat what competing firms are willing to offer.”

It certainly troubles me that kids are graduating with massive debt, in particular from private colleges with huge tuitions, and yet, they leave college with degrees that don’t allow them to qualify for the actual jobs available. Why aren’t colleges training kids properly for real world jobs? What an incredible disconnect between colleges and economic realities. I’m glad my son is only in eighth grade – we have time for research to ensure his major lands him a good job when he graduates college in 2023!

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

Standing Up For The Victims

Stop Rape Now

By Amy Paulin

I wrote an op-ed piece for The Journal News that appeared over the weekend. The piece is about a Westchester resident who was allegedly assaulted at The University of Stony Brook. Here are my thoughts about her experience and the legislation I have proposed to help her and future victims:

It’s been more than 40 years since I was sexually assaulted and the image of my attacker remains with me.

I can still see his face and the details of that horrendous experience are etched in my mind.  I am adult now and logically I know this man can no longer hurt me. Yet the idea of having to face the predator who assaulted me continues to terrify me in ways that most people can never imagine.

So it was as if my heart stopped beating when I saw the headline, “SUNY grad says school made her prosecute her own sex attacker” on the front page of The Journal News.  Sarah Tubbs, a Montrose resident, attended the State University at Stony Brook on Long island. She was allegedly sexually assaulted on campus then required to prosecute the alleged attacker herself at a university disciplinary hearing.  She had initiated a disciplinary action because campus police had advised her that she didn’t have a case.  Sarah is now suing Stony Brook to have its practice of having sexual assault victims “prosecute their own cases and cross-examine and be cross-examined by their assailants” abolished and for damages.

The thought of Sarah having not only to confront her alleged assailant but also to act as both prosecutor and defendant is disconcerting as well as infuriating.  It flies in the face of everything we have learned and know about sexual assault and helping survivors of sexual assault.

Whether Stony Brook has abolished or will abolish this abhorrent practice remains to be seen. The Journal News reported that the university declined to comment on the issue.

I am calling on Stony Brook and every other college and university in New York State to strike down this policy and remove it from their respective student handbooks.  Such a policy has no place in any code of conduct.

Although the State Universities of New York adopted, at Governor Cuomo’s urging, a stricter sexual assault policy last December, Sarah’s alleged attack occurred in January 2014. Sarah wants to make sure the SUNY policy expressly prohibits victims being forced to prosecute their attackers at student disciplinary hearings.

My heart goes out to this young woman and to every other woman or man who has been forced to confront the predator who has forever changed their lives.  We must remember, whether it’s in society or on campus, to protect the one who has been attacked, not just the alleged attacker.

I have introduced legislation (A.5400) that requires college campuses to adopt policies and procedures concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, involving on and off campus students. The policies must include a definition of affirmative consent (note a person cannot consent if incapacitated due to alcohol or drugs), and victim-centered protocols that cover the initial response by the school to a report of an incident and investigating and adjudicating the report. Colleges would also be required to implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual violence and, where feasible, enter into agreements or collaborative partnerships with existing on-campus and community-based organizations, including rape crisis centers, to refer students for assistance or make services available to students.

Stories of sexual assault on college campuses have become all too familiar and the statistics often cited are chilling.  According to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, at least 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career.

The Department of Justice reported in 2007 that 1 in 5 women are targets of attempted or completed sexual assault while they are college students, compared to about 1 in 16 college men.  A 2014 White House Task Force reported that many victims report they are sexually abused while drugged, drunk, passed out, or otherwise incapacitated.

Yet less than five percent of rapes and attempted rapes of college students are reported to campus authorities or law enforcement according to the National Institute of Justice.

Rather than accept these statistics as the norm, we must compel colleges to establish clearer policies and procedures regarding the handling of reports of sexual assault and the treatment of sexual assault victims while safeguarding the rights and privacy of both accused and accuser.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to pursue any action, whether through the courts or through an academic disciplinary process, against the person who has sexually assaulted you.  We, collectively, have an obligation to ensure that when that decision is made, the report of sexual assault is properly investigated, a fair adjudication process is maintained, and the victim is treated with sensitivity and respect.

I was a victim and time, according to some, heals all wounds. Some wounds, though, don’t go away. And if four decades haven’t changed how I feel about confronting my attacker, how must Sarah Tubbs have felt just months removed from her alleged assault.

Amy Paulin is a member of the New York State Assembly.