Love This Op-Ed On What Really Makes The U.S. Great!

Here’s an op-ed I noticed in the New York Post by John Podhoretz with a very important message to Americans – a message too many people fail to understand – but the perfect message during this week we celebrate our independence. This column gives me hope at a time we are forced to watch a negative and embarrassing presidential campaign that troubles millions of Americans – from Democrats to Republicans – as we ask, “Aren’t we better than this?”

Jim Maisano

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator in New York)

It’s not our leaders who make America great

New York Post – July 3, 2016

President Gerald Ford sat aboard the USS Forrestal as the watercraft paraded before him along with more than half a million people.

And everywhere you looked, there was an American flag.

This was no small thing. It is almost unimaginable today, but in 1976 in many quarters, the flag had gone out of fashion except as an ironic fashion statement — something you sewed onto the rear pocket of your jeans, so that it was sat upon.

At my tony Manhattan private school, the bicentennial was celebrated with a day-long symposium titled “The American Dream: Has It Turned Into a Nightmare?”

The country was in a bad mood for good reason. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died in a war that ended with our countrymen scurrying onto helicopters from the roof of the Saigon embassy as the city fell to the Communists.

A president re-elected with 61 percent of the vote was compelled to resign because he and his people tried to bug the rival party’s headquarters.

Crime and inflation were on the rise everywhere. Arab potentates forced us into endless gas lines through an illegal embargo — an act of economic warfare — and we did nothing about it.

New York City, the world’s financial capital, went broke.

America felt like it was in decline because it was in decline. America felt bad about itself because the leading figures of its culture and its politics had lost confidence in the American experiment of its culture and its politics, and there was no one speaking up for it.

But our collective self-abasement in the 1970s did not reflect the deeper truth about the United States, even with the United States at a low ebb. On that day of the tall ships, we saw our country again as it was and is — the shining city on a hill, the last best hope of Earth.

On the cusp of Independence Day 2016, America remains what it has always been — the greatest and most far-reaching political experiment in human history. But as it enters its 241st year, there are few of us who really feel it.

The spirit of the left was captured over the past year by Bernie Sanders, who has almost nothing good to say about the current condition of the United States and claims the country is being destroyed by inequality.

The spirit of the anti-left has been captured by Donald Trump, who claims the country is no longer great and needs him to make it great again. The Republican Party has spent the years of Barack Obama’s presidency characterizing them as a cataclysm from which we may never recover.

In so doing, they followed the Democrats, who spent the Bush years characterizing them as a cataclysm from which we would never recover.

Obama came into office belittling the idea of American “exceptionalism,” but now would wish people thought the country great because he’s led it for the past 7½ years.

Hillary Clinton wants people to think America was great when her husband was president, stopped being great when he stopped being president, got pretty great when her party took over again, but still needs her either to restore Clintonian greatness or reach new greatness or whatever you want just so long as she can be in the White House again.

The point here is that America has been getting it from all sides for the past 15 years. At different times and for different reasons, everyone has had an interest in painting things black.

And it’s an enormous wrong that’s being done here, an offense against the truth.

America is not great because of its leaders, who change, or because of the ideology they espouse, because that changes too as the views of the electorate change. America’s greatness has to do with the way it is organized. The central figure in the United States is the person. The central figure in the United States is you.

In the United States, according to the astounding document that was signed in Philadelphia 240 years ago tomorrow, it is “self evident” that “all men are created equal,” and that they have “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The adjective “unalienable” has tripped up schoolchildren forever, but it is the core word of the United States of America. It means that these are rights that cannot be taken away. They are part of what it means to be human. Efforts to take them away or abuse them are acts of tyranny.

It is impossible to grasp just how radical an idea this was in 1776 — and how radical an idea it is now, in 2016. Indeed, it was so radical in 1776 that it could not be fully implemented, with African-Americans remaining enslaved for another 87 years and women remaining without the franchise until 1920.

And it remains so radical now that we continue to fight political battles daily over efforts by government to abridge our unalienable rights at home, while abroad billions still live without rudimentary versions of the freedoms we enjoy.

Perhaps the most important freedom we enjoy is to practice our faiths. Outside the US, Christians are facing near-systematic elimination in Muslim lands while in China, the world’s largest country, believers of all kinds (Tibetan Buddhists especially) “continue to face arrests, fines, denials of justice, lengthy prison sentences and, in some cases, the closing or bulldozing of places of worship,” according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Because the United States is made up of human beings, and human beings are flawed, it is a flawed country and always has been. But due to another flaw in human nature — our strange desire to concentrate on the negative and avoid counting our blessings — American politics, culture and our education system have come to dwell on the dark side as much today as they did in 1976.

The history we teach our kids is a history of injustices and infamies — without the corresponding understanding that to a degree unknown anywhere in the world, America is self-correcting.

Indeed, self-correction is woven into its DNA. That is why the Constitution itself allows the amending of the constitution — to fix the document’s flaws and extend the nation’s blessings (and obligations) to those denied them at the time of the founding.

The preamble to the US Constitution explains its purpose is to “secure these blessings for ourselves and our posterity.” Since the Constitution is not fixed in amber and can be amended, the act of securing these blessings for ourselves and those who follow us has remained an obligation for every American from that day forward to this.

It’s not just the Constitution. We self-correct every year, through elections at the local, state and national levels that give us the power to change the country’s direction when that direction leads us so terribly astray. In 1976, four months after the tall ships, the country sought to purify its corrupted politics by electing Jimmy Carter, a former Georgia governor untainted by Washington scandals who promised, “I will never lie to you” as president.

When Carter proved to be alternately hapless and feckless in addressing the country’s financial and international ailments, we changed direction again four years later by electing Ronald Reagan, who vowed to attempt radically different cures for our ailments. Within a decade, the US economy had exploded and the Berlin Wall had fallen.

Our freedoms reside within us. That is the message of America. They are a part of us. Indeed, according to the philosophy that created this country, they reside within every living person on Earth.

But exercising our freedoms — now, that’s a different story. We have the precious gift in this country of exercising them pretty much at will. And that means too many of us have come to take them for granted.

We do so in part because we are human, and we are flawed. But we are also seduced into thinking our birthright as Americans is not what it truly is — the most precious gift any group of people has ever enjoyed. We are told that unless we get this, or get that, or get the other thing, the country is failing us.

We are seduced in this way by political and cultural leaders who seek either to harness our anger or generate it to use as a weapon against their rivals.

The luckiest people on Earth are the people who are born Americans, or who become Americans.

That’s what we all instinctively understood, 40 years ago, when we saw the masts of those tall ships sail into the harbor as they passed by Lady Liberty — her lamp lifted, as it has been since she was placed there in 1886, beside the golden door.


I’m Thankful That FIRE Is Fighting To Save Free Speech For College Students!

When I entered SUNY at Buffalo Law School in 1989, I was surprised that some of my professors (not all) deemed it their solemn duty to indoctrinate me and my classmates with a left-wing interpretation of the legal system. It was not difficult to tell the difference between “black letter” Torts law and what was taught in that class. As an older student, I was not intimidated by the professors and pleased that some of the moderate and conservative students did debate the “critical legal studies” professors, but unfortunately, most students either remained quiet or actually enjoyed being indoctrinated by professors. I greatly enjoyed debating the left-wing professors and never allowed them to curtail my First Amendment rights at my public law school (although a few professors and a dean did try). The debates we sparked were beneficial to every student at our law school because college is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, where all views are tested and challenged. We ensured that the views of our fellow students were more thoughtful and informed after they heard all sides of an issue. Freedom of speech should always be the backbone of intellectual life at every college, but sadly we cannot pick up a newspaper without reading evidence that this is not true at too many colleges.

In the battle to save free speech on college campuses, there are some heroes like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Here’s its website: and one of it’s founding members wrote an excellent op-ed in the New York Post this week that I recommend you read:

How US academia became an authoritarian petri dish

By Harvey Silvergate, May 10, 2016, New York Post

I have dedicated much of my career to a contest I consider immensely important to the future health of America: the effort to destroy the liberal arts-and-sciences university by replacing the quest for human knowledge with the indoctrination of students into truth as it is postulated by self-righteous post-modern fanatics.

This dangerous trend accelerated in the mid-1980s. On college campuses, definitions of “harassment” were adopted that were so vague and broad as to drastically escalate the number of disciplinary proceedings.

Speech codes popped up that sought to prevent students from insulting or “harassing” one another, but that in fact strangled the academic enterprise. Kangaroo courts were established to adjudicate violations.

Remember that we’re talking about liberal arts colleges, not prisons nor re-education camps!

The bottom line was that I saw that these major institutions had taken a turn toward practices that furnished a nutrient-laden petri dish for an experiment in authoritarianism.

University of Pennsylvania Professor Alan Charles Kors and I established The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in 1999, a year after we published our book, “The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses.”

That book followed Professor Kors’ representation, with some legal advice from me, of an undergraduate who had been hauled in front of a Penn disciplinary tribunal. The infamous “water buffalo” case involved a student who admonished a loud group of undergraduate women to “shut up, you water buffalo!” as he tried to write an English paper.

The women, who were black, considered this remark “racial harassment,” and student life administrators agreed. It turned out, actually, that in the offending student’s first language, Hebrew, the common term “behema” best translates to “water-buffalo” and refers in slang to a rowdy or thoughtless person.

Penn’s administrators, unaware of the student’s cultural background, assumed that the water buffalo was native to Africa (it’s not) and from this they extrapolated their hate speech theory. In the face of derisive worldwide publicity, triggered by The Wall Street Journal’s editorial titled, “Buffaloed at Penn,” the campus bureaucrats backed down, but it turned out to be merely a tactical retreat.

Sanity’s well-publicized victory in the water buffalo case triggered a flood of students seeking assistance from Professor Kors and me. These beleaguered individuals were suffering not only from unfair disciplinary proceedings, but also were being cheated of a genuine liberal-arts education.

The liberal arts are not readily compatible with censorship and mindless persecution. From the day students arrive as freshmen they are immediately subjected to tendentious sensitivity training engineered by burgeoning student life bureaucrats who intrude into their most intimate lives and thoughts.

I recognized that they were at the mercy of a new regime, something of a cross between Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Kafka’s “The Trial.”

Kors and I couldn’t handle the volume, and so FIRE was born out of sheer necessity. I at the time had assumed that surely the ludicrousness of the campus prosecutions would result in the phenomenon burning itself out within less than 10 years.

It was, I told myself, a momentary social panic. FIRE would be a temporary project. The burning of witches in Salem, after all, ended rather abruptly when the Massachusetts high court decided that enough was enough and put an end to the trials in 1693. The scourge had lasted only one year.

Well, FIRE is in its 17th year with no end in sight. We are in trench warfare for the time being, until we can figure out how to administer a knock-out blow to the illiberal forces that have overtaken the academy.

The bacteria in the authoritarian petri dish, then, are thriving. And so must our efforts to develop the legal, cultural and intellectual antibiotics necessary to stop them.

Excerpted from Harvey Silverglate’s acceptance speech upon his being awarded the Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton Award May 9.

Jim Maisano

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator in New York)

More on War on Free Speech at Colleges

free-speech-feature-300x206I’m pleased to have come across this thoughtful piece I just read on The Atlantic website:

The writer Conor Friedersdorf verifies the threat being waged against free speech principles on college campuses and the chilling effect it’s having on both students and professors.

My favorite part of the college experience was participating in robust free speech. In college and law school, I loved debating my fellow students and professors inside and outside the classroom. These debates taught me so much. By listening to counterpoints to my views, I improved my public policy positions and even changed a few when I realized the weakness in my arguments.

Throughout our society, too many people fail to understand the doctrine of freedom of speech. It’s always meant to be a two-way street. You say what you think and I can respond with counterpoints. The backbone of a free society is a marketplace of ideas with a full and substantive debate on the issues we face. Freedom of speech certainly doesn’t mean that you speak and no one can disagree with you.

The college students that want campuses to be “safe zones”  and administrators enforcing speech codes apparently fail to appreciate the tremendous value of free and open debate in the college environment – or maybe this is just another example of politically correct extremism practiced by zealots who don’t support the doctrine of free speech and seek to block the expression of ideas they disagree with.

Do you have a child attending college soon? If yes, visit the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where you can review the free speech ratings for most colleges in our country.

Jim Maisano

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator in New York)



It’s Time To Stand With Our Police


My community, New Rochelle, NY, has an excellent police department. My family is pleased with the safety we enjoy thanks to the brave men and women in blue. I serve as a Westchester County Legislator and am also impressed by the excellent work of the Westchester County police. The job of police officer is as difficult as any in our society. Each day when police officers leave their homes, they put their lives on the line to protect all of us. In their duties, the police deal with the most evil aspects of our society: murder, assault, human trafficking & prostitution, domestic violence, drugs and others, which must negatively impact them in various ways. And yet, they keep heading out there to protect us. Most police officers do their jobs very well. Yes, mistakes are made and it’s a tough job to perform perfectly all the time. And yes, there are some bad cops out there, as in any profession. The officers that make mistakes can be punished in a court of law or through internal discipline procedures, and we certainly hear about cops being punished in the media.

I believe we should stand with our police when they are unfairly criticized – and that time is now. You cannot watch the protesters from Ferguson to New York City (“NYC”) and not see examples of hatred towards police. Not every protester is bashing cops, but many are. This past weekend in NYC, protesters were caught chanting: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” It’s impossible to understand how anyone could chant such hateful words.

We all must support freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble to protest about issues, and many people are doing so across the country. However, other protesters are crossing the line into violence and other illegal actions. In NYC this past weekend, we had a protester mob attack two police lieutenants.  The New York Post reported:

“The violence erupted shortly after the two lieutenants attempted to stop one of the angry agitators from hurling a garbage can at other cops standing in the walkway below, police said.

That’s when other demonstrators intervened and attacked the officers — knocking them to the ground and kicking and punching them before trying to steal their jackets and radios, according to police.”

Mayor DeBlasio recently stated, “People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives . . . The relationship between police and community has to change.” Is this based on empirical research? No, it’s not. It’s just his flawed opinion. His views are at odds with the fact that over the past 25 years the NYC police have made it the safest big city in our country (confirmed on and crime deceased in every neighborhood. And by the way Mr. Mayor, who wrongly stands with the protesters instead of the police, I personally don’t know a single person that is not fully aware that “black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives.” As a Catholic, my faith has taught me this fundamental truth since I was a little boy. It’s never been in doubt to the vast majority of New Yorkers.

Like so many others, I’m troubled by the Eric Garner video. To me, Mr. Garner’s crime was minimal and he did not appear to be resisting arrest that much. But as an attorney, I respect the rule of law and recognize that those accused of a crime may rely on their constitutional rights in their defense. I and all the protesters were not on the grand jury, and we did not review all the evidence presented. Regardless of our opinion on the grand jury’s actions, we must accept the result of their deliberations, while being saddened by the death of Mr. Garner.

So while it appears mistakes were made by the police in the Garner death, I don’t believe their actions can be deemed racist in any way, and it does not appear they intended to kill Mr. Garner. I expect that the police officer who caused the death will face police discipline and sanctions. But I also noticed on the news another group of protesters chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, these racists cops have got to go!” Who are the racist cops they are referring to? I don’t have an answer.

This cop bashing is wrong in the face of the facts and a slander of many brave police officers regularly placed in dangerous situations to protect us. It’s time to vocally stand with our police against reckless and erroneous attacks – stand with them on social media and when you hear someone slandering them, and also by saying “Thank You” when you see a police officer protecting our streets. I will do so right now – thank you to the New Rochelle and Westchester County police for protecting my community and my family so well.

Jim Maisano

Too Many People Only Checking News Sources They Agree With

Sources News Pew

We started the Free Voter Blog because we are troubled by too many people getting their news only from sources promoting their political views – liberals only checking liberal websites and conservatives only checking conservative websites. Too many Americans are not speaking to each other about the issues of the day and are not even open to debate. We believe this is bad for our democracy. It’s absurd to think that either the left wing or right wing is correct on every issue. That’s why the goal of the Free Voter Blog is to help stimulate a free and independent electorate. When people tell us they only vote straight Democrat or Republican, we believe this is an admission that they didn’t put much effort into following the issues and evaluating the candidates on the ballot. We can teach a four-year-old to just fill in the circles across only one party’s line on Election Day.

That’s why we found the above chart in the USA Today so interesting. It demonstrates how people are only following the news they politically agree with. The data comes from a thoughtful study conducted by the Pew Research Center, which found that, “When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds.” Here’s the link to this excellent Pew Research Center study:

Therefore, the Free Voter Blog, which discusses issues in an open-minded and nonpartisan way, certainly fills an important need in our nation’s political discourse. Please join us for a more independent debate of the issues we face – everyone is invited!

Jim Maisano

Nate Silver’s Blog’s Final US Senate Predictions

US-CAPITOLAt 12:01 on Election Day morning, Nate Silver and his election prognosticators at the FIVETHIRTYEIGHT Blog posted, “Republicans have a 76.2% chance of winning a majority” of the US Senate (the blog predicted all 50 states correctly in the 2012 presidential election). See link for its 2014 Senate Forecast.

You will notice that 7 races are still close – here are the ones to watch:

  • Kansas – Roberts (R) vs Orman (I) – dead even!
  • North Carolina – Hagan (D) +1% over Tillis (R)
  • Iowa – Ernst (R) +2% over Braley (D)
  • Colorado – Gardner (R) +2% over Udall (D)
  • Alaska – Sullivan (R) +2% over Begich (D)
  • Georgia – Perdue (R) +2% over Nunn (D)
  • New Hampshire – Shaheen (D) +2% over Brown (R)

In both Louisiana and Arkansas the Republican candidates are favored by 5%, so let’s figure they go that way. So it looks like the Republicans go into Election Day leading the Democrats in senate seats 48 to 45. Therefore, Republicans need to win 3 of the 7 swing races to get to 51 and take control of the senate. The Democrats need to win 5 of the 7 swing seats to get to 50 and control the senate because the Vice President breaks tie votes.

I hope this analysis is helpful as you watch the returns when the polls close. Most importantly, PLEASE VOTE!

Jim Maisano

NY Has 3 Proposals On Election Day Ballot



Did you know that New Yorkers have to vote YES or NO on 3 ballot proposals this Election Day, November 4? As a public service to this blog’s readers, below is a summary of the 3 proposals, which was downloaded directly from the New York State Board of Elections website. Now you have a week to review them!

Jim Maisano

Proposal OneRevising State’s Redistricting Procedure

Abstract: The purpose of this proposal is to reform the process of establishing new state legislative and congressional district lines that the Constitution requires every 10 years. If the proposal is approved, a redistricting commission will be established to determine lines for legislative and congressional districts, subject to adoption of the commission?s plan by the Legislature and approval by the Governor. Under the current provisions of the Constitution, the Legislature is the entity responsible for establishing these lines.

The proposed amendment would amend sections 4 and 5 and add a new section 5-b to Article 3 of the State Constitution. The new section 5-b would establish a redistricting commission to determine lines for state legislative and congressional districts. Each decade beginning in 2020, a 10-member redistricting commission will be established. Eight members will be appointed by the four state legislative leaders and the remaining two members will be appointed by the eight legislatively-appointed members. These remaining two members cannot, in the preceding five years, have been enrolled in either of the two major political parties in New York State.

The proposed amendment would establish qualifications for the members of the commission. They must be registered to vote in New York. They cannot be the spouse of a statewide elected official, of a member of the United States Congress, or of a member of the State Legislature. They cannot be or have been within the preceding three years a member of the New York State Legislature, United States Congress, or a statewide elected official; a state officer or employee or a legislative employee; a lobbyist registered in New York; or a political party chairman. The proposed amendment would require that, to the extent practicable, appointments to the commission reflect the diversity of the residents of New York and result from consultation with outside groups.

The proposed amendment would establish principles to be applied in creating districts, which must be drawn consistently with the requirements of the federal and state constitutions and federal statutes. These principles include:

  • No district lines may result in the prohibited denial or abridgement of racial or language minority voting rights. Districts cannot be drawn to have the purpose of or result in the denial or abridgement of such rights.
  • To the extent practicable, districts must contain as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants. The commission must provide a specific public explanation for any deviation that exists.
  • Each district must consist of contiguous territory and be as compact in form as practicable.
  • Districts cannot be drawn to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.
  • Maintenance of cores of existing districts, of pre-existing political subdivisions, and of communities of interest must be considered.

While preparing its redistricting plan, the commission must hold at least 12 public hearings throughout the state. The public must be notified of the hearings and be able to access and review the commission?s draft redistricting plans, relevant data, and related information before the first public hearing. The commission must report the findings of the public hearings to the Legislature when the commission submits its redistricting plan.

The proposed amendment would establish voting requirements for the commission. To send a redistricting plan to the Legislature, seven out of 10 commission members must approve a plan. If the Legislature is controlled by one party, then the seven favorable votes must include that of at least one member appointed by each of the four legislative leaders. If control of the Legislature is split between the two major political parties, then the seven votes must include that of at least one member appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly and one member appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate. If seven members of the commission cannot agree on a redistricting plan, then the commission submits the plan or plans that received the most votes, along with a record of the votes taken.

The commission must submit its redistricting plan for the Assembly and the Senate in one bill and the Legislature must vote upon that single bill without amending it. If the plan does not pass the Legislature and get the Governor?s approval or a veto override, the commission must submit another plan. If the second plan does not pass the Legislature and get the Governor?s approval or a veto override, the Legislature can amend the second plan as it deems necessary. The Legislature?s amended plan must comply with the same principles the commission?s plan was subject to. When an amended plan is approved by the Legislature, it is presented to the Governor for action.

The proposed amendment would establish the following voting requirements for the Legislature to approve a redistricting plan:

  • If the Speaker of the Assembly and the Temporary President of the Senate belong to different political parties and the required commission members approved the redistricting plan submitted to the Legislature, then at least a majority of the members elected to each house of the Legislature must vote in favor of the plan to approve it.
  • If the Speaker of the Assembly and the Temporary President of the Senate belong to different political parties and the required commission members did not approve the redistricting plan or plans submitted to the Legislature, then at least 60% of the members elected to each house of the Legislature must vote in favor of a plan to approve it.
  • If the Speaker of the Assembly and the Temporary President of the Senate belong to the same political party, then at least 2/3 of the members elected to each house of the Legislature must vote in favor of a plan to approve it.

The proposed amendment would establish a 60-day deadline by which a court must decide a petition challenging an apportionment plan and would provide the Legislature with an opportunity to correct any legal problems that a court finds with a redistricting plan.

The proposed amendment would create a bi-partisan staff to perform the commission?s duties and would provide for appropriations for the commission?s expenses.

Full text of Proposal One – English (pdf 266KB)
Full text of Proposal One – Spanish (pdf 339KB)
Amended Certification of Proposal One (pdf 1.2MB)

Proposal TwoPermitting Electronic Distribution of State Legislative Bills

Abstract: The purpose of this proposal is to allow electronic distribution of a state legislative bill to satisfy the constitutional requirement that a bill be printed and on the desks of state legislators at least three days before the Legislature votes on it. Under the current provisions of the Constitution, this requirement can only be satisfied by distribution of a physical printed copy.

The proposal would amend section 14 of Article 3 of the State Constitution. It would provide that a bill will be considered ?printed and upon the desks? of members of the Legislature if, first, it is set forth in a legible electronic format by electronic means, and, second, legislators are able to review the bill in the electronic format at their desks. The proposal would establish that a bill is set forth by ?electronic means? when it is sent between computers or other machines designed to send and receive information, the receiving legislators can print the bill if they choose, and the bill cannot be changed without leaving a record of the changes.

Full text of Proposal Two – English (pdf 217KB)
Full text of Proposal Two – Spanish (pdf 220KB)

Proposal ThreeThe SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014

Abstract: The purpose of this proposal is to authorize the creation of state debt and the sale of state bonds in the amount of up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) to provide money for the single purpose of improving learning and opportunity for public and nonpublic school students in New York.

This proposal would allow the State to borrow up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000). This money would be expended on capital projects related to the design, planning, site acquisition, demolition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or acquisition or installation of equipment for the following types of projects:

  1. To acquire learning technology equipment or facilities including, but not limited to,
    1. Interactive whiteboards,
    2. Computer servers, and
    3. Desktop, laptop, and tablet computers;
  2. To install high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools and communities;
  3. To construct, enhance, and modernize educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and provide instructional space to replace transportable classroom units; and
  4. To install high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses.

The State Legislature would be authorized to make the bond proceeds available to fund the cost of approved capital projects undertaken by or on behalf of school districts for these purposes.

The proposal also would allow the State to refund the debt to take advantage of lower interest rates if the opportunity arises. To accomplish this, the proposal authorizes the State Comptroller to issue additional state bonds in sums up to or exceeding the amount of the bonds initially issued to refund, to advance refund, or otherwise to repay part or all of such bonds prior to the scheduled dates of their maturity.

Full text of Proposal Three – English (pdf 266KB)
Full text of Proposal Three – Spanish (pdf 278KB)

Will Silver Be Correct Again In Election 2014



It’s two weeks until Election Day, and I’m curious whether statistician Nate Silver will be correct again this year? Silver runs the popular blog and bases his election predictions more on the laws of probability than political analysis.

In the 2008 presidential election, Silver correctly predicted 49 of 50 states and followed that with a perfect 50 of 50 states in 2012. Silver became popular on the political left because in both elections he predicted that President Obama would be the winner and his blog appeared to a wider audience in The New York Times. Ironically, I noticed some recent left wing social media criticism of Silver because of his 2014 predictions.

In 2012, I believed the GOP talking heads that claimed the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney to be closer than the polling indicated and actually thought Romney might win. I was wrong, but Silver was right, and he became known as the most accurate forecaster in the country. Silver’s 2014 analysis is getting a lot of attention because he predicts that Republicans have a 65% chance of taking back the US Senate (LINK: I also expect a GOP Senate win on November 4 based on the current polling, but recognize that a lot can happen in two weeks and believe some races are still too close to call.

Jim Maisano

Eliminate Hate – Bipartisanship and Cooperation Always Work Much Better!


At the Free Voter Blog, we work from the premise that hate is a bad emotion which clouds your judgment. It’s usually a mistake to make statements or decisions based on hate. But on Friday night, I was working on growing our Twitter followers for this blog and found so many left and right wingers that even expressed hatred for political opponents in Twitter profiles. These hard-liners made similar accusations – the other side is “evil” or “dumb,” and they were (self-righteously) trying to save our nation.

As evidence of this overly partisan trend, I noticed this week that a Stanford University study found that political animosity now exceeds racial hostility. In some ways, this finding shows progress since we now dislike each other more for political viewpoints than the color of our skin.

See study:

However, as an elected official for 17 years, it’s been clear to me that the best legislative moments at the Westchester County Board of Legislators were always the result of bipartisanship and cooperation. I can’t think of a single issue where harsh partisanship was helpful in the decision-making process. I find it difficult to be overly partisan because I have worked with some excellent Republican and Democrat legislators. The talent on our Board of Legislators never broke down on party lines.

Therefore, join the Free Voter Blog in our effort to support and promote an informed and independent electorate that votes for the best candidates instead of the party line. The result will be better government.

Jim Maisano

Bizarre Start to Florida Governor Debate


Did you get a chance to see the first five minutes of the Florida governor debate on Wednesday night? You can watch it at this link:

Are you kidding me? Florida Governor Rick Scott refused to come to the microphone because his opponent Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium, which apparently violated the rules of the debate. Scott looks like a big baby and Crist looks like a jerk for violating the pre-approved rules. I’m glad I don’t live in Florida and have to pick between them on Election Day. What blatant disrespect displayed by both candidates for the voters of Florida. This is a perfect example of why people are so disgusted with politics.

The debate eventually took place and says it was quite a battle:  check out article

Although, at least they have televised governor debates in Florida. In New York, Gov. Cuomo keeps ducking debates with Rob Astorino!

Jim Maisano

“The 5 Most Anti-Libertarian TV Shows Ever” from

Since we have a libertarian streak here at the Free Voter Blog, I thought it might be fun to share the video below. We enjoy the libertarian website and found this entertaining video on its YouTube page. My only concern is that I’m a long-time 24 fan and Jack Bauer made the list of “anti-libertarians,” but frankly, it’s hard to defend Jack on that charge. Here’s the video of “The 5 Most Anti-Libertarian TV Shows Ever!”

Jim Maisano

Kurds holding off ISIS in Kobani, but still waiting for more help

images (1)My first post on the Free Voter Blog addressed the issue of the potential human rights crisis relating to the ISIS rampage through Syria and Iraq. The major battleground right now is Kobani near the Syria/Turkey border. The Kurds are courageously defending that city while waiting for more help from the U.S., Europe or Turkey, although they are being assisted by air power from the U.S. led coalition. Turkey will not even let its Kurdish citizens cross the border to help defend Kobani. If Kobani falls, you can expect innocent Kurds to be slaughtered by ISIS. I continue to believe that a few battalions of troops from U.S., Great Britain or France would easily repel ISIS, but don’t see the necessary leadership to make this happen. Here are some articles about the crisis:

Jim Maisano


A Successful First 2 Days for Free Voter Blog

Our blog premiered yesterday, and we are anxiously checking the benchmarks for blog success. We’re happy to report our social media results so far:

Website Hits: 91 today & 89 yesterday

Facebook:  108 Likes

Twitter:  80 Followers

We realize there is a long road to, but we’re excited with the early success. We hope people will enjoy checking out a blog of independent voices!

Jim Maisano

This Blog’s Purpose – An Informed and Independent Electorate

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

In 1789 Thomas Jefferson stated, “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” As usual, Jefferson was correct and that is why we created this blog. In modern America, the voters know way more about television shows, sports and celebrity gossip than about the candidates running in our elections.

We will be discussing the important issues facing our country in an independent and thoughtful manner on the Free Voter Blog. Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow are not good fits for this blog. Join this effort by reading our posts and providing us with feedback through comments.

No one can believe that the current harsh partisanship we see in Washington, D.C. is best for our country. Instead, the Free Voter Blog is advocating for an INFORMED and INDEPENDENT electorate. We believe you should not just vote the party line, but rather follow the campaigns, study the issues and vote for the best candidate in all elections. This blog will set an example for reasoned debate between thoughtful people who truly care about our nation’s future. Please join us on this positive adventure in democracy.

Jim Maisano


Kobani: The Whole World is Watching . . . and Doing Nothing?

I remember being an idealistic young attorney only 2 years out of law school back in 1994 cringing every time I saw media coverage about the Rwanda Genocide. I kept asking: Where is the UN? Where is NATO? Where is my country? Where are the free nations of Europe? The world did nothing and about one million Rwandans were slaughtered – most by machetes. A majority of the Tutsi people were murdered. It all happened over about 100 days. It’s an issue I will always hold against President Clinton.

I’m reminded of that horrendous moment in history because I fear we may soon be dealing with another genocide in Syria and Iraq by the ISIS barbarians. And we may see such horrors very soon in Kobani, a Syrian city controlled by Kurds near the Turkish border. ISIS boasts about massacres when it takes control of the city. Is the world going to allow this Kurdish slaughter? How do free and democratic nations like the United States, France, Great Britain and Germany just watch and not take real action to stop ISIS? The solution is painfully obvious. If the world wants to stop and defeat ISIS, it must put troops on the ground to fight them. ISIS will not be defeated with only an air campaign – all credible military officials recognize this very clear fact.

For example, the former Marine Corps Commandant, General James Conway stated, “I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.” Retired Marine General James Mattis added: “Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground’ . . . If a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.” (See:

I recognize that President Obama made a campaign commitment to remove our troops from Iraq, but leadership and a commitment to human rights should cause him to revise his strategy, along with his duty to protect our national security. President Obama’s priority cannot be politics and sticking to prior positions – he must assert himself as the leader of the free world and take the necessary actions to stop ISIS before the atrocities and eventual genocide begin. As a former Marine Sergeant, I expect that a few battalions of Marines with supporting air power could finish off ISIS in a few weeks. If President Obama can find other nations to send troops, that would be just fine, but the one thing that can’t happen is for our President and the world to do nothing and allow ISIS to begin the next genocide.

ISIS will never stop its rampage across the Middle East to create a Muslim fundamentalist state supporting international terrorism. So I ask the same questions that I did in 1994 on Rwanda: “Where is the UN? Where is NATO? Where is my country” Where are the free nations of Europe? Either the world unites quickly to defeat ISIS, which will require well-trained and properly equipped troops on the ground, or the possibility of the next genocide becomes more serious each day.

Jim Maisano