On the morning of last week’s televised gubernatorial debate, one of the nation’s top federal prosecutors was interviewed on radio to discuss on-going investigations of corruption in Albany.
The interview served as reminder that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) had not only failed to make good on his 2000 campaign promise to clean up corruption in Albany but that the Cuomo administration had actually become implicated in undermining corruption-fighting efforts. For these spectacular failures, Progress Queens refuses to support Gov. Cuomo for a second term. After evaluating the campaign information of and the performance by the other candidates at last week’s debate, Progress Queens supports the gubernatorial candidacy of Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee.
Mr. Hawkins calls his broad platform for economic, legal, and social justice a “Green New Deal” for New York. His plan includes proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, to roll out a single-payer health care program for all New Yorkers, and to support a clean energy plan that would create new jobs in a clean energy system, amongst other proposals. A key proposal in Mr. Hawkins’ platform is a call to ban the environmentally poisonous industry of hydrofracking. The two major party candidates either support hydrofracking (County Executive Rob Astorino (R-Westchester)) or are deliberately vague so as to serve as a proxy for support (Gov. Cuomo). The Libertarian Party candidate, Michael McDermott, announced at last week’s debate that he is against hydrofracking until it can be proven to be safe, a position that is unfortunately short of an an unconditional, outright ban. A fifth candidate for governor, Steven Cohn, the nominee of the Sapient Party, did not take part in the debates and could not be reached for an interview. The principles of the Sapient Party call for energy independence and a clean, green environment, but the party takes no position on hydrofracking, the most controversial energy and environmental issue facing New York today. Mr. Hawkins' stringent opposition to hydrofracking alone makes him the outstanding candidate for governor, but he has many more appealing progressive plans in his platform that merit support.
At the sole gubernatorial debate held last week, Mr. Hawkins called for the full legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana, “like Washington state and Colorado are now doing.” His legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana plan would rightly bring to an end the racial bias in low-level, non-violent marijuana arrests and resulting incarcerations that overwhelmingly target Blacks and Latinos, alleviating a broad social, legal, and economic injustice in society. Furthermore, such a policy shift would begin to treat drug abuse as a health issue, instead of a criminal issue, as Mr. Hawkins’ platform asserts.
Mr. Hawkins’ campaign for governor is also notable for the outsider appeal of the Green Party. The Green Party is independent of the corrupt, two-party system that is owned by large corporations, lobbyists, and big money donors. That political and economic independence will give Mr. Hawkins, a reformer on a crusade to clean-up government, great freedom to overhaul the broken political system. “When I’m governor, I would re-empanel the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption and let it follow-through on the investigations it began,” Mr. Hawkins said at last week’s debate, adding, “and compliment what the U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, is doing to deal with the underlying problem of our pay-to-play culture, where you get big campaign contributions and outside income for legislators in order to open the doors for special interests to get tax breaks and favours.” To bust the culture of corruption in Albany, Mr. Hawkins has proposed, amongst other planned initiatives, a fully-public campaign finance system to cut out the corruptive role of money in elections, a move that Progress Queens enthusiastically endorses.
After Gov. Cuomo infamously disbanded the Moreland Commission, U.S. Attorney Bharara seized the panel’s files in order to complete the panel’s investigations. Press reports have indicated that the Cuomo administration first obstructed and then later aborted the panel’s investigation work by having disbanded the commission.
On other, complex issues, the Green Party candidate can solidly surpass the incumbent Democratic Party candidate. Like Gov. Cuomo, Mr. Hawkins has endorsed a visionary plan to bring about an end to the AIDS pandemic by increasing efforts to cut the rate of new infections. Unlike Gov. Cuomo, Mr. Hawkins is prepared to go even further : by restoring funding that Gov. Cuomo has inexplicably cut from the state’s AIDS Institute, amongst other additional proposals on Mr. Hawkins’ part.
It’s time for a new slate of independent leaders to storm Albany, leaders with an unwavering commitment to economic, legal, and social reform. For these and other reasons, Progress Queens endorses Mr. Hawkins for governor – as well as his running mates, Brian Jones for lieutenant governor, Ramon Jimenez for attorney general, and Theresa Portelli for state comptroller. None of the incumbent Democrats respectively challenging Mr. Hawkins' running mates ever spoke up about Gov. Cuomo's interference and closure of the Moreland Commission, indication that Albany Democrats act in lockstep to effectively protect the corrupt culture in the state capital. The campaign platforms of Mr. Hawkins’ running mates call for overhauling the corrupt status quo in Albany. Voters should support the efforts of Mr. Hawkins and his running mates by voting Green on Tuesday, November 4.
-- Progress Queens