Thursday, July 28, 2005

We Get Our Day in Court


Judge Sets Court Date in Libertarian’s Suit to Overturn Campaign Finance Program

New York, 7/28/05 – The Hon. Paul Feinman of the New York Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Wednesday, August 3, in the lawsuit by Manhattan Libertarian Party chair Jim Lesczynski to overturn New York City’s lavish Campaign Finance Program (Lesczynski v. Bloomberg et al, Index No. 102751/05).

“We are thrilled to finally be getting our day in court,” said Lesczynski, who is also the Libertarian Party’s candidate for Public Advocate. “When Judge Feinman considers our arguments, I am confident that he will allow this suit to proceed and ultimately rule in favor of the taxpayers and free speech.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Campaign Finance Board Chairman Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., the Campaign Finance Board, and the City of New York are named as defendants in the suit. Lesczynski alleges that compelling taxpayers to bankroll political speech with which they disagree violates the free speech clauses of the New York State and U.S. Constitutions. Lesczynski is asking the court for a permanent injunction blocking the Campaign Finance Program.

The city defendants, represented by Assistant Corporation Counsel Donna Kasbohm, have filed a motion with the court to dismiss the suit. Judge Feinman will decide whether to grant the city’s motion or allow the case to go forward.

“I am outraged that the city defendants would have the audacity to move to dismiss this suit before the court has even had the opportunity to consider the facts,” declared Lesczynski. “Our complaint cuts to the heart of whether individual citizens have the right to support or withhold support from the candidates of their choosing. The right not to speak is just as fundamental as the right to speak.”

The hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3, at Part 52, Room 289, New York Supreme Court, 80 Centre Street.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Gotham Gazette

The Citizen Union's Gotham Gazette ran an article today about the candidates for Public Advocate, including yours truly.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Fourth Amendment R.I.P.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
-Amendment IV to the U.S. Constitution

Well, it was a good idea while it lasted. The War on Drugs put the Fourth Amendment in intensive care, and the War on Terror finally killed it. Maybe it had been dead for awhile, but it left such a good-looking corpse we just didn't notice. But there's no denying it any longer. The random bag searches in the NYC mass transit system started yesterday and will continue into the foreseeable future. No probable cause is required. You draw breath, you're a suspect.

The random searches aren't without precedent, of course. In Boston, they randomly searched people entering the subways during the Democratic national convention last year, following the Madrid subway bombings. In New York, we had random searches of vehicles entering the city by bridge and tunnel. Ever since the authorities discovered five-year-old surveillance of Citigroup Center by suspected terrorists, most large office buildings now x-ray bags at the entrance. Now the London bombings have made subway security the flavor of the month, so it's down with the 4th Amendment on trains and buses. The terrorists must amuse themselves watching our protectors flit from trend to trend in order to make us "feel safer".

It's a wonder the terrorists don't leak plans to hide high-powered explosives in their rectal cavities, just to watch the sheeple willingly submit to random anal probes. I guarantee you one such incident of a Mad Butt Bomber, and you would see cops with a rubber glove on one hand and a tube of K-Y in the other on every street corner.

Yes, the threat of another terrorist attack is real. When you build an empire that puts military bases in 170 countries around the world and routinely invade sovereign nations and kill the locals by the thousands, you tend to make a few enemies. ("Ooh, he's blaming America." No, I'm blaming our stupid-ass government.) While the likelihood of any one of us being in the next exploding subway car is remote - even here in NYC - any loss of innocent life is deplorable, and we should seek to prevent it. But it's important to keep in mind that these searches do _nothing_ but comfort the stupid. Approximately 4.7 million people ride the subways each day, entering 468 different subway stations, many of which have up to six entry points. There are about 40,000 cops. Do the math.

LPNY Vice Chair Blay Tarnoff puts it into even better perspective: "Iraq is under military rule. Anybody's bag, clothing, or body cavities can be searched at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Terrorist-style bombs are nevertheless going off every day, killing all sorts of people, including the most heavily armed and technologically advanced and highly trained soldiers in the world... Given all that, how intrusive will searches have to be to be effective in New York City? Take your time."

What I find hilarious is that whenever the news reports do get around to mentioning civil liberties concerns in the 7th or 8th paragraph, it's always some ACLU talking head or other liberal weenie fretting that the searches could lead to racial profiling. Yes, god forbid they focus on people who look like they might actually be terrorists. Nobody _ever_ gets down to the fundamental 4th Amendment issue of unreasonable searches or the presumption of innocence. The standard now is that civil liberties violations are fine as long as they are done consistently and "fairly".

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Channels 5, 9 and 2 all ran stories on our poker protest at 1 PolicePlaza, and all 3 reports never once used the word Libertarian. 5 and 9 didquote me and put my name under me, but they gave my title as "PokerSupporter" and "No Poker, No Peace" respectively. The channel 9 story atleast briefly showed the Manhattan Libertarian Party banner in thebackground.

Yesterday channel 9 and the NY Post both did advance stories on ourprotest, and no mention of me or the LP.Last week "The New Yorker" ran a story on the race for Public Advocate,and directly quoted me in the lead paragraph -- with quote marks andeverything -- without attribution.

Anybody else starting to think they're deliberately snubbing us?

Let's see how the Friday morning papers report the story.

Dr. Thomas Woods

Tom Woods, the brilliant historian, columnist, and author of NY Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, gives our poker protest a plug this morning on the LRC blog.

0 for 3

As expected, Channel 9 news at 10 did a report last night on our big poker protest at 1 Police Plaza tonight. As we suspected they would, they managed to make it through the entire report without once mentioning the word Libertarian.

Oh well, we're expecting some more of the mainstream media to show up tonight. We'll see if any of them can still remember the first of the 5 journalistic W's.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Closing the Door on Political Correctness

A few days late, but I forgot to mention that I wrote an article for this week's issue of The Libertarian Enterprise.

How to Write a News Story Without Mentioning the Subject

I'm starting to get the feeling reporters are going out of their way not to mention me. First, The New Yorker quotes me last week without attribution. Now today, the New York Post runs a page 3 story about my No Poker, No Peace protest at 1 Police Plaza tomorrow, and never once mentions Jim Lesczynski or the Libertarian Party. I spent a long time talking to the reporter yesterday and made it clear this was a Libertarian protest, but the only quote they used was from my friend Ron Wieck, who I mentioned to the reporter as an afterthought.

The good news is that the Post article generated more interest from the other local media, so it looks like we'll have some cameras down there tomorrow. In fact, Channel 9 is running a story about the protest on the News at 10 tonight. And no, they did now interview for the story. They only interviewed Ron Wieck, since he was mentioned in the Post story. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Wendy McElroy Rocks!

Cool article about libertarian feminist writer Wendy McElroy in today's NY Sun. Wendy was the guest speaker at last week's Junto meeting. The article ends with a plug for tomorrow night's Manhattan Libertarian Party monthly meeting, which will feature guest speaker Tom Woods, author of the NY Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

Ugh, Petitioning Begins

If it's hot and humid outside, then it must be petitioning season for Libertarian Party candidates. The major party candidates get a 6-week headstart and are already submitting their Designating Petitions, but we second-class citizens start collecting signatures on our Independent Nominating Petitions today. I collected 40 myself while attending the Patriot Act protest in front of the midtown library on my lunch break.

If you ever wanted to help us fight for freedom, now is the time to do so. We need to get 7,500 good signatures (which means about twice as many raw sigs) in the next six weeks. Our mayoral candidate Audrey Silk has a great petitioning page on her website that tells you how to go about it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005



NO POKER, NO PEACE: Card Tournament at One Police Plaza to Protest NYPD Hijackings

New York, 7/5/05 – Libertarian candidate for Public Advocate Jim Lesczynski announced today that the No Poker, No Peace Penny Poker Tournament will be played at the entrance to One Police Plaza beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the evening of Thursday, July 14. The tournament, which will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. press conference, will protest the NYPD’s recent raid of two popular Manhattan poker clubs and the wrongful seizure of $100,000 in players’ money.

On May 26, the NYPD Vice Squad raided the Play Station poker club on Union Square and the Players Club on the upper west side. In addition to confiscating $100,000 from the tables at the two clubs, the police arrested 39 employees. Although it is not illegal to play poker for money, it may be illegal to “promote” gambling.

“The Manhattan District attorney admits the players themselves did nothing illegal, yet the police walked off with $100,000,” Lesczynski charges. “They claim the money was confiscated for ‘evidence’—as if anyone needs evidence that poker is played for money. The police say they have no plans to return the money to the players and that it will eventually become city property. It is not hyperbole to say that is simply armed robbery by the NYPD.”

Lesczynski demands that the police make a good-faith effort to return the confiscated money to the players to whom it rightfully belongs. He also wants the NYPD to refrain from future poker club hijackings.

The No Poker, No Peace tournament at the foot of police headquarters is open to all—seasoned gamblers and novices alike. At penny-ante stakes, the participants don’t stand to make a bundle, but the winner will get bragging rights as the Poker Protest Champion.

Gary Popkin, the Libertarian candidate for Brooklyn Borough President, will participate. “I hardly know how to play poker,” says Popkin, “but I knew enough, when one of my nephews suggested playing with two decks because there were so many players, to ask, ‘Does five eights beat a royal flush?’”

Monday, July 04, 2005

Talk of the Town

Nobody reads The New Yorker anymore, of course, but if they did they'd see a particularly snarky entry in this week's Talk of the Town column about the race for Public Advocate. Don't get me wrong: The race for Public Advocate is a subject entirely worthy of snarkiness, but this piece is just lame. It leads off with a great quote from me (“I promise to report to work just long enough to fire the staff and padlock the office.”) that they don't even bother to attribute.

After goofing on a few of the other candidates and lamenting the lack of respect for the Public Advocate, the writer tries to argue that "the office holds so much promise!" Among his dubious assertions is that the Public Advocate is second in line to the mayor in case of emergency. At one time that was true, but a public referendum in 2002 changed the city charter, so that now we would have a special election within 60 days of the mayor's demise. The Public Advocate would be interim mayor for a whopping two months. The writer also claims that the Public Advocate can break ties in the City Council, which is technically true, but he neglects to point out that the Council Speaker never lets anything come up for a vote unless it is guaranteed to pass. With 48 of the 51 council seats controlled by Democrats, the Speaker always gets his way, and on those rare occasions when some rebels get out of line and vote their conscience, they find themselves swiftly stripped of perks and committee positions. At least the Vice President of the United States occasionally gets to case a deciding vote in the Senate. To my knowledge, the Public Advocate has never had the opportunity to do so in New York City Council, and never will.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Dealing with Lefties

My friend Gary Popkin, the Libertarian candidate for Brooklyn Borough President, has a wicked sense of humor. Check out the following excerpt from the June 15-28 issue of The Indypendent:

"McDonald's have introduced so-called 'healthy' options to their menus, but rather than this being through their concern for the public's health, it is merely an attempt to capture customers who wouldn't eat their usual fare."

And here is Gary's reply:

Dear Indypendent letters editor:

It makes my blood boil to think of the greedy and vile behavior of McDonald's you reported ("Big Mac Attack," The Indypendent, June 15 - 28, 2005). A more egregious example of this unacceptable practice occurred when General Motors first started offering smaller vehicles with better gas mileage not through their concern with the environment, but merely as an attempt to capture customers who wouldn't buy their usual gas-guzzlers. The bastards.

As Borough President I would investigate every instance of a business in Brooklyn changing its product line, and impose fines if product lines were changed merely to get more customers and without any socially redeeming reason.

This concept can and should be extended to all features of commerce. If a retail store improves its lighting not out of concern for safeguarding the eyesight of its customers but merely to capture customers who would not shop in a dark store, it would be fined. If a store devotes more resources to keeping its sidewalks cleaner not out of concern with complying with New York City law but merely to capture customers who prefer a cleaner environment, it would be fined. Let's show them we will not stand for the unconscionable business practice, all too common, of trying to attract more customers.

Gary Popkin
Libertarian candidate for Brooklyn Borough President