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Saturday, April 27, 2013

GOP State Committee: The First Vote in 2016.

YOUR FIRST VOTE IN 2016.  Anyone with the bladder control to filibuster for nearly 13 hours deserves lots of respect.

But if New Jersey Republican leaders have their way, Rand Paul -- or Marco Rubio -- or Sarah Palin -- won't get a fair shot in the 2016 presidential primaries.

If history is any guide, the 2016 primary will be a rigged game where backroom leaders choose for us who our nominee will be. And that's exactly what they did in 2012, making New Jersey a winner take all state to discourage all contenders (except Mitt Romney) from competing in the state's June primary.

You can imagine the arm-twisting that will happen if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- whose man-hug and effusive praise of President Obama six days prior to the election, and infamous convention keynote speech were exercises in narcissism not to be forgotten.

This is wrong on so many levels.  

That's why I'm running for NJ Republican State Committee from Hudson County -- and there's actually a primary so I need your help to campaign, buy radio time, even pay the board of elections to reprint ballots. (See Row F on the Republican ballot in Hudson County.) Who can vote? Any registered Republican, and any unaffiliated voter who is registered but did not previously pick a party. So independents can vote in the primary.  

This is about winning, changing things and fighting for a fair shot.  

And amazingly, you can contribute anonymously to the campaign.  New Jersey campaign finance law exempts from disclosure all contributions to campaigns for state or county party committee seats.  There is also no FEC reporting.  Make all checks payable to Dixon Victory Fund, P.O. Box 7748, North Bergen NJ 07047.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Problems With SEC Whistleblower Program

The New York Times reports in its Wednesday editions about various missteps and infrequent successes of its still-young whistleblower program for people who discover or uncover suspected fraud or other corporate wrongdoing.

Of course, there are some serious and highly problematic exceptions to the program, as I detailed back in 2010.  I also wrote in 2011 that the SEC's proposal -- since implemented as part of the Dodd Frank financial reform law -- would help to intimidate whistleblowers instead of successfully bringing them and their information out from the shadows. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Narcissism Explains Why We Are Vulnerable To Terrorism

As I write this, metro Boston is in a total lockdown as a manhunt continues for one of the (at least) two suspects in Monday's Boston Marathon terror attack.

The suspect -- as well as his brother, the second suspect shot dead earlier this morning -- is reported to be a young man from the Central Asian (and former Soviet republic) nation of Chechnya. 

Chechnya is a heavily predominant Moslem country which, when it was a Soviet republic, caused huge headaches for the USSR. Both brothers are reported to have entered the United States about a year ago.

It is not impolitic to ask how these young men got here. In fact, if defending the populace is the greatest concern, the question is not merely imperative.

It is mandatory.

Some will hesitate to ask it. Others will do so, sheepishly.

It is time -- it has been time, actually, for a very long time -- to ask what values cause many of us to hesitate or refuse to ask the question, much less to ignore the answers.

Many of us are afraid of being called intolerant, intemperate, even nativist or worse, racist.

The "other side" does not hesitate for a moment to impute the vilest of motives to those with whom they disagree. This has caused their opponents -- their targets -- to hesitate to say, to ask, to do the things necessary for the maximum protection.

The fear of criticism, of being tarred with "the vilest of motives," has collectively caused us to lower our guard.

That is all because we have placed a higher value on what others think of us, or at least on avoiding a stinging rebuke if not societal disapproval, than on homeland security.

It is because we have become, we are in fact, too concerned about the "us," the "me."

Being overly concerned about others' perceptions or opinions of us is what the psychiarists call a form of outerdirectedness. However, this often leads with encouragement to selfishness and then to outright narcissism. This is a mental disorder and makes one generally a toxic person.

This extreme narcissism has led many of us to place a higher value on the approval of others than on mutual security. It places a higher value on one's feelings than on the outcome which results.

It is the opposite of leadership, of compassion, to have this view.

We will only be safe from terror when we stop thinking only about ourselves.  It is a sign of charity, of maturity, to sacrifice one's feelings and risk the disapproval of others (however undeserved it may be) in order to ask the important, necessary questions in furtherance of the protection and security of oneself, of one's family, of one's neighbors and friends.

The battle against terror, you see, is all about values.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cuomo's Election Law Reform May Be Unconstitutional

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed some election law reforms Tuesday, including proposals that voters be allowed to change political parties much closer to the primary election (good) and candidates be allowed to run in  the primary elections of parties in which they do not belong (very bad).  The latter proposal may be animated by the recent federal indictments of some elected officials and Republican Party leaders for trying to rig the mayoral endorsements by certain New York City party county leaders for this year's primary election.

Currently, a voter who already has picked a political party and wants to switch parties to vote in next year's primary must make the change by approximately the first week of October of this year. This policy is called deferred enrollment, has been in place for decades and, according to the 1970 Supreme Court decision in Rosario v. Rockefeller, was upheld as constitutional despite the burden on voters.  

The court cited concerns about "party raiding," a phenomenon whereby voters not truly allied with a party could "invade" the target party and tip the election to a favored -- or disfavored candidate.  Such machinations do occur and are legal -- in fact, such maneuvering occurs to some degree in virtually every election cycle as partisans try to make sure the other (major) party puts up the weakest candidate.  Every other state allows voters to switch parties much closer to the primary election.  

As for the latter concern, allowing candidates to "invade" political parties in which they do not belong raises concerns about the voters' right of association, that is, the right to ally with people with whom they share (presumably) some sort of ideology (to the extent ideological commonality may be inferred from a common political party enrollment).  This raises a serious First Amendment issue and would be ripe for an immediate challenge on constitutional grounds.  The proposal may permit stronger out-of-party candidates (such as wealthy candidates like you know who) to drown out competing voices from within a party, and by extension, to drown out the voices of average voters already enrolled in their party.  In other words, this proposal could largely negate the importance or value of party enrollment and turn primaries into just another haphazard preliminary round of the electoral playoff.

This is not to say that the current system, which allows county leaders and sometimes state party leaders to cherrypick favored candidates from outside with a special endorsement called a Wilson-Pakula certificate, is without its flaws.  However, at least the current system affords some sense of accountability by party leaders to their constituents from within the party.

Cuomo's proposal appears to be hasty, made as a move to pander to the "reform" elements of the public and to garner applause from certain good-government groups and the news media.  That doesn't make it good policy. This recipe needs to be sent back to the kitchen.

Eric Dixon is a New York attorney who specializes in investigative and regulatory law and handles election law for various candidates.  Mr. Dixon is not presently affiliated with or engaged by any New York City candidate or political party.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

New York CIty's Return To The 1980s

If recent crime statistics are an indication (and they are), New York City may be returning to the ugly, pre-Giuliani years of rampant violent crime, when Gotham was less Sex and the City and more The Warriors.  
Many Manhattan neighborhoods are seeing alarming spikes in crime, but my reporting will tell you that quality of life crimes or degradations are on an upswing, stats or no stats.

Anecdotal evidence of this retrograde transformation (or deformation) is widespread throughout "good" neighborhoods, in Central Park, City Hall Park, virtually every subway line and every transportation terminal (the exception is the new PATH station downtown).  Belligerent street people -- smelly or evidently deranged (or acting that way on purpose to effect the "pay me to go away" shakedown) -- have returned with a vengeance.  However, this trend has been developing for several years.  For example, the midtown Port Authority bus terminal has had a permanent homeless class since at least 2009 but which has steadily worsened over the last six to nine months.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who grew up in New York City during the Koch Administration (1977-89).

Bloggers, CItizen Activists Ruled Protected By Journalists' Shield Law

In a pro-whistleblower decision, a New Jersey trial court Friday ruled that citizen activists, citizen journalists or bloggers who obtain information for the purpose of disseminating it on the Internet (or other medium) are covered just like "real journalists" by the same shield laws protecting confidential sources from disclosure to law enforcement or grand juries.

(The formal opinion is not yet available and I will update this article with a link when it becomes available.)

This decision is, in my opinion, likely to be appealed by the Union County Prosecutor's Office and/or the State of New Jersey.  The reasons are obvious. This secrecy may hurt official investigations and remove an avenue for the authorities to pressure these activists to reveal people whose information may be helpful in investigations.  But there is a flip side and a positive one at that. Citizen activists can now report and investigate while keeping sources confidential, and those sources can now reveal information while keeping their identity secret. Such secrecy will encourage the reporting of wrongdoing.  This benefit should and will, in my opinion, outweigh the inconvenience to the authorities.

From the private citizen's standpoint, being an activist, citizen reporter or whistleblower became much easier in New Jersey.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is New York City The World's Deadbeat Capital?

Some new figures from the New York State Department of Financial Services indicate that strategic defaults on mortgages are occurring at an alarmingly high rate in the New York City metropolitan area.

Dr. Keith Jurow has a new article detailing this phenomenon.  But the most glaring numbers in his article are the preforeclosure notices.  

Jurow's analysis and scary commentary goes as follows:

I have reported in several previous articles that delinquent homeowners are continuing to walk away from their underwater properties. Nowhere is this done with more worry-free abandon than in the NYC metro. Take a look at these shocking new statistics that I have obtained from the NY State Division of Banking. They show the cumulative totals for pre-foreclosure notices sent to delinquent owner-occupants in New York City and Long Island.

Go to his article directly for the stats, but I'll throw out one statistic: In the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, over 100,000 first liens went into pre-foreclosure in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  This is far higher than the quarterly figures in 2010-11.

If there is a housing recovery -- and certainly a refinance boom with historically low interest rates -- these figures couldn't provide more contradictory evidence.

Read more:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New York City's Bid Rig: Rigging The Mayoral Race

The 2013 New York City mayoral race just got very crazy, with a still-emerging breaking news story of multiple arrests of name elected officials and Republican Party leaders in New York City.

(Also see this report from the New York Daily News which includes a link to the federal complaint and the FBI agent's affidavit.  The affidavit recounts in excruciating detail the specific meetings at which bribes were discussed.  Many meetings occurred as recently as ten days ago.)

The arrests -- at least six -- involve bribery to get State Senator Malcolm Smith (who was arrested) to switch his party affiliation to the Republican Party, as well as the use of straw donors.  All arrested are to appear today in federal district court in White Plains (part of the Southern District of New York).

Ballot access -- namely, the ability to get one's desired endorsements -- is central to this case.  But make no mistake about it, candidates can get on the ballot, can win their primaries, can raise funds -- but it takes a great deal of effort.  Those who take shortcuts -- well, this emerging story is about them.

These arrests are reminiscent of the legendary arrests in July 2009 of numerous New Jersey politicians, elected leaders and rabbis in the Bid Rig corruption scandal.

This is still breaking.