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February 9, 2010

Keith Wright
New York County Democratic Committee
461 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10016

Dear Keith:

I am in receipt of your response today to my February 8th letter. I appreciate your prompt
response. Generally speaking, however, your letter fails to address the core issues I raised
in my initial letter.

You write, in asking whether I have addressed similar concerns to other counties:
“Further, I wonder if many --or even any-- counties have afforded you any opportunity at
all to address them prior to their endorsement.”

I certainly intend to push for open, transparent, honest debate in any forum possible. But,
respectfully, that isn’t the point. If your argument for engaging in an undemocratic, non-
transparent, backroom-deal process is, effectively, that “others have done so”, that
doesn’t strike me as a particularly good civics lesson, nor a strong point with voters. If
your own standard for openness, transparency and democracy is to mimic and continue
the habits of your predecessor and other party bosses who seek to shut down debate, then,
regretfully, you are simply tarnishing our party and democracy.

There is some progress in your response, however. You acknowledge, at least indirectly,
that my opponent has been given an unfair advantage (that is my term) by receiving
previous access to the Executive Committee—access I have not been granted. Your
excuse for such access is that “she is an elected official and New York’s Democratic
Senator”. Truthfully, I had to read that twice to make sure that it said what it said.

That argument, again, exhibits a tone-deafness to the anger about the political
dysfunction in our society. As a first point, I respectfully disagree—my opponent is not
an elected official. She has never been elected to the position she holds. She holds office
by virtue of one vote—the governor. Which makes the unwillingness to have a serious,
open debate even more egregious from the perspective of voters.

Second, and, more important, voters believe that elected leaders, at every level of
government, are only interested in protecting incumbents. To repeat what I said in my
first letter: voters are fed up with both political parties and a sense that political leaders
act only in their own self-interest and in the interest of preserving political machines.

By suggesting that incumbents should receive special treatment and special access during
what is clearly an election contest, you ratify the entire corruption in our system—from
the campaign financing of elections (where powerful corporate interests shower
incumbents with money to buy access) to the choice candidates make to ignore the
grassroots building of democracy in favor of consultant-driven, image-remaking
campaigns. That is a sorry state of affairs for our democracy and the kind of behavior that
drives voters to demand term limits for political leaders.

In the end, while you do not say so explicitly, you are rejecting my request to postpone
the endorsement vote to a later date. You say that whether I appear at the February 11th
meeting is a “political decision is entirely up to you.” It’s not a “political” decision,
frankly. It is really a question of whether, by appearing, I am simply giving cover and
support for a broken, undemocratic, bankrupt process.

The overwhelming majority of district leaders and other political activists who I have
spoken to oppose this process. I understand that they have the power to recommend a “no
endorsement”, at this time, in the race. I hope they do so. Not because I believe that,
ultimately, I will receive the endorsement. Rather, a “no endorsement” vote at this time
will be a stepping stone and a marker for future debates, and set a high standard for
democracy and transparency that our party—and our country—desperately need.


Jonathan Tasini

Cc: Country leaders, Media representatives