Thursday, August 3, 2017
Queens Machine wants to have its cake and eat it too
Great article from Progress Queens:
The reelection campaigns of two incumbent members of the New York City Council from the Queens delegation have been beset with questions about their ballot petition signatures. Candidates wishing to appear on the ballots for political parties are required to collect ballot petition signatures from voters registered for those political parties, and the petition signatures must be verified, according to regulations.
Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has been taken to Court by his Democratic Party primary challenger, Paul Graziano. Mr. Graziano has alleged in a legal filing that the reëlection campaign of Councilmember Vallone collected invalid petition signatures. The civil proceeding, before New York State Supreme Court for Queens County, seeks a determination that would restrain the New York City Board of Elections from printing Councilmember Vallone's name on the Democratic Party primary ballot, amongst other relief being sought. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, 8 August at Queens County Civil Courthouse in Jamaica, Queens.
The office of Councilmember Vallone did not answer a request for an interview for this report.
A reporter making an attempt on Wednesday afternoon to inspect at the Queens Borough Office of the Board of Elections the ballot petition signatures collected by Councilmember Vallone's relection committee was turned away and was, instead, referred to an Agency spokesperson. Valerie Vazquez, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections, said that the Agency was reviewing Councilmember Vallone's signatures and would, upon the making of advance request for an appointment, arrange for a reporter to be able to inspect Councilmember's ballot petition signatures. When asked if the Board of Elections could await the outcome of Mr. Graziano's Court proceeding with about six weeks before the date of the Democratic Party primary election, Ms. Vazquez postulated that the Board of Elections could accommodate a Court decision rendered with just one week left before the Democratic Party primary election.
Other advance questions submitted in writing by Progress Queens to the general e-mail account of the Board of Elections were not answered for this report.
Mr. Graziano, who initiated the legal proceedings against the Councilmember Vallone, said that it was important that the public have confidence in campaign committees complying with election system regulations. "We have to make sure that justice is served," Mr. Graziano said.
Mr. Graziano's legal challenge of Councilmember Vallone's ballot petition signatures follows word that the majority of the ballot petition signatures collected for the Independence Party by the reelection committee of another incumbent, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D-Ridgewood), have been invalidated by the Board of Elections, meaning that Councilmember Crowley will not appear on the Independence Party line in the November general election. News of the Board of Elections' determination against Councilmember Crowley was revealed on a Facebook post by Councilmember Crowley's Democratic Party primary challenger, Robert Holden. The office of Councilmember Crowley did not answer a press inquiry for an interview for this report.
Speaking generally of the allegations of misconduct in the ballot petition signature collections of various reëlection campaign committees, Mr. Graziano said, "I see this as a systemic issue. It's not just this candidate," he said, referring to Councilember Vallone.
According to information obtained by Progress Queens, there have been allegations that various campaign committees, including that of Councilmember Vallone, may have engaged in violations of regulations governing ballot petition signature collection four years ago. The allegations of violations have extended to the current election cycle, according to a source.
This stupid process of collecting signatures could be changed by the powers that be, but it was set up to discourage non-Machine candidates from running. Therefore, it is the people's duty to hold the Machine's feet to the fire when they fail to abide by the system they set up.