Monday, July 14, 2014

At the Board of Elections, Council speaker's political machinations threaten to undermine ballot petitioning

Ousting the president of the city's Board of Elections was supposed to give City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito "power and control of a host of patronage jobs," but the succession process has been turned ndsıpǝ poʍu

Melissa Mark-Viverito photo Melissa-Mark-Viverito-Board-of-Elections_zpsf705d945.jpg

"It's in the Council's hands."

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was all set to expand her power, influence, and control over patronage jobs that govern the corrupt ballot counting for New York City elections. Except that the president of the Board of Elections, whom she had threatened to replace, got up and quit on her.

Last Friday, Board of Elections President Gregory Soumas resigned his post.

With President Soumas' sudden departure, Speaker Mark-Viverito may lose the upperhand she had been coveting in choosing his replacement.

Since Manhattan Democratic Chairman Keith Wright had failed to reappoint Mr. Soumas for another term as president of the Board of Elections, the City Council, headed by Speaker Mark-Viverito, was salivating at the opportunity to seize control of the appointment process. But President Soumas' resignation may allow the Manhattan Democratic chair to appoint a replacement.

Speaker Mark-Viverito's power grab over the Board of Elections is reminiscent of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's egocentric reasoning for disbanding the Moreland Commission : “It’s my commission. My subpoena power, my Moreland Commission. I can appoint it, I can disband it. I appoint you, I can un-appoint you tomorrow. So, interference? It’s my commission. I can’t 'interfere' with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me.”

Generally, appointments of the commissioner, who serves as president of the Board of Elections, comes with corrupt spoils and privileges. A commissioner on the Board of Elections, especially the Board's president, can establish election policy and make politically-motivated hires for the scores of patronage jobs controlled by commissioners. Often, those politically-motivated hires are made in concert with the politicians or political operatives, who appointed the commissioners, The New York Daily News reported.

While the Council speaker and the Manhattan Democratic chair fight over control over President Soumas' successor, the broken political system is ignoring the threat of confusion that now threatens to spread to the ballot petitioning being undertaken now by political candidates running for office this year. The Board of Elections reviews balloting petitions for accuracy and completeness, and on top of the mixed-motivations that govern who gets appointed as commissioners of the Board of Elections, those political machinations are compounded by the way some political operatives scheme to challenge balloting petitions, a process ultimately overseen by the Board of Elections' commissioners -- and its president.


Melissa Mark-Viverito may replace Board of Elections head with her own pick (The New York Daily News)

Melissa Mark-Viverito on elections board prez's future: "It's in the Council's hands." (The New York Daily News)

NYC Board of Elections President Gregory Soumas quits ahead of possible ouster in City Council Speaker power play (The New York Daily News)

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