City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a plan Monday to bypass Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s efforts to halt the passage of two controversial public safety bills by forcing a vote using a rarely-used mechanism that members–including Mr. Vallone—had previously threatened to use against Ms. Quinn.
Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander said they plan to file discharge petitions later this week to force the council to vote on two bills opposed by both the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: one that would create an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD and another that would expand the definition of racial profiling and allow those who believe they’ve been wronged to sue police in state court.
As indictments of minority elected officials continue to pile up, some leaders have openly suggested, while offering scant evidence, that a conspiracy exists to remove blacks and Latinos from power. But U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, one of two federal prosecutors responsible for bringing many of the recent corruption charges, outright rejected any conspiracy theories last night.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind held a press conference in front of his home this afternoon responding to the uproar over a story that first appeared on Politicker today about his “black basketball player” Purim costume. In front of a small crowd of reporters, Mr. Hikind apologized that people were “offended” and reiterated his initial defense that the getup, which consisted of an orange jersey, brown face paint, an afro wig and sunglasses was merely a costume to celebrate the Jewish Purim holiday. However, even after Mr. Hikind addressed the firestorm, several members of the City Council sent letters to the Assemblyman arguing his apology did not go far enough.
“Anyone who was offended by the outfit that I was wearing on Purim yesterday … it was not meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone in any fashion,” Mr. Hikind began. “That is not what I am all about for the past 31 years in pub office and before that.”
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams is one of the biggest Knicks fans in City government and, though he said he had a personal “struggle” over whether to back the newly-arrived Brooklyn Nets, he’s sticking with his team. Mr. Williams revealed his decision to Politicker when we asked him about Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s statement earlier today that Brooklynites who “support, cheer or root for the Manhattan Knicks” are “treasonous.”
“It’s something I’ve grappled with….It’s very, very tough, but I think I’m Brooklyn enough. Nobody can question my Brooklyn-ness, not even Marty Markowitz,” Mr. Williams said. “I’ve decided this fall to take my talents back to the Garden.”
Reports of chaotic situations at the polls around New York City this Election Day are mounting. The areas on the southwestern tip of Brooklyn that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy have experienced issues, but we’re also hearing about problems in neighborhoods that weren’t heavily impacted by the storm including Flatbush, Park Slope and parts of Manhattan. Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has been touring the polling sites in the East Flatbush and Flatbush portions of his district described the situation as “complete disorganization” and had harsh words for the city Board of Elections. He also suggested the federal or city government may need to take action against the BOE to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“I think on a non-Sandy day they have problems doing a good election,” Mr. Williams said of the BOE. “Combine that with Sandy and they’re completely unorganized. They’ve had four years to plan this. Their only job is to plan elections and they can’t get it right. And you should have conditional plans, you should have backup plans, you should have contingency plans. Where are those plans? This is getting worse and worse.”
rock the vote
“We have some other type of crisis here, partially organized by Hurricane Sandy, partially organized by the Board of Elections,” Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny told Politicker this morning, ticking off poll sites that did not receive machines until 8:04 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. respectively, over an hour after they were scheduled to open. “My question is, if they knew, if the Board of Elections knew yesterday this was the poll site that would be assigned today, were they sleeping this morning? It disenfranchises many people.”
We asked if there might be a possibility of a re-do election.
“That is a possibility, I think,” he answered, noting all of the Hurricane Sandy-induced chaos was in the Democratic parts of his district. “I have two parts of the district. Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, which is conservative, and Coney Island and Sea Gate, which is much more liberal, and I’m a Democrat….This is all becoming totally ridiculous. This is not about me, of course. This is about 40,000 voters losing the right to vote.”
foreseeable days! foreseeable weeks!
Councilman Jumaane Williams has been a proud supporter of Occupy Wall Street since the early days of the movement last year. He proudly pins his Occupy button on his suit even for formal interviews and rather freely shouts “All day, all week! Occupy Wall Street!” when around activists. However, the Occupy movement isn’t what it once was. Notably, the crowds are far smaller while the movement’s message still remains muddled to many outside observers. We asked Mr. Williams about the state of Occupy after he hosted a press conference earlier today on voter confusion.
On the steps of City Hall earlier this afternoon, council members and good-government advocates gathered to “sound the alarm” over problems that occurred during the September 13 primary elections, and urged both the Board of Elections and legislative bodies to act promptly to rectify the situation before November’s presidential election, when far more people are set to vote.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who tweeted up a storm of frustration last Election Day and who led today’s event, urged everyone to pay particular attention to the tiny font size used on the ballots, which he said was significantly smaller than in past elections and created substantial problems for seniors unable to read the letters. To prove his point, he pointed to a poster that illustrated the smallness of the font. His colleague, Councilman Vinnie Gentile, channeled Jimmy McMillan, exclaiming, “The font is too damn small!”
“I’m talking about political leadership, they’re not out there talking about the problem,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said on Inside City Hall last night, defending his department’s use of the controversial stop-and-frisk policy. “They’re not out there talking about, ‘Hey, we have a lot of young men of color shooting each other.’ You don’t hear that spoken about openly. You do hear unhappiness with the tactics and strategies that we use.”
The host, Errol Louis, interjected to argue that elected officials do indeed talk about violence, and not just problems with the NYPD, causing Mr. Kelly to retort, “Well, you’re not reporting it. They do report it when they criticize the police though, certainly on New York 1.”
A delegation of elected officials from New York is currently in Washington D.C. to express their concerns about the NYPD’s controversial stop and frisk policy and ask the Department of Justice to investigate the program as a civil rights violation.
Multiple sources have confirmed to The Politicker that Attorney General Eric Holder met with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday to discuss the issue. A source on Capitol Hill also told us that, at that meeting, Mr. Holder expressed his interest in investigating stop and frisk.