July 15th, 2009
Guillermo Linares, the mayor’s commissioner for immigrant affairs, has left that post in order to run for the City Council seat left vacant by the resignation of Councilmember Miguel Martinez yesterday. Linares had held the council seat before but was forced out by term limits in 2001.
With tomorrow the deadline for submitting petitions to get on the September primary ballot, Linares has no intention of pounding the pavement of Washington Heights to collect signatures. Instead he would hope to come in on Martinez’s coattail thanks to a rather obscure part of city election law.
That law allows candidates to name a so-called committee on vacancies, which can select a candidate in the event the original contender — in this case Martinez –dies or declines to run. This law came into play in the summer of 2003 after City Councilmember James Davis, also a candidate for re-election, was shot and killed at City Hall. Davis’ committee, headed by his mother, selected his brother, Geoffrey, to run in James’ stead. Geoffrey Davis then lost to Letitia James, who was running on the Working Families Party ticket.
Of course the circumstances are a bit different this time around. Rather than being the victim of a deranged gunman, Martinez — assuming the charges against him are true — is a victim of his own corruption. He is expected to plead guilty to charges arising from the City Council slush fund scandal. Allowing him to play a role — even one step removed — in choosing his own successor could raise some eyebrows.
At a press conference yesterday, Ydanis Rodriguez, one of the as many as nine candidates vying for the council seat, refused to say whether he would challenge a Linares candidacy. That, Rodriguez said, would be “up to our own consultants and election lawyers.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who announced his support for Rodriguez, was less guarded. Martinez’s petitions would be “tainted,” Stringer said. “We should not use election law for that,” he said.
According to the Manhattan Times, Martinez filed his petitions Monday — interesting timing given they were not due until Thursday. Yesterday he submitted a “declination to run,” opening the way for the vacancies committee to name a replacement.
To make things even murkier, the Politicker notes that one of the three people on Martinez’s committee is Placido Rodriguez, who, along with Martinez, was fined by the Campaign Finance Board last year for submitting fake receipts to the board following the 2001 campaign. As a result, the board fined Martinez, Rodriguez and the campaign $44,780 and ordered Martinez to repay $128,786 he received in matching funds for the 2001 campaign.
One person apparently unconcerned about all this is Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Responding to reports of Linares’ candidacy yesterday, Bloomberg said, ” I don’t know if he can get on the ballot in time but I would be hard pressed not to support him.”
Calling Linares an adviser and a friend, Bloomberg issued a statement today saying, Linares, the first Domincan elected to City Council, “has helped us make a major difference in the lives of every immigrant community over the last five years. Guillermo has been an important part of our efforts to deliver better government services to the hard-working people from around the world who come to New York seeking greater opportunities for themselves and their families.”By Gail Robinson on July 15, 2009, 11:55 am
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