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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union

The Eye-Opener

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As Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure draws to a close, a coalition of environmental organizations is urging him to take action now to make the city more sustainable.

“Now is the time to lock in forward-thinking sustainability policies and prioritize the most critical projects for completion,” the New York League of Conservation Voters and other organizations say in Bloomberg-Countdown.pdf.

The goal of the 2013 New York City Sustainability Countdown is “to help focus the city’s efforts for the remained of 2013.”

The groups argue the city could take immediate steps in several key areas, including preparing for the impacts of climate change; addressing ongoing air quality issues; reducing and de-contaminating the waste stream; making buildings more energy efficient; and increasing mass transit options.

They note that their goals “are practical and achievable, and with the support of Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council, can be made realities by the year’s end.”

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Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization For Women NYC, has responded to today's revelations of another sexting incident involving mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner by calling him "a distraction" and urging him to exit the race. NOW joins a chorus of voices calling for Weiner to withdraw. Here is Ossorio's statement: 

As if we didn't already have enough evidence of Anthony Weiner's utter lack of judgment, impulse control and honesty, these latest revelations show the degree to which his candidacy distracts us from the important business of choosing the next leader of New York City. He is clearly and compellingly unfit for public office and the sooner comes to this realization, the better for the people of New York.

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Elections officials say disabled voters will have access to electronic devices at each poll site this year so that they can submit paper ballots for the September primary, even though inaccessible lever voting machines are being brought back. 

A spokeswoman for the city's Board of Elections said in a statement today that ballot marking devices would allow "all voters, including voters with disabilities, to vote privately and independently at their poll site" on Election Day.

The Gotham Gazette reported yesterday that the BOE could face legal action from advocates for the disabled over its plan to bring back lever voting machines.

James Weisman, senior vice president and senior counsel at the United Spinal Association, told the Gotham Gazette that his organization was considering taking legal steps to stop the BOE from using the machines.

He said disabled voters would face physical challenges to using the lever voting machines. 

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UPDATED: Board of Elections Says Disabled Voters Will Get Help-at Polls

The Board of Elections is bracing for any potential lawsuits over its plan to bring back lever voting machines for the primary and possible runoff.

The BOE's commissioners voted to pass a revised resolution on the plan for the lever voting machines at a public meeting today, with Board President Frederic M. Umane saying that new language would be "helpful" in case the agency got sued over the plan.

"It's been suggested that there could be litigation over this and it might be helpful to lay out and delineate, to a greater extent than what we did last week, some of the concerns and reasons why we want to be using the lever machines and not the optical scanners," Umane said earlier today before the commissioners voted to approve.

Civil rights and good government groups have criticized the plan for bringing back the lever voting machines. The BOE has said that the optical voting machines are too unwieldy to use for the mayoral primary this year or for the runoff.

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A lack of cooperation appears to be stalling an investigation — before it even begins — into allegations of possible waste and abuse at the city's Board of Elections.

An attorney for the BOE said at a hearing of the agency's commissioners that he and another attorney had refused a request for full access to employees by the Department of Investigation, which is spearheading the investigation.

Asking that DOI send any future requests in writing, BOE attorney Steve Richman also told the commissioners that his legal team criticized what they considered the possible political motivations behind the investigation.

They told the DOI representatives during a closed-door meeting that "it is beyond dispute that the mayor is not a fan of the board," BOE attorney Steve Richman told the commissioners. The legal team also pointed to a recent DOI report on the agency's handling of the 2011 election, which they said was "unfair, biased and did not tell the complete story."

"I agreed that if that report is any indication of how the board would be treated in the future by DOI, the board’s concerns are entirely justified," Richman said at the BOE meeting on July 9.

The DOI would not confirm Richman's account.

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