The Race for Mayor
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: MAYOR

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?
Masthead

 

Ethics In Government: Fernando Ferrer

1. CAMPAIGN FINANCE: The city's landmark campaign finance program is now 13 years old.

a) What is your assessment of how the program is working? What changes, if any, would you seek in that law?

I strongly support the campaign finance program and believe all candidates should abide by its contribution and spending limits. In general, the board proved that it could be accessible and helpful to candidates in response to questions and concerns.

I also view the program as a means to continue to promote good government and reform as a vehicle, not only for government on the merits, but more importantly, to include more New Yorkers and bridge the divide that keeps too many New Yorkers out.

I propose changes to increase participation and further level the playing field between incumbents, those who hold other public offices or well-resourced challengers, and less well-to-do prospective candidates who might still be discouraged from running in particular races.

For the next election cycle, I recommend:

Banning government-funded mass mailings by elected officials 60 days before primary or general elections. Incumbents should not use the public resources of their public offices for re-election efforts. Current law imposes a 30-day limit on government-funded mailings, which remain a constant source of criticism over the use of taxpayer funds to benefit a candidate. I would empower the Conflict of Interest Board to determine violations on mass mailing provisions. I would authorize the CFB to determine if a mailing/communication is a contribution or expenditure under Campaign Finance Law.

Requiring all candidates file with CFB whether or not they opt in to the campaign finance system. Insufficient data often inhibits the CFB's ability to determine if a candidate's spending triggers removal of spending limits or accelerated payments to participating candidates. Pending state legislation to require all candidates for city office to file with the CFB would help level the playing field. Non-participating candidates would be less likely to fail to abide by overall campaign finance spending limits if they knew the information about their actual fundraising would be reviewed timely by the CFB that would have the ability to assist participating candidates accordingly.

Making NYS Campaign Finance limits same as City. Current state campaign finance contribution limits exceed the more stringent limits on contributions set by city law. Non-participants would face less of an advantage by the imposition of new, lower state contribution limits that mirror those of the city system.

Just as all the major aspirants for citywide office endorse making the four for one match crystal-clear, I have urged aspirants for citywide and other city offices and the Giuliani administration to endorse these reforms that could apply to the next election cycle, if not the next set of municipal races after 2001.

b) In 1998, the law was amended in several ways. These include a four-to-one match of smaller contributions from city residents; a ban on corporate contributions; a requirement that candidates disclose if contributors are doing business with the city; and a requirement that political action committees register with the board to qualify as contributors. What is your opinion of the impact of these changes?

I believe the 1998 changes generally work well and provide a level of disclosure that provides public the ability to make judgments based on who contributes to whom.

2. ETHICS RULES: The city charter's conflicts of interest rules were last revised in 1988.

a) What changes, if any, do you support in the city's current conflicts of interest provisions?

I propose to look at the Ethics provisions, Chapter 68, to revamp disclosure requirements to add a categories on the financial disclosure statements to better provide an unjaundiced view of possible conflicts.

b) The charter's "revolving door" rules prohibit former city employees from representing paying clients before their former agency for one year after leaving city service. Similar revolving door prohibition on the state level is for two years; five years on some federal level. Do you believe the city's current revolving door provisions are adequate?

I am inclined to requirements that provide for the maximum disclosure of relationship. This would allow the court of public opinion to weigh in on conduct not illegal but that clearly questionable in the eyes of most people. If people want to "trade" or their relationships, let the public know and the knowledge that such conducts gets disclosed timely, likely will chill much of that conduct. I would also appoint a blue ribbon panel to review the best approach to the revolving door problem.

3. CITY HALL STEPS: There has been an ongoing controversy on access to City Hall and its steps, with Mayor Giuliani citing security concerns to impose a permit system for groups seeking to hold news conferences and other events on the steps and plaza area. What would be your policy on the use of City Hall for these activities? Do you support, oppose or have another position on the current permitting regulations? A bill -- Intro 657-A -- is pending in the City Council to suspend the permitting requirements for groups under a certain number. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the bill?

I would support the pending legislation, but I would go farther and allow no limits. That's why we must ensure that government allows the public basic access to the seat of government to attend public meetings with ease, to meet with their elected and appointed officials in the halls of government and to criticize (or praise) government at the seat of government. One of my first acts on my first day as Mayor is to send the bulldozers in to take down the barricades that keep the public out of City Hall Plaza.

That's why I criticized the rules that require members of the public to obtain permits from the NYPD before they can hold a news conference at City Hall. City Hall must end this assault on democracy and open up our town hall. These rules limit the public's voice. The rules make City Hall inaccessible to those who want to respond quickly on matters of concern. The requirement for a permit effectively works only for those in power at City Hall.

I was the only official to testify at the June 2000 hearing prior to the adoption of the amendments to Title 55 of the Official Compilation of Rules of the City of New York in the City Record. City Hall must withdraw these rules, or the Council must pass a law to restore the status quo before the lockout this administration imposed becomes permanent.

Instead of devising ways to shut out the public, the government of our City must ensure access to City Hall and its Plaza to the people. Concerns about security offer no basis for these rules that effectively limit speech and opportunities for the average citizen to influence government.

Americans and New Yorkers cherish their right of direct access to their elected officials. City Hall represents this tradition of access and open government. Until this administration unilaterally shut out the public, New Yorkers appropriately and lawfully presented their views at the seat of their elected government. Need I remind the Administration that the statue of Nathan Hale, who gave his life for our country's freedom, stands across from the entrance to City Hall?

Despite the advances of technology, news conferences or other lawful gatherings at City Hall remain a primary way for the public to get their message out. The permanent codification of this emergency rule for Press Conferences, Demonstrations and Similar Activities in the Immediate Vicinity of City Hall imposes another layer that cuts off government to the people.

Neither our Constitution nor our City Charter restricts the right to petition government only if one is in favor with the current elected officers of the City.

4. CROSSWALKS: In 1993, the city created the Crosswalks channels, which cablecasts the public activities of the mayor, City Council, other officials and city agencies.

a) What, if any, changes would you make in Crosswalks coverage and operations?

I would convene a commission of good government group representatives, members of the media and the public to make recommendation about the operations of Crosswalks. My concerns about its current operations concerns the agency proceedings not currently covered and broadcast, including meetings of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. We also need to look at the agency's resources to ensure that no public hearing of the Council goes uncovered. In addition, the agency lacks the resources to archive its proceedings and tapes get re-used, thereby erasing an entire taped public record.

b) In recent years, the city has used its Crosswalks channels in a variety of ways. These include cablecast of track races to assist the Off Track Betting Corporation; leasing the channels to commercial foreign language program; and for CUNY television. Would you continue these uses? What other kind of programming would you envision for Crosswalks?

In terms of the use of Crosswalks for OTB telecasts, the leasing of space to commercial foreign language programs and CUNY programming, I would also refer these uses to the aforementioned commission. Some of these uses may also need to be coordinated among the cable access networks covering each borough. To the extent possible and practicable, I would like to see Crosswalks evolve toward a C-Span type network focused on city and community affairs programming coordinated with the borough cable access channels.

5. PUBLIC INFORMATION: The 1989 charter created a Commission on Public Information and Communication, chaired by the Public Advocate. It mission includes: reviewing city information policies and the use of new communications technologies for the city; and issuing advisory opinions on Open Meetings and Freedom of Information requests. It has not been funded since 1991 and has rarely met in recent years.

a) What role, if any, do you see COPIC serving during the next four years?

I support the use of a Commission on Public Information and Communications (COPIC). In many ways, the Internet and cable offer opportunities to open government and allow greater citizenry access to information and programs. I would look at amending the Charter to set its budget by statute at an appropriate level, in much the manner that the Independent Budget Office receives it funding. The Commission could look at documents released by the Office of the Mayor and other agencies to determine where additional opportunities exist to expand public access.

b) What other steps would you take to assist New Yorkers in obtaining information about government activities and services?

The release of the most recent Mayor's Management Reports (MMR) demonstrates the need for an independent entity to prepare this document used to evaluate the state and effectiveness of city government. The reports recently released failed to include important benchmarks to compare the data for the current fiscal year against the prior fiscal year and the current fiscal year plan. The news media has highlighted the removal of important indicators from the MMR and the Preliminary Mayor's Management Report (PMMR) during the Giuliani administration. In fact, important data does not get reported and comparisons, including with other jurisdictions, rarely get presented.

To restore the MMR and the PMMR as useful tools for the mayor, agency hearings, the council, other officials, the press and the public to review the performance of government and municipal agencies intended under the City Charter, I recommend empowering a non-mayoral agency - the Independent Budget Office - to prepare the MMR and the PMMR. As I recommended to the last Charter Revision Commission, this can be achieved by amending the City Charter to require the Independent Budget Office, not the Mayor's Office of Operations, to prepare the Mayor's Management Report.

Already, the establishment of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) has resulted in a new level of independent analysis of the operation of City government and its service delivery functions. The Mayor's Office of Operations, responding to the needs of the administration it serves and not the City as a whole, prepares the current, often inadequate, report. Rather than continue the practice of Operations preparing the MMR and PMMR, shifting that function to the IBO injects the needed level of independence and professionalism in the collection, presentation and analysis of data.

To paraphrase Justice Brandeis, sunlight remains the best disinfectant. An MMR and PMMR prepared on a more independent and professional basis should r esult in information being more fully disclosed and better scrutinized. Ample precedent exists for this approach. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office prepares similar reports at the Federal level.

The current administration in City Hall manages information solely to promote its own ends and works hard to prevent disclosure of even routine information that might show it in a bad light. Under the theory, that "information is power," the administration deprives the public of vital information and docu mentation concerning the operation of our government. Those who seek data, reports and program parameter must rely on their knowledge of the Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL"). FOIL, a protracted and sometimes sophisticated process, intends that government must be responsive and responsible to the public. Through roadblocks or elongated time periods for the release of information to the point of uselessness, the Giuliani administration compromises this objective. Most often, it outright refuses to comply with FOIL requests.

As a result, the public record shows that residents of this City, as well as sister agencies in government, face numerous obstacles in implementing FOIL to secure information for the purpose of better serving New Yorkers.

This administration denies information or purposely stalls its release to virtually every type of group from news organizations to not for profit groups to individual citizens to good government watchdogs. This administration routinely withholds from the public information ranging from t he city budget to housing and public shelter inquiries, youth and senior programs, police department statistics, health data, transportation services and parks conditions. Over the past several years lawsuits have been filed by the Daily News and Newsday to get police crime statistics, by Comptroller McCall for the right to audit the city's books, by the Independent Budget Office to gain fiscal information relevant to the performance of that office's function, and by the Public Advocate for Civilian Complaint Review Board dispositions, among others. New Yorkers know this administration for its routine denial of requests under FOIL.

This administration has been so cavalier in denying access to information which is basic to governance that several elected officials have actually gone to court, and prevailed, to secure documents and reports which actually rise to an "entitlement." Apparently, this administration looks at FOIL requests as a threatening exercise of partisanship. The process of going to court requires a sophistication and funding source beyond most constituents. Therefore, average citizens, who were intended to be the most protected by the law, are actually the most deprived.

Clearly, there is something wrong that needs corrective action. Sunlight on decisions introduces accountability. Absent mandated full disclosure of basic information about government performance, the current and successor administrations at City Hall can avoid accountability and needed changes may never see the light of day. New Yorkers deserve an open government โค" a City Hall that shares information rather than hides and selectively discloses some data, a City Hall truly answerable to the people.

A Ferrer administration would open government to the people it serves. It would provide meaningful information, statistical data and performance indicators directly related to the duties of an office or an agency. It would employ the latest technology to enable citizens to gain access to this data. Routinely available information on service delivery and agency performance gives the public the ability to go to the agencies, their community boards, their associations, and elected officials armed with informa tion that details why a bad condition exists and where resources may be redeployed. I propose to open government to the public by requiring agencies to report basic information that allows the public to evaluate how each agency adequately provides services. The reporting will occur across municipal government in agencies involved in everything from public safety to strategic planning to environment and infrastructure to education and human services. Information released in reports will also be posted on the world-wide-web. In general, agency and administration compliance with reporting requirements on strategic planning would provide the public, the media and elected officials with information that gives them the ability to review and question โค" where necessary โค" the adequate identification of problems and their solutions.

Government and the public can use agency data to refocus and re-direct resources at the source, and make government work at the neighborhood level. A closed government bars opportunities to fix problems with local services. The data reporting enables government to employ surveys on service delivery to inform government on its responsiveness and effectiveness on a borough and neighborhood basis.

6. WHISTEBLOWERS: What additional protections, if any, would you support to protect city employees who report government corruption, waste or inefficiency?

I would look to create further protections for those who report malfeasance, waste or inefficiency. I will also set a tone by rewarding those workers who put their careers on the line to protect the public good.

7. CONTRACTING: New York City purchases more than $7 billion a year in goods and services. The new charter made sweeping changes in the way the city contracts, placing basic authority for the award of city contracts with the office of the mayor. What steps have you taken and would you take to insure efficient and ethical city contracting?

In general I have concerns that the Mayor's Office of Contracts has made the purchasing process unwieldy and causes undue delays that particularly harm smaller contractors. This part of the process requires review.

I have particular concerns about professional services contracts. Currently, all contracts for architectural and engineering contracts with New York City agencies are awarded on the basis of competitive bidding where cost is the primary, if not sole, factor. A competitive negotiation, where price is the sole factor for "judgment services," is not in the best interest of the public nor the agencies that procure professional services. The American Bar Association has stated its support for this Quality Based Selection legislation in commentary in support of the ABA Model Procurement Code. "The principal reasons supporting this selection procedure for architect-engineer services are the lack of the definitive scope of work for such services at the time the selection is made and the importance of selecting the best qualified firm."

If the fee is fair and reasonable, award is made without consideration of proposals and fees of other competing firms. If the fee cannot be negotiated to satisfaction of the (Agency), negotiations with other qualified firms are initiated. Thus price is an important, but not the only, factor in the award of the architect-engineer contract under this procedure.

The principal difference between the recommended procedure for architect-engineer selection and the procedure used in New York City and other competitive source selections is the point at which price is considered.

Both the Federal Government and the State have recognized that selections for professional design services should be made on the best-qualified basis for each project. The Brooks Bill, Federal Public Law No. 92-582, established the selection of firms and individuals to perform professional services for the Federal Government on a best-qualified basis and competitive negotiation and Section 136A of the State Finance Law adopted Qualified Based Selection at the state level. New York City deserves no less.

The City should also aggressively implement policies and practices that apply its purchasing power toward improving its environmental performance and support environmentally sustainable businesses and industries. This includes enacting additional procurement preference laws to help sustain a market for recyclables and reusable items. Doing so will have compounding environmental and economic benefits. For example, purchasing energy efficient products and implementing energy conservation across the City government can reduce electricity costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and reduce the need to build new power plants. Using alternative fuel vehicles reduces air pollution and related public health risks, and often reduces the costs of vehicle maintenance and health care.

8. DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION: The Commissioner of Investigations serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Some have argued that granting the commissioner a fixed term would increase their independence; others have said that it is important for the commissioner to be fully accountable to a mayor and thus removable when necessary. Do you support, oppose or have another position on having the commissioner serve for a fixed term?

The Mayor must be accountable to the public for what occurs on his/her watch. A fully independent Commissioner may afford a Mayor a degree of distance from bad acts that may occur. I am interested in a structure that does not allow a mayor an opportunity to avoid accountability but affords independence of action to the DOI Commissioner. Perhaps a budget structure -- similar to the one afforded IBO -- that provides the staffing levels necessary to empower DOI with independence of action could be woven into the City Charter.

9. PRIVATE FUNDS: There has been continuing controversies about the use of private funds in government projects.

a) Past mayors have set up private corporations to solicit funds for summit meetings, travel abroad, parades, inaugurations and other events. What is your view on the appropriate role for the use of private funds to support these initiatives?

Private financing to support these initiatives is appropriate provided there is sufficient reporting and disclosure of the contributions. With adequate disclosure, the public can determine whether it believes there is any impropriety. I believe the same reporting and disclosure as used in campaigns should apply to these types of contributions.

b) City parks officials came under fire for requiring groups wishing to use parks for private events to pay differing fees to benefit a private parks foundation. How would you handle this situation?

I criticized park rules, including "pay for play" fees, in the City Record during the 1999 Thanksgiving holiday lull. With no misgivings, City Hall served up this new tax on the poor during this holiday season so it would face no obstacles.

The City administration's misguided proposal to require permits for relatively small groups and gatherings flies in the face of the City's long history of free access to open common space. To charge for the use of public space, to impose a tax, when our tax dollars already (ought to) provide for our parks, smacks of dividing New York into two cities -- one where those who can pay get to play and the other where those with no money get to stay home.

New York City, unlike adjoining jurisdictions, has more than 300 years' history of free access to common land and parks. This includes opportunities for the public to gather informally -- to play ball, observe wildlife, picnic and barbecue in designated areas. This openness sets New York apart as a special place. Already, significant public space, including many parcels of parkland, limit public access through the granting of concessions to private operators.

The City must reaffirm it pact with its citizens to provide open and free access to public space. It also must move away from attempts to turn our public parks into cash cows. The City must abandon this tax by another name and maintain free access. Let our people play; do not make them pay.

10. POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT: What are or would be your guidelines for insuring that government staff and resources not be abused for political campaign purposes?

The Conflicts of Interest provision of Chapter 68 of the New York City Charter sets out the standard of conduct for employees of the Office of the Bronx Borough President including interns and volunteers and for all city employees. All city employees are required to abide by the Conflicts of Interest provisions of Chapter 68 of the New York City Charter. Chapter V of my office's Employee Manual includes a Code of Ethics, relevant parts of which that states:

"No agency member shall:

"Engage in any political activity on the premises, including the use of phones; nor shall campaign literature, petition sheets, etc. be permitted at the workplace.

"Hold a policy-making position at this agency if he/she also holds a political party position.

"Require a subordinate employee to contribute money for a gift, provide a loan, and/or render any personal service; not shall any supervisor or agency head accept any gift, personal service, or engage in any business transaction with a subordinate employee.

"Serve as an officer on any campaign committee of any fellow employee seeking elected office.

"Use his/her position at this agency to abet the employment of a family member with a person or firm that does or has done business with the city and/ or this agency for a period of three years.

"Engage directly in any business or private interest with any entity whether for profit or not for profit which conflicts with the discharge of their duties at the Bronx Borough President's Office, nor may members of an employee's immediate family do the same.

"Have a financial interest in any outside entity that does business with this agency or any of its affiliated agencies."

Another relevant part of the code also states: "All agency members:

"May engage in political activity only outside the agency and/or after normal working hours.

"May decline to participate in the campaign efforts of any candidate without fear of retribution and/or effect on their employment status.

"Shall be hired or promoted at the agency solely on the basis of merit."

11. VOTER REGISTRATION: Nearly two million New Yorkers who are eligible to vote are not registered to vote. In 2000, the city enacted a Pro-Voter law to strengthen voter registration activities by city agencies, including the non-partisan Voter Assistance Commission. As mayor, what steps would you take to encourage voter registration and participation? What role do you see for the Voter Assistance Commission?

Voting represents one of the ways that citizens participate in civic life and government. Access to voter registration expands public access and participation in government. In our own city, City Hall must encourage this important form of civic and political involvement through easing participation in the political process. The city can take meaningful steps to encourage voter registration through the appropriate use of our public schools, colleges, and other educational institutions and community and faith-based organizations. In addition, reforms at the Board of Elections will also work to encourage voter participation.

Public officials can only make a positive contribution to our community when they work to ease, expand and encourage public participation in the electoral process. A recent local law supported such efforts by helping to increase access to voter registration through free and wide distribution of voter registration forms at city agencies. People should be provided with an opportunity to register to vote at any place where they obtain public services.

However, nothing prevents city government going further than the new local law. For example, we can designate New York City public schools as agencies for voter registration. Let's build on the example of CUNY where institutions follow a legal mandate to make voter registration forms available to its students. This year alone, thousands of New York City high school students will reach the voting age while they are still enrolled in school. By actively making voter registration forms available to young people, we empower them, and encourage them to become active and concerned citizens. Voter registration also builds on existing citizenship curricula in our schools. The availability of voter registration forms at public schools also benefits the parents and/or guardians of city public school students. Parents and guardians can be given voter registration forms when they visit schools to enroll their children or attend PTA meetings. Afterschool programs, Beacon Schools and other educational resource centers offer opportunities to engage eligible voters as well. It is important to note, while we can mandate registration in public schools, we can and should also encourage parochial, yeshivot and other non-public schools to engage in the process.

Furthermore, we can support voter registration through our faith-based institutions and civic organizations that are not connected to city agencies. This process need not and should not interfere with the separation of church and state. Churches are an integral part of our community and it would be short sighted to shun any opportunity to encourage involvement with the political process.

I also support the recommendation by NYPIRG, Common Cause and others of a citywide mailing of voter registration forms and election information during presidential elections years. The Board of Elections already annually conducts mailings to registered voters. A mailing including registration forms would be extremely effective. The most direct way to reach potential registrants is at their homes.

Finally, a modest increase in staffing of the Voter Assistance Commission, which has little more than an office manager, would be appropriate. I would appoint distinguished and committed New Yorkers to the commission and increase the funding to empower the commission as envisioned under the City Charter and local law to facilitate and maximize voter registration and participation.

12. INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE: Both former Mayor Dinkins and Mayor Giuliani opposed establishing an Independent Budget Office, saying it was unnecessary despite civic and editorial support for the office. The IBO was eventually set up in 1995 by court order. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the continued existence of the IBO?

I strongly support the IBO and was a party to the lawsuit to force the Council and the Mayor to setup and fund the IBO. I support strengthening the agency's role through enhanced responsibility. During the 1999 deliberations on the City Charter, I testified that the Charter should shifting responsibility for preparation of the Mayor's Management Report to the Independent Budget Office and rename the document, the Independent Management Report.

13. ELECTIONS: What steps would you take as mayor to improve and modernize how city elections are run by the Board of Elections?

I advocate efforts to modernize the Board of Elections to increase voting and ensure the accuracy and timely reporting of the election results. This includes adding resources to improve training poll workers and better pay to attract and keep qualified workers, as well as modernization of voting procedures. Increase pay for Inspectors to $250 per day and (poll-site) Coordinators to $350 per day (from $130 and $200 respectively). This would require an amendment to Section 3-420 of the NYS Election Law by the State Legislature. The last increase was 1997.

In addition to modern machines that timely provide the count to avoid the 1997 runoff fiasco and the lengthy Florida uncertainty (not to mention the Manhattan State Senate seat), I want to review the use of the Internet to widen participation. The State and Federal governments, due to their interest in the integrity of state and federal elections should provide the necessary funds to accomplish these goals.

I also support Election Day same-day registration and the counting of Absentee Ballots where intent of the voter is clear, which is also advocated by the State Attorney General.

14. TERM LIMITS: Term limits for all elected officials are due to take effect his year. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the city's term limits law?

I support term limits for executive positions. Although I do not support term limits for legislative positions, the voters of New York City have made their will clear on this issue in two separate elections and I would do nothing to change current law.

15. OTHER STEPS: What other steps, not discussed in answer to any of the above questions, would you take to enhance the integrity of city government, to fight corruption, and to reduce potential conflicts of interest in city government?

The 1999 Annual report of the Conflict of Interest Board highlighted some policy proposals that merit consideration:

Providing the board with investigatory authority, subpoena power and the ability to mandate ethics training in city agencies.

There also exists a need for a sensible and rational budget process to enable the Board to operate as a first rate ethics agency, and doesn't leave the COIB at the mercy of City Hall and the Council.

My Street Address:

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Find what city council district you are in -- and learn more about what's going on there, and who's running.


What is this?
Gotham Gazette's Searchlight on Campaign 2001 offers a comprehensive look at what is being called New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history. (See the left-hand column for an explanation).


Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.


Register To Vote or Be A Poll Worker

Voter Registration Forms
After printing and filling out the voter registration form, please send them by mail to:

Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY
10004-1609

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Poll Worker Applications

After completing the forms, please send them to the address on the form.

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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
SavvyVoter.org
NYVote.com
Votesmart
NYPIRG
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
DemocracyNet
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart

E-Voting
Election.com

Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Media
Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Conservative
Democratic
Green
Independence
Liberal
Republican
Right to Life
Working Families
Communist
Libertarian
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Socialist
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
DL21C
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.


Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)


2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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