NYC Issues 2001
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: TECHNOLOGY

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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

 

NYC Issues 2001
Science and Technology

By Laura Forlano

Few candidates running for office in New York this year are likely even to utter the words "science" or "technology," much less make them a major focus of their campaigns.

But when politicians talk about issues that they care deeply about, such as education and economic development -- indeed, when they talk about the future of New York -- they are in fact talking in some ways about science and technology. Science and technology are the forces behind the changes in many areas. They are embedded in most issues that New York faces.

Here are some suggestions for policy priorities in science and technology.

LOCAL ISSUES

Economic Development

In recent years, New York has made a great effort to promote the industries of information technology, with some success, and biotechnology, with much less success. Both are hot industries that should have a natural home in New York.

With all the talk of dot-bombs, high tech and new media companies already make up a $9.2 billion industry in the city with 4,000 firms, many in Silicon Alley in Manhattan, but others are spreading to Brooklyn, where developers are continuing to renovate and wire large commercial spaces to make them attractive to high-tech.

New York, with an astonishing 46 medical schools and 64 hospitals and medical centers, currently ranks second in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) .

The city may need to create tax and other incentive programs, improve the needed infrastructure, and help enact a fuller coordination between government, industry and education to help these industries flourish in New York.

Education

1. Coordination With Higher Education
Positive relations between the public and private sectors help to fuel economic growth, but universities are the lynchpin in creating new knowledge and research. In New York, the critical relationship between government and its universities has suffered in recent years. New York City has more than 40 colleges and universities, especially large research institutions such as Columbia and New York University, that have built a web of partnerships reaching out nationally and globally. Some of the most important research is not applied locally, and so New York does not reap the substantial economic returns. More must be done to build strong relationships between the city, our universities and our industries.

2. Increased Funding In Public Schools
New York City public schools are failing to train adequately in basic science, which is the driver of innovation and therefore should be encouraged at all levels of education from kindergarten through college. A greater focus on math and science will create citizens who are better equipped to work in New York's priority industries, biotechnology and information technology. This will also help citizens understand important policy issues related to science and technology as they develop.

Outreach

Increased public participation will allow us to broaden the dialogue about science and technology and build a society that reflects the input of the citizens and not only that of scientists, engineers and politicians. Instead of science and technology being guided by what it is possible to discover and invent, it will be more important to decide what society wants and then use science to achieve those goals. New York City can begin to get the public involved in policymaking in this area by sponsoring a series of citizens' panels on topics from cloning to privacy on the Internet to driving while using a cellular phone.

Access

Government officials, industry leaders, academics and non-profit groups alike worry that rapid changes in information technology, including the introduction of broadband or high-speed Internet access technology, will exacerbate the digital divide. The divide commonly refers to the lack of access to new technologies for rural and urban poor in this country and around the world. New Yorkers are very concerned about the gap between higher and lower income people in the use of the Internet. According to the Internet Policy Institute poll, well over three quarters of New Yorkers believe that the government should subsidize Internet access for underserved populations.

E-Government

In the next few years, more and more government services will be available online. We will be able to pay our taxes, register for government programs and maybe even vote online. New York is making progress in this area due to efforts by the New York City Department of Information Technology. Its e-government initiatives currently include the testing and demonstration of CityAccess, a kiosk that allows citizens to interact with city agencies and obtain information on a wide range of opportunities, services, and regulations. By expanding this experiment, the next mayoral administration will be able to streamline bureaucracy, create greater efficiency, simplify government services for citizens and set a model for other cities and the world.

What will help achieve all of these goals is appointing an official specifically to oversee science and technology policy in New York, something the city lacks now, though we have deputy mayors and commissioners for many other major areas of importance to the city.

FEDERAL ISSUES

Because so much being decided nationally in science and technology affects what happens in the city, New York politicians should monitor the debate and speak out on issues of importance.

Intellectual Property Laws

Intellectual property refers to ownership of copyrights, patents and trademarks. Legal trends and policies in this area are vitally important to some of New York's priority industries such as media and entertainment, biotechnology and information technology. Strong intellectual property laws are important because they give the private sector the incentive to create new ideas and innovations. However, if laws that protect intellectual property are too strict they will discourage the sharing of knowledge and innovation especially at the university level. This could stifle research and, in the end, negatively impact the success of New York's key industries.

To Tax Or Not To Tax E-Commerce

As with mail-order catalogues, on-line purchases have not been subject to taxation unless the seller has offices in the state where the buyer resides. However, many people feel that Internet businesses have an unfair advantage against main street businesses, in part because they can offer goods tax-free. The government also has lost substantial income due to the rise of e-commerce. Over half of New Yorkers feel that they should not have to pay sales tax for purchases they make over the Internet according to the Internet Policy Institute poll.

Privacy And Security

Consumer privacy has come under fire this year due to media attention over Amazon.com and other companies changing the privacy contracts on their Websites to allow for the sale of their consumer information. In an age when medical and financial information is increasingly stored online, consumers may be taking an unnecessary risk. According to the Internet Policy Institute poll over three quarters of New Yorkers want federal laws to restrict what kinds of personal information can be collected online about them. Many of New York's key businesses thrive on the buying and selling of consumer information.

The security of online transactions is key to New York's financial sector because these companies are moving towards increased electronic transactions from mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and computers and people will be unlikely to use these new forms of transactions unless the security of their information can be guaranteed.

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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.


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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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