Voters’, Pols’ Complaints Get Polling Places Moved
This past Primary Day, September 12, many Democratic district leaders received complaints from constituents about their new polling places being too far from their homes and difficult and inconvenient to get to. In some cases, the complainants didn’t even bother to vote.
Now, we’re told changes have been made in some cases and are in the process of being made in others to relocate the polling places where they were before being changed, in connection with the new districts which were created under reapportionment earlier this year.
Councilmember Melinda Katz and Assemblymember Michael Cohen, both Forest Hills Democratic district leaders, report that their complaints to the Board of Elections helped to restore local polling sites to their original, preferred locations in time for the November 5 general election.
A source at Democratic Party headquarters in Forest Hills told us the same thing is happening in every single district in the borough. Chief Clerk Barbara Conacchio, who runs the Queens office of the Board of Elections in Long Island City, is supervising the relocation. The job is not complete yet, but we’re assured it will be done in time for Election Day on November 5, which is just 13 days away.
Katz and Cohen, who are Democratic leaders in the 28th Assembly District, explained that many of their constituents found themselves with inconveniently located polling sites on the day of the primary elections and registered complaints with them.
"The reassigned polling sites were causing great confusion," Katz said. "In a lot of instances, the sites were far from peoples’ homes. It is a citizen’s right to vote, and it’s important that the process is kept as convenient as possible."
Following up on the complaints, Katz and Cohen contacted the Board of Elections, asking them to restore the reassigned sites.
"Consequently," they said, "10 of the area polling sites were switched back to their original locations."
Katz said residents should double check their polling site notices when they receive them in the mail.
Conacchio told us later on that "approximately 100 election districts (polling sites) were moved out of 1,481. These were the only ones we received complaints about. Some we couldn’t do now because the Assembly district is too big, but we’ll deal with them when we draw the new city council district lines."
WEPRIN STUMPS FOR McCALL: Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) took to the stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall last Thursday, speaking on the candidate’s behalf before the National Association of Federal Retirees (NARFE) Manhattan chapter in a Manhattan church.
Describing himself as an avid supporter, Weprin said he discussed McCall’s far reaching plans to improve our schools, create jobs across our state, fix New York’s dysfunctional budget process, and provide affordable, accessible health care for all New Yorkers.
Weprin, council Finance Committee chairman, said McCall will, if elected, "bring people together, fix the budget and get New York moving again."
QUEENS INDY PARTY FIRMS UP CONTROL: The constant fight over control of the Queens Independence Party may be at an end, for the present anyway. The Queens members of the organization’s state committee met on October 10 and reconstituted the interim county organization under terms permitted by state law and the rules of the statewide party.
"The meeting was marked by a unanimity of purpose previously unknown to the Queens organization as a result of the recent Independence Party primary in which the ‘Democratic Coalition’ took 35 of the 36 State Committee seats in Queens," said a release from Queens chairman Gerald Everett.
Also in the primary, the party statewide elected Tom Golisano as its candidate for governor even though the organization had endorsed Pataki to be its candidate.
Everett said in an interview, "We are supporting Golisano in the November 5 elections. Although we supported Governor Pataki in the primary, when it was over we closed ranks behind Mr. Golisano after the primary and we’re strongly supporting him and our entire ticket."
When we expressed surprise that the party was not standing behind the governor, whom they had endorsed, Everett responded, "our members, upstate and downstate, voted for Golisano in the primary, so they decided for us who our candidate would be in the general election—Tom Golisano. We’re a democratic organization."
At the October 10 meeting, Everett of Woodside was re-elected chairman, and Molly Honigsfeld, of Long Island City, was re-elected secretary. Another Astorian, Grafinka Chunov, was elected treasurer.
The party’s executive committee-at-large was expanded from two to seven members. Among those elected to the newly constituted committee were John Fiori, Bayside, Sandra Flores, Flushing, Barbara Emmanuel, East Elmhurst, and Scott Morgan, Jackson Heights.
Everett stated: "The Queens party is now more than ever in a position to be a significant player in the development of politics by and for the people of our county and state. A vote for line ‘C’ is a vote against special interest politics. The two-party system is a corrupt political arrangement."
MORE VOUCHERS TO HOUSE HOMELESS: Having learned that 1,000 federal housing vouchers for the homeless are not being utilized, Borough President Helen Marshall has called for more efficient use of vouchers for rent subsidies. She said such a step would go a long way in reducing the dramatically escalating number of homeless families in Queens.
The vouchers are available for anyone whose rent exceeds one-third of their income. "Instead of improving the efficiency of the voucher system," Marshall said, "the city elects to spend $73 a night for each of the families at the Best Western hotel in southeast Queens and up to $83 a night at the Skyway in East Elmhurst."
Marshall will sponsor a forum on Section 8 subsidized housing for lawmakers and community-based housing organizations at Queens Borough Hall this Friday.
DA BROWN VISITS RFK DEMS: Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown will discuss crime and the criminal justice system tomorrow night as guest speaker at the RFK Democratic Club in Forest Hills, Dem district leaders Lewis Brandt and Councilmember Melinda Katz announced. The meeting starts at 8 p.m. at club headquarters at 65-05 Yellowstone Blvd., Forest Hills.