By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
This ones for Rita.
She keeps calling to tell me not to write about the Presidential
election. "Its boring," she says.
As a matter of fact, my friend Rita Ackerman finds politics boring. She
wont admit it, but she likes when I write about other than political things, because
she prefers a whole lot to politics.
Hey Reet, how about when its about Gary?
You see, Ritas husband Congressman Gary Ackerman may have been
way ahead of the curve when it comes to insuring that all ballots get counted. Gary had an
encounter with the ballot counting process years ago.
When he went to Florida during the recent recount craziness, we assumed
he went there on behalf of Al Gore. The Liberal Democratic Congressman from Jamaica
Estates was a strong supporter of the Vice President.
However, a look back into the press clips from three-plus years ago
indicates Ackerman foresaw the problem that George W., not Al G. has been complaining
about. Long before the Florida catastrophe, Ackerman raised the issue of disqualified
valid absentee ballots that lacked postmarks through no fault of the voter.
Ackerman received a complaint in 1997 from Forest Hills resident Sally
Gamy who was informed by the Queens Board of Elections that her absentee ballot in the
local Assembly race would not be counted because it arrived without a postmark. The
complaint from Gamy, an 85-year-old disabled senior who had voted in every election for
the previous 60 years, sparked Ackerman to conduct an investigation.
Ackerman tells us that he discovered that local post offices had
discontinued postmarking mail but instead the task was performed at borough-wide
facilities where ballots could pile up and result in bulk delivery without postmarks. When
ballots arrived after the election deadline, the postmark would have been the only way to
determine if it was mailed on time.
According to Ackerman, there were 875 absentee ballots that were not
counted in the 1996 election 200 of them from Queens. Furthermore, the reports
indicate there were more than 2,000 additional absentee ballots that were sent by the
borough election boards to New Yorkers in the military stationed abroad, which were
erroneously returned "postage due," despite being clearly marked "no
postage necessary" and containing a proper mail permit number.
In September 1997 after representatives of the Postal Service and the
Board of Elections met but failed to resolve the problem, Ackerman charged, "New York
Postal Officials should be ashamed of themselves for taking away peoples
constitutional right to vote. This problem must be fixed before this Novembers
election," he demanded.
It was more than three years ago that Ackerman blamed the problem on
poor training of postal workers.
This year, George W. Bush filed suit in five Florida Counties alleging
that valid military overseas ballots were not counted because they lacked postmarks.
It seems that problems as well as people migrate from New York to
"The election may be over by the time you receive this poem,"
writes a Rego Park reader. "I wrote it as a kind of reminder to all of us that every
vote does (and hopefully will) count," she concludes:
If you favor a donkey
Or a pachyderm
For a full eight years
Or just one term;
Heres a line
Which bears some note.
The voice is heard
That casts the vote.
Ellen Fuchs, Rego Park
USING PUBLIC FUNDS FOR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS?
We like Jeff Gottlieb. Weve known him for more than 20 years.
Jeff is chief of staff (or some other heavy duty title) for Councilman Morty Povman
weve also known Morty and his wife Sandy for two decades or so. In the active
greater Queens community, we consider the Povmans and Gottlieb as our friends.
Morty Povman, as senior a member of the City Council as you can find,
is term limited. His protégé, Jeff Gottlieb is running for his seat. Morty is actively
Now, before we get into this column, let me set the stage for the
election contest. Opposing Jeff will be Barry Grodenchik, Exec. Assistant to Queens Beep
Claire Shulman, also a friend of ours. Also in the race is Jim Genarro, Prez of the Saul
Weprin Democratic Club. Jim was almost our friend but revealed his true self when we
didnt give his fundraiser the coverage he thought it deserved. Hes okay
anyway. A David Reich, who apparently is tied into Brooklyn State Senator Sy Lachman and
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is also seeking Povmans seat.
Me, I wanted Judy Bergtraum a Deputy City Commissioner, School Board
member and my cousin to run, but she deferred to Grodenchik. Too bad.
Well, Im not taking sides in this one at least not yet.
But I gotta yell when City funds are being utilized to further the candidacy of one of the
Im talking specifically about the City Council funds allotted to
Morty Povman that are being used to advance the candidacy of Jeff Gottlieb. Clearly and
carefully, I hold no malice towards either. I repeat, I like both. Id be shouting
out no matter which candidates or elected officials misused public funds.
Now public officials constantly use their staffs and print and mail
budget to further their own name recognition in their districts. It is one of the perks of
incumbency. However, to blatantly and without regard for public policy utilize that budget
to further the candidacy of a staffer is unacceptable.
We received last week, in an official Morton Povman City Council
envelope, three photos and captions on Povman letterhead, all containing pictures of Jeff
Gottlieb. All were clearly promoting Gottlieb. None of the three mentioned Povman. None of
the three even indicated that Gottlieb was representing Povman. On the contrary each gave
a different description of Gottlieb relating to things other than his role a
representative of Povman or the City Council. None of the three promoted anything
resembling a benefit to the constituents of Povmans Council District.
Now, we are not suggesting that in the future, Gottlieb spin the
release or photo caption to justify the Council expenditure. We are suggesting that no
Council funds be spent unless there is a clear benefit to constituents. Then and only
then, it must be made clear that the elected official is the person who is responsible to
Im not suggesting a crime. Im not calling for an
investigation. I am asking or insisting that it stop. To do otherwise, opens up a
Pandoras box of abuses.
We dont want to sanction Claire Shulman to counter the Povman
expenditure by funding mailings on behalf of Grodenchik. In spite of her strong support
for Grodenchik the Beep threw a funder at her house for him she has not
utilized public funds in his behalf. We applaud personal support and public fund
neutrality for office holders.
Weve written about this subject before. We will do so again.
Weve noted that the Council Speaker has put his face and name (in big bold type) on
mailings in Council Districts that were not his own. Should the Speaker of the House put
his name alongside your Congressman on their mailings?
Cmon, if you dont represent the district or have a specific
public policy need, dont spend our money dumping promotion stuff paid for by us in
the mail. We really dont want you to promote your own candidacy at public expense.
But that line is gray. Cross it and well shout. Do a specific mailing to promote
someone else and its shameful. Well shout even louder.
Back to Jeff and Morty: theyre not bad people. They care about
the district and care about the public. I hope to hear from both of them saying that they
recognize that the mailing in question was abusive and assuring me that City funds will
not again be used to further Gottliebs candidacy.
Hes okay. He can run the honest way.
Wisdom Of George Dubya Bush
These quotes have been circulating on the internet for quite some time.
Although we could not verify the source, quite a number of people have forwarded them to
us, saying they were uttered by the man who now seems to be our President-elect. These
words of wisdom are shared with you so that you may prepare yourself for the next four
"If we dont succeed, we run the risk of failure." -
George W. Bush, Jr.
"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother
and child." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and
that one word is to be prepared." -Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 12/6/93
"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good
judgments in the future." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"The future will be better tomorrow." - Governor George W.
"I stand by all the misstatements that Ive made."
Governor George W. Bush, Jr. to Sam Donaldson 8/17/93
"When I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in
LA, my answer has been direct & simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are
to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame. - George W. Bush,
"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have
a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"It isnt pollution thats harming the environment.
Its the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." - Governor George
W. Bush, Jr.
"Welcome to Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts." - Governor
George W. Bush, Jr.
"Mars is essentially in the same orbit...Mars is somewhat the same
distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are
canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen,
that means we can breathe." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 8/11/94
"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nations history.
I mean in this centurys history. But we all lived in this century. I didnt
live in this century." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/15/95
"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and
democracy - but that could change." - Gov. George W. Bush, Jr., 5/22/98
"Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things." - Governor
George W. Bush, Jr., 11/30/96
"Were going to have the best educated American people in the
world." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/21/97
"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive
positions and have a tremendous impact on history." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican" - Governor
George W. Bush, Jr.
"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the
polls." - Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it." -
Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 5/20/96
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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