A Consultant's Best Friend
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
limits and new campaign finance, which included 4-1 matching funds, has attracted many new
candidates to the political game, but it has also built a whole new cottage industry to
help those candidates with the tough task of running for office.
consulting is probably the second oldest industry in the country and not too
different from the first. The industry thrives in the nations Capital feeding on
Congressional, Senate and Presidential elections.
of the people involved in it on a local level are fine, upstanding individuals, only
problem is they are supposed to make the politicians look good to the rest of us.
was really only a generation ago, when David Garth, the guru of John Lindsay then Ed Koch,
became the true granddaddy of modern day New York consultants.
local Hanks, Morris and Sheinkopf presently compete for the top position in the New York
crowd. You might catch their firms with some Council candidates, but these guys play for
the man behind Chuck Schumers victory, now has his longtime friend and client Queens
mayoral hopeful Alan Hevesi.
a reporter for the Queens Tribune 30 years ago, who has done work for Bill Clinton,
is now playing a city trifecta of Betsy Gotbaum for Public Advocate, Bill Thompson for
Comptroller and Mark Green for Mayor. Queens Beep candidate Carol Gresser is another of
the firms candidates.
than Hank and Hank, several consulting firms have come and gone. There have also been some
long-standing respected ones, including Ernie Lendlers Branford Communications and
Joe Mercurio, now with our old friend Frank Baroff in Manhattan.
with term-limits and 4-1 matching funds, the resultant number of candidates and the
quantity of dollars has caused new firms to spring alive for this election season. Council
candidates have been signed up for petition and field operation, creative, print, direct
mail and more.
Queens, the Parkside Group leads the newcomers in attracting candidates. Evan Stavisky,
Bill Driscoll and Harry Giannoulis bring their years of political experience together to
represent a dozen-plus odd Council candidates maybe some of them arent too
new firm has taken the Borough by storm and represents viable Council candidates in 10 of
the 14 Queens races. They have a batch of other candidates throughout the city.
Advance Groups Scott Levenson and Peter Krokondelas are back in Queens with a small
handful of very respectable candidates.
Marbachs Promotional Strategies has picked off several Council wanabees. Marbach,
who has been playing the game for a while representing fringe candidates, might come up
with a winner this time.
Clobridge of Silver Bullet, an old pro from DC, has been visiting the city to pick up some
players for the NYC free for all.
Run! Inc., the newest player in Queens, has a novel twist. While partner Harris Leitstein
has the traditional consultants experience, his childhood friend and new business
partner Laurence Laufer has a different twist. He doesnt want to write campaign
brochures, tape commercials, bind petitions or plan a direct mail campaign like the rest
of them. He wants to help candidates through the maze of 4-1 matching funds.
Vallone for Mayor, Carol Gresser for Beep and a handful of Council candidates have signed
aboard. Laufer, former Counsel to the Exec. Dir. of the Campaign Finance Board from its inception in 88 through last
year, was responsible for preparing all CFB regs and advisory opinions. Laufer oversees
the financial compliance and matching fund filings for his clients. He believes that his initial consultation will save more than the entire cost of using his service.
campaign fund raising has become a political industry, Laufer may just have a winning
idea. He seems to be the only player in the game and if we were backing a candidate,
wed give Larry a call.
are endless families eating well this season
because of the new open city elections.
term limits and 4-1 matching funds have created a whole new crop of candidates who will
bring to public service, this city and the Council, new vision, energy and dedication
which benefit us all for years to come.
Consults For Who?
Parkside: (Evan Stavisky,
Bill Driscoll, Harry Giannoulis)
19 Tony Avella
20 John Liu
21 Aida Gonzales
22 Peter Vallone, Jr.
23 David Weprin
24 Barry Grodenchik
26 Eric Gioia
27 Leroy Comrie
28 Anthony Andrews
31 Charlotte Jefferson
Advance Group: (Scott
Levenson, Peter Krokondelas)
19 Arthur Cheliotes
24 Jim Gennaro
30 Elizabeth Crowley
32 Joe Addabbo, Jr.
Promotional Strategies (Lois
21 - Hiram Monserratte
25 - Jimmy Van Bremer
27 - Helen Cooper Gregory
29 - Lynn Shulman
Run! Inc.: (Harris
Leichtstein & Larry Laufer)
20 Ethel Chen
24 David Reich
25 Rudolpho Greco
Branford Communications: (Ernie
20 Adrian Joyce
Sheinkopf Communications: (Hank
Sheinkopf, Bill Green)
25 Helen Sears
is over. As you read this, the last of the candidates have rushed to the Board of
Elections to file their nominating petitions to secure their place on the ballot.
Thursday, July 12 midnight deadline marks the end of the 37 day period where candidates
could collect signatures of registered party members residing in their district.
that is only a beginning to insure a place on the ballot. Any voter from the district may
challenge a candidates nominating petition claiming, for some reason, it does not contain
the proper number of valid signatures.
are professionals that have reputations managing such challenges. Tom Mantons Queens
County Democratic Organization led by his law partners, Mike Reich, Gerry Sweeny, Frank
Bols and a coterie of volunteer club regulars have mastered the process. These guys are as
good as they get at what they euphemistically call cleaning up the ballot.
What they really mean is deny the opponents a place on the ballot.
can go the Board of Elections and/or the court route challenging opponents and tying them
up delaying a decision on ballot placement. This process is critical in an election where
the Campaign Finance Board is sitting with oodles of 4-1 matching money that it wont
give to a candidate until ballot access is assured.
you cant knock an opponent off the ballot but can keep them tied up in court, you
can prevent them from funding their campaign.
can challenge individual petition signatures because the signer is: not registered to
vote, not enrolled in the candidates political party, or does not live in the
district. In addition, a voter may sign only one petition for each office.
may also be made to the people who gathered the petitions, known as the subscribing
witnesses. If a subscribing witness is found to be ineligible, all of the signatures they
gathered are invalidated.
seemingly minor errors on the sheet or in the subscribing witness statement may invalidate
the entire page of signatures.
goal of the challenger is to reduce the number of signatures so that it falls below the
required number for City Council, 900
signatures. Reducing a petition to fewer than 900 valid signatures knocks that candidate
off the ballot.
the candidate up in court so that he is finally certified very late, keeps the money from
the candidate and thus unable to participate effectively in the election.
challenges begin this week. The Queens Democratic organization is the skilled player at
this game. This may be their last and most effective way of helping their candidates.
ability to deliver voters to the polls has always been somewhat suspect. Their ability to
deny ballot access to opponents has never been in doubt.
gentlemen, start your attorneys; let the games begin.
Its hands-free car phones! First theyll warn you; then theyll fine you.
Gee, 100 smackers for talking on and holding your cell phone while driving.
the NY Legislature has passed, and Guv Pataki signed,
a dont talk, hold and drive cell phone law.
you can talk on it, if youre not holding it. And you can hold it, if youre not
talking on it. And I think you can dial it and hold it if youre not talking. But,
can you listen on it but not talk, while holding it?
you hold a cup of coffee while talking hands-free on a cell phone?
you put on your lipstick no, not me while holding coffee, while driving and
talking on a hands-free speaker cell phone?
your significant other hold it while youre driving? Your cell phone that is?
else is illegal to do while driving? Have the super-legislators in Albany spelled out
which behaviors are acceptable and which are not while driving a car?
you pass a budget while talking on a cell phone while driving a car and drinking coffee?
these guys (and gals) in Albany, dont do very much. I mean it! The damn NY State
budget was due on April 1. Thats more than a quarter of a year ago. Can you imagine
a business not having a budget for three months? Now, the State budget is larger than any
of the businesses you can think of. Its humongous. And its more than three
dont be surprised. This is the 17th year in a row members of the NYS Legislature
have failed to pass a budget on time.
are the same chaps and chapettes who voted themselves a healthy salary increase two years
ago along with lulus, bonuses and expense
they go about their everyday business, the all-powerful leadership, Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Governor George Pataki seem
unconcerned that their State is without a budget. If this was a private business or public
company, management would have been gone a long time ago.
can take your cell phone out of your hands. These mother jumpers can enter the privacy of
your car, sit next to you and tell you how to behave. But they cant travel to Albany
and do their business. They cant pass the single most important piece of legislation
on time. There are not a whole lot of them who were around 18 years ago when the last
on-time budget occurred.
these jokers made a concession. A number of years ago, they passed a law that said, if a
budget is late, they wont take their salaries until one is passed.
when it is passed, they get all of their back wages ridiculous!
they did not get paid and lost their salary if the budget was late, you could bet the
ranch or tenement or attached house or the bank that State budgets would be on time.
seems pretty simple to me. We must demand that they legislate a forfeiture of salary
during any period where the budget is not on time. Well have to add safeguards to
prevent them from getting any gray area money via back door routes, too.
they pass a true salary forfeiture bill, budgets will be on time.
really that simple.
everyone should call their State Senator and Assembly member and tell them if they
dont pass Schenklers no budget salary forfeiture law, youre
not going to vote for them next year.
now everybody pick up your cell phones and dial . . . .
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
For The Not 4 Publication Archives