Why Petition Challenges Don't Bother Me Much

A lot of people wonder why I raise little complaints about ballot access challenges.

As regular readers of this department are aware, I have dedicated a perhaps inordinate amount of prose to the coverage of fringe candidates.

Although this may seem a thankless task, the expertise I’ve acquired has sometimes gotten me a bit of national attention. My attention to such matters is not merely a matter of perversity (though it is that as well).

As I’ve pointed out, dead dog candidates (as I’ve branded them) can impact the results of elections. In fact, it seems highly likely, that dead dog candidates will have an impact in at least two, and possibly more, NYC Congressional primaries this year.

In 2010, a dead dog candidate caused a vote split which cost “reformers” a District Leadership in Greenpoint/Williamsburg, while in the Bronx, a lunatic running for a District Leadership  (with a Gatemouth endorsement) actually won when he caught his opponent asleep.

Sometimes, when a dead dog impacts a race, it is because they’ve been planted (sometimes without their knowledge); other times their existence has been exploited. And sometimes it is just dumb luck (or the lack thereof).

Whie in this year’s NYC Congressional primaries, dead dog candidates of every variety seem likely to impact the results in at least two districts, by my count there are arguably dead dog candidates in seven out of eight NYC Democratic Congressional primaries this year (as well as two Republican primaries where all the candidates are dead dogs).

Let’s go over this year’s dead dog roster:

CD #6 (Queens): In addition to the extremely obnoxious Assemblyman Rory Lancman and the organization choice, lovely, charming Assemblywoman Grace Meng (whose father’s bookstore once contained more enrolled voters than a couple of Queens Assembly Districts), this race boasts the arguably serious candidacy of Councilwoman Liz Crowley, who surely was not put into the race by her cousin the County Leader to divide the white vote.

Also arguably in the race to divide the white (specifically Jewish) vote is Jeff Gottlieb, a 70 year old career hack currently filling a clerk’s slot at the Board of Elections by virtue of an appointment by his County Leader.  

As earlier revealed this week, Gottlieb once set fire to his apartment, and spent time institutionalized, which gives him a leg up over most of the other dead dog candidates, as he’s probably the only one who has medical proof that he is sane.

By contrast, we have no proof as yet that the equally Jewish Robert Mittman has ever committed arson, but we do know that he likes to honor veterans, and is a pediatric allergist who's been busy pollen the electorate.

Despite the name, Juan Sheng, is neither a man, nor half Latino (though I bet she gets a good chunk of that not insignificant vote). Her name does, however, rhyme with Meng, which given Jeff Gottlieb, might be a literal example of “poetic” justice.

Ms. Sheng apparently produces and stars in a public access news program targeted at the Queens Chinese community, with an audience so wide that Ms. Meng has never heard of it. As recently as 2010, her experience also included the following:

 Crowd Management and Book/Poster Table monitor Kennedy Center

Nonprofit; 201-500 employees; Performing Arts industry March 2010 – March 2010 (1 month) Volunteer, open House Arts Festival & Children’s Multicultural Book festival

Manage Lines, control elevator load and flow, watch for lost children, and watch for potential problems.

Yes, there’s nothing like actual Washington experience.

CD #12 (Brooklyn, Manhattan Queens): In addition to incumbent Nydia Velazquez and Vito Lopez’s pet rock, Erik Dilan, both of whom have been amply discussed here, the race includes dead dogs Dan O’Connor, a Ron Paul style libertarian receiving covert aid from the Brooklyn Regulars, and George Martinez a  hip-hop performing former patronage employee likely looking for another score for his services dividing the insurgent vote. 

CD #5 (Queens/Nassau):  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has called incumbent Greg Meeks “one of the most corrupt members of Congress.” But in southern Queens, it is far easier to compile a list of electeds not under investigations (Leroy Comrie and Michele Titus) than it is to list everyone who is.

Meeks’ major opponent, former Councilman Allen Jennings, has also been endorsed by the Republicans (and that may be the nicest thing this liberal has to say about him).

Allen Jennings is a total loon.

Jennings once threw a metal object at a reporter on live TV. He placed ads in Chinese language newspapers declaring his love for a dancer and his hatred for his wife (as she was then). He threatened another Council member using verses from the Bible. He used Council envelopes in pursuit of real estate business.

Jennings was censured by his colleagues for sexually harassing two female staffers and forcing them to remain quiet. The women sued and received a $300,000 settlement from the city. He owes the City $45,000 in fines for various campaign finance violations, and $5,000 from an unpaid fine levied by the City Council relating to his sexual harassment charges.

Seeking his old seat last year, Jennings used his campaign finds for what seems to have been daily living expenses.  

According to City Hall News, on May 9, 2011, Jennings tipped a waiter $100. He also spent $29 that day for a “meeting” at a tire dealer/auto repair shop, one of five meetings he held there. Jennings has also held “meetings” at gas stations in various locations, including the Garden State. Other meetings subsidized by his campaign were held at KFC, Cold Stone Creamery and McDonald’s.

Also in the race is Joseph Marthone, who has in the past announced at least once for the State Senate, and at least twice for City Council, without seemingly ever making the ballot.

Here is the description of Mr. Marthone he included on his own website::

Meet Joseph Mr. Joseph Marthone is a community leader/activist that represents the real needs and challenges of the people and community.Joseph Marthone  understands how Washington works, making him an ideal candidate to advance the interests of New York’s Sixth Congressional District. Joseph advised the presidential campaign of Barack Obama on Tax issues. 

Joseph’s work for the campaign was a bit of home-coming as Joe started his interest in public policy as an intern in the office of _________________. Taught Joe that the most important responsibility of an elected official is to be close to his constituents and to work tirelessly on their behalf.

Other roles and accomplishments.

*An original Barack Obama supporter & campaign Grassroots Volunteer Captain
*Democrat
*Entrepreneur
*Accountant
*Community Organizer/Activist
*Mentor
*NYC-DYCD Neighborhood Advisory Board #12-Chairman
*National Association of Black Accountants-Financial Literacy Presenter
*Lady Mitz Foundation (Teen HIV/AIDS Education & Prevention)-Chairman
*Graduate of: (Springfield Gardens High School, Queens Borough Community College, & Queens College)
*Dean’s List
*BSU Presidential Award
*Accomplished Athlete in Basketball & Volleyball
*Former Government Auditor
*Former “Big 6” Accounting Firm Auditor
*Former Consumer Products Manufacturer Internal Auditor (3rd largest)
*Former (3 of Top 5) HMOs Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, & Medicaid Manager & Regional Marketing Manager (2 boroughs)
*My Community My Vote-Exec. Dir.

Rounding out the field is Mike Scala, an earnest (but not entirely crazy) leftie law student and hip-hop performer (another?!?!).

Given the pathetic field, Gatemouth endorses Scala.

CD #10 (Brooklyn):  I have a particular problem with Yvette Clarke on the matter of Israel.

As someone who is well known as a supporter of Israel, but also a supporter of a two state solution and a loud critic of the messianic Zionist right, I think I can put this in the proper perspective.   

Ms. Clarke does not have a virulently anti-Israel record of a Charles Barron; she does not even have a record of anti-Israel statements which could be said to equal that of Brad Lander. 

Her Israel problem consists of putting her name on a resolution at the City Council; signing two letters, and voting "no" on a resolution condemning the Goldstone report (Ms. Clarke likes casting dissenting votes on resolutions; she once voted no on honoring Bob Hope).  

The Goldstone reso, and the letters concerned Israel's conduct in Gaza. Ms. Clarke and other critics of Israel seem to ignore the salient fact that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and has since been the victim of rocket attacks sanctioned by a bunch of theocratic thugs, and that they chose to defend and protect themselves. 

I would be the first to admit that Israel's response has at times been excessive, wrong-headed and ill advised.

BUT IT IS A RESPONSE, for chrissake.

Ms. Clarke was ill-advised in signing the letters and voting against the resolution, but I don't think one can fairly brand her as anti-Israel for doing so. However, I would think it is fair to say that she has been less sensitive to Israel than she should be.   

Nonetheless, I do not worry about this too much.

Called on the matter in her district, Clarke immediately genuflected to the locals and sent out an abject letter of apology. Supporters of Israel may not have a great friend here, but Clarke will probably not trouble them greatly in the future, especially given the large number of right wing Zionist voters she gained in reapportionment.  

I do not consider Yvette Clarke a great intellectual, but I by no means believe Clarke is so dumb she'd purposely take anymore stupid votes on Israel, though I admit she might do so sometime without realizing it. 

Further, I'm utterly convinced she does not feel strongly enough about the topic to take a principled stance, which appears in her case to be a good thing.  

Contrast this to, say, Chris Owens. Chris would surely vote a lot worse on Israel and sign even more letters, though, ironically, he probably feels cares a lot more that Israel actually continues to exist.  

But to say her apathy and sheep-like behavior constitutes her being an enemy drains the word of meaning. Chuck Barron is an enemy. Brad Lander used to be an enemy. Yvette is just a cipher.

But, even as regards ciphers, for me the question is always “compared to what?”

And, in this case, we must compare Ms. Clarke to Sylvia Kinard.

Let me quote the first and last paragraph of Ms. Kinard’s introductory flyer:

"Rev. Sylvia Gail Kinard, Esq. is a well-respected attorney, entrepreneur and community leader. Her demeanor is one of confidence and grace. She has distinguished herself as an expert in faith based community development, and advocate for the formerly incarcerated and for expanding small business opportunities for women and children....  

...An entrepreneur and writer, she is the owner of Sheya Hair and Beauty Products and a family business, Imani Entertainment, which develops children's and family friendly entertainment products. She resides in Brooklyn, New York with her daughter --Kellie Alexis. "  

When properly coached, Yvette Clarke can sound articulate and intelligent and gives the appearance of familiarity with a wide range of issues and having coherent views concerning them.  

By contrast, Sylvia Kinard seems unable to adlib a fart after a 12 course Hungarian banquet.  

At a recent campaign forum, Kinard was bereft of any vision other than that we had to work better across party lines.   

Well she not only talks the talk, she walks the walk.  

Kinard had a wonderful answer for why she worked for Republican George Pataki:  

"He offered me a good job" 

What was Billy Thompson thinking when he married this woman?  

And how did she end up with the armoire?  

According to Sylvia's lit, she worked for the "New York City Counsel (sic)."  

Apparently she worked under her opponent's mom, Una Clarke, a fellow supporter of George Pataki. 

CD#13 (Manhattan, Bronx):  Beleaguered incumbent Charlie Rangel, who was censured by his colleagues and stripped of his Committee Chairmanship (and whose troubles helped his party lose its majority) faces a large field including State Senator  Adriano Espaillat, who has a large advantage as the only Latino in the race who will admit it (Rangel is half Puerto Rican) in this now majority Latino District.

Two other candidates, Joyce Johnson, who ran a respectable third last time, and Clyde Williams, a former White House aide who is raising mucho dinero (think Reshma Saujani, but with qualifications) must be regarded seriously, although it is unclear if they will be splintering 1) insurgent votes from Espaillat, 2) black votes from Rangel, 3) or whites from both (my guess is 3,2, 1 in that order).

However, the race also includes Craig Schley, a former Rangel intern, block association President and Wilhemina model.

In 2008, Schley ran as the Independence Party candidate against Rangel.

As reported in the Village Voice, Schley’s major issue was that Rangel had supported Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in the primary:

“Rangel pissed off his largely pro-Obama constituency by backing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary” I

n actuality:

Total for 15th Congressional District-New York County

HILLARY CLINTON 60,573 (52.65%)

BILL RICHARDSON 119

JOE BIDEN 69

JOHN EDWARDS 782

BARACK OBAMA 53,165 (46.21%)

DENNIS J KUCINICH 336

Total Votes 115,044

But Schley was so adamant about this Rangel sin that he ran against him on the same party line which was backing John McCain for President.

CD#15 (Bronx): I’m not the biggest fan of incumbent Jose Serrano; here’s what I said about his stupid vote against the Bush bailout:

But plenty of the Democrats who voted no had no such worries. Many had very safe seats. While perhaps there was only one who deserves to be carried away in a straight jacket (New York’s Jose Serrano, whose poor constituents will be the first to suffer when the failure to pass the bailout on the first vote causes a precipitous drop in New York State and City revenues), all of them should have been concerned about the possibility that their actions would ultimately result in a law which was worse, from their point of view, than the one they rejected.

But Serrano is being opposed by Mark Escoffery-Bey (hereinafter known as E-Bay), who two years ago ran against the Congressman’s son State Senator Jose Marco Serrano (and got himself elected District Leader while doing so—probably because his name appearing multiple times on the ballot acted as free advertising.)

According to The Bronx News Network, E-Bey owns and runs a copy store in Morrisania. "It's like Kinkos, but it’s not Kinkos."

He is also a film-maker and a karaoke host at Bronx bars and restaurants.

Further, the records of the Federal Communications Commission indicate that Dr. E-Bey is so modest he never mentions that he holds some manner of advanced degree.  

The records mostly concern the visit by agents to a building owned by Dr. E-Bey to attempt a "station inspection." They reflect that Dr. E-Bey, admitted that he allowed his friend Shawn to install and operate a radio station on 87.9 MHz in his building, but that he refused to allow agents to inspect the station.

In 2009, E-Bey attempted to run for City Council against Councilwoman Helen Foster. "I made the ballot but then it was challenged and I was taken off...I take responsibly for that. I was new to the process and I didn’t know all the little nuances, so my signatures lacked integrity.”

E-Bey missed the Board of Elections hearing where he was knocked off the ballot and his lawyer was allegedly in and out of the room. "I guess that’s the game," E-Bey said at the time. "Even if I win the appeal, there’s no time to run a campaign. On the other hand, it’s not my nature to give in."

E-Bey soon went on to prove this.

Not making the ballot did not stop E-Bey. The minutes of the October 27, 2010 meeting of the NYC Board of Elections are testament to the doggedness of Mr. Escoffery-Bey in his never ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

The minutes note that the General Counsel reported a correction involving the September 15, 2009 Democratic Primary for City Council in the 16th City Council District in Bronx County reflecting a missing write-in vote.

The Board had been served an Order to Show Cause returnable in Federal Court the day before its meeting by Brother T. Williams-Bey and Mark Escoffery-Bey, alleging the Board failed to give them the opportunity to write-in votes.

In preparing to defend the Board, it was found that Mr. Williams-Bey was not eligible to vote in that Primary because he resided in the 15th City Council District.

Mr. Escoffery-Bey who was a candidate on the ballot, but removed by court order, stated that he wrote in his name. The Bronx Borough Office was directed to recheck the write-in canvass rolls in the 20th Election District of the 77th Assembly District.

The Bronx BOE staff determined that they recorded Mr. Escoffery-Bey’s name as a candidate for Mayor, Public Advocate and City Comptroller, but failed to include the City Council write-in which was at the bottom of the paper roll.

Mr. Escoffery-Bey stated that as long as the Board records his write-in vote he was willing to discontinue the proceeding. Counsel advised the Federal Court that the Board would correct the inadvertent error. The Bronx Deputy Chiefs submitted an amended certification for the September 15, 2009 Democratic Primary in the 16th City Council District to show one write-in vote for Mr. Escoffery-Bey.

"I have no political friends," said E-Bey, poignantly, "At political functions no one wants to be in a photo with me. I eat the food and go home."

Given the gregariousness of politicos in trying to win everyone they can over to their side, it may be that E-Bey is just shy. He apparently failed to answer any candidate questionnaires from any group. Further, while most challengers complain that it is their opponents who refuse to debate, in his race against the younger Serrano, it was E-Bey whose busy schedule would not permit him to show up.

Most notable about E-Bey is not his delusion that he’s a candidate, but his delusion that he’s a film maker. E-Bey’s magnum opus (it is two hour and thirty five minutes long) is the appropriately titled "Zero Posterity", a title which neatly sums up both E-Bey’s likely legacy as a politician and creative artist.

The film concerns a man forced to take a paternity test who discovers that he fathered an eight-year-old boy with a woman that he has never met. Despite the film’s length, its trailer tells you everything you need to know about E-Bey’s non-existent talents as a writer, director, cinematographer, editor and actor (he plays the lead role in an extremely convincing imitation or rigor mortis), as well as his non-existent empathy for women and children.  

It is hard to put one’s finger on what E-Bey stands for. There is almost no evidence whatsoever, beyond this video remnant of his aborted Council race, of E-Bey’s thoughts on any matter of publicly policy From the evidence on the video, E-Bey’s platform best summarized as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and his demeanor is best described as “Alvin Greene with pretensions.”

In E-Bey’s words, “we can have it all, right now.” E-Bey says he is “a bold leader” who will “touch, move, and inspire us to create a future where we can have anything we want for ourselves, our families, our communities and our district.” He favors efforts to “build good credits and keep money in our pockets.” He wants to “usher in an era of service and abundance.”

Most importantly, E-Bey is “committed to removing any barriers which gets in the way of your joy, happiness, freedom, full self-expression, safety and security, without compromising one for another.”  

CD#16 (Bronx/Westchester): Eliot Engel is most famous for being a bit of a doofus--what else do you call a guy who always stakes out an aisle seat for the State of the Union so he can get his smiling mug on national television?

In a district now nearly 54% black and Latino, represented by a dorky white man embodying adequacy, Engel’s sole opponent is Aniello Grimaldi, an Italian American most famous for getting 21% against DA Robert Johnson in 1999.

On his website, which features photos of Martin Luther King and Rabbi Menachem Schneerson,  we learn that Grimaldi is not merely running for Congress, but for President as well.

Background: Neil Grimaldi has been a lawyer since 1974.Mr. Grimaldi has been an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County and a New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor. He has taught Social Studies in New York City Junior High Schools and a remedial reading teacher in Roman Catholic grammar schools under Title 1.

Neil has practiced criminal law, civil rights law, personal injury law, matrimonial law, immigration law election law,and real estate law.

Neil is also a nondenominational ordained reverend since 1999, and has written a monumental book on wisdom and religions called The Book Of Life And Love. (Attached). He has studied every major religion for many years and has participated in their services.

Neil has been a candidate for U.S. Congress based on a
platform of peace and establishing a U.S. Department of
Peace (an idea which originated with President George
Washington). He has also been a candidate for Bronx
District Attorney for which he received over 13,000 petition signatures, and New York City Civil Court.

He presently is writing a book titled On Education, in which he places emphasis on a holistic, moral, happy child. His educational policy is that schools must be concerned with the spiritual and personal transformations of the individuals to become the best persons possible. (see educational platform)

He opposes our present federal policy of no child left
behind which emphasizes educating children to pass a
reading and math test which puts too much pressure on
students and teachers.

Neil has worked in the New York State Senate as an assistant to former New York State Senator John D. Calendra. Neil has also been a political staff member in the NYC Council. He is well acquainted with the legislative process.

Neil has represented many insurgent political candidates in efforts to get on the ballet in the Bronx and Queens. He has continuously fought the establishment forces in an effort to give voters a political choice in New York City elections, especially after candidates have been removed unfairly from the ballot.

Neil has also had numerous civil rights cases fighting for victims of police brutality and police abuse in the United States District Courts. Nevertheless he has great respect for the police, firefighters, and all civil servants.

Neil Grimaldi has been a journalist for The Jewish Post and the National Black Network covering international and domestic news, including issues related to children, international affairs, and world hunger, and international political issues at the United Nations.

He has also been a sports journalist for the United Press International.

In High School he was a cross country runner competing in two and a half mile races, and a half mile distant runner in track and field. He was awarded the Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award by Salesian High School. While at Georgetown University, he was a star wide receiver on the football team in his senior year. He also
was part of the track team that broke an intramural Georgetown University record.

Neil Grimaldi has also produced and hosted television shows regarding political issues, women's issues, and issues of human concern.

Neil Grimaldi is theologian who is about to publish a book called God, Jesus, And Christianity which highlights the politics of God and Jesus with emphasis on helping humanity by fulfilling the Laws of God regarding love of God and love of all human beings. It
emphasizes the need to develop and establish the standards of a sacred and dignified life for all people. All are children of God and thereby innately sacred having been born in the image and likeness of God as stated in the Bible at Genesis 1:27.

Neil Grimaldi has also written over 100 song lyrics and poems. He has also helped create a successful television show.

While attending Law School Neil created  a program for youth called S.T.O.P., which worked to stop drug use in the Bronx.

While attending Georgetown University he developed a program called The Winner's Club which worked to help alcoholics in the inner District of Columbia. He was assisted by his college classmate and friend former President Bill Clinton.

Neil was also creator and director of a program called the African Famine Relief Fund during the famine crisis in Africa. The program was recognized by U.N.I.C.E.F..

I hope this answers the question of why ballot access challenges do not concern me overly much.