Friday, September 19, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Board of Elections Blunder

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The last room not to be closed down in Tammany Hall belongs to the Board of Elections.

Unlike other city agencies in which the City Council and the mayor typically appoint its governing board members, elections officials are actually picked by political parties. The result is a not-so-delicate balance between patronage and competence – with someone's cousin perhaps doing a good job or perhaps not. The idea behind this anachronistic arrangement is that if both major political parties control the agency, elections can't be rigged by those who are in charge. Instead, we've often been lucky if the election rigs even work.

As NY1's Grace Rauh reports, The City Council is trying to lift the veil on the nominating process for board members, publicly vetting them for the first time – even when the vote to approve them is done in private.

One of the most shocking nuggets of news to come out of a hearing yesterday was from Alan Schuklin, a candidate for commissioner of the board, who is already an employee there.

"We give out Social Security numbers and names and addresses and telephone numbers of people, and I think that's a major, major problem," Schuklin told the Council.

While most of us support transparency in government, this is obviously taking things to a sloppy level. Meanwhile, stronger reforms are needed at the agency. It's time for the Tammany tiger to head to the petting zoo.

Bob Hardt

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