Politics as usual indeed.
Tuesday’s elections confirmed what everyone already knew: people cheat. Even when they don’t need to.
A case of election fraud occurred in Flushing when a Korean-American translator helping voters at PS 20 was caught directing them to vote for Democratic candidates. A volunteer poll watcher confirmed the incident.
The translator, Sang Soo Park, was expelled from the polling place for breaking the law by telling at least three voters to choose the Democratic slate, according to the observer, attorney Daniel Baek.
Baek is a certified poll watcher appointed by the Dan Halloran campaign who was charged with overseeing nine polling places including PS 20. He was called to the school after a Board of Elections site monitor overheard Park telling a voter whom to choose for the second time. Baek then observed Park doing the same thing with another voter.
“He basically stated something to the effect of, ‘You are Korean and therefore you want to vote for Obama, and you know what? Go down the list for all Democrats,’” Baek said.
The electioneering was not a criminal violation, said the attorney, who practices employment discrimination, criminal defense and breach of contract law in Bayside. But it is a serious matter.
“This was not only a violation of Election Law, but it’s a violation of Board of Elections policy and the interpreter’s commitment and oath to be neutral,” Baek said.
Halloran, the Republican city councilman based in Whitestone, was running for the 6th Congressional District seat against Assemblywoman Grace Meng, a Flushing Democrat. Meng’s decisive 68 to 31 percent victory demonstrates that there was no need for anyone to cheat on her behalf —not to mention the other Democratic candidates on the ballot in the area: state Sen. Toby Stavisky, who won with 76 percent of the vote; U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who won with 72 percent; and President Obama, for whom New York was colored blue the day he first won the nomination in 2008.
Our esteemed mayor, Marathon Mike, succumbed to the pressure last week and canceled the ING New York City Marathon after just about every elected official this side of the Mississippi insisted he do so (City Comptroller John Liu was for the marathon before he was against it, but, notably for a pol, he actually acknowledged changing his mind in last Friday’s Email No. 2 to the media).
But Mayor Bloomberg, ever loath to admit an error (think CityTime), continued to insist the marathon could have been held without using up precious electrical and public safety resources. Those massive electrical generators set up to keep the race plugged in couldn’t have been used to power homes in Howard Beach and the Rockaways, one is left to presume, nor could the marathon’s police detail have been redeployed to prevent looting in areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
But how could that be true when at the same time, the mayor was blasting the Long Island Power Authority for not restoring electricity to the Rockaways fast enough, and the National Guard was helping keep order on the peninsula? Not to mention that the U.S. Marines landed there last week —though the Corps’ job is more about cleanup than law and order. Still, would-be miscreants tend to become hesitant when the USMC is around.
Among those who had called on the administration to cancel the marathon were Halloran and fellow Queens city councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Some in the New York Road Runners organization, however, blamed the media for getting the race canceled with coverage critical of the administration.
Speaking of city priorities, a pair of Transportation Department workers were out in front of the Chronicle office in Rego Park Wednesday morning installing the first piece of one of the Muni-Meters that are coming to Woodhaven Boulevard. We’re glad to know there’s no need for those two men in the Rockaways either.
One thing there is in the Rockaways, and the rest of South Queens, is a deep sense of community and getting through the crisis together, among people in all walks of life.
State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) was out there cleaning up the streets with everyone else, even though his home and office were both destroyed by the storm. Tuesday was the first day Goldfeder worked on his own house.
As he was going through the debris, a dozen guys just walking by offered to help, and started “pulling out five years worth of stuff” from the home, Goldfeder said. Then a truck came by and the guys on board gave the lawmaker’s new friends some snacks.
“The helpers are helping the helpers,” the assemblyman said. “It makes me want to cry. It’s truly amazing.”