The Flacks Report [26th October, 2010]
George Gonzalez, a career employee at the New York City Board of Elections, was fired to-day, Tuesday, 26th October, 2010. The commissioners went into executive session for "personnel matters" immediately at the start of their 1:30 P.M. regularly scheduled weekly meeting. Gonzalez, the $173,000 per year executive director of the City's Elections Board, was seen by some as the "fall guy" for the difficulties in this September's Primary election.
The reasons for his discharge are not entirely clear--it is a long story about repeated foul ups. Gonzalez, who had the technical knowledge but was not perceived as the person for the job, got his position earlier this year in a political deal with both the Bronx Democratic and Bronx Republican "regular" organizations' support. There is also a complaint against Gonzalez with the N.Y.C. Department of Investigations about how a Queens Special election (to be voted on at the same time as the up-coming General) ballot lay-out was set up. And there is the unanswered question ("We don't divulge information about personnel matters taken up in executive session" said Fred Umane [Rep.-Manh.], the most senior of the commissioners) why Gonzalez was fired the week before the November 2nd General election.
The vote to terminate Gonzalez's employment was: Nancy Mottola-Schacher [Rep.-Brooklyn], Michael Ryan [Dem.-S.I.], John Sipp [Rep.-S.I.], Gregory Soumas [Dem.-Manh.], Judith Stupp [Rep.-Queens], and Frederic Umane [Rep.-Manh.] voted in favor (six votes required to carry the motion). Abstaining were: Juan Carlos Polanco [Rep.-Bronx], Naomi Barrera [Dem.-Bronx], Julie Dent [Dem.-Brooklyn], and Jose Araujo [Dem.-Queens].
In addition, the police officers, who have the keys to open the scanners, will arrive at 5 A.M. on the day of election according to Police Commissioner Kelly. [The keys to open the scanners are all keyed alike!] For the Primary election, the N.Y.P.D. election day instruction booklet told the officers to report to the polling sites at 5:30 A.M., a fact your correspondent brought to the attention of the Commissioners of Elections last month, which resulted in a meeting of Board of Elections officials and high-ranking police brass.
The scanners and equipment are being trucked out starting today to the polling sites, so that polls ought to open on time. For the Sept. 14th Primary election the Board had only two days because the initial testing of scanners took longer than expected. And Staten Island voting machine technicians are assisting the Manhattan techs with getting the equipment ready (!).