14 The Courier sun • july 11, 2013 for breaking news visit www.couriersun.com ▶ p olitics BACK in the GAME Disgraced ex-gov Spitzer announces for comptroller BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA email@example.com Anthony Weiner won’t be the only disgraced politician running for citywide office this primary season. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned from the position five years ago following a prostitution scandal, is planning a political comeback with a bid for city comptroller. “I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it,” he said in a telephone interview on Sunday, July 8 with The New York Times. The same night, he discussed his intentions to run on Twitter through the handle @SpitzerForNYC. “As a former governor and attorney general, I believe I have the right record to continue fighting for the people of #NYC as comptroller,” a tweet on the account stated. The Democratic candidate will need to gather at least 3,750 signatures from registered party voters by Thursday to make it onto the September primary ballot. In the primary, he will face front-runner Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who has already picked up numerous endorsements. Other potential opponents include Republican John Burnett, who has worked on Wall Street, Green Party candidate and former school teacher Julia Willebrand and former madam Kristin Davis. A Libertarian candidate, Davis spent time in jail for her role in the Spitzer prostitution scandal. Though he was caught on wire tap arranging for high-end hookers, Spitzer did not end up facing any criminal charges. But after it was publicly revealed that he spent thousands on prostitution services — and as threats of impeachment loomed — he resigned as governor in March 2008. Since his resignation, Spitzer, 54, has stayed away from political office, but not the spotlight. He has hosted a primetime show on CNN and Current TV and been a commentator on NY1. But his five years out of office are not enough for some Queens residents to give Spitzer a second chance. “I can’t believe he’s actually putting himself back in the public eye after what he did,” said Vic McKinney. “I think it’s insulting to the voters and I hope he doesn’t get elected for anything.” “I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to run,” said Alexander Ciccione. “But since Weiner is running again and he seems to be getting a decent amount of popularity, maybe Spitzer thinks he should try to make a comeback, too.” Others were more forgiving of the former governor. “I think it’s OK for Spitzer to run. He seems like he regrets what he did and should be given a second chance,” said Mandee Crenshaw. “I know a lot of other people won’t feel the same way, but I don’t see what harm he could do as a comptroller, so I think a comeback is possible for him.” With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton BENGALI TO BE ON QUEENS BALLOTS BY MELISA CHAN firstname.lastname@example.org Ballots at 60 Queens polling sites this year will have Bengali translations, officials said, but advocates for South Asian voters are skeptical the move will crystallize. “Our concern is that we were told in the past that Bengali ballots would be available, particularly for the November general election, and that did not happen,” said attorney Jerry Vattamala of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). “We took their word and we sort of got burned,” he added. “Enough is enough.” A group of South Asian proponents of Bengali ballots filed a lawsuit against the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) on July 2 for its failure, despite assurances, to provide adequate bilingual language assistance in four elections since April 2012. “We tried to work with them, but then we came to an understanding they weren’t going to do it,” Vattamala said. “We just want something legally enforceable — written confirmation that Bengali will in fact be on the ballot for the next election.” AALDEF represents the suit’s three plaintiffs, who say the BOE has not complied with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They argue that the law requires the city to provide election information and language assistance to South Asian minorities. Parts of Queens have been covered under a provision of the act since October 13, 2011. “You would think it wouldn’t have to come to a lawsuit,” Vattamala said. “But these things are very reasonable, what we’re asking for.” BOE spokesperson Valerie Vazquez confirmed the borough would have, for the first time, Bengali language assistance for the September 10 primary and November general elections this year. The 60 polling sites are located mostly in southern Queens near John F. Kennedy International Airport and near Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurt and Bellerose. Depending on the number of voters with limited English proficiency in those areas, some of them could also have Hindi or Hindi-Punjabi interpreters. “It was always our intention to be in full compliance for the 2013 election cycle,” Vazquez said. Bengali translations were never promised for 2012 elections, Vazquez said, because ballot vendors needed to make technical modifications to the system. As an interim plan, the board hired full-time staff interpreters and provided a translated candidates list at each polling site in the covered areas, the BOE said. Supporters of the change are now cautiously optimistic, but agree it is a “tremendous step forward.” “It’s bringing democracy to more people in Queens,” said John Prakash Albert, board chair of Taking Our Seat, a nonprofit group aimed at empowering South Asians voters. State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky — who co-sponsored legislation that would require the BOE to provide written Bengali, Punjabi and Hindi language assistance — said implementing Bengali ballots “will have a direct and measurably positive impact on the lives of our neighbors.” The bill was introduced in the state legislature last year, but never moved out of the Senate’s Elections Committee. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Mazeda Uddin, the national women’s chair for the Alliance of South Asian American Labor, said the elections board is “still lacking.” “They’re not giving us everything,” she said. Advocates are seeking binding confirmation from the BOE, a formal Bengali language assistance compliance plan and an agreement to meet with a Bengali language advisory group. “Last election, they promised me,” Uddin said. “This is the most important for our community. Our people can’t choose the right candidate for lack of access. So many voters can’t vote.” ENDORSEMENTS MAYOR The Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens and the National Latino Officers Association endorsed Comptroller John Liu. The Uniformed Firefighters Association endorsed Bill Thompson. Councilmembers Stephen Levin, Michael Nelson, Mark Weprin and James Gennaro endorsed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. PUBLIC ADVOCATE Cathy Guerriero recently secured backing from Local 1106 of the Communications Workers of America; Ironworkers Local 40 NYC; and the Stone Derrickmen and Riggers Ironworkers Local 197 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, AFL-CIO. CITY COUNCIL The Captains Endowment Association endorsed Paul Vallone for District 19. The National Latino Officers Association endorsed John Ciafone for District 22. BOROUGH PRESIDENT Congressmember Grace Meng endorsed Melinda Katz. File photo Five years after resigning as New York governor, Eliot Spitzer is planning a run for city comptroller.
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