an attempt to shed light on the more shadowy corners of campaign
financing, New York Public Interest Research Group recently
made available a database that links politicians to their
The database, which contains information culled from State
Board of Elections records, allows users to research the amount
and source of donations to various elected officials. Searches
can be based upon selected politicians, political contributors,
political action committees, party affiliation or the amount
of donation, among other categories. All transactions that
occurred between Jan. 15, 2002, and Jan. 15, 2004, are included
in the database.
While the computer disk is publicly available for a $5 “duplication
fee,” Microsoft Access database software from 2000 or later
is required to view the contents of the disk. Those unfamiliar
with database software may be a bit confused at first viewing,
but supporting documents provided by NYPIRG include contact
information for the tech-challenged masses.
To receive a copy of the disk, contact Liam Arbetman at NYPIRG’s
legislative offices, 436-0876, ext. 254.
Voting-safeguards advocates attempt to deliver a paper
trail of petitions to Gov. George E. Pataki. Photo
by: John Whipple
Our Votes Count?
urging the state government to include voter-verifiable results
in New York’s new electronic voting machines rallied on the
steps of the Capitol Tuesday (July 13), joining the nationwide
Computer Ate My Vote campaign.
During the rally—one of 24 similar events to be held around
the United States—speakers from various local advocacy groups
called upon the state Legislature to reach an agreement on
a system for the state’s voting machines. Both the Senate
and Assembly have passed bills calling for the machines to
produce a paper trail to be used in the event of electronic
failure or disputed results, but the two houses have yet to
reach a consensus on what type of system to use. Only after
the two houses pass a uniform bill can the governor sign the
requirement into law.
need to ensure that our votes count on Election Day,” said
Rachel Leon, executive director of Common Cause/NY. “The deal
is not done until all three parties agree.”
In order to receive a share of $3 billion in federal funding
earmarked for states by the Help America Vote Act, the state
must agree upon a set of standards for new voting machines
by the 2006 elections. HAVA was initiated in the aftermath
of the 2000 elections as a method for encouraging states to
upgrade their voting machines. Rally participants called for
state lawmakers to reach an agreement when they return to
the Capitol on July 19 for a special session.
At the close of Tuesday’s rally, participants encountered
several obstacles on their way to delivering more than 41,000
petitions to Gov. George Pataki. A portion of the petitions,
displayed on a 400-foot-long “paper trail,” made it as far
as the Capitol’s entrance but had to be disassembled in order
to make it through the building’s revolving doors. After initially
turning away the petitions due to “safety concerns,” a spokeswoman
for Pataki agreed to allow the petitions to remain inside
the Capitol until security personnel could screen them.
Along with local advocacy groups, the event was sponsored
by national organizations such as MoveOn, VerifiedVoting.org,
the Electronic Frontier Foundation and TrueMajority.
a voting machine that doesn’t create a paper trail is like
using an ATM that doesn’t give you a receipt,” said Neal Rosenstein,
government reform coordinator for New York Public Interest
Research Group. “We shouldn’t let New York’s dysfunctional
legislative process produce a dysfunctional electoral process.”
Park at Long Last
plastic slide held together with duct tape. An unusable basketball
court. A broken fence. This is the current state of the 10th
Street Park in Troy, also known as “Dark Angels Park.” But
thanks to a three-year-long campaign by local residents, the
park will finally be renovated this summer. On Saturday, June
26, 50 volunteers and neighbors gathered in the park to install
new picnic benches and barbecue grills, and also cleaned up
and planted new plants.
park is a necessity. It keeps kids off the street,” said Kevin
Pryor, one of the local residents who have been instrumental
in making the 10th Street Park a priority for Troy. “Kids
are playing out on the street in 9th Street. They have no
place else to go.”
Though the park has been steadily deteriorating for 20 years,
recent outcry by residents such as Pryor has forced Troy to
reevaluate the park’s importance to the city.
Pryor’s son, Tyrell, and their cousin, Maurice Branch, organized
local kids to pitch renovation ideas to the city, including
having the children make a drawing of their ideal park layout
[“A Place of Our Own,” Newsfront, June 12, 2003].
The project was on hiatus for a while because the city did
not have the resources to successfully complete it. However,
through the persistence of local residents and the help of
nonprofit Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, the
park has finally become part of the city’s agenda. By the
end of the summer, it is expected to have new lighting, a
new basketball court, and new play equipment. Also on the
horizon is a community garden on 9th Street.