By Jim Fouratt, Candidate for
I had worked as an elections poll clerk for a number of years at the Westbeth site. I remember a stocky, redheaded woman came to my table to qualify to vote. Her name was Emily Giske. I had heard of her. I knew that she was good friends with my City Councilperson, Speaker Christine Quinn. I knew that she had recently moved to 23rd Street on the floor above Quinn. I looked up her name and saw that she had not changed her residential address.
One of the few things that a poll worker is expected to do besides help the voter is to verify that the information in the voter registration book is correct. So I said to Ms. Giske that I knew she had moved and that she needed to give the Board of Elections (BOE) her new address. She stammered and became quite agitated. I suggested she just make sure to do it before the next election. She voted.
The next time Ms. Giske came to vote, I looked up her name and noted that she had not changed her address. I said to her that I had to challenge her right to vote because I knew she no longer lived at the address listed in the BOE book. She became very, very agitated. I offered her an affidavit ballot that allows the person to vote if they will swear and sign the oath, stating that her residential information is correct in the book.
At this point, she raised her voice at me and said, “Who the hell do you think you are?” Whipping out her cell phone, she started dialing full of agitation and anger. She held up the voter line. The coordinator came over and asked me what the trouble was. Giske said that I had been rude to her and wouldn’t let her vote. The coordinator then asked me what happened and I explained. The coordinator told me to go back to my table and asked Giske to step outside. About an hour later, the coordinator returned to my table and said to me, “Emily has something to say to you.” Giske loudly said, “I’m sorry that I caused a commotion.” But under her breath, just loud enough for me to hear she said, “You will never work here again.” I don’t know if she voted by affidavit. I don’t know if she voted at all but it was quite an upsetting experience for me.
When the next election rolled around, I noticed I had not received a BOE assignment. So I went down to the BOE on Varick Street in the West Village, asking that my work status be validated by a BOE official. He looked in the book. The man commented that, “this is very strange because it is written ‘do not have him work,’ hand-signed by Keen Berger, District Leader.” He said he had never seen anything like that before and assigned me to a different location. When I saw Berger, I asked her why she had done this. She denied it. I suggested she go to the BOE and look herself.
Then I found out who Giske was—not just a close friend of Christine Quinn’s. Giske was also very also active in the State Democratic Party. In fact, she was (and I believe still is) the Vice President of the Democratic Party in New York State.
I also learned, to my shock, that she is a high six-figure salaried lobbyist working for clients while wearing the hat of an officer of the State Democratic Party. Her client list includes Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and a number of non-profit LGBT organizations. I was shocked that a full-time lobbyist could be the Vice President of the Democratic Party in New York State.
When Bernie Sanders first started talking about why things are so messed up politically in our system, he talked a lot about the role of lobbyists and elected officials. Giske was also the “best friend” of every single out elected official in Albany and the City Council. She handed out, or should I say “donated,” campaign funds to all of these electeds.
In my view, Giske is the most powerful (yet unknown to the voters) LGBT person in politics in New York State. What to do then with the race for State assembly? My poll worker story begins to expose how this machine works.
Giske told me she would get me fired and she attempted to do it. She got District Leader Keen Berger to do her dirty work. Berger didn’t ask me what happened; Berger did as she was asked.
Deborah Glick has accepted monies from special interests as well as from wealthy donors, such as lesbian entrepreneur and millionaire Joy Tomchin. I don’t know if they were gifts, or they collaborated to support lobbying efforts, or were simply campaign donations. I know that Glick has used her campaign funds to pay off her AMEX bill.
She has accepted special interest money from PACs representing professionals she, in her committee work, is in charge of licensing. This is one powerful example of how Glick has crossed the line and dirtied her hands by accepting money from special interests—and how she uses it. It is a question of political and ethical integrity.
Glick had been the right-hand woman of the now-imprisoned Sheldon Silver. The scandals in Albany are no secret, with the arrest and removal of State Legislature members for financial impropriety all over the media. She has never spoken out on the corruption in Albany that has surrounded her. Is she innocent? Who knows, since she has erased from public record her relationship with Silver and her defense of him. I believe her judgment has been tainted by her privileged insider status with Silver. I would have expected Glick to not accept money from people she decides to license, particularly in a legislature awash in political corruption fueled by money. 25 years in office and never speaking out.
It really showed me how things work in Albany. It is such a mess. I know that Deborah Glick walked away from this community as your elected representative when she was rejected as a candidate for Borough President in Manhattan. That is, when she began her relationship with Shelly Silver. In many ways, she was the enforcer of his rules.
I hope you have heard of the “Three Men in a Room” Rule. The New York Assembly Speaker (Silver), the President of the New York Senate (Skelos)—both currently serving prison sentences for corruption—and the Governor (Cuomo) decide which bills will be allowed on the floor for voting. My view is that this is undemocratic. I want to be the replacement for Deborah Glick —to represent a new way to do business politically in Albany and to represent constituents of District 66.
There will be an opportunity for a New York Constitutional Convention in 2017 to change how “business” is done in Albany. The last time there was this window of opportunity, Deborah Glick forcibly rejected any plan to change the “Three Men in a Room” Rule. Why? Because she benefited from her relationship with Sheldon Silver.
All of this is known to the other members of her Democratic machine in NYC in power. But they will all line up and support her without challenging her actual political practice and her betrayal of the interests of her constituents on the critical issues confronting her district.
You have a choice on September 13th to vote for either business as usual with Glick in Albany or to make change—Vote Fouratt 4 Assembly on September 13th.