La ira de los demócratas y republicanos en Queens es contra el avance de la comunidad latina y de nuestras mujeres, todas puertorriqueñas. Esta guerra comenzó el año pasado cuando Alexandria Ocasio-cortez derrotó al congresista Joseph Crowley en las urnas. Luego vino el mes pasado el triunfo de Tiffany Cabán como candidata demócrata a la Fiscalía de Queens y Lumarie Maldonado Cruz como candidata demócrata a la Corte Civil de este condado.

Pero el pasado 3 de julio la Junta de Elecciones de la ciudad de Nueva York (BOE) invalidó más de 2,000 votos ausentes y este fue el resultado: 34,898 votos para Katz y 34,878 para Lugo. Un total de 20 votos de diferencia de Katz sobre Cabán. Como es tan apretada la diferencia, menos del 5%, entonces “habrá reconteo manual de los votos”, dijo Valerie Vázquez Díaz del BOE. Katz cantó victoria, pero la gente de Cabán dijo que pelearán hasta la victoria siempre.

“Es desafortunado que los candidatos estén engañando al electorado sobre el rol de la Fiscalía”, dijo el analista republicano Eric Córdova. “En lugar de aplicar la ley, van a legislar desde su escritorio”.

Melinda Katz, presidenta del condado de Queens. Foto Javier Castaño

Ni Ocasio-Cortez, Cabán o Maldonado tuvieron el apoyo del Partido Demócrata o sus líderes. La mayoría de sindicatos y organizaciones comunitarias se aliaron con la maquinaria (léase Katz). Cabán es criticada por ser de izquierda y querer equilibrar la balanza social que por años ha marginalizado y criminalizado a las minorías, incluyendo a los latinos. Si, ladrones y prostitutas de hogares descompuestos que el sistema los sigue penalizando y minimizando.

“Cabán representa el progresismo enraizado en Queens, pero su reto ahora es ganar la confianza y el voto de sectores como Rego Park, Ozone Park, Forest Hills entre otros, donde el voto es demócrata moderado – conservador y republicano y piden a voces un candidato para fiscal que represente sus valores”. dijo Liliana Melo, líder del distrito 34 demócrata de la Asamblea y analista política. “Además, los demócratas están divididos en tres: la maquinaria, los progresistas y los latinos”.

Ante la fragmentación y escasez de ideas, el Pardito Demócrata de Queens está a la deriva. ¿Quiénes serán los próximos políticos en riesgo de perder sus puestos? El concejal Francisco Moya y el asambleísta Michael DenDekker, ausentes de nuestra comunidad latina.

Si Katz no gana, los republicanos acudirán a la patraña política llamada Wilson-Pakula Law y apoyarán al candidato demócrata Greg Lasak porque es un “buen vecino de los nuestros”. Así lo manifestaron. Aunque el republicano Daniel Kogan debe de renunciar primero a su candidatura. El republicano Kevin Hanrary enfrentará a Maldonado Cruz en las elecciones generales del próximo 5 de noviembre.

Claro que los latinos tenemos que reconocer algunas cosas: El triunfo de estas tres mujeres no se debió al voto latino en masa. El liderazgo político que le dio el triunfo a Ocasio-Cortez no es latino ni vive en nuestro vecindario. Nos hace falta sofisticarnos políticamente y debemos comenzar a estimular la política entre ecuatorianos, colombianos, dominicanos y mexicanos, primordialmente.

Para Melo, el East Elmhurst Corona Democrats, que lidera Hiram Monserrate, es el único que está impulsando una plataforma política latina en conjunción con la comunidad negra. “De este grupo es que están saliendo nuevas voces en la comunidad latina”, concluyó Melo, quien es parte de esa nueva voz.

Javier Castaño

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THIS ELECTION AND

THE CORRUPTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN QUEENS

Statements from New York Working Families Party State Director Bill Lipton and Candidate Tiffany Caban

Statement from Bill Lipton

“Thousands of affidavit ballots, many of them cast by new voters inspired by Tiffany’s message of a criminal justice system that works for all of us, were invalidated by poll workers handpicked by Queens party leaders.  At the same time, when we go to court, we’ll face judges handpicked by the same machine.  The system is rife with conflicts of interest.”

“But we have a great legal team and an army of volunteers. We’re going to fight like hell to make sure that every ballot where the voter’s intention was clear will be counted.  And when it’s all said and done, we fully expect Tiffany Caban to be the next Queens District Attorney.”

Statement from Queens DA candidate Tiffany Caban

“Our campaign, and all of Queens, is up against a party machine that has ruled local politics and suppressed democracy for decades. Our communities are calling for a criminal justice system that ends mass incarceration, uplifts our black and brown communities, and decriminalizes poverty—rather than protecting the powerful. I am humbled every day by the volunteer effort we have built in this campaign. We are still fighting to make sure every valid ballot is counted. We are confident that if that happens, we will be victorious.»

Background on latest vote count

  • This race is not over. We only received the list of the affidavit ballots yesterday and the review process is still continuing.
  • In total, there are 2,500 affidavit ballots that the board refused to count, and we are reviewing them to make sure every eligible voter is counted.
  • In a manual, hand recount which is required by law, any voters who circled a name rather than filled in the bubbles will have their votes counted.
  • Strong grassroots support for the campaign, through both organizing on the ground and fundraising, has continued as well.

Background on Queens party machine & BOE influence

The New York City Board of Elections is comprised of 10 commissioners: two from each borough, with one Democratic and one Republican appointee per borough. The commissioners are recommended by their respective parties and then confirmed by the City Council to four-year terms. [BoE website]

The BOE and the Democratic Machine

The position of Democratic BOE commissioner from Queens has long been a patronage position selected by the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party. In 2008, then-chairman Joe Crowley appointed Jose Miguel Araujo to the role, and he was re-appointed in 2012 and 2016.

Araujo is a lawyer, and prior to his BOE appointment, his firm’s legal services were frequently engaged by the Queens County Surrogates Court, which administers the estates of those who die without wills. After his appointment in 2008, the Surrogates Court stopped employing his firm, but only for a time. It began sending some new business his way in 2011, with a dramatic increase beginning in 2014. [Gotham Gazette, 5/22/17]

Araujo continues to maintain financial connections to the county organization:

DonorRecipientAmountDate
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$35010/5/18
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$3504/27/18
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$20011/2/17
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$3009/26/17
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$3505/2/17
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$3001/27/17
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$3505/4/16
Jose Miguel AraujoDemocratic Organization of Queens County$3002/4/16

This isn’t the only area in which Araujo has demonstrated conflicts of interest. In 2014, Araujo was fined $10,000 – the maximum – by the city’s Conflict of Interest board after they discovered he had hired his wife into a BoE position in order to obtain health insurance benefits. [Daily News, 10/30/14] It was also reported that he had appointed his sister-in-law to another position with the BoE. [Daily News, 1/6/14]

Controlling the Ballot

The most important deliverable for the BoE is keeping candidates challenging Queens machine allies off the ballot through selective enforcement of the county’s arcane election laws. In 2017, City Council candidate Erycka Montoya was thrown off the ballot after the BoE sided with then-Assemblyman Francisco Moya in his challenge to her submitted signatures. [DNAInfo, 8/2/17] Montoya submitted 1,084 signatures, and the BoE invalidated more than half, leaving her 22 signatures short of the 450 threshold. She was not given more time to prove the validity of her signatures on the basis of technicalities such as not including a fax number on documents she’d provided to the BoE. Ultimately, five primary challengers in City Council races were thrown off the ballot in Queens that same year. [WNYC, 11/1/17]

The BoE also has jurisdiction over intra-party elections. In 2018, dozens of candidates associated with the New Queens Democrats ran primary challenges for county committee seats on a reform agenda, but more than two dozen of them were barred from the ballot for alleged errors on their paperwork. The State Supreme Court ordered them reinstated after it ruled the forms being challenged were not even required for them to run, but the candidates were again thrown off the ballot on appeal when the BoE successfully argued the petitioners were a day late in challenging their disqualification. [NYT, 8/24/18]

However, the BoE allows machine-selected candidates to appear on the ballot even against their own wishes. A 2018 New York Times investigation found that the party often nominates elderly residents to county committee posts without their consent in order to fill the slot with those unable or unwilling to challenge their authority. As a result of the investigation, several candidates called the BoE to decline their nominations and be removed from the ballot, but never were. [NYT, 8/24/18]

The Board of Elections is also notoriously inept – and much be watched closely. [NYDN, 11/7/18]

The Queens machine picks the judges as well – which would be the next stop in any legal battle over the ballots.  The party’s operations and selection of judicial candidates are dictated by a trio of attorneys: Executive Secretary Michael Reich, Law Chairman Frank Bolz, and Gerard Sweeney. The three attorneys operate a law firm called Sweeney, Reich & Bolz, LLP that utilizes their political influence to benefit their clients and ultimately enrich themselves. As County Party insiders, these attorneys hand-select their preferred candidates for judicial openings and then present their cases before those same judges. [NYDN, 4/2/17; Village Voice, 5/18/2017]

Under the machine’s rule, the District Attorney has declined to pursue political corruption cases while judges’ children have often been hired into the DA’s office. [Gothamist, 2/20/19]