Wrongful Convictions, Commercial Rent: Campaign Headlines for Wednesday August 9

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“Between now and Primary Day, the Working Families Party will be out in full force to tell the Democratic Primary activists that Eric Gonzalez is the clear progressive choice.”
–Bill Lipton, the director of the state’s WFP, tells the Daily News

Slipup leads to Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez’s name left off Working Families Party ballot
The Daily News
“Whoops! Registered Brooklyn voters of the Working Families Party won’t have a District Attorney candidate to vote for on Primary Day. The Daily News has learned that although the WFP has proudly endorsed Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for the seat, someone dropped the ball and forgot to fill out paperwork to get his name listed on their ballot. A member of Gonzalez’s campaign team could have appealed missing the deadline last week, but no one showed up, a source said.” Our Take: You’d think the election process would all go smoother in the digital age, but since upgrades take resources, take our survey and tell us what election reforms you would prioritize.

Wrongful Convictions Are Set Right, but Few Fingers Get Pointed
New York Times
“In the last three years, the Conviction Review Unit, or C.R.U., in Brooklyn has asked judges 23 times to free defendants who should not be in prison, making it by far the busiest and most effective unit of its kind in New York State. But in only a handful of the cases have lawyers in the unit held anyone accountable…with a decisive Democratic primary election for Brooklyn district attorney approaching in September, the question of who, if anyone, in the criminal justice system has paid a price for the numerous wrongful convictions in the borough has suddenly become a political issue. Earlier this summer, Ama Dwimoh, one of six challengers seeking to defeat Eric Gonzalez, the acting district attorney, called for a sweeping review of how Mr. Gonzalez has handled bungled cases.” Our Take: This is what campaign races are all about: debating whether our policy practices—in this case, that prosecutors responsible for wrongful convictions are usually not held accountable—ought to, and can be, changed.

Customers Rally to Save 83-Year-Old UWS Judaica Shop
“…While businesses across the city have recently struggled to survive under exorbitant rents, the problem has become a key campaign issue in the race for the Upper West Side’s City Council seat in the sixth district. In late July, Mel Wymore, who is running against the incumbent Helen Rosenthal, released an empty storefront survey conducted throughout the district and found 136 vacancies, some of which he said have been vacant for more than five years. The candidate believes landlords should be charged with a vacancy tax to discourage them from keeping empty stores…Rosenthal is working on two bills to try to help small businesses stay alive.” Our Take: A large slate of tenant protection bills will likely be approved by City Council today. One wonders if City Council will one day undertake a similar slate for stores at threat of displacement.

Brian Cunningham Puts His Heart, Brain & Soul Into City Council Race
Kings County Politics
“…It is this feel for the streets where he went from childhood to manhood, along with a deep commitment for public service, that led him to run for the city council seat in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary covering Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Ditmas Park…Cunningham argues that all issues the district faces are connected. He says rising rents mean residents have less money to spend on healthy food options, leading to health problems in the community. Less disposable income in the district means local businesses suffer and cannot hire young people, who are then more likely to experience negative interactions with law enforcement.” Our Take: In terms of private fundraising, Cunningham currently is second to the incumbent Mathieu Eugene, and he has spent far more of what he’s raised.

At Oversight Hearing, Council Members Seek Answers On MTA Funding and Operations
Gotham Gazette
“At a contentious hours-long hearing held on Tuesday by the the City Council’s Committee on Transportation, Council members grilled representatives of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on the problems facing the city’s transit infrastructure and the challenges of finding both short- and long-term funding streams to adequately maintain and upgrade the city’s subway system…Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito emphasized that the city is already providing ample funds to the MTA and bristled at the suggestion that it was shirking its responsibility to fund the agency.”Our Take: With most of City Council on de Blasio’s side of the MTA debate, the state verses city ire continues.

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