CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CALLS FOR REFORM

November 13, 2018 at 5:15 am

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson joins us with reaction to the abrupt resignation of MTA Chairman Joe Lhota. He also addresses pandemonium at the polls on election day and issues a call for the director of the Board of Elections to step down.

Aired on November 12, 2018.

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> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.
TWO OF NEW YORK'S MOST POWERFUL
LEGISLATORS ARE DEMANDING A
COMPLETE OVERHAUL OF THE CITY'S
ELECTION SYSTEM.
IN A DAMNING OPINION PIECE IN
THE NEW YORK POST, NEW YORK CITY
COUNCIL SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON
AND MAYOR BILL De BLASIO ARE
CALLING FOR EXTENSIVE REFORMS
AFTER BROKEN MACHINES, A
SHORTAGE OF VOTING BOOTHS, AND
HOURS-LONG LINES LED TO HUNDREDS
OF COMPLAINTS POURING INTO THE
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE.
SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON WENT ONE
STEP FURTHER IN HIS DEMANDS,
STATING THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
OF THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS WHO
OVER SEES THE VOTE SHOULD RESIGN
IMMEDIATELY.
SO, I'M PLEASED TO WELCOME
SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON BACK TO
THE PROGRAM.
COREY, IT'S SO GREAT TO HAVE YOU
HERE.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> ALL RIGHT.
SO, I THINK ELECTION DAY WAS
SUMMED UP IN A REALLY GREAT NEW
YORKER CARTOON WHERE WE SEE A
BUNCH OF PEOPLE STANDING AROUND
AND ONE SAID, MY GOD, CAN THE
MTA GET ANY WORSE?
AND THE OTHER PERSON SAID, THIS
IS A POLLING PLACE.
[ LAUGHTER ]
>> THAT'S A GOOD CAR TEEN.
>> THAT'S A GREAT CARTOON.
I THOUGHT IT WAS ON POINT.
WHAT WERE THE PROBLEMS YOU WERE
SEEING?
I WAS FOLLOWING YOU ON TWITTER
AND YOU WERE REAL TIME EXPLAINED
A LOT OF PROBLEMS WE WERE SEEING
ON ELECTION DAY.
>> I WENT AND VOTED AT MY
POLLING PLACE THE LGBT CENTER AT
11:00 IN THE MORNING WHICH IS A
SLOW TIME.
AFTER THE MORNING RUSH AND
BEFORE THE EVENING RUSH, GET IN
AND OUT.
WHEN I ARRIVED, THERE WERE LINES
OUT THE DOOR.
THERE WERE FOUR SCANNING
MACHINES, THREE OF THEM WERE
BROKEN DOWN.
PEOPLE WERE BEING INSTRUCTED TO
GO OUTSIDE WITH THEIR BALLOTS,
THEIR BALLOTS WOULD THEN GET
WET.
THEN THEY'D COME IN, PUT THEM IN
THE MACHINE AND IT WOULD JAMB
THE MACHINE.
THIS WAS HAPPENING IN ALL FIVE
BOROUGHS.
IF WAS HAPPENING AT HUNDREDS OF
POLLING SITES ACROSS THE CITY.
WHEN THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF
THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS WAS ASKED
ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS
ON ELECTION DAY, HE SAID WE HAD
HEAVY TURNOUT AND IT RAINED.
WE DID THE BEST WE COULD.
WHICH IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE
ANSWER, GIVEN WHAT WE SAW ON
ELECTION DAY.
SO WE NEED A BUNCH OF THINGS.
WE NEED A STATE LEGISLATURE
WHICH I'M HOPEFUL THEY'LL DO.
WE NEED TO ADOPT EARLY VOTING,
NO EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING.
SAME DAY REGISTRATION.
ALL THESE THINGS THAT MAKE IT
EASIER TO VOTE AND WE'LL
HOPEFULLY NOT HAVE AS BIG A
CRUSH OF VOTERS ON ELECTION DAY
ITSELF BUT CAN VOTE LEADING UP
TO IT.
WE NEED TO PROFESSIONAL OOISZ
THE STAFF ON THE BOARD OF
ELECTIONS.
THERE IS A PROPOSAL IN ALBANY TO
HAVE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
APPOINTED AND HIRED IN A
PROFESSIONAL MANNER AND HAVE
HIRING AND FIRING AUTHORITY ON
THEIR OWN WHICH DOESN'T EXIST.
THOSE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE
NEED.
WHAT HAPPENED ON TUESDAY
ELECTION DAY WAS TOTALLY
UNACCEPTABLE.
NEW YORKERS FELT THAT WAY AND
IT'S TIME FOR RADICAL CHANGE.
>> IS THIS SOMETHING WHERE --
BECAUSE EVERYTHING THAT YOU WERE
TALKING ABOUT, OF COURSE, WAS
GOING TO HAPPEN AT THE ALBANY
LEVEL.
IS THIS SOMETHING WITH THE NEW
STATE LEGISLATURE WE'RE GOING TO
SEE GETTING SWORN IN IN JANUARY?
DO YOU FEEL CONFIDENT IF ALL IF
NOT MOST OF THESE CHANGES CAN
HAPPEN?
>> I FEEL PRETTY CONFIDENT.
YOU KNOW, THE VOTING REFORM
STUFF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, NO
EXCUSE ABSENTEE, SAME DAY
REGISTRATION, THESE ARE POPULAR
AND IT'S NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE.
THIS IS ABOUT MAKING VOTING
EASIER FOR EVERYONE, NOT ONE
POLITICAL PARTY.
SO, IN THE EARLY CONVERSATIONS
SINCE THE RESULTS CAME IN LAST
WEEK, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING
ABOUT THERE BEING PRETTY BROAD
CONSENSUS ON ADOPTING THESE
THINGS.
THE GOVERNOR SUPPORTS IT.
THE ASSEMBLY HAS PASSED THESE
BILLS IN PREVIOUS LEGISLATIVE
SESSIONS.
AND THE NEW DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY
IN THE STATE SENATE SUPPORTS IT.
SO I THINK WE'LL SEE ACTION ON
IT THIS UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE
SESSION.
>> ALL RIGHT.
SO, IN THIS DAMNING OP-ED THAT
APPEARED IN THE NEW YORK POST,
WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT THAT THE
HEAD OF THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS
STEP DOWN TO YOU?
>> WELL, ELECTION DAY SADLY HAS
TURNED INTO GROUNDHOG DAY IN NEW
YORK CITY.
EVERY SINGLE ELECTION DAY,
WHETHER IT BE THE JUNE
CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARIES, OR THE
SEPTEMBER PRIMARIES OR THE
NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION, YOU
SEE THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER
AGAIN.
YOU SEE BROKEN MACHINES, LONG
LINES, AND INCOMPETENCE AT
POLLING SITES ACROSS THE CITY.
SO, I THOUGHT THAT ON ELECTION
DAY, WHEN THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
SAID THAT THE REASON WHY WE'RE
HAVING THESE PROBLEMS IS BECAUSE
OF HEAVY TURNOUT AND RAIN, TO ME
THAT SHOWED A TOTAL TIN EAR ON
THE PROBLEMS THAT NEW YORKERS
ARE FACING, AND THAT'S WHY I
THINK THAT IT'S TIME FOR US TO
HAVE NEW LEADERSHIP THERE.
>> ALL RIGHT.
SO, I DID WANT TO POINT OUT THAT
IN YOUR OPINION PIECE, YOU
MENTION THAT THE CITY OFFERED
$20 MILLION IN NEW FUNDING TO
HELP BOOSTER -- BOLSTER, EXCUSE
ME, FOR OUTREACH, BUT THE BOARD
REFUSED THE MONEY.
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHY THAT
HAPPENED?
>> WELL, THE MAYOR PUT AN OFFER
ON THE TABLE TWO YEARS AGO TO
THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SAYING,
WE'LL GIVE YOU AN ADDITIONAL $20
MILLION IF YOU AGREE TO CERTAIN
REFORMS.
IF YOU AGREE TO HAVE MORE
TRANSLATORS AT POLLING SITES, IF
YOU AGREE TO A VARIETY OF OTHER
MEASURES TO MAKE IT EASIER TO
VOTE, AND TO MAKE SURE THAT
PREPARATION AND PLANNING WAS
DONE PROPERLY.
THEY TURNED THAT DOWN, WHICH NOW
IN HINDSIGHT SHOWS WHAT A
MISTAKE IT WAS, AND THAT'S WHY I
THINK WE NEED SOME RADICAL
REFORM.
STRUCTURALLY THE BOARD OF
ELECTIONS NEEDS TO CHANGE, AND
THERE ARE BILLS IN ALBANY TO
ADDRESS THAT, WHICH I AM HOPEFUL
WILL GET A HEARING AND HOPEFULLY
PASS THIS UPCOMING SESSION.
>> ARE THERE ANY OTHER SOLUTIONS
THAT YOU'RE PROPOSING OR THAT
YOU CAN SEE WILL HELP ALLEVIATE
THE STRESS WE SAW ON NEW YORKERS
AS YOU SAID ALL FIVE BOROUGH?
>> MOST STATES IN THE COUNTRY AS
WE SAW IN THE LEAD UP TO MIDTERM
ELECTIONS HAD VOTING A WEEK
BEFORE THE ELECTION DAY ITSELF.
POLLING SITES WERE OPEN ON WEEK
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS SO FOLKS CAN
ACTUALLY GO AND VOTE EARLY.
IF WE HAD THAT IN NEW YORK CITY,
THE ISSUES ON ELECTION DAY, I
THINK, WOULD BE SIGNIFICANTLY
LESS THAN WHAT WE SAW BECAUSE
THERE WOULDN'T BE AS MANY PEOPLE
COMING ON ELECTION DAY ITSELF.
PEOPLE WOULD BE VOTING AHEAD OF
TIME.
I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE
BIGGEST, BIGGEST THINGS WE CAN
DO.
WE SHOULD HAVE NO EXECUTE
ABSENTEE VOTING, SAME-DAY
REGISTRATION.
THESE ARE THINGS THAT WILL MAKE
IT EASIER ALL AROUND.
IT IS HARD WHEN YOU SEE HIGH
TURNOUT.
WE WANT HIGH TURNOUT FOR THESE
POLLING SITES TO HANDLE ALL OF
THE REGISTERED VOTERS ON ONE
SINGLE DAY, WHICH IS WHY WE NEED
TO GIVE MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR
PEOPLE TO VOTE, NOT JUST ON THAT
ONE DAY.
>> NOW, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THIS
IN NOVEMBER OF 2018 AND, OF
COURSE, WE ALL KNOW THERE IS
GOING TO BE ANOTHER HUGE
ELECTION IN 2020, PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION.
AND SO MY QUESTION IS DO YOU
THINK THESE ARE THE KIND OF
REFORMS AND CHANGES THAT CAN BE
MADE IN TIME?
AND IF THEY'RE NOT, WOULD IT
DETER PEOPLE FROM GOING TO THE
POLLS?
>> I HOPE IT DOESN'T DETER
PEOPLE BECAUSE WE WANT EVERYONE
TO VOTE.
WE WANT EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO
IS ELIGIBLE, WHO IS REGISTERED,
WE WANT TO MAKE SURE IT'S EASY
TO VOTE.
BUT THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME
LOCAL ELECTIONS IN 2019 IN NEW
YORK CITY.
SO, IF THE STATE LEGISLATURE
ADOPTED SOME OF THESE REFORMS,
WE WOULD HAVE BASICALLY A TEST
RUN.
WE WOULD HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY IN
2019 TO SEE WHAT'S WORKING AND
WHAT'S NOT WORKING, HOW IT'S
IMPLEMENTED, AND THERE WILL BE
ENOUGH TIME AND PREPARATION FOR
THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY IN
NEW YORK, THE 2020 REGULAR
PRIMARIES THAT HAPPEN, AND THE
NOVEMBER PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY
AND GENERAL ELECTION.
SO THERE WILL BE MANY
OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE THAT
NOVEMBER ELECTION TWO YEARS FROM
NOW TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE
GETTING IT RIGHT.
>> NOW, OF COURSE, I STARTED OUR
INTERVIEW WITH A SORT OF JOKE
COMPARING THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS
TO THE MTA, BUT I DO WANT TO
TURN TO THE MTA BEFORE I LET YOU
GO.
WE JUST SAW THE MTA CHAIRMAN JOE
LHOTA STEP DOWN.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HIS
DECISION, THE TIMING AND WHERE
DOES THAT LEAVE THE DEPARTMENT?
>> JOE LHOTA, I THINK, HAS
SERVED THE CITY WELL.
HE DID A VERY GOOD JOB AFTER
SANDY HIT IN GETTING THE MTA UP
AND RUNNING IN A RECORD AMOUNT
OF TIME AFTER A HORRIFIC STORM
THAT KILLED MANY NEW YORKERS AND
THAT SHUT THE CITY DOWN FOR A
PERIOD OF TIME.
AND WHEN THE GOVERNOR ASKED HIM
TO COME BACK, I THINK THERE WAS
A LOT OF HOPE, AND THE MTA WAS
EXPERIENCING A CRISIS WHICH
WE'RE STILL SEEING.
I THINK ONE OF THE BEST
DECISIONS THAT JOE LHOTA MADE
WAS HIRING ANDY BIFORD, THE NEW
PRESIDENT OF NEW YORK CITY
TRANSIT WHO PUT FORWARD THE FAST
FORWARD PLAN TO SAVE AND RESCUE
THE MTA THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
I'M GRATEFUL FOR JOE LHOTA'S
SERVICE.
AND I'M HOPEFUL BECAUSE HE
DECIDED TO HIRE SOMEONE THE
CALIBER OF ANDY BIFORD WE'RE
GOING TO HAVE SOMETHING TO BUILD
ON AND IT WILL BE A BIG ISSUE
COMING UP IN ALBANY.
>> WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
THE NEW LEGISLATURE IS SWORN IN
IN JANUARY.
COREY JOHNSON, THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING
ME.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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