Lame duck Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is trying to appoint a pal to a key patronage post at the city Board of Election in a “November surprise” before she leaves office, outraged Democratic Party leaders charge.
Mark Viverito wants to name gay activist and environmental lawyer Andy Praschak as the next Manhattan Democrat Party commissioner on the elections board.
Praschak also has ties to Puerto Rico, where he served for decades as a top official for the US Environmental Protection Agency.
But Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright and other party brass oppose the selection of Praschak as a power grab by the term-limited speaker from East Harlem.
“As a `November surprise,’ City Council Speaker has scheduled a vote to replace the Manhattan Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Alan Schulkin with her close associate Andy Praschak, in direct contravention of your vote as District Leaders,” Manhatan Democratic Party executive director Barry Weinberg wrote in an email to party officials.
“I would strongly urge you, as members of the Executive Commmittee of the NY County Democratic Committee, to call your council members and urge them to vote `No’ . . . The Speaker must not usurp your prerogative as the county party to recommend the Democratic Commissioner from Manhattan given your responsibilities of working closely with the BOE to ensure elections are administered efficiently and justly.”
Mark-Viverito, through a spokeperson, did not deny that she wants to appoint Praschak to the post.
“We’re considering all our options,” the Council spokesperson said.
Allen Roskoff, head of the LGBT Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, slammed Mark-Viverito’s move as sneaky.
“It’s not fair to the people of New York City. [Praschak] will be nothing more a political operator for Melissa Mark-Viverito. He’ll be her hatchet man,” Roskoff said.
Praschak would replace holdover Manhattan Democratic Commissoner Alan Schulkin, who came under fire last year after being depicted in an undercover video tape claiming the city’s muncipal ID program contributed to voter fraud.
All the Democrats in the City Council must vote to approve the next Manhattan party commissioner.