Volume 79, Number 10 | August 12 - 18, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Clerk shoots down 9/11 initiative

By Will Glovinsky

The petition for a ballot initiative that would create a second subpoena-powered 9/11 Commission was rejected by the City Clerk on July 24. Out of the more than 50,000 signatures submitted on June 24 by New York City Coalition for Accountability Now, the Clerk’s Office certified only 26,003 signatures — almost 4,000 signatures shy of the 30,000 necessary to compel the City Council to vote on whether the measure should be put before voters this November.

Last week the New York Supreme Court ordered an independent referee to review the 24,664 signatures invalidated by the City Clerk, and NYC CAN now has until Aug. 21 to compile a list of disputed signatures that will be presented to the referee. All signatories of the petition must be listed as registered voters in the April 2009 New York City Board of Elections database.

Ted Walter, executive director of NYC CAN, said that the coalition’s reviewers were finding errors — or legitimate signatures — among the Clerk’s rejected names.

“We’re getting to be optimistic that we can reach the 30,000 mark,” he said.

If the 30,000-signature threshold is reached, the Council will vote on the measure, although a thumbs-down vote can be overridden by the certification of an additional 15,000 signatures. NYC CAN also expects a challenge from the city over the legality of the petition, which would create an independent commission with the mandate to seek indictments where appropriate.

NYC CAN spokesperson Kyle Hence said that the city’s legal qualms with the petition included protocols for the appointment of commission officers, the funding of the commission and the broader question of whether New York City has the authority to investigate aspects of the attack that fall beyond its municipal jurisdiction.

Hence explained that there was little legal precedent to point to in defense of the proposed commission’s broad scope.

“What we’re proposing is unprecedented,” Hence said. “We’re looking to create a quasi-public commission with subpoena power.”

The original bipartisan 9/11 Commission, chaired by former Gover-nors Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, closed in August 2004 after publishing a best-selling report that gave recommendations for protecting the nation from further acts of terrorism, and criticized the C.I.A. and F.B.I. for not serving Presidents Clinton and Bush as ably as possible. The report did not hold any person or agency responsible for allowing the attacks to occur.

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