April 12, 2009

Ballot Initiative Reality Check

Since the NYC ballot initiative became a project that many are taking seriously, there have been a number of people in the movement, including myself, who have been expressing a number of concerns about the content of the initiative, some of those involved, and how it's being coordinated.

In brief summary, a central figure and "coordinator" until very recently was Les Jamieson, infamous for his bad judgment and uncooperative direction of ny911truth. The initiative unnecessarily specifies who the commissioners will be. The commissioners are generally supportive of 9/11 truth and likely to be perceived as having bias. One of the commissioners is Edgar Mitchell, a noted UFO enthusiast. It sets the annual budget at $10 million for a period of five years while stating that the work of the commission will not commence until funds required by the budget have been fully secured. It sets the salary for commissioners at $100,000 per year stating that they will only work part time and don't need to live locally. It provides that the commission will also pay themselves for all travel and lodging expenses in addition to their salary.

Many people, not including myself, think securing a new investigation is the ultimate goal of the movement. And in some relatively superficial ways this effort seems like our best chance yet. Many support the effort because of the involvement of reputable or respected movement figures, politicians, and family members. Some support the effort because it seems like the best thing we've got going right now. Some support it for reasons other than it's stated intention, such as increased publicity.

But how many of those people either haven't read the initiative, haven't heard of the concerns stated above, or uncritically support the effort for being a movement project? And why are many who are aware of these concerns ignoring them?

While there is something to be said for fighting a losing battle to demonstrate the strength of our principles, the problems we see so far with this effort could have been avoided. But as they weren't, does it make sense for us to support the effort as though the problems didn't exist? If these problems fundamentally undermine the potential of this effort, as I believe they do, shouldn't we be acknowledging that before more time, energy, and money are spent?

Unfortunately, in a movement about truth and free thought there are many who are subject to group think or the allure of the bandwagon. There is a very real temptation that most of us feel to support the work of others as much as we'd like them to support ours. And very often we feel that criticism will be met with something akin to questioning our allegiance to the movement. I've certainly had my allegiance questioned.

From my experience in the movement I have a lot reasonable assumptions about how this all might unfold. Most important among them is the very real possibility that as the problems begin to become more clear to people, that most will be too invested to jump off a sinking ship. And the result in that case might be a lot of frustration, infighting, and ultimately burnout for many highly invested movement participants. If you think this is the movement's purpose, think it's our best shot so far, put a lot of hope or energy into it, and then it falls apart due to preventable issues, how will you feel?

We might lose a lot of supporters if this goes sour. Or perhaps when they can't raise enough money it will just quietly be put to rest. Either way, as the idea holds some promise I consider it far better to start over with a more solid strategy and initiative than to work with inadequate tools to achieve what for many is one of our most important goals.

Please contact NYCCAN to express any concerns you might have.


David Griscom said...

Hi Julian,

RE 9/11 truth burn out, when that happened to me, I just changed my focus to other equally important truth-searching subjects, which I report on in my blog:

However, I do have two explicit 9/11-truth posts there, which you might want to link your readers to:

Finally, since you seem to have shifted into election integrity issues at the moment, you might want the link to the Election Defense Alliance, of which I’m a Coordinator.


UhMark said...


I agree with most of what you wrote. Your concerns about money and the timing and length of the investigation are concerns that I share.

I'll add another concern of mine. I expect that if this gets onto the ballot and the New York City voters approve this initiative, it will be challenged in court. There are extremely powerful interests who would oppose it. Whatever amount of money NYCCAN thinks is necessary to conduct the investigation, I think the legal fees could be several million dollars. The legal challenge(s) could tie this thing up for several years. Courts move slowly, you know. As I read the petition there is no mention of legal challenges. It appears those who wrote the petition and initiative either assumed there would be no legal challenges or that they would be easily, quickly, and inexpensively overcome. Baloney. That's ridiculous.

If and when it gets challenged in court, the exact phrasing will come under fire. There are parts of the petition / initiative that just sound sloppy to me, such as:

1) There are eight commissioners and yet the commission is supposed to decide by majority vote. What if they have a 4-4 tie?

2) section 6 reads, "The Commission shall have authority to act up to a maximum period of 5 years from the date of their creation by the voters of New York City unless delayed by legal or administrative procedure, in which case the investigation shall continue until matters are resolved."

Puhleeeze! Shall continue until matters are resolved?! Are they kidding? You can't have something vague like that and expect it to survive a vicious, well funded legal challenge. What if the legal challenges take 5 years and one day? It should say that the Commission shall have authority to act for 5 years beginning the day the last legal challenge, if any, is resolved, OR for a total of 5 years if its 5 year period is interrupted by a legal challenge.

3) Section 7 refers to "our anticipated budget" but no budget is given nor is there anything describing when there will be a budget, who will create it, and what guidelines or rules or minimum requirements shall go into it. What if they never raise $10 million? Looks like there will never be an investigation.

4) Why should it cost $10 million per year anyway? Where do they get that figure?

5) section 9 seems like nonsense to me. They have already stated what their proposed solution is to this health care crisis. OK so why have a petition and and investigation for that?!

6) section 10 is sloppy. "to not publicly disclose activities of a secret or confidential nature". What the heck is that? Activities?! How about "testimony" and "evidence presented to the commission" of a secret and confidential nature.

7) Is there a law that authorizes this? They ought to say under the authority granted by (and insert the name and number of whatever NYC law on the books authorizes this).

#8) section 16; I don't think they can do that. If somebody in NYC made an agreement with the NYFD, Mayor Giuliani, the NYPD, or whoever that they would not speak or testify about 9/11, I don't think this new commission can invalidate that agreement.

#9) section 18 reads, "The Commission shall have the power to enter into contracts; and to create and enforce its rules." What rules? How will they be made, what kinds of rules can it and can't it make, what will be the consequences for breaking the rules, etc?

#10) From whom will the Commission take testimony? Who will decide what witnesses to interview and what questions to ask? How will the commission decide what to write in its final report, and any other reports? Do they have a guideline for what testimony to include and what not to include? Somewhere there is the assumption and promise that "the truth will come out", but we know from the 9/11 Commission that that does not always happen. It's easier to guarantee that "the received testimony will come out" than "the truth will come out".

I was told that some lawyers were involved in writing this. Well so what? It appears they left a big loophole, if I could call it that, the legal challenge. Plus all these other concerns I have.

Here's my question; have you (or has anyone in the movement) written a different version of the petition and initiative? One that eliminates these flaws?

I realize that it may already be "too late" now that 31,000 + people have signed this version. But perhaps it is not too late.

If we assume that with a petition that is rock solid and does not contain flaws we could actually get the voters to approve it, then it IS worth starting over with a better written petition and initiative.

Mark Graham in Davis, California
April 16, 2009

Anonymous said...

>>Here's my question; have you (or has anyone in the movement) written a different version of the petition and initiative? One that eliminates these flaws?

I don't think anyone has, although they should.

Anonymous said...

The reasons given [by the city clerk for rejecting the initiative] were:
First, the federal government has jurisdiction over an investigation into the attacks that took place on September 11 as well as the causes of those attacks. Establishing a local commission to conduct such an investigation far exceeds the proper scope and purpose of the petition process of the MHRL. Second, the petition fails to provide an adequate financing plan for the Commission as required by section 37 of the MHRL. Third, the petition’s method of designating Commissioners conflicts with state laws relating to the election or appointment of public officers and the residency of public officers. Fourth, the petition overrearches in its attempt to confer a range of law enforcement and prosecutorial powers on the Commission. Fifth, the subject of this proposed amendment to the Charter does not relate to an existing Charter provision as is required by section 37.
16.. The Commissioners and the NYCAG are not required to devote 100% or substantially all of their time to the work of the Commission or NYCAG, and it is expected that Commissioners and the NYCAG will be able to continue with non-conflicting activities including teaching, writing, consulting, Internet activities, and other. http://nyc911initiative.org/PetitionFinal-01.pdf Commission members will be paid a base annual salary of $112,500, plus up to $20,000 per year in expenses.

*This is obviously a scam.
They have lawyers but nobody proof reads the petition
yet they still want donations.

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