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Institute for Truth Studies

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The Details Behind NY's Denial of 9-11 Initiative


By Mark Anderson

NEW YORK, N.Y. – This AMERICAN FREE PRESS reporter’s September assignment to Manhattan for 9-11 coverage yielded a considerable array of information – including the 9-11 ballot initiative which has the goal of asking city voters to decide if they want a new investigation into the tragic 9-11-01 events; however, the proposal was seen by the city clerk’s office, the City Law Department and a state judge as having too many legal shortcomings to place it on the Nov. 3, 2009 ballot.

The activist group New York City Coalition for Accountability Now, or NYC CAN, that is behind the current ballot proposal initially gathered 26,003 valid signatures, almost 4,000 short of what was needed, according to a July 24 letter from City Clerk Michael McSweeney. That letter also contained some legal objections, including the claim: “First, the federal government has jurisdiction,” regarding a 9-11 investigation. He added: “Establishing a local commission to conduct such an investigation far exceeds the proper scope and purpose of the petition process of the MHRL (Municipal Home Rule Law).”


NYC CAN then gathered considerably more than the required minimum of 30,000 signatures of registered city voters on petitions for amending the Municipal Home Rule Law to create what NYC CAN and the city both refer to as an “independent” commission to issue indictments and subpoena witnesses in a new investigation that many city activists and others in New York and across the nation strongly desire.

But Deputy Communications Director Connie Pankratz of the city’s Law Department told AFP that the validity of the signatures was not the central issue. There are several other problems, she noted.

Asked about the “independent” commission that would be created if this 9-11 ballot question was put before voters and approved—specifically, whether the commission could actually subpoena witnesses and issue indictments—she replied: “If an independent body wanted to achieve these powers, as a matter of law, the members would have to be public officers (i.e., someone who is either elected or appointed to the office). NYC CAN’s proposal violates the constitutional requirements for the selection of public officers.” 

She then added: “We did not contest the validity of the signa- tures because we did not believe that it was the most efficient use of limited court resources to conduct a line-by-line review of the signatures given that the legal deficiencies in the petition were of such magnitude that it would render the petition null,” as she noted in an exclusive AFP interview. 

An NYC CAN online news bulletin, referring to the letter mentioned above, notes: “In an earlier letter from the City Clerk dated July 24 … the City had claimed only 26,003 signatures were valid, 3,997 short of the requisite 30,000. The City’s [subsequent] concession that over 30,000 of the 52,000 signatures submitted were in fact valid paves the way for lawyers from both sides to argue the legality of petition.”

NYC CAN’s arguments were put forth in legal papers, with support from a 631-page “bill of particulars.” But it appeared as of Oct. 14 that such detailed arguments were not enough to convince public officials to approve the ballot proposal.

Asked whether this ballot initiative is dead or not, Pankratz replied on Oct. 13: Not necessarily. NYC CAN can appeal this decision. As a matter of law, it would receive expedited review.”

[Writer’s update: Right after this story went to press in AFP hard-copy edition No. 43 of 2009, NYC CAN decided not to appeal the matter and is instead strongly considering a public relations campaign to influence a greater cross section of the public on the organization’s 9-11 views. Read more about it in the follow-up piece to this article.]

Moreover, a decision by a “referee” for the court – recommending denial of the ballot proposal—was upheld in an Oct. 8 ruling by State Supreme Court Judge Edward Lehner.

In Lehner’s brief ruling obtained by AFP, he concluded: “Upon review of the papers submitted, the court finds that the well researched and reasoned report of the Referee should be confirmed as it correctly shows the legal infirmities in the Petition. While petitioners’ counsel argues that the severability provision of paragraph 20 of the Petition allows the court to strike any provisions thereof that are unconstitutional or invalid, the extent of the impropriety of the proposal, as correctly set forth by the Referee, would result in a substantial evisceration of the Petition and, even if legally permissible, would be inappropriate as inconsistent with the law sought by the signatories to the Petition. Accordingly, the motion of respondents to confirm the report of the Referee is granted and this proceeding is dismissed.”

In other words, “The judge is saying that if the invalid provisions were stripped, what remains would be vastly different from the main argument in the original proposal (i.e., he’s referring to the strength, or lack thereof, of the proposal and not the commission),” Pankratz explained to AFP.

A new 9-11 probe has been sought in light of many activists’ long-held consensus that the original 9-11 Commission that was reluctantly created by the Bush Administration was designed to fail. And, beyond that Commission’s official report, a new book written by top Commission members Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean (a pair of Council on Foreign Relations’ “bookends”) that claims the 9-11 Commission was stonewalled, does not resonate well with many 9-11 truth activists who believe that this “confessional” by the CFR boys is really just a cover up for their own stonewalling.

NYC CAN responded to the judge’s ruling in an Oct. 9 news release: “Justice Edward Lehner … rubberstamped Referee Louis Crespo’s recommendation that the decision to establish a local commission to investigate the events of September 11th not be put before the voters on November 3rd. After showing interest in weighing both sides’ arguments in the hearing, the Judge’s short decision gives no indication of having considered the arguments put forth in the Petitioners’ memorandum of law, nor any acknowledgement of the need for a new investigation, which the City of New York callously dismissed as ‘irrelevant.’ On a dark day for democracy, the patriotic call for answers by hundreds of 9/11 families, first responders and survivors has been stifled, and the will of the people of New York City once again denied.”

MARK ANDERSON is AFP's corresponding editor. 

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