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Mailer inquiry goes to Feds

A commissioner's probe of the ethical standing of a Charter Revision Commission mailing has gone to the federal level.

A piece of literature dubbed the 2006 Charter Commission's Voter's Guide to the Proposed Amendment was circulated the day before polls opened " without the prior knowledge of any of the city's commissioners. Some called the guide's content, and the way it was paid for and distributed, questionable.

Commissioner of Accounts John Franck has received a letter from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service regarding his concern over the alleged misuse of the city's return address on the mailer.

"I am forwarding your letter and evidence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency for allegations of fraud in the political process," Postal Inspector Thomas Moehring wrote to Franck Monday, Nov. 13.

Franck said he is planning a press conference to address the alleged postal code violation, as well as other issues he had with the mailing, on Monday, Nov. 27.

He said he drafted the letter to the postmaster because the flier has the return address of city hall, but a postage paid permit number from Albany. If a private party paid for the mailing, he said, it should not bear the city's return address.

Franck said he considered the flier propaganda and took exception with the wording of a question-and-answer portion of the document. Questions regarding the charter revisions lead with the term "opponents," as in, "Opponents say the Mayor would be all powerful and we will lose 'checks and balances.'"

When you use the word "opponent," Franck said, you go from education to advocacy. He then brought into question the validity of the answer given, which states there is no system of checks and balances in the current, commission-form of government.

"Not only is it advocacy at this point, but it's propaganda," he said.

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