NYC initiative for new 9/11 investigation gets legal opening

Group says petition for ballot initiative carries signatures from over 80,000 New York City residents
New York City Coalition for Accountability Now, a group comprising 9/11 family members, first responders and survivors, said on Thursday that New York City attorneys have conceded that enough valid signatures have been collected for a 9/11 investigation ballot initiative to move forward.

However, while the group hailed the concession as “a big victory,” activists still have a steep hill to climb before New Yorkers will get to vote on probing the infamous attacks anew.
“In an earlier letter from the City Clerk dated July 24, 2009, the City had claimed only 26,003 signatures were valid, 3,997 short of the requisite 30,000,” the group noted in a media advisory. “The City’s 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.”

The group added on its Web site: “The City’s concession comes as a result of the immense effort put forth by 50+ volunteers who gave more than 1,000 hours over a two week period from August 10 to August 25 to identify a total of 7,166 signatures that were wrongly invalidated by the NYC City Clerk and Board of Elections. On August 27, NYC CAN filed the 631-page Bill of Particulars cataloguing each of the 7,166 signatures it contended were in fact valid. NYC CAN submitted another 28,000 signatures on September 4 to guarantee the referendum will go on the ballot if they win the court case, bringing the total signatures submitted to 80,000.”

A ruling on the city’s motion for summary judgment of the initiative’s legality is expected on Sept. 28.

“Although the City has an incredibly successful record of shooting down ballot initiatives, we will be arguing from a fresh perspective that reflects the unprecedented events of 9/11,” said Dennis McMahon, NYC CAN’s legal counsel. “We believe the courts will see how critical an issue this is, and be persuaded with our legal reasoning and point of view.”

A New York City spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.