Thursday, September 15, 1988

Elections Board Rebuffs Mayor Over Director

New York Times, by FRANK LYNN, September 15, 1988

The New York City Board of Elections yesterday rebuffed Mayor Koch and rejected an unusual agreement he had made with Governor Cuomo and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to influence the selection of an executive director.

The New York City Board of Elections yesterday rebuffed Mayor Koch and rejected an unusual agreement he had made with Governor Cuomo and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to influence the selection of an executive director.

The board refused to reconsider its appointment of its administrative manager, Daniel DeFrancisco, as executive director. He is to succeed Betty Dolen, who retires Dec. 31.

The action yesterday was partly motivated by anger over Mr. Jackson's extraordinary involvement in a local appointment.

The former Presidential contender and his top supporters in New York -Manhattan Borough President David N. Dinkins, Representative Charles B. Rangel and Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr., the Manhattan Democratic leader - had promoted the naming of Hulbert James, who directed the Jackson primary campaign in the state this year. He is now deputy director of the Dukakis campaign in the state. 'They'd Run Me Out of Town'

''Where does he get off?'' the Staten Island Democratic leader, Nicholas LaPorte, asked about Mr. Jackson. ''He comes from Chicago. If I went to Chicago and told them I wanted one of my campaign workers appointed a commissioner, they'd run me out of town.''

Democratic and Republican county leaders were involved in the dispute because they appoint the 10 elections commissioners, a Democrat and a Republican from each borough.

The suddeness of Mr. DeFrancisco's appointment last week angered several county leaders, because they had not been consulted. However, their anger turned in another direction, when Mr. Koch announced that he, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Jackson had agreed to recommend that the board name a screening panel to suggest an executive director.

Mr. Jackson's involvement stemmed from a discussion of voter registration at his ''truce'' meeting two weeks ago with the Mayor, a session that Mr. Cuomo arranged. 'It Was Wrong of Them'

''I don't understand how a Presidential candidate, the Mayor and the Governor would make an agreement about a board in which they don't have input,'' the Bronx Democratic chairman, Assemblyman George Friedman, said. ''It was wrong of them.''

Under state election law, the board is supposed to be an independent bipartisan agency, although, in reality, such boards are controlled by the two major parties.

Mr. Koch said in a telephone interview that he did not consider the action ''a defeat for me,'' and, he added, Mr. Jackson ''has a right to express his opinion.''

''I consider Danny to be very able,'' the Mayor said of Mr. DeFrancisco. He added that he was concerned about the board's ''rush to judgment,'' but that he would accept the decision.

The board moved quickly to thwart Mr. James because the commissioners preferred Mr. DeFrancisco, a 22-year veteran worker from the Bronx, and strongly objected to Mr. James, who has often criticized the board and its registration efforts. For Lack of a Second

According to the minutes of the meeting of July 5, Mr. James, representing the New York Voter Rights Coalition, said that unless the board reinstated thousands of voters who had been removed from the rolls, reasons, ''he guarantees riots in the streets.''

Mr. James acknowledged last night that he had spoken of possible riots during the mayoral primary next year, if voters in minority areas were disenfranchised because of what he said was inefficiency by the Board of Elections. He said the remark was a prediction rather than a threat.

Six commissioners had originally voted to appoint Mr. DeFrancisco, a Bronx Democrat with no ties to the organization, to the $72,000-a-year post. One member, James Bass of Brooklyn, abstained, and another was absent. There are two Republican vacancies. Yesterday, in the small meeting room at the board headquarters at 131 Varick Street, Mr. Bass, the lone black commissioner, moved to reconsider the appointment because of the criticism of its timing. However, with all eight members present, Mr. Bass could not obtain a second for his motion and it failed.

One commissioner, Alice Sachs of Manhattan, said she would have voted differently if she had known about the Koch-Cuomo-Jackson agreement, which the Mayor announced 24 hours after the first vote last Tuesday. Despite that position and criticism by her county leader, Mr. Farrell, of her vote for Mr. DeFrancisco, she reiterated her position.

Mr. Bass's Democratic county leader, Borough President Howard Golden, criticized the board for not consulting the leaders. He also criticized the Mayor's involvement.

''The Mayor,'' Mr. Golden said, ''always gets into things he shouldn't get into and doesn't get into things he should be.''