From time to time I will do a site update letting you know my progress in building this website. I launched site officially on January 2, 2022, but I started actually working on it on December 24, 2021. The idea for this site was to catalog not only be a home for my current podcasts, writings, and media appearances, but also a repository for the past. I had no idea how much that would entail.
As of right now I have 584 different items now on this website. 4 of those posts are site update posts, including this one. The rest break down into three main categories:
All of my Wonky Wednesday articles from my Tumblr blog & Zoom with Czarny podcasts are completely uploaded to the website.
My progress in scrolling through my Facebook page now dates back to July 1, 2019. So Editorials, Features, Interviews, Testimony, & Commissioner in a Car episodes from before then are limited on the website.
Since my last update I added about four months worth of content from July 1, 2019 to November 1, 2019. This four month span was probably one of the more consequential in my life. During this time I had what I feel has been one of my greatest accomplishments, successfully integrated Electronic Poll Books and Early Voting for the first time in Onondaga County and statewide. I also had one of the biggest trials of my life, Ubergate.
Electronic Pollbooks and Early Voting was a dream of mine since before I became Commissioner. In 2014 our office piloted a version of an Electronic Poll Book and I became convinced that even without Early Voting this was the wave of the future. So in July and August the BOE went about prepping for a full conversion for the November General Election. Though the entire office worked together, this became my project and sole dedication in the summer of 2019.
During that summer I redesigned our inspector training program so all 1100 inspectors would learn this new tool for the fall election. I toured almost every polling place to redesign the flow according to available power outlets. We scrapped the election district check in model and had a single table of check ins at every polling site along with a ballot table. We also learned how to program and deploy the poll books both before Early Voting started and after.
We were aided by a special town referendum in Salina on August 13, 2019. We were able to test run the electronic poll books in a low turnout low stakes referendum to eliminate the Tax Assessor. For the first time ever voters checked in on our Know Ink poll pads and were handed ballots at a separate table. This town wide election allowed for us to see how check in and flow would work and the inspectors and equipment performed admirably.
Early Voting was also new and with it came the ballot-on-demand systems. In addition to the Poll pads we had to roll out our on demand printing systems, the Poll Print units. Since any voter could go to any of our 6 polling sites we needed a way to quickly and accurately hand out 450+ different possible ballot styles. The Poll Print solutions worked with our Poll Pads to print a ballot on demand. Once gain the inspectors and equipment worked better than we could hope for our first runs.
Unfortunately these incredible successes were dwarfed by scandal that consumed the final two months of the election. On September 9, 2019 then comptroller Matt Beadnell held a surprise press conference to accuse me of driving for Uber while on County time. This came as a total surprise as I was not aware of any investigation and was not even afforded a chance to defend myself or see his “data” ahead of time. Over the next two months, while preparing for the hardest election i have ever run I had to defend myself against possible criminal charges, but most importantly to me, defend my reputation.
Over the course of 6 weeks it became clear to me, my attorneys, and eventually the district attorney that the accusations were false and misleading. Data was inflated and in some cases made up. While there were 12 hours over 3 years of possible infractions, it was a far cry short of the 100 hours Beadnell, without proof, alleged. All of those hours could be easily explained away as moments at the end of weeks where i put in well over my 35 hour work requirement but I accept now that I opened the door to this unfair attack. I should have anticipated unscrupulous individuals could use it as an avenue of attack and acted more responsibly if only to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Eventually I was cleared of all charges, Mr. Beadnell lost his re-election, and I was able to move on. It was a seminal moment in my career.
Why would I include this chapter on my website? Because quite simple this is a part of me and I pride myself on transparency. I knew that standing up for what was right would make me a target, and I accepted that my entire political career. That being said I didn’t realize the lengths some would go to punish those they had political disagreements with. The toll it took on my family and office was immense but I also will remember all the people who came to my defense and wished me well in a trying time. It is something I will always remember and cherish.
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