Saturday, March 1, 2014

WSJ: New York City Council Member Asks a Senator: Stop the Emails

City Councilman Daniel Dromm Says Newsletters From State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. Were ‘Harassing’ Him

By MIKE VILENSKY
Councilman Daniel Dromm said he felt the newsletter was ‘harassing’
 him. Getty Images

The office of a New York state Senate leader has intervened in a political tussle over a uniquely contemporary problem: a barrage of unwanted emails from a listserv.
New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm said in letters to Senate Coalition Co-leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos, and Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, that an email newsletter from Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. was “harassing” him.
Mr. Dromm said Mr. Diaz ignored more than 10 requests to stop sending him the senator’s email newsletter, and is intending to “vex” him with views in the emails that Mr. Dromm said are bigoted against gay people.
The letters were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The online correspondence began in 2010, when an aide to Mr. Diaz asked an aide to Mr. Dromm for the councilman’s email address without explanation, Mr. Dromm said.
The councilman, a Queens Democrat, then began receiving the senator’s newsletter, which is sent from Mr. Diaz’s government email address to an undisclosed group of people.
At the time, Mr. Dromm was part of a coalition of city lawmakers lobbying the state Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. Mr. Diaz, a Bronx Democrat, was one of the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage.
State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. said he didn’t want to talk about the emails. Associated Press

It isn’t uncommon for lawmakers to send out regular emails, sharing to-the-point updates on their policy initiatives and whereabouts. Mr. Diaz’s emails are sometimes lengthier missives, in which the senator expounds on topics such as the Bible and personal travails.
A recent email from Mr. Diaz began: “You should know that back in Biblical times, there were two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah.” And it accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of “religious discrimination” against “practicing Catholics.” The comments came in response to Mr. Cuomo’s radio remarks that “extreme conservatives…have no place in New York.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo declined to comment.
In four letters to Senate leaders—the most recent was sent in January—Mr. Dromm said he couldn’t get off the senator’s email listserv and found the contents of the emails “anti-LGBT.”
“If Senator Diaz is refusing to stop sending me hateful messages, I am concerned he is also refusing to remove constituents,” he wrote.
A spokesman for Ms. Stewart-Cousins said a member of the office reached out to Mr. Diaz’s aides last week about the email tussle, and “it is our understanding that he was removed from the list.”
Asked about Mr. Dromm’s allegations, Mr. Diaz said: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Ron Kuby, a New York-based civil rights attorney, said Mr. Dromm would be unlikely to win this one in court. “Generally speaking,” Mr. Kuby said, “the answer to these emails is to set your controls to block them, or to hit the delete button.”
The councilman’s lobbying seems to have paid off. Mr. Diaz’s most recent email was sent this week. As of press time on Wednesday, Mr. Dromm hadn’t received it.
Write to Mike Vilensky at mike.vilensky@dowjones.com
Read more: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303801304579407370323209750
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