Thursday, September 18, 2008

Judicial Contretemps

We have some interesting political correspondence to share with you. But first, your correspondent attended the Kings County Democratic judicial nominating convention held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights this past Tuesday evening. [The newly-created Richmond County (Staten Island) judicial district convention was held at the same time in an adjacent room, and finished in even shorter order.] It was orchestrated "Soviet-style." Short, sweet, lady and gentleman like, the script called for the eight candidates to be designated or re-designated without opposition, even for supposed "open" seats. Amazing. Well, maybe, not so amazing, and certainly not like the First District (New York County) conventions, where there is a lot of pre-convention "palavering" and horse-trading ["This epoch of parliaments and eloquent palavers"--Carlyle.] via telephone in lining up support for candidates, who are panel-screened.

Before adjournment, each judge candidate got up and gave a short thank-you speech. Everyone of them expressed gratitude to the party district leaders (that's why this is a run-up, as the Brits say, to the letter which follows) for their support, and they also expressed effusive thanks to and praise of County Leader and Assembly Member Vito Lopez, with one calling Lopez "the greatest County Leader ever." After adjournment, I spoke with a number of delegates on the floor because they voted "automatically" and didn't seem to know for whom they were voting. They didn't know, and were just told for whom to vote. In addition, no-one seemed to know (except older delegates) who Amadeo Henry Esposito was. Now, there was nothing Aristotle could teach Meade about politics!

Now, read on!

"Dear Fellow District Leaders,

I am very distressed about some of this year's campaigning for the Democratic Party Supreme Court Judicial Nomination to take place at our Convention on September 18th. We fought long and hard to save the integrity of our "open" and independent selection process. Our attorneys spent countless hours and energy to attain the great results at the U.S. Supreme Court when attempts were made to strike down the Judicial Convention system that we in the reform part of the Party have attained.

My first distress is the letter sent by a District Leader [Cynthia Doty, q.v. attachments in BMP -- ed.] listing District Leader support for one of the candidates [Billings -- ed.] I think that support of party and public elected officials is great for a candidate but should not be the "be all and end all." In my part of the 74th Assembly District, District Leaders are not judicial delegates. We pride ourselves in being reformers. The letter implies that District Leaders pick the nominee - I hope this is not so. If it was done that way, then why would the voters elect Judicial Delegates and Alternates at the Primary? The Democratic Party voters elect these people to render their opinions and give their votes without repercussions by District Leaders. Moreover, I know that some of the District Leaders named in the letter did not, in fact, endorse this candidate.

We and our convention system won at the U.S. Supreme Court because N.Y. County demonstrated the worthiness and correctness of our independent process and because Delegates are not rubber stamps to Leaders' wishes.

I am also very concerned in reading the e-mail from another District Leader [Greg Soumas, vide infra --ed.] who was told he had endorsed the same candidate. In fact, he did not and stated that he will not endorse this candidate.

I have also been called and courted incessantly by the same candidate when she knows first-hand that I am not supporting her nor telling my delegates what to do. I am a very direct person which is no secret to anyone. Other District Leaders and Delegates have told me that [they] might support her only because of her constant calls and badgering.

A candidate is ultimately responsible for everything in his/her campaign. Please take my concerns very seriously as we enter the convention next week. We should have great respect for our county's system.

By this e-mail I am not saying that this candidate is not competent or qualified for advancement. I am saying that her method of seeking that position is not in keeping with the hard fought reforms we Democrats believe in.Louise Dankberg
Democratic District Leader
74th A.D., Part C
Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club
Tel. 212 475 5347
Fax. 212 475 5347"

"Ladies and Gentlemen,
"Last night I was approached by several people who had been told that I had endorsed Lucy Billings in support of her campaign for the Democratic nomination for Supreme Court. As such talk is pure hearsay I will not address it except as follows: "I have not endorsed Lucy Billings and I will not be endorsing Lucy Billings in support of her campaign for the Democratic nomination for Supreme Court. "I will be focussing all of my attention and efforts on operations in support of the Board of Elections and the Tuesday Primary Election. As always I stand ready, willing, and able to assist on any election issue."Regards to all, s/Gregory Soumas"


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