Wednesday, December 24, 2008

THE FLACKS REPORT [23 December '08]

Schumer's List---Another Civil Court Vacancy?---"Recession Pah-tees"---Jessica Speaks---2009 Manhattan Court Vacancies---Healy & Wolf
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Schumer's List

On 7th Dec., U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, tapped by Gov. David Paterson to advise on the selection of Hillary Clinton’s successor, read a list of what he said were the eleven possibilities who he thought had generated the most substantive conversation, although he said he would make no endorsement. The options, as he saw it, are: Andrew Cuomo, Kristen Gillibrand, Brian Higgins, Steve Israel, Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velázquez, Thomas Suozzi, Byron Brown, Adolfo Carrión, Caroline Kennedy. “These 11 names, it would be like the New York Giants,” Schumer joked, “a great team if they could all be chosen.”

Another Civil Court Vacancy?

Civil Court Judge (9th Dist.) Walter Tolub, whose term ends this year, is considering leaving the bench, but he says that he won't make a decision as to whether or not he'll run again until after 5th Jan., '09. [Tolub, a long-time Liberal Party member, changed his enrollment to Democrat in 2004.]

"Recession Pah-tees"
The Council's Recession Party: Less Money, No Food, New LocationBy Azi Paybarah
Citing the financial crisis, the City Council has “decided to modify” their December 9 holiday party, charging $20 less than in previous years, but not offering any food.
It’s also being moved from the surrogate courthouse on 1 Centre Street to inside City Hall.
The memo from Christine Quinn’s aide Chuck Meara, which was forwarded to me by a reader, is below.

Memorandum To: All Council Members and Staff
From: Chuck Meara
Date: December 2, 2008
Re: City Council Holiday Party

As is widely known, we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn that is being felt in our own homes and throughout our city. We are all doing more with less, and working to stretch our dollar further.
These are tough times for New Yorkers. We at the Council recognize this situation and, given the current economic climate, have decided to modify our annual holiday party.
This year’s event will be held at City Hall. An assortment of food and refreshments including soda, wine and beer will be provided at the festivities, at a reduced expense from previous years. See attached flyer and please do not forget to RSVP to Maribel Valencia or Gina Guiteau in the Administrative Services Division.
Keeping the holiday spirit in mind, we also encourage you to donate to those less fortunate. A small contribution of canned goods or a toy are welcome and appreciated.
We hope to see you on December 9th and we wish all a Happy Holiday.

Bloomberg's Modified Holiday Party for Reporters

Like the City Council’s holiday party, the annual event hosted by the mayor for City Hall reporters is being scaled back from previous years.
Now, it’ll cost $45 (it used to be free), and won’t be in Gracie Mansion, but at restaurant. On the upside, it’s a buffet!

[Speaking of parties, most Democratic clubs (but not all) this year proffered a variety of junk-y food; cardiac un-healthy. Best advise: B.Y.O.F(ood). and go for the cheer! -- ed.]

Jessica Speaks

Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, asked at the Lex Club holiday bar bash if she found her City Council post either too boring or too taxing as the reason she may give it up after only two years--just as she was becoming comfortable and effective--and run for Public Advocate, said "I'm not answering that." Asked and answered.

2009 Manhattan Court Vacancies

In 2009, there is only one "County-wide" vacancy, that for State Supreme Court Justice as John Stackhouse retires, reaching the constitutional age limit.

In the Civil Court, Cynthia Kern (3rd Dist.), Analisa Torres (6th Dist.), and Walter Tolub (9th Dist.) are up for re-election (if they want it--Tolub may not run; see related story, supra.).

Currently there are two "open" N.Y.C. Civil Court seats: In the 9th Civil Court District [14th to 96th Sts., 7th Ave. to Lex.], vacated by Judith Gische who was elected to the State Supreme Court trial bench, and in the 3rd Dist. [14th to 65th Sts., 7th Ave. to the Hudson] as Marylyn Shafer reaches the constitutional age limit (she certainly does not look it!).

This reminds us of another issue: only State Supreme Court justices may be "certificated" to serve up to six additional years past the mandatory retirement age. Lloyd McAulay and this writer repeatedly have urged our local State Senators to start the bill process to amend the State's constitution to provide for the certification of all elected judges. Here in the City, we lose the sagacity of many Civil Court judges when they turn 70, and being a J.H.O. is NOT the same.

Tom Duane says that with the Democrats in control of the State Senate next year ("barely") and a Democrat as the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, it may be feasible.

Healy & Wolf

Robert Healy, political maven and Brooklyn, Bronx, & Queens judicial savant, suffered a severe fall and is hospitalized in N.Y.U. (formerly Beekman) Downtown Hospital (212+312+5000). Do a mitzvah and visit the Irishman if you can [subways to Fulton Str.].

John Wolf, our friend, neighbor, and long-time political activist, is at the Jewish Home & Hospital. No visitors, please. You may call Sharon Lauer at (212) TRafalgar 3-01.92, afternoons only.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

THE FLACKS REPORT 10th Dec., '08

More Aspirants for Public Advocate---Thompson Will Run for Mayor---Market-rate Tenants Not Protected by N.Y. State's Martin Act---Shirley Fingerhood Deceased---Sorry Saga of the Surrogates
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More Aspirants for Public Advocate

Even with the extension of term limits, the game of musical political chairs continues. As of this writing there are seven--count 'em--seven aspirants for the N.Y.C. post of Public Advocate. In addition to Norman Siegel (who is "The Natural" for the job), we have Mark Green (who, remember, wanted to give Mayor Rudy an additional 3 months in office), Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, IV, and City Council Members John Liu, Eric Gioia, Bill de Blasio, and Jessica Lappin (what ever can she be thinking after just a couple of years in office?). Isn't being an "urban-ist" legislator as Ruth Messinger was an honorable profession anymore?

Thompson Will Run for Mayor

City Comptroller Bill Thompson will give up his post to seek the Mayoralty. A previous Flacks Report stated that he would run for re-election. Thompson told this reporter that he was always running for Mayor, but after the recent term limits extension amendment to the City Charter passed, rumors had it that he would seek re-election.

Market-Rate Tenants Not Protected by State's Martin Act

The use of the State's General Business Law provision called the "Martin Act" was a somewhat novel way to preserve tenancies in a "controlled" market as it usually has been employed to protect unsophisticated investors. Part of the N.Y. State General Business Law regulates the sale of co-ops [G.B.L. sect. 352-eeee Conversions to cooperative or condominium ownership in the city of New York].

Housing Court Judge David B. Cohen's decision was a bold attempt which failed, being unanimously reversed by an appeals court on what some might consider a technical ground. [There are two decisions by the Appellate Term, 1st Dept.; the key one is MH Residential 1, LLC, et al. vs. Barrett, 2008 NYSlipOp 28471. Decided 28 Nov. '08. A.T., 1st Dept.]

The Appellate Term said that qualifying as a "tenant in occupancy" for purposes of benefiting from a condominium conversion requires contractual rights and leases and a landlord/tenant relationship. Occupancy alone is insufficient. The appellate court found that the trial judge's interpretation of the tenancy and occupancy sections of the Martin Act (for market-rate tenants, not rent stabilized tenants) was incorrect.

Shirley Fingerhood Deceased

Former New York City Civil Court Judge Shirley Fingerhood died Tuesday, 9th Dec., '08. Funeral services 2:30 P.M. this Sunday at "The Riverside," Amsterdam Ave. & W. 76th Str., Manh. Fingerhood, a Yale Law School graduate, served in the Civil Court and State Supreme Court from 1979 to 1993. F.Y.I., the N.Y.Times paid obituary follows:

FINGERHOOD--Shirley, pioneering lawyer and esteemed Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York , at her home in Manhattan on December 9, 2008 from lymphoma. Loving mother to Jason Solotaroff and mother-in-law to Katherine Webber. Adoring grandmother to Henry, Peter and Sally Solotaroff Webber. Devoted aunt to Maggie Pfeffer and Steven and Michael Fingerhood and dear sister-in-law to Nina Fingerhood and Doris La Porte. She survived her sister Marjorie Pfeffer and her brother Stan Fingerhood. Services Sunday, December 14th at 2:30pm at "The Riverside " 76th St. and Amsterdam Avenue . In lieu of flowers, contributions to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Inc. or the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy Inc. would be appreciated.

Sorry Saga of the Surrogates

The sorry saga of the Surrogate courts in New York City continues with the latest revelations about the newly-elected New York County Surrogate, Nora Anderson. The matter has been extensively reported in the New York press (Times, News, Post, Voice, and Law Journal) as well as on radio and television, so that it is not necessary to re-hash it here.

The Court of Appeals could suspend her when she takes office on January 1st, 2009, pending the resolution of the criminal charges regarding her campaign finances. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may also investigate. If suspended, the Office of Court Administration could assign a temporary judge to the post.

If Anderson is acquitted--and many knowledgeable insiders feel that the indictment is flimsy--there is the question of ethics in fiduciary matters. [The New York Daily News has already found her guilty (of ethical violations--not criminal violations).]

"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday--but never jam today."


Phil Reed Memorial Service---Stringer Abandons Public Advocate Quest---City's Environmental Control Board Shake-Out
***********************************************Memorial Service for Phil Reed

A memorial service for former Upper West Side Council Member Phil Reed will be held on Thursday, 4th December, 2008, beginning at 6:30 P.M. at the Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Dr. (ca. 122nd Str.), Manh. IRT B'way local to W. 116th Str. or W. 125th Str. stop).
Stringer Abandons Public Advocate Quest

As The Flacks Report reliably predicted months ago, Beep Scott Stringer would not seek the office of Public Advocate. Shortly after General Election day, he announced that he'll seek re-election to the Manhattan Borough Presidency. Public Advocate Betsey Gotbaum announced that she will not seek a third term, making clearer sailing for Norman Siegel, the "Natural" for the job. Comptroller Thompson said he will seek re-election, rather than run for Mayor. We shall see.
E.C.B. Shake-Out

The City's Environmental Control Board has under-gone a "shake-up" (and out). It has been removed from the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection and put in the Mayoral agency "OATH" [Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings]. Public Member Goldstein left. Director Friedman went to the Port Authority. Appeals chief Brownstein was "exiled" to a Bronx office. Scanlon went to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. And Moran moved to the D.E.P.'s most important section: water bills.