CITY HALL NEWS: The Brooklyn judicial nominating convention today, like so many things in Brooklyn these days, is being seen as a proxy war between party chairman Assemblyman Vito Lopez and the reformers from the New Kings Democrats. Carl Landicino, who has long served as the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s lawyer, is one of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s nominees, according to a staffer at Lopez’s office. He’s virtually guaranteed a seat by virtue of his connections to Lopez, despite having no judicial experience. The other potential nominees, confirmed by Lopez’s office, include Judge Peter Sweeney, Judge Rachel Amy Adams, Judge Betty Williams, and Judge Jonny Lee Baynes. Williams and Adams are favorites of the reform Democrats, according to a source with the New Kings Democrats. [Landicino, Adams and Baynes were eventually chosen].
This is the sort of reporting you get when your main source for the story is some media savvy member of the New Kings Democrats.
You would think from reading this that NKD was a Countywide movement, rather than one “reform” club in one corner of the County. A club which, in one of its first outings, supported Evan Theis, a sure loser, for City Council, helping to divide the “reform” vote from its strongest candidate, Jo Anne Simon, and thereby helping to elect Vito Lopez’s then Chief of Staff, Steve Levin.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, two of the Brooklyn Democracy’s brightest young men, “reform” District Leader Lincoln Restler and former Party Executive Director Jonathan Yedin, got into a bit of a snit on Twitter about the King’s County Democratic Party’s Judicial Nominating Convention:
Lincoln Restler: Today Vito's lawyer became a Kings County Supreme Court Judge. So is life in the one man democracy that is the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
Jonathan Yedin: was approved by screening panel. was voted overwhelmingly by the executive cte and judicial del. whats not democratic?
Restler: Im not so sure a winning electoral campaign will be waged by defending our county boss. Vito makes the decisions - plain & simple
Yedin: there were at least 3 instances today for additional nominations and/or statements. 120 in room. 0 nominations.
Restler: because the process is a farce. judges were picked last night & with 11 synthetic, unelected DLs, vito has total control of EXCO…- did you hear each new justice fawning over Vito? what more could confirm the singular role he plays in picking Brooklyn's judges
Yedin: he's the cty ldr and he supported them. They should thank him. They thanked indiv ldrs 2. There was a chance to speak up....
Make no mistake, these are promising young men.
I love Joe Lentol, but he cannot remain in the Assembly forever, and Restler is a strong possibility to succeed him, and is also a possible Council candidate against Levin, provided he and Simon can end their Alphonse and Gaston act and decide who goes through the door first.
And barring the entry into the race of an elected (not impossible in a reapportionment year in an area where’s the VRA might mandate big changes at both the east and west ends of southern Brooklyn), Yedin looks like the strongest candidate willing to take on Marty Golden.
Despite Restler’s impression to the contrary, I like both these guys, but they are both somewhat wrong here.
Before I say why, let me just note that every nominee chosen was found qualified by the Party’s Independent Screening Panel, which earlier this year was independent enough to find unqualified the County Leader’s favored candidate for Civil Court, forcing him to make a different choice.
While I regard Adams—favored by most of the “reformers”---as an especially outstanding choice (though in the past, she has been harshly and unfairly dissed by the likes of Gary Tilzer and the late Jack Newfield), all the candidates chosen (and Sweeney and Williams as well) were up to the job.
As in any Judicial selection process, whether elective or appointive, most of the rest is politics; which brings us back to the two young men.
Restler starts the conversation saying “Today Vito's lawyer (meaning the Kings Democratic Party’s Law Chair, Carl Landicino) became a Kings County Supreme Court Judge.”
Of course, that’s not true. Landicino became the Democratic nominee for Judge. Even acknowledging the nomination is tantamount to election (of course, that’s what they said about David Weprin too), the job’s term doesn’t begin until January.
Restler then goes on to call the process undemocratic, and Yedin challenges the assertion; they parry and thrust, and Yedin declares: “
there were at least 3 instances today for additional nominations and/or statements. 120 in room. 0 nominations”
Yedin is correct that “reformers” (and others) opposing in some measure the slate of candidates nominated did not put anyone’s name in nomination; this point was also made to me by perennial insurgent political consultant Gary Tilzer.
But it ignores reality.
That reality is that the nomination is really determined at the Leaders’ meeting the night before. The vote at this meeting is always echoed by the convention the next day. Rarely are any of the choices challenged on the convention floor.
And, in living memory (or at least the last couple of decades), no judge who has ever let their name be put into nomination against the choice of the Leaders has ever gone on to an elected position on the Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
So, it’s not like the “reformers” really could put someone into nomination. No one who wanted to be considered in the future would risk the damage. Even most of the leaders who backed them at the Leaders’ meeting the night before would be offended to have the results of that meeting challenged.
Further, they couldn’t even put up a last minute left field candidate. Thanks to the rules adopted at the “reformers’” insistence (and they were right), the only candidates who could be considered by the convention were those approved by the Party Screening Panel. And no one was going through that process unless they entertained half serious thoughts about one day going to the Supreme Court bench.
So, Yedin is being disingenuous.
But, so is Restler.
Does Restler really think that actually allowing the Judicial Delegates to choose the candidates, rather than the Leaders, would somehow be an improvement?
Calling for improving judicial selection by empowering the Judicial Delegates is sort of like proposing to improve presidential elections by empowering the individual members of the Electoral College.
Most of the Democratic Party’s District Leaders have faced at least one contested election. Almost all the Judicial Delegates never even face an election. They are usually handpicked by the incumbent party leaders in their area.
There are usually at least a few people in every AD who know who their Party District Leaders are; one cannot say that is true of the Judicial Delegates.
Sensitive to this fact, I once proposed at a “reform” club that we actually vote on our Delegate candidates, rather than deferring the choice to our District Leaders.
I was nearly booed out of the room.
Does any club in Brooklyn--reform, regular, or some other breed, actually ballot for their Judicial Delegates?
I oppose the current State Law-mandated system of choosing our nominees for Supreme Court in this manner, feeling it combines the worst aspects of elections and appointments, with none of the advantages of either.
But absolutely none of this system’s flaws would be improved in any measure by talking the choice away from the Leaders, and instead giving it to their proxies.
On the other hand, Restler raises a point about the Brooklyn Party’s unelected Executive Committee Members:
“because the process is a farce. judges were picked last night & with 11 synthetic, unelected DLs, vito has total control of EXCO”
These appointed members were supposedly not going to have a vote on candidate endorsements, but here they were voting.
Technically, every candidate chosen would have won without the votes of the appointed members (who, in any event, did not vote in a bloc for all of Lopez’s choices). Nonetheless, one can argue with some credibility that the very presence of the appointed members affected how others cast their votes, by making acts of rebellion seem futile.
Typically though, it was not the “reformers” but Irregular Dem Lew Fidler, who raised the point that only Executive Committee members who had been chosen by the voters ought to have the right to vote.
No one else, including Restler, even raised the issue until after the Convention was over.
But, confining the vote to elected Leaders would not have stopped Carl Landicino’s ascension.
Almost every one of those elected leaders owed Carl Landicino for his help binding and cleaning their petitions and handling their Election Law litigation.
This is surely not be the best criteria for choosing a judge (it is arguably one of the worst), but it does undermine Restler’s “democracy” argument.
While Vito Lopez is not averse to forcing his choices down people’s throats, he did not need to exert any force to get Carl Landicino his nomination.
But Restler and Yedin are not alone in the disingenuous category.
Here, for instance, is Chris Owens on Carl Landicino:
“For example, Betty Williams has been on the civil court for quite a while…Then you have Carl Landicino who is a lawyer and Vito’s operations guy. He does Vito’s legal work and has done it for the past couple of years. According to inside rumors, he is Vito’s choice to get a Supreme Court slot. Landicino does not live in Brooklyn; he lives in Westchester.”
While I generally think a lower court Judgeship is the best preparation for a higher court Judgeship, this is not invariably the case.Elena Kagan never served in a lower court Judgeship either.
But let’s bring it closer to home.
Party Law Chairs get the job as Party Law Chair because they are skilled at what they do. The last Party Law Chair to go straight to Supreme without stopping at a lower Court was John Leventhal, an outstanding legal scholar and legal innovator who was a hero to domestic violence advocacy groups and now serves on the Appellate Division by merit selection.
Another judge who went straight to Supreme was Paul Wooten, an outstanding lawyer whose high standards of professional ethics I can personally attest to (he was on the other side in a case I participated in involving, among others, Rock Hackshaw).
Wooten started his political life as in-house election lawyer to the Coalition for Community Empowerment founded by Al Vann, Clarence Norman and Chris Owens’ dad, Major.
When Wooten went straight to Supreme (after taking a swan dive on a race for Brooklyn DA, immensely aiding Clarence Norman’s candidate, John Sampson), I heard nary a word of complaint from Chris Owens or any “reformers” about Wooten’s lack of judicial experience (in fact, Mole333 at Daily Gotham practically did cartwheels).
Likewise, while I prefer Brooklyn judges to live in Brooklyn, other things are more important to me.
And, I’m not the only one.
“Reformers,” insurgents, and progressives often have a different standard about where a candidate lives when it’s their candidate.
In 2001, Ira Cure, then as now President of the “reform” Independent Neighborhood Democrats, ran for a Civil Court seat in Manhattan.
In 2003, when the Working Families Party ran a “Reform” slate for Kings Supreme Court led by “reform” hero Margarita Lopez Torres, one of their candidates, Alexander Eisemann, lived in Westchester. (He, like most of the rest of the “Reform” slate, had also never served a day on any lower Court bench).
In 2006, supposed “reformers” Gary Tilzer and Maurice Gumbs ran Manhattan resident John Serpico for Brooklyn Civil Court.
In 2007, “reformers” and liberals, myself included, backed Manhattan resident Karen Yellen for Civil Court against Noach Dear, and made fun of Marty Markowitz for supporting Dear on the basis of his Brooklyn residence.
“Owens believes the transparency and accountability are what drives his reform movement…’it is a very tough mountain to climb because it involves not just candidates who are willing to go up against the County Leader but it involves convincing other District Leaders, many of whom are extremely either afraid of the county leader or don’t want to rock the boat. It means convincing them to tell their judicial delegates to be independent, to use their own minds and to ask their own questions, and vote their own conscience...’”
But, Owens has other things on his plate besides transparency and accountability.
“…Owens is advocating for more diversity on the Supreme Court bench. ‘The three incumbents all happen to be white. Of the three seats left, the county leader has told his minions that there will be one Black, and that we should pick The Black that we want to put up on the Supreme Court. My attitude and that of one or two of my colleagues is ‘Why should there be one black? Why aren’t there at least two blacks? Why not three?’ If you have three whites going back up, how are you going to change the numbers and the Supreme Court pool if you don’t do something extra to change the numbers of people of color Black and Latino?...The percentage of black and Latino civil court judges is high and more representative of the population. The percentage of black and Latino Supreme Court judges who are from Brooklyn/ Staten Island judicial district is extremely low. That doesn’t make sense considering Brooklyn and Staten Island have huge Black and huge Latino populations…
…Our argument is essentially an affirmative action argument which is you are not going to change the imbalance unless at some point you say ‘Okay, this year we want to see these two blacks go up,’ or give people the freedom to support more blacks or more Latinos. The county leader doesn’t work that way; he makes deals where this group is going to get this and that group is going to get that,.."
This verges on obnoxious falsehood.
First of all (and not very relevantly), the Brooklyn/Staten Island Judicial District no longer exists.
More to the point, incumbent Betsy Barros is a Chilean-American. In the census, she is counted as an Hispanic. One cannot use the existence of people like her to reduce the proportion of whites as a percentage of the population, and then turn around and call her a “white incumbent.”
Owens is correct that the number of white elected Supreme Court Judges is disproportionately high. But his rhetoric on the matter is a masterpiece of misdirection:
“The percentage of black and Latino Supreme Court judges who are from Brooklyn/ Staten Island judicial district is extremely low.”
This would be like saying “The proportion of Presidents who have been Catholic is extremely low, but the number of Presidents who’ve been Protestants or Muslims has been disproportionately high."
Does anyone see the problem with that?
The proportion of elected Supreme Court Judges in Brooklyn who are black is not “extremely low.”
In fact, at 33%, it is slightly higher than the black share of the Borough’s population (32%).
But Latinos, who account for 20% of the Borough’s population are extremely underrepresented, and Asians, who account for 10%, are not represented at all.
Further, to assert that the “percentage of black and Latino civil court judges is high and more representative of the population” is true only if you believe that Latino voters think that by electing a black, one is giving them representation.
I think Chris should ask Deidra Towns if she agrees with that observation.
In actuality, blacks constitute 52% of the elected Civil Court Judges in Brooklyn, with Latinos highly underrepresented, and Asians not represented at all.
If trends (the white share dropping rapidly) continue, whites will soon be underrepresented as well.
The Civil court dichotomy stems from that fact that though blacks are slowly dropping as a share of Brooklyn’s population, various trends have caused them to dominate boroughwide Democratic primaries—at least those for low visibility positions.
I do not expect this trend to change in the foreseeable future.
Black women invariably win boroughwide primaries for Civil Court, and the distribution of district seats (which has not change since the early 20th century) now also serves to advantage blacks.
Once these same factors served to advantage Jews, and Jewish women were the Countywide candidates of choice.
And, at the time, the response of those advantaged by the status quo was to take maximum advantage of it, and to call it “Democracy.”
At the time, Major Owens and his allies rightly called the status quo unfair.
But today, it is Chris Owens and his allies who seek maximum advantage—his black allies out of self-interest, and his “reform” allies out of either cynicism, solidarity, ignorance or delusion.
I happen to believe that having a bench which looks like its County serves a social good. Electing judges in the current manner has not been doing spectacular in this regard, though appointive systems have generally done far, far worse.
As long as we continue to elect judges (and as I’ve pointed out previously, the alternatives are no more palatable), some changes need to be made.
At least in the City, most judges are elected from constituencies which are way too large. It would be far better if Judges (both Civil and Supreme) were elected (with primaries, not conventions) from constituencies around the size of an Assembly District, increasing the likelihood of a bench which better reflects the population.
Such a system would also cut candidates’ cash dependency considerably (I’m also open to considering some form of public financing).
Even more importantly, the process must change for sitting judges, who should be able to minimize their need to raise money as well as their contacts with the political process.
In several states, sitting judges ending their terms instead face retention elections. I favor implementing that system here as well.
In a retention system, a sitting judge’s name appears on the ballot alone, and the public gets the choice of voting yes or no on their retention.
This has several advantages.
Because consultants no longer have a horse in the race paying their expenses, they have no incentive to make mischief.
In addition, this system actually makes it easier for the press and good government groups to target the real losers, and no amount of political pump priming or ballot-access lawyering would allow a judge to avoid facing this election. Careful readers of Times endorsements will notice that several times the paper has despaired of having to endorse a less than outstanding sitting Judge because of their abysmal opposition.
If there was a simple yes or no vote, things would be far more simplified.
If a sitting judge is defeated, an interim successor could be appointed for a year before the seat went up in the next election.
Returning to the topic of a bench which looks like its Borough, what looked to Owens and his allies like affirmative action, looked to many whites and Latinos like a naked power grab by a group representing 32% of the Borough’s population, in which that group claimed seats on the basis of an affirmative action which they are not mathematically entitled too, in order to give Latino and Asians virtual representation (as opposed to the real kind).
Now, one can argue with the goal of a diverse bench matching the Borough's diversity, and one can also argue with whether the Party's informal quota system (initially adopted at the insistence of the Party's black leadership) is the best way of meeting that goal, but I think one cannot argue that one provides representation to the 64% of non-white Brooklynites by giving 64% of judicial slots to a groups which represents 32% of the population.
This may be many things, but it is not openness and it is not accountability.
And it is surely not affirmative action.
It is more like, “we’re currently on top and we’re going to do unto you (and the Latinos) like you done unto us (and the Latinos).”
It gives off the appearance of revenge as a substitute for reform and two wrongs as a substitute for right.
And, both Lopez and Owens seem to want to make things worse.
This year, Owens and his allies attempted to grab for blacks a seat formerly held by a Latino (although one who. being half-Jewish, might have counted in Owens allotment as a white, which would only be fair true if one counted Owens as white as well), while Lopez and his allies instead grabbed it for a white.
I defy anyone to find the moral high ground between these positions.
In its application, the” openness and accountability” practiced by Owens and his allies made them look nearly as bad as the regulars.
Here’s one account of the Leader’s meeting:
“crazy stuff at exec comm tonite…chris owens nominates judge baynes against carl landacino…baynes loses…then baynes is nominated…and all of a sudden he has no integrity…because he supposedly said he won’t run against betty Williams…you got me straight…was really kinda nuts… nominees are landacino , baynes and rachel adams, but there may be a bit of a floor fight tomorrow…but chris owens...hmm, not that smart imho…vito won decisively but the logic??? he nominates him and then doesnt back him?...was really nuts…imagine chris nominates him and then in the next set votes against and says he doesnt have integrity…nuts!!!...enuf to make ya crazeit was truly incredible to witness…quite...amazed..laffable for sure…oh well just had to vent...it was quite the show”
Here’s another take:
“chris owens said that the black caucus had picked its judge and we were being disrespectful….I had not proxied my vote to any caucus, or individual…Owens was openly duplicitous in his behavior at this meeting.
Inez Barron noted before the first roll call vote between landicino and baynes that baynes had promised not to run against betty williams as she was the caucus' choice…they voted for Baynes against landicino…THEN when the contest was between baynes and wiliams, owens attacked baynes for a lack of integrity…. how he could seriously say that after voting 5 minutes earlier on the same facts to make the guy a supreme court judge..,very disingeuous if you ask me. and surely not terribly "reform" minded...His hypocrisy was embarrassing. I think it even embarrassed restler a bit. Baynes' got integrity one minute running against the white guy, but the next minute he lacks the integrity to be on the bench...”
I don’t know, but this does not sound much like “…convincing other District Leaders…to tell their judicial delegates to be independent, to use their own minds and to ask their own questions, and vote their own conscience.”
It sounds more like “you are not allowed to think for yourself, because this seat belongs to us.”
Ironically, I once heard Lopez use the same logic.
Back in the early nineties, certain southern Brooklyn leaders were pushing former TLC Commissioner Fidel Del Valle, a Cuban-American, for a backfilled Civil Court slot to be chosen by the Leaders.
Lopez preferred Betsy Barros. His lines of argument were, 1) this was really a Puerto Rican slot, and Del Valle was a Cuban, so he really wasn’t Latino like the Chilean Barros (ironic, given Owens’ and his allies’ insistence this year that Barros is a white), and 2) this was a Latino thang, so the choice shouldn’t go to the candidate of Jews with houses in places like Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach (better it should go to the choice of an Italian with a house in Midwood).
I suppose I should have expected this.
While, as of late, Chris Owens sounds like a reformer, sometimes he sends out vibes which imply there’s a hack underneath.
“… we call on Judge Shawndya Simpson to voluntarily end her candidacy, supported by Assemblymember Vito Lopez, for a seat on the Kings County Surrogate Court bench…Finally, we call on the Black elected officials in Kings County to step up and protect the real interests of their communities…
…As an eminently qualified and experienced jurist...Judge Diana Johnson decided this year to… seek a Surrogate Court judicial seat…When it became clear that Judge Johnson was in a strong position to win the upcoming Democratic Primary election without depending upon the Party structure… Civil Court Judge Shawndya Simpson…decided at the last minute to work with Lopez and campaign for Surrogate against..Johnson.
Most importantly, Judge Simpson is also African American…Judge Simpson and her husband obviously perceive assisting Lopez as being in her best interest in the long run….
…If the Coalition for Community Empowerment existed today, no County Leader would dare to make such a move as Lopez has made. And no Black candidate – particularly a less-inexperienced Judge with a bright future -- would dare to simply toss aside the past and potential future support of Black elected officials and community leaders for a higher office. Judge Simpson is an intelligent, articulate and attractive individual who earned our support during her first candidacy. But she has been on the bench all of two years. Judge Johnson, an equally compelling personality unfairly maligned in the past, has served on the bench for 16 years-- including Supreme Court, Civil Court and Housing Court. There is a qualitative difference between the candidates here. In the past, the Black leadership would respect that difference and an effective County Leader would respect the Black leadership. Judge Johnson now has the support of approximately 90 percent of Brooklyn's African-American elected officials….
…By ostensibly "removing" the race factor from the Surrogate Contest, Assemblymember Lopez is thoroughly disrespecting the community and playing the ultimate race card. Lopez is simply exploiting the political weakness of the African American community in Brooklyn to further an agenda of domination –…the actions of the County Leader are cynical, oppressive and unworthy of a political party whose most loyal members are African American women….Judge Simpson should withdraw from the Surrogate Court race...and Brooklyn's communities must, once again, empower themselves and find real leadership to protect their interests..."
And I thought it was hacks who wanted their candidates to run unopposed.
This sort of thinking is not that of a reformer.
Does this, and his efforts this year to deny white and Latinos a voice in which black candidate they might prefer, make Chris Owens a hack?
Chris purports to be a good government liberal, but his rationale in calling upon Simpson to drop out of the race was a screed about how blacks must respect their elders, wait their turn and sublimate their personal ambitions to the collective wisdom of their leadership.
Further, his recent complaints about both Simpson and Baynes amount to an assertion that white people who try to ally with particular black persons without permission of "black leadership" are divisive and racist.
Does this also apply this to Eliot Spitzer for hiring Dave Paterson without getting permission? I am reminded of the time Charlie Rangel sarcastically called Eliot Spitzer the “world’s smartest” man in the same manner in which Marc Anthony had labeled Brutus an “honorable" one. Spitzer, one may recall, had the temerity to hire a black man without first acquiring the Congressman’s permission.
Like Charlie, Chris is apparently a racial moderate; he does not want to end “plantation politics”, just mend them, by changing the color of the straw boss.
By Chris Owens’ rationale, Barack Obama should still be sitting in the Illinois State Senate, waiting his turn.
Hell, if we applied Chris’ rationale to white people, Lincoln Restler would have to wait his turn as well—unless, and I do not discount this, Chris has a double standard.
If this is "new leadership", then Chris is a member of Congress.
Let’s look at that prose again:
"If the Coalition for Community Empowerment existed today...no black candidate – particularly a less-inexperienced Judge with a bright future -- would dare to simply toss aside the past and potential future support of Black elected officials and community leaders for a higher office. Judge Simpson is an intelligent, articulate and attractive individual who earned our support during her first candidacy. But she has been on the bench all of two years. Judge Johnson, an equally compelling personality unfairly maligned in the past, has served on the bench for 16 years-- including Supreme Court, Civil Court and Housing Court. There is a qualitative difference between the candidates here. In the past, the Black leadership would respect that difference and an effective County Leader would respect the Black leadership. Judge Johnson now has the support of approximately 90 percent of Brooklyn's African-American elected officials."
Think of how one might have applied it to Chris’ race for Congress in 2006:
If the Coalition for Community Empowerment existed today, no Black candidate, particularly a less-inexperienced former school board member with a bright future -- would dare to simply toss aside the past and potential future support of Black elected officials and community leaders for a higher office. Chris Owens is an intelligent, articulate and attractive individual who earned our support during his first candidacy. But he has never held real elective office. Yvette Clarke and Carl Andrews, equally compelling personalities unfairly maligned in the past, have effectively served in elected office. There is a qualitative difference between the candidates here. In the past, the Black leadership would respect that difference and an effective County Leader would respect the Black leadership. Carl Andrews and Yvette Clarke between them now have the support of approximately 90 percent of Brooklyn's African-American elected officials.
Last year, in endorsing Owens for District Leader, I said:
“Chris Owens may be wrong; I think he is quite often. But he is wrong about things he understands, and he understands those things in a way that reflects that he gets them. He understands what District Leaders do and has some not totally unrealistic idea of what they should be doing instead. He has some idea of what happens at the table, and that it is a table and not a cloud. Chris Owens will not have a steep learning curve, which is a very good thing when one proposes oneself as a candidate to go swimming in a pool of hungry sharks...
…it is not impossible that a leadership fight may occur…nearly half of the leaders are African-American and Chris has worked with most of them for years. He knows them and what motivates them.
In negotiations over a leadership, the important question really isn’t who, but how. In exchange for their vote, we should want a District Leader who can extract some concessions on how the Party will be operated. This means building coalitions. When it come to the possibility of being an effective coalition builder… Owens wins hands down.”
I suppose one might argue here that Owens is merely using the skills and connections I cited to build reform allies for his future battles, though he really does sound convinced of the nutritional value of his own Kool-Aid, as well as sounding convinced that his ideas for openness and accountability don’t contradict his ideas about how black backroom politics should operate.
So, while this does give the appearance of Chris totally selling out his purported “reform” principles, I concede I may be wrong; maybe this is about building alliances to bring about something better in the long run.
But, frankly I don’t see what the “reformers” get for buying into what appears to me to be a mere power play by black leaders, some of whom have opposed every effort to clean up the Party’s manner of choosing judicial nominees.
If backing the idea that choosing blacks judges should solely be the province of blacks is the price we pay for change, then change better be something awfully good.
But I see no evidence that it even exists.
Further, I don’t see the end game unless one considers “reform” to be the restoration of “Clarence Normanism,” with the only change being that whites no longer get their share.
Frankly, I think Chris Owens snookered Linc Restler and Jo Anne Simon real bad.
Even though it’s a cynical strategy, I think it is ultimately counterproductive.
I’ve heard from many folks about Chris’ efforts, and the ones who were most outraged were the most liberal white regulars usually thought as the most open to working with “reformers.”
Further, the logical end result of what Owens seems here to be advocating is untenable for Owens himself.
Things being what they are, I suspect I will support Chris Owens again for Leader next time round.
I rather enjoy Chris dissing Vito Lopez (though I would prefer well aimed sniper shots to blunderbuss shot gun pellets aimed in every direction), and I don’t mind his criticisms of Carl Landicino, who though he is surely qualified for the bench, has made his enemies the old fashioned way:
But, Owens is leader in an AD that is 69% white and full of lawyers, many of whom want one day to be judges, and if one takes everything Owens has said to its logical conclusion, they never can be.
Putting together everything Owens has said, what he is saying to lawyers in his district is as follows:
“For reasons beyond my control, you have almost no chance of getting to Civil Court, and unless you get to Civil Court, you can’t get to Supreme, because that would be wrong. So you can probably forget even the 36% of Supremes your population entitles you to, because you’re not eligible. And, by the way, you can’t even express your opinion on who’s the best among us, because that would be disrespectful.”
Instead of “Justice,” Chris Owens appears to be calling for “Just Us.”
Call me a hack, but I don’t buy it.
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