Just when you thought Don Vito was out, he keeps pulling himself back in.
2008 has been a good year so far for Kings County Democratic Chairman Vito Lopez. First, Governor Spitzer, who used to rail against machine politics before the machines humbled him, went out of his way in his State of the State Address "to thank Assemblymember Vito Lopez for his career of leadership on the issue of affordable housing."
Then this week, the Gov went one better and ponied up the patronage, filling three out of the four vacancies in the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division with Brooklyn justices. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court could have struck down New York's backward, boss-driven way of selecting judges based on the orthodoxy of their allegiance to the party machines, but yesterday the Court unanimously ruled in favor of our State's systemic cronyism.
Everybody's favorite Justice (everybody, that is, who eats babies) Antonin Scalia wrote in the court's decision, "Party conventions, with their attendant ‘smoke-filled rooms’ and domination by party leaders, have long been an accepted manner of selecting party candidates." Justice John Paul Stevens quoted Thurgood Marshall in a concurring opinion: "The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws." That much is for certain.
It is no surprise that this lawsuit originated in Brooklyn, since, as mole333 reminds us at The Daily Gotham, our borough's system of picking judges has long been marred by scandal. Now, with the Supreme Court validating this process, there may be no end in sight for this corruption unless our elected officials defy their party leaders and enact legislation changing the system. Even The Optimist has trouble being optimistic about the likelihood of this happening.
But back to Vito. Not only has Lopez won over Spitzer of late, he also has achieved some hard fought victories over his rival, Bronx Democratic Leader Jose Rivera, blocking some of Rivera's handpicked nominees from scoring choice City jobs.
Vito's recent success has him giddy. Today in the Observer, Lopez declares, "Brooklyn is back."
Yeah, but to what? The days of Clarence Norman?