“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.
The recent election cycle was difficult and in some cases was contentious. Having known some of the candidates and having personally known a few of those who held the office of Manhattan District Attorney, this was an election that had added meaning. Morgy, or “The Boss,” as Robert Morgenthau was known among his employees was widely respected and served for decades. I remember interviewing him in his Hogan-era conference room after having been introduced to him by one of his trusted assistants, Julie Nadel, as he went on to describe his John Doe DNA concept — which protected victims from statute of limitations problems inherent in rape cases. It was a novel concept and it worked. I took some heat from his adversary but he won re-election. Even though Jim McManus, arguably one of the last of the powerful club leaders, supported a former judge by the name of Leslie Crocker-Snyder.
Cy Vance, Jr. ran for Morgenthau’s seat when, at age 90, Morgy decided to retire. Snyder ran against Vance and was defeated and Vance took over as District Attorney. Of course, while The SoHo Journal promoted the candidacy of both Morgenthau and Vance, I never expected the Spanish Inquisition. The issues in those Manhattan races were less explosive than the rampant corruption I was writing about in the Hamptons, which unfortunately destroyed my life and that of my family. Freedom of Speech, of course, does not guarantee Freedom from Retaliation. It was a classic case of prosecutorial malfeasance and the use of legal extortion to obtain convictions and D.A. Thomas Spota was well-versed in corruption and extortion. I took a plea to barely survive and was imprisoned for four years. Even my landlord joined the party and offered to help the criminal enterprise in order to get me out of my rent-stabilized apartment. How many poor, disadvantaged, minorities have been forced to choose between truth, innocence and prison by taking a plea in our society?
The issues of prosecutorial malfeasance and abuse, racial discrimination, criminal justice abuses and landlord harassment have all come out into the open now. Those elements have percolated to the top of the extortion racket used by District Attorneys like former Suffolk County D.A. Thomas Spota and his Assistant D.A.’s, who currently await sentencing for their convictions.
But, the success of Alvin Bragg as Manhattan District Attorney will now be able to address many of these issues for the benefit of all, not just SoHo residents. Hopefully, we can look forward to a new era of healing and appropriate criminal justice reform. Bragg has addressed this in his statement:
“I applaud all the candidates for their passion and ideas to transform the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, thank them for making me a better candidate and better prepared to lead the office, and look forward to working with them to bring the change that New York’s criminal justice system so desperately needs.”
“This has been a long journey that started in Harlem. And today, that 15-year old boy who was stopped numerous times at gunpoint by the police is the Democratic nominee to be Manhattan District Attorney.
We are one step closer to making history and transforming the District Attorney’s office to deliver safety and justice for all. One that ends racial disparities and mass incarceration. One that delivers justice for sexual assault survivors and holds police accountable. One that prosecutes landlords who harass tenants, employers who cheat their workers, and stands up to hate crimes. And one that stops the flow of guns onto our streets.
The road to reform will not be easy, but I promise that I will never stop working to deliver safety and justice for all.”