Monday, January 12, 2009

The John Lindsay Bonehead of The Year Award

The Center For Disease Control keeps track of contagious and dangerous diseases in order to contain epidemics and eventually wipe out diseases.

At least as dangerous as any microbe or virus are political diseases and sociological fads. New York has conttributed more of its share of pollution to the political mainstream. Despite the breath of fresh air and megadose of common sense that was taken for granted under Rudy Giuliani, downright idiocy is making a comeback in New York City. In the spirit of the Center For Disease Control, I am sounding the alarm whenever discredited liberal ideas threaten an undeserved comeback. Towards this end, I am instituting the John Lindsay Bonehead of the Year Award. Lindsay was of course the infamous mayor who threw money at every social problem that came his way. Under his mayoralty, crime skyrocketed and housing stock deteriorated. Welfare recipients, according to Vincent Cannato in The Ungovernable City, reached a peak in 1972 of 1.25 million, or 16% of the New York City population.

Mayor Giuliani was able to make headway in reducing the welfare population in part simply by fingerprinting recipients. This single measure weeded out individuals who registered for welfare under different names.

Joe Hynes, the District Attorney of Brooklyn has won this year’s Eastern Seaboard Regional Bonehead of the Year Award. He has done it with a crime fighting measure that is itself criminal. What is his brilliant innovation? The New York Post describes it as follows.

He’s signed on to a scheme - “Common Justice” - launched by the Vera Institute for Criminal Justice, a gaggle of do-gooders dedicated to keeping bad guys out of jail.

Vera asks, “What if, instead of being locked up, the assailant had an opportunity to apologize and try to make things right?”

What if, indeed.

Let’s be clear. Petty criminals need not apply. Potential participants have been convicted of “a range of serious charges . . . including burglary, robbery and assault.”

Rather than going directly to jail, the convicts have a heart-to-heart with their victims - “in a safe environment, with a support team present,” including a “facilitator,” of course.

There they “discuss what happened and arrive at an alternative sanction, [including] community service or restitution.”

Vera claims this is meant to “improve victims’ experiences of justice” while supposedly reducing violent criminals’ “chances of re offending.”

Those who live in Joe Hyne’s personal laboratory find his naivete frightening. The age old problem of defendants putting pressure on victims to drop charges has a new respectability under Hyne’s proposal.

Imagine the anxiety of a victim who must put up with pressure not only from the perpetrator but also the District Attorney to essentially drop charges. The victim is supposed to accept an apology or maybe restitution. The acceptance by the victim of an apology becomes crucial. This puts them under far more pressure than if the wheels of justice turn at their own speed. The judicial system used to take the burden of meting out punishment from the individual victim and administer a fitting sentence in defense of public order. There was something profoundly reassuring about the idea that a crime against an individual was a crime against the people.

Under Joe Hyne’s proposal, the District Attorney will be sponsoring “peace talks between criminals and their prey. Instead of prosecuting crime it will be an “honest broker” trying to stop the cycle of crime and punishment, thereby morally equating the defendant and the plaintiff.

Under Hyne’s proposal, a victim of violence or theft must worry not only about the perpetrator being at large but whether the DA is perhaps getting impatient with them for refusing some bland apology and inadequate restitution.

If “Common Justice” were motivated by idealism, it would be bad enough. It is sanctimonious. It trivializes the suffering of crime victims and puts pressure on them to be “more forgiving.” It is the type of program that is cooked up by a sociologist who uses struggling urban neighborhoods as his social laboratory and then scurries home to his tony zip code in Long Island or Westchester. It is a repackaged version of old ideas and a textbook example of historical amnesia.

I do not for a moment believe that it is idealism driving support for “Common Justice”. Every precinct and every borough likes to show a reduction in crime. Joe Hynes as District Attorney defines his success through falling crime statistics. What could be an easier way to reduce crime than to redefine it as a “personal dispute” or to reroute it through non criminal arbitration. “Common Justice” aside from being junk sociology is really just another slick way to “cook the books”.

There is another reason for political hacks to feign idealism and to support this proposal, and that is the dismal record or the Brooklyn District Attorney in prosecuting crime. The New York Post provides a representative sample of Hynes foulups, such as

“* Last February, Assistant DA Sandra Fernandez was caught pulling rap sheets of witnesses testifying against clients of her defense-lawyer husband.

* In March, rape victim Natasha Raman was killed by the man she was to testify against after Hynes’ office failed to tell the judge who’d released him on bail that he’d threatened to kill members of her family.

* In October, Hynes’ murder case against ex-FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio imploded after his star witness’ testimony was contradicted by remarks she’d made to a reporter 10 years earlier.”

According to the New York Daily News,Hynes has mismanaged his own office and presided over a distressingly low conviction rate. The Daily News reports as follows.

“Brooklyn District Attorney Charles (Joe) Hynes is running a $4.8 million budget deficit for 2002, according to city documents obtained by the Daily News.

Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s call to city agencies for 2.5% payroll cuts this spring, Hynes showed red ink of $4,802,900 for fiscal year 2002, which ended June 30 - entirely for payroll expenses.

“This is what infuriates the other DAs,” said one government official familiar with the situation. “Joe always does this. . . . It’s an outrage.”

It’s not the first time. The News reported Monday that Hynes routinely overspends his annual budget. He hires more executives with six-figure salaries than any other district attorney, while his conviction rate has declined to 43%, the city’s lowest.

Unlike other district attorneys, Hynes has made up the difference by illegally pumping millions into his operating budget by using funds from federal asset seizures.

The city’s four other district attorneys closed their 2002 budgets with surpluses.”

Despite this record, Mr. Hynes managed to get reelected in 2005, proving that if you are a democrat in Brooklyn, a pulse and connections will get you back on the ballot and reelected.

What happens to felonies when they reach the office of Hynes ?

Take a look at Yehuda Kolko, a first grade teacher accused last year of molesting his students.

The Jewish Week reports as follows.

“In a surprise move, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, the Brooklyn yeshiva teacher charged with having sexually molested his students, pleaded guilty Monday to two lesser counts of child endangerment and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

Under the plea agreement, Rabbi Kolko, 62, made no admission of sexual wrongdoing. He will not have to register as a sex offender, and pleaded guilty only to a misdemeanor — not a felony.

Before the plea bargain, Rabbi Kolko, of Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Flatbush, had been facing felony charges of touching two first-graders in their sexual areas and forcing an adult former student to touch him during a visit to the school. Five former students have also filed suit against the prominent yeshiva, alleging school administrators knew”

The article in the Jewish Week outlines presents contradictory accounts by the District Attorney’s office and the families of the victims concerning the reasons for the judicial tap on the wrist.

“A law enforcement source told The Jewish Week that parents of the two child witnesses had reversed their decision to allow the children to testify that Rabbi Kolko had molested them.

The source said this fatally weakened the prosecution’s case in the wake of the discovery that the alleged adult victim had made false claims in an unrelated matter. ”

But the alleged victims offered starkly different accounts.

“My son was ready to go to trial, and we feel he would have done an excellent job,” the father of one of the children said. “The damage, pain and emotional stress Joel Kolko caused my family, and especially my son — we will never forgive him for this. … We are sorry to hear [the molestation] charges against him will not proceed.”

The disposition of this case was greeted with shock and anger by a silent majority in the orthodox Jewish community. What caused the case to be handled in the way that it was? If a widely known sex offense against a child is brushed off in this manner, what will happen when we have “Common Justice?” How many cases have there been that never made the papers?

Throughout the tenure of Joe Hynes, there has been a gap between the anger level of the public at violent offenders and the indignation shown by the District Attorney’s office. I fear that with the inaccurately named “common justice” program that this gap will widen even further.

It is in honor of the “Common Justice ” program that I am bestowing the “Bonehead of the Year” award upon Charles “Joe” Hynes. The prize will be a check for $1, 000,000.00 drawn on my personal checking account. There is nowhere near enough money to cover the check, which will certainly bounce. The check is therefore fittingly symbolic of the failure of Joe Hynes to honor his obligations to the people of Brooklyn.

Like a concerned doctor reporting a dangerous disease, I am calling attention to the politically diseased thinking behind “Common Justice”. I hope that the people of America will reject this misnamed program and the flawed premises behind it. “Common Justice” is junk justice. It is a recipe for tragedy. It should be stopped.

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