Friday, January 11, 2008

Vote Now on Public Defender

The County Legislature should do its job and vote soon to appoint a new Public Defender. Do it soon to spare us from any more whining by David Gantt’s errand-boys, namely the County Bar Association and the Democrat and Chronicle.

Tom Smith, President of the Bar Association, deserves special criticism for surrendering the Bar Association’s independence to Gantt.

We learned that, weeks ago, Smith approved the bipartisan screening panel proposed by County Legislature President Wayne Zyra. Zyra only proposed his panel after consulting with Smith and getting Smith's approval. Smith even thanked Zyra for continuing the role of the Bar Association in screening for the public defender position.

Only Smith can explain why he caved in to pressure from Gantt. Whatever the reasons, it’s a craven performance that only brings disrepute to the name of the Bar Association, and to the reputation of Tom Smith, who expressed support, then backed away.

Legislative Minority Leader Harry Bronson is another supporter of the original panel who lost bladder control when confronted by Puppet Master Gantt. When the screening committee was announced, Bronson was quoted as saying “…the committee is capable of producing a list of qualified candidates without concern for political affiliation.”

The Democrat and Chronicle has run three editorials on this subject, about a little-known office that is irrelevant to most people in Monroe County. (Wish they had the same passion over the all-Democratic City Council’s $28 million Fast Ferry debacle).

In none of the three editorials does the D&C acknowledge Gantt’s role in politicizing this matter or in pulling the puppet strings connected to the mouths, and God knows what other body parts, of Tom Smith and Harry Bronson. The D&C won’t acknowledge that Gantt’s cry for so-called “community groups” to be included in any screening committee is nothing more that his attempt to influence the process and get his own appointees on the committee. The D&C complains that the committee should be free of political influence. But political influence is OK by them if it comes from David Gantt.

The County Legislature appoints the Public Defender anyway. It is time for them to review the applicants and make the choice.

When the Leg does it, let’s hope it gives consideration not only to the users of the Public Defender’s office but to the people who pay for it . . . the Taxpayers!

1 comment:

Rottenchester said...

a little-known office that is irrelevant to most people in Monroe County

I'm not a big fan of the dysfunction in either party in Monroe County - but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. The PD's office may not be well-known, but it is vitally important to everyone in Monroe County. We need fair trials, and good representation for all is an important part of the justice system.