Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gantt Breaks the Law; County Legislature Obeys It

Assemblyman, blowhard and public nuisance David Gantt this morning achieved the office for which he's best suited by character, conduct and intellect:   prisoner in a jail cell.

This for deliberately disrupting this morning's public meeting of a County Legislature committee and breaking the law by refusing to leave when legally required to do so.

If you don't think getting arrested was exactly what Gantt wanted, you haven't read Rules for Radicals and don't know how political street hustlers operate.

The Legislature's Public Safety Committee met this morning to interview candidates who applied for the position of Public Defender.   Interviews for positions like that are always done in "executive session" -- meaning by the elected officials, and without anyone else present -- in order to protect confidentiality of the applicants and their identity.  Exactly as it was done under the process used 30 years ago, for those who consider that process sacrosanct.   (We checked it out -- that's how it was done.)

Democratic Legislators refused to participate in the interviews, alleging the executive session is "illegal."

They musn't have very good lawyers.   We checked with our lawyer and golfing pal, who steered us to New York's Open Meetings Law and explained it.   The Open Meetings Law lists permissible reasons for public bodies to go into "executive session."

One of the specifically permitted reasons for going into executive session is to discuss:

". . . matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation . . ."
It's in Section 105 of the New York Open Meetings Law, which you can read here.

The Legislature Democrats know this, and here's how you can tell they're faking:   if the executive session really were illegal, they'd file for a court order requiring that public defender interviews be held in open session, not executive session.   (Our lawyer friend says this is called "an Article 78 proceeding" and is commonly done when elected bodies don't follow the rules.)

The Democrats would probably be willing to file one for posturing purposes, but know it would be thrown out right away.   Their goal is to tell the Big Lie -- not to do something that proves they're lying.

But don't expect to be reading about what the law says on this subject in the Democrat and Chronicle.   The law punishes small-time hustlers like Gantt for breaking the law, but not his enablers on editorial boards.

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