July 8, 2019
Better hold off on the “oy veh”s regarding Tiffany Cabán becoming the Queens District Attorney. [See NYPD Confidential, July 1, 2019.]
Turns out, Melinda Katz, the Queens Democratic party candidate, is making a fight of it. As of this writing, she’s reportedly 16 votes ahead, out of 80,000 ballots cast, a frighteningly low percentage of about 10 per cent of the borough’s Democratic voters.
How this will end is unknown. A manual recount is to begin this week that could take days or weeks, if not longer.
“It could be Florida all over again,” said a top Queens official, referring to the 2000 presidential election where disqualified ballots led to George W. Bush’s disputed victory over Al Gore.
And there’s a further unknown. So deep is the Queens Democratic party’s fear of a Cabán victory, sources say that party leaders might consider a long shot alternative: supporting a respected law enforcement traditionalist like former NYPD Deputy Commissioner and current Bronx Judge George Grasso on the Republican line.
One can understand the organization’s fears of Cabán. A former Legal Aid attorney who has never prosecuted a case, she sounds as though she wants to turn the DA’s office into a kind of social service agency. She says she’s been influenced by the 2017 election of Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner, a former civil rights lawyer who has revolutionized that office by attempting to eliminate mass incarceration and charging fewer people with crimes.
Meanwhile, the number of Philadelphia homicides in 2018 rose to 351, the largest in a decade. In 2018, the number of New York homicides, with five times Philly’s population, was under 300.
As for Katz, she is a moderate political hack who has run for all sorts of local offices, from state Assembly to the city council [both of which she won] to city comptroller and Congress [both of which she lost.] Like Cabán, she has never prosecuted a case. Her robocalls to voters emphasized not her law enforcement credentials [of which she has none] but her pro-life stand on … abortion.
Should Katz become DA, Queens pols might feel a revived heartbeat as they seek to dominate the office. A concern, not without historical merit, is that the office could revert to its longtime unsavory character. Back in the day, then DA Thomas Mackel was indicted for hindering prosecution of a get-rich-quick scheme in which nine members of his staff had invested. In the 1980s, John Santucci ran the office from his second home in Florida. In 1991 he resigned in the midst of his term following a report in NY Newsday of his presence at a 14-hour lunch with Sal Reale, an ”associate” of the Gambino crime family.
At a news conference announcing his resignation, he blamed Newsday and maintained that Your Humble Servant, who wrote the story with reporter Ellis Henican, was “anti-Italian.”
Meanwhile in Queens, the counting goes on.