Elena Baron and the Surrogates Court Race in Brooklyn, NY – OP ED, an Independent Surrogates Court Judge

Op-Ed: Baron Runs For Surrogate Bench Seat & Against Party Bosses

The Democratic primary for Brooklyn’s Surrogate Court Judge on June 25 is expected to have one of the lowest voter turn-outs in history.  That’s a shame. The race for Surrogate Court Judge is the last chance to cut off the cash supply of the Brooklyn Democratic Party Machine, which makes its living off the Brooklyn courts.

In 1966, New York’s newly elected Senator Robert Kennedy drew national attention to the race for the Manhattan Surrogate Judge.  Kennedy backed an obscure Russian-Immigrant Manhattan Judge Samuel Silverman, for Surrogate court against the Manhattan Democratic Party hack judge for three reasons:  to purge the democratic machine patronage from the Surrogate’s Court, to get even with the party leaders who blocked his proposed party reforms to end corruption and to open the Democratic Party to all New Yorkers.

Robert Kennedy said that electing Silverman to the Surrogate Court was the first step in cleaning up the court patronage–the “worst element in our political parties.”  Like Silverman, Judge Elena Baron running for the Surrogate Court, is a Russian immigrant, who has already shown her independence by getting elected to Civil Court in a grassroots campaign against the party machine.

The self-proclaimed “Progressive-Reformers” in Brooklyn have had an unhealthy arrangement on ceding control of the Brooklyn Courthouse to the Democratic Party for the past decade.

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The Importance of Judge Elena Baron’s Campaign – Defeating the Political Party Bosses and Unencumbered Justice

Judge Elena Baron Campaign for Surrogate Court: One Woman Against Brooklyn’s Political Bosses

 

Community and political leaders were astounded when in 2017 Elena Baron beat Brooklyn’s political bosses and won her election to become a Civil Court Judge.  Elena ran a grassroots judicial campaign winning by an overwhelming majority against three opponents in the 6th municipal court district, all backed by politicians.  Voters understood the importance of Baron’s independence from entrenched political insiders, who according to the NY Times pick almost all the judges in Brooklyn.  This year, Baron, who is running for Surrogate Court, is clearly the front runner in the race. Voters do not want to see lawyers connected to the Democratic Party looting the estates of widows, seniors and orphans in the Brooklyn Surrogate Court.  

Judge Elena Baron

In Brooklyn Heights Anne got out of her car to tell Baron, who was campaigning, how courageous she was to take on the Brooklyn Democratic Party Bosses and to run independent for judge.  In an era where the so-called progressives and reformers look the other way as the political bosses pick judges and use our courts for patronage, Baron is the leader that Brooklyn needs. 

Ann was familiar with how the Surrogate court operates because her close friend fell into a serious life-long depression after the estate of her mother was drained by administrators appointed by a Surrogate Court Judge. One of Elena’s best friends compared her campaign against the political bosses to the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where an outsider takes on the entrenched establishment to serve the people. 

Judge Elena Baron has spent over a decade working in five NYC Courthouses with a wide variety of issues and matters that come before the civil and supreme courts.  Elena has worked with families going through guardianships, dealt with myriads of issues pertaining to residential and commercial real estate, small claims, receiverships and refereeships, as well as matters concerning credit card debt and personal injury cases.   “Judge Baron’s independence and her well-diversified experience working in NYC Courts for over a decade will make her a very effective Surrogate, able to create personalized solutions to many individual family situations that come before the Surrogate Court,”said Yana Saffian, an attorney who practices before the Surrogate Court.  Elena has a track record of being independent from the Democratic party bosses, having been elected grass roots as a Civil Court Judge.    

To enter the Surrogate Court is to stumble upon Ponce de Leon’s own spring, an eternal source of easy money for the politically wired.  The Surrogate Court Judges appoint guardians to estates who make handsome fees of those residents who die without wills.  Robert Kennedy called the “The Surrogate Court A Political Toll Booth Exacting Tribute from Widows and Orphans.”  The Democratic Party bosses tell the Surrogate Court Judges they elect to hire party supporters, a patronage operation that strengthens organization by make money for their troops. 

Surrogate Court races are more about who and whose money is behind the candidates then the person running for office.  That is because the people behind the candidates get the benefits of the office, being appointed as administrators and guardians.  Elena Baron is the only candidate in this race who is not backed by the political bosses and the money and political support they bring to their candidates’ campaigns.  In her first race Elena Baron was a grassroots candidate who was challenged by the political bosses and she won overwhelmingly, because the voters want independent judges.

Growing up in the Soviet Union Elena witnessed many injustices that effected people around her and her immediate family.  One family member was sexually harassed and had to quit her job, another family member was being pressured into diverting funds going into the organization to a real estate development project, which she refused, and her private business venture was destroyed by thugs threatening to murder family members.  These and other experiences made Elena Baron love and respect justice and the law and to become a lawyer.  Elena would be the first immigrant to be elected to the Surrogate Court. 

The current surrogate, Margarita Lopez Torres, who is backed by bosses Seddio, Carone and the party machine this year, several times appointed Adam Kalish, who works out of Brooklyn County Boss Frank Seddio’s Canarsie home and office as a guardian.   Lopez Torres is running for a second 14 years term, although she is unable to serve it, since she must retire in 2 years at 70, the mandatory retirement age for a Surrogate Court Judge.  There is also talk, despite her denials, that Torres will take a Supreme Court position after the primary which will allow her to serve until she is 76 and allow party boss Seddio to back-fill one of his hacks as a replacement for a full 14-year term. 

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Judge Jacobson, Brooklyn, The Judicial Screening Panel and the Attorneys in Kings County – Lawsuit and Allegations

Federal judge did not disclose connection to player in lawsuit, records show

Federal judge did not disclose connection to player in lawsuit, records show

 

A Brooklyn federal judge did not disclose she was colleagues with a lawyer in a politically-charged civil lawsuit over which she presided — raising potential ethics concerns.

Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall handled a suit filed by former Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Laura Jacobson against the Brooklyn Democratic Party, its leader Frank Seddio and its judicial screening committee.

Jacobson alleges she was railroaded out of her judicial seat and defamed by the party and its screening committee — in part because she ruled against the Kings County Democratic Committee’s chief lawyer Frank Carone in a 2014 case.

Hall and Carone served together on the city Taxi and Limousine Commission beginning in 2011, their online bios show. Judge Hall did not disclose that connection during the Jacobson legal proceedings, which began in 2016. Carone was not a defendant in Jacobson’s lawsuit.

“They would normally at least raise the issue,” Ronald Minkoff, a legal ethics professor at Columbia Law School, said of judges in such situations. “Is it something in a perfect world you would disclose? Yes. Is it something that matters? I don’t know.”

Minkoff said situations where relatives or close friends show up in lawsuits would be clear grounds for disclosure or recusal. A situation like Hall’s is more of a gray area, but Minkoff said judges often leave such situations for lawyers to decide.

Jacobson’s attorney Ravi Batra said it’s “too early to say” whether he would pursue an ethics complaint through the federal court system.

“While I’m more comfortable with it, my client is not,” Batra said of Hall presiding over the case. “I just wish there had been fuller disclosure so this would not even be an issue.”

Ravi Batra speaks on the City Hall steps.
Ravi Batra speaks on the City Hall steps. (Hagen, Kevin Freelance NYDN)

Hall dismissed Jacobson’s lawsuit last September. Batra filed a notice of appeal the following month.

The complaint alleges that the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s judicial screening committee found Jacobson “not qualified” in order to push her from the bench over court decisions she made, including the one involving Carone.

Batra noted that this is not the first time ethics issues have arisen around Carone, a Brooklyn lawyer and a donor and friend to Mayor de Blasio.

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Measles in NYC Spreads Outside Community – Sunset Park

Measles spreads to Sunset Park as confirmed cases rise to 466

The measles outbreak has spread to Sunset Park with three non-Jewish individuals, including two public school students, contracting the disease. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

2 public school students among those infected

New York City’s measles outbreak, mostly contained to the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, has now spread to Sunset Park as three people outside the Orthodox community — including two students — have contracted the disease.

Neither child was vaccinated, but they were allowed to attend school due to religious exemptions, according to the Health Department. They did not, however, go to school while infectious, and both had spent time in areas rife with measles.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis sought to assure the community that public school students are not at an increased risk of getting the disease.

“We are confident there is no increased risk of exposure at New York City public schools both because the recently diagnosed children from Sunset Park were not in school while infectious and because of the high vaccination rates of students in these and all NYC public schools,” Daskalakis said.

“This is the time to act. Measles is a highly contagious disease. If you are spending time in Williamsburg, Borough Park or other areas with measles activity in or around NYC confirm that you are immune to measles by looking at your vaccination history or by consulting with your healthcare provider.”

Daskalakis urged anyone living, working, studying or playing in areas with measles like Williamsburg and Borough Park to get vaccinated.

The total number of confirmed cases across the city has risen to 466 — 43 more since April 30 — and an additional 181 since Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on April 9.

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City Closing Brooklyn Yeshivas for Putting Children and Immune Compromised People at Risk, Measles

City closes 2 Jewish schools for ignoring measles order

The city Health Department shut down two Jewish schools in Brooklyn for failing to submit immunization and attendance records amid the measles outbreak.

The school Tiferes Bnos on Marcy Avenue and preschool Talmud Torah D’Nitra on Bedford Avenue will not be permitted to reopen until the department approves a corrective action plan that addresses the lapses in compliance.

Health officials previously closed five schools – including the United Talmudical Academy’s preschool run by a Williamsburg yeshiva — for failing to comply with the health commissioner’s order.

The order requires yeshivas and child care programs in certain ZIP codes to exclude unvaccinated students and to provide the Health Department with immediate access to medical and attendance records.

All five have been authorized to reopen under Health Department monitoring.

“Schools that continue to disregard our direction during the outbreak will be closed down until they can prove to the Health Department that they will comply,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement.

“The reality is, the longer it takes schools and individuals to comply with our Order, the longer this outbreak will continue,” he added.

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The Rise of Anti-Semitism in the US – Brighton Beach, New York and $20,000 Reward for Information

Anti-Semitic Hate Strikes Children’s Playground in Brooklyn, NY

The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is once again investigating anti-Semitic vandalism, this time in the borough of Brooklyn. For the second time in three days, swastikas were scrawled where Jewish children play.

Read: Anti-Semitic Hate at a Queens, NY Schoolyard

Two swastikas were discovered overnight between Sunday and Monday morning, scrawled in black marker underneath a children’s slide at Brighton playground in the Brighton Beach neighborhood.

The neighborhood is an area with a large Jewish community, and a large population of Holocaust survivors.

New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, a former member of Flatbush Shomrim and a long-time community activist, wrote in a tweet, “Community leaders, constituents & local organizations have teamed up with me to offer a $20K reward for information leading to the arrest & conviction of the perpetrator.” He also thanked the local civil patrol in Flatbush (Flatbush Shomrim) and ERG Safety Patrol for distributing the reward notices at the local parks.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Councilman Deutsch

@ChaimDeutsch

Community leaders, constituents, & local organizations have teamed up with me to offer a $20K reward for information leading to the arrest & conviction of the perpetrator.

TY @FlatbushShomrim & @ERGSafetyPatrol for distributing these notices at the park today.

“Are swastikas in playgrounds the new normal?,” Deutsch

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If There’s a Shomrim, There Should Be a Muslim Community Patrol, When Does the Nation Within Nation End?

Gated City Upon a Hill

In New York City you will find about a quarter-million African-born immigrants, most of whom trace their origins to Ghana. Though they are far from birth home, many still consider themselves part of Ghana’s Ashanti ethnic group and are card-carrying members of the Asanteman Association of the USA. The motto of which, Kum Apem a, Apem Beba, or “Kill a thousand, and a thousand more will come,” might suggest we pause for reflection.

The group swears allegiance to their traditional king in Ghana and elect a local chief, who carries the title of “Asantefuohene.” New York’s newest Ashanti chief, formally addressed as Nana Okokyeredom Owoahene Acheampong Tieku, otherwise known as Michael, works in the Bronx as an accountant. One wonders what happens when these Ghanaians become citizens and, theoretically anyway, are compelled by oath to “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty.”

But don’t wonder too hard, because there is plenty more to ponder. There’s more cooking in New York.

“Looking for Equal Respect”
Appearing with insignia nearly identical to that of New York City police patrol cars, the Muslim Community Patrol & Services (MCPS) have taken to the streets in Staten Island and Brooklyn. We have been assured by MCPS Vice President Noor Rabah, however, their intention is not at all to police dress, behavior, and speech in Muslim enclaves in order to make sure that they conform with the tenets of Islam.

No, they insist this is something like the Jewish community patrol group, Shomrim, implemented by Jews to protect themselves against, among other things, attacks motivated by anti-Semitism in New York. For example, an Orthodox Jew was recently beaten in Borough Park by a man shouting, “Allah, Allah,” and “Kill all Jews.”

How MCPS might differ from Shomrim, or even the Brooklyn Asian Safety Patrol, becomes evident upon examining the origins and patterns of behavior of similar Muslim community patrols in GermanyGreat Britain and Austria.

Muslim “community patrols” were formed in Europe under all too familiar appeals to civil and equal rights; and, not long after their establishment, took to terrorizing the infidel. In Germany, “These people’s intention is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology [upon others],” said Peter Jung, mayor of the city of Wuppertal.

In Vienna, Muslim community patrols were behind a series of brutal attacks, including one in which a teenage Polish girl received 22 blows to the head and face. In a video of the attack, she can be seen spitting out blood.

We would be prudent approach the idea of any sort of special  Muslim community patrols from a point of view of extreme caution and, even, prejudice. Why would we need such a thing in America?

Understandably, the NYPD has some concerns about the MCPS. Department spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie insisted the NYPD had not outfitted or labeled the group’s cars, adding that the “group is not officially sanctioned by the NYPD and they are subject to the law.” But Rabah issued a valid point in response.

“We’re not looking for someone to ‘outfit’ our car,” said Rabah. “We’re looking for equal respect.”

Presumably, Rabah meant equal respect in regard to the tolerance enjoyed by similar ethnically themed community patrols. Or did he? Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, pointedly said that McRorie’s remark “deserves further clarification by the NYPD.”

NYPD might carry the nightsticks, but if Laura Loomer’s literal deplatforming for criticizing the MCPS program illustrates anything, it’s the existence of formal and informal apparatuses of power in the United States.

Our Assimilation Problem
Still, there is uncomfortable truth in Rabah’s point. If we allow one ethnic group to form a security force to patrol their ethnic enclave, how can we deny the right to others? That would mean exercising prejudice, with prudence, but prejudice nonetheless in a society that cannot so much as stomach a little bit of it in this “nation of immigrants.”

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