Off-year elections sometimes suffer from a lack of attention, but one local race this year demands the attention of any voter who supports good government and rejects the cynical back-room deal-making that has long characterized the judicial section process in Brooklyn.
In the Fifth Civil Court District — which covers Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Sunset Park and the southernmost part of Park Slope — Democratic nominee Noach Dear is so lacking in judicial qualifications and temperament that civic-minded residents must make time on Tuesday to go to the polls and vote for his worthy opponent, James McCall.
Generally, a ham sandwich listed on the Democratic line would beat Mother Teresa running as a Republican in a Brooklyn judicial race. So even though McCall is qualified to be a judge and Dear is not — and even though McCall’s record suggests an upright man of integrity while Dear has been anything but — McCall’s candidacy remains a long shot.
But because Dear is so unqualified — and his past so filled with ethical lapses and gay-baiting — the race has received enough attention to suggest that sanity may indeed prevail.
During his 18 years in the pre–term-limited Council, and in his unsuccessful runs for Congress and state Senate, Dear has shown himself to be ill-tempered and ethically challenged.
Much of the attention in this race focuses on Dear’s past comments about gays (whom he derided as practicing a “deviant behavior”).
But there are other reasons to say no to Dear. As the Village Voice has reported in a series of articles, Dear has had to give back campaign donations, pay fines and even refund a phony salary to a Jewish charity during his undistinguished career.
The Voice also reported that Dear’s campaign is receiving handsome donations from the taxi industry — a business that he is supposed to be regulating as a commissioner on the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Dear has had ample opportunity to refute those charges and show that he has altered his opinions about gays, but he has declined to comment throughout the race — a reprehensible lack of openness from a candidate.
(That said, Dear’s reluctance to speak publicly has had an ancillary benefit: It has allowed us to see him driving the wrong way down a one-way street to get away from WCBS-2’s Andrew Kirtzman earlier this year.)
Meanwhile, Dear’s surrogates — Borough President Markowitz and the borough’s Democratic boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez — insist that Dear is a changed man.
Dear may have convinced Marty Markowitz that he’ll be competent and fair, but the City Bar Association didn’t buy it, declaring him “not approved” as a judge, in part because of his lack of legal background.
The good news is that voters do have a choice.
Unlike Dear, McCall has been traveling the district to tell voters just what kind of judge he would be. Several conversations with McCall, who is currently a court attorney for a sitting Civil Court judge, have convinced us that he would serve the public well if elected.
And unlike Dear, the City Bar Association rated him “approved.”
McCall is certainly better than the alternative, which is why we strongly endorse him for the Fifth District Civil Court seat.