Thursday, March 26, 2009

Janet Difiore and Tony Castro.

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

The Meaning Of News12’s DA Voter Poll
Good Ole Honest Abe Had It Right

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “You can fool some of the People all of the time, and all of the People some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the People all of the time.”

Hats off, as they would say in Honest Abe’s time, to News12 for, once again, running a Question Of The Day poll that clearly revealed the preferences of Westchester’s voters with respect to who should be the next district attorney of their county. Granted, it is not a purely scientific pole. However, 999 participants, essentially voting in privacy, and taking the time and trouble to do so, surely represents a meaningful sample and a profound commentary, particularly on the performance of the incumbent DA.

The Question Of The Day asked, “At this point, who would you vote for as Westchester DA?”

Th e results were as follows:

Janet DiFiore (D): 183, 18%
Tony Castro (D): 546, 55%
Dan Schorr (R): 270 27%

There is no other way to interpret these results than to recognize that more than 80 percent of Westchester residents reject the person
who currently occupies the District Attorney’s Office, and would prefer either Democrat Tony Castro or Republican Dan Schorr. Despite the power, exposure, and advantages of holding the Office for more than three years, Janet DiFiore is the choice of fewer than 1 out of 5 potential voters.

Let’s be fair in our analysis. Leaving personality and other factors aside, this outcome is a referendum on Janet DiFiore’s performance
in office. The People clearly understand that law and order, the administration of criminal justice, and safety of families, not to mention
the morale and reputation and activity of many of the County’s police agencies have all suffered terribly under Janet DiFiore. She has brought out the worst in people and the People know it.

You simply can not run a DA’s Office the way she has; prosecuting victims of rogue, violent, cops and get away with it. You can not
view a videotape such as the one in the Irma Marquez incident and then not only fail to deal with the offending officer, but also proceed
to prosecute the innocent, falsely charged, severely injured civilian victim. And, the real problem is that Marquez is but one of dozens
of such cases, over the last three years, on DiFiore’s watch.

So much for the negative implications of the poll. With respect to the two individuals, viewers and potential voters do prefer, we must
firstly congratulate Dan Schorr, a newcomer to the world of district attorney elections, for his showing of 27 percent. Dan, a former
assistant DA, has been running unofficially for the better part of a year now and has conducted a clean, constructive campaign. Running as a
Republican, he understands the uphill battle that party registrations pose for him in Westchester. We wish him well, and look forward to following his activities.

Then, there is Tony Castro, whose first campaign in 2001 against Jeanine Pirro, we had the privilege of directing. He went from somebody hardly anybody knew in August, despite the tragic events of September 11, to coming within fewer than six points of winning. As Mike Edelman once confessed with candor in the privacy of an elevator in the County Courthouse, “With two more weeks Tony might have won.”

Tony Castro’s performance in the News12 poll was remarkable given that he officially announced his candidacy at 11am on the day it was conducted. By capturing 55 percent of the votes, more than three times that of the incumbent, his reputation, his character, and his desireability and experience as a former prosecutor for 14 years in The Bronx, are apparently most appreciated and sought after, more
than ever, following three disastrous years under Janet DiFiore’s mismanagement of the District Attorney’s Office.

For the past eight years, Castro has been engaged in law practice here in Westchester, mostly criminal defense. He has gotten a good look at criminal justice in our County, and surrounding counties, from both sides, Prosecution and Defense, for more than 22 years. He is well-liked and highly respected by judges and prosecutors all over the downstate area; and, in fact, supervised many of today’s top assistant DA's throughout the 9th Judicial District.

Castro’s popularity in the courts is unquestionably a reflection of his decency and fundamental honesty and fairness in all of his dealings; characteristics the People of Westchester realize, perhaps more than ever, are required from their next district attorney.

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