In Monroe County, New York. Forgive me for being a bit parochial, but I do think this merits attention based on themes that are independently discussed around here.
It’s the race for Monroe County District Attorney, and it pits Republican-Conservative Bill Taylor against current first assistant and Democrat Sandra Doorley.
The Monroe County District Attorney’s office has been in Democrat hands now for…well, forever. In fact, I think the last time a Democrat lost the race for Monroe County District Attorney was 1981.
Sandra Doorley, being the current first assistant, is like the incumbent. You would think she would have the advantage here, but there’s a lot going on underneath, and good for Gary Craig at the local D&C for coming out with an article where he at least delves into those political nether regions in an oblique way.
It’s okay, Gary. I’m writing on a blog and I’m in Canada. I can afford to be more frank.
The political dynamic at work here is illustrative.
Republican candidate Bill Taylor amassed a healthy campaign war chest, raising $301,172, including a $100,000 contribution from the county GOP, according to the most recent campaign disclosure. Democrat Sandra Doorley raised $97,452.
So Taylor’s ahead 3 to 1 in fundraising. A lot of bets are being made in his favor. But he’s coming from the outside, right? Doorley’s a “career prosecutor” who came up through the ranks in the same office and is now first assistant. She is heir apparent. Why should Taylor be favored to win by so many “speaking” with their wallets?
You don’t have to look too far or think too much if you’ve been paying attention around this blog:
On the campaign trail and in campaign advertisements, Taylor is countering Doorley’s experience with his support from the law enforcement unions.
Taylor received endorsements from the Monroe County Police Benevolent Association, New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association and Rochester Police Locust Club.
Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said his members threw their support behind Taylor in part because they thought Taylor would strengthen communications between police and prosecutors.
Doorley said she thinks her prosecution of corruption within the Greece Police Department and the decision not to prosecute Emily Good, who was arrested while video recording a police traffic stop, thwarted her chances for law enforcement support.
She said during her endorsement interview that she was questioned at length about the DA’s decision that Good had not committed a crime.
Good was charged with interfering with a police stop — the arresting officer contended she was endangering police — but the District Attorney’s Office decided the charge should be dismissed.
Doorley, who was then first assistant district attorney, appeared in court to request dismissal of the charge. Prosecutors determined that, under the statute, Good had not committed a crime.
A number of prosecutors scrutinized past cases involving the same criminal statute and determined the criminal charge was “not sustainable,” Doorley said.
Taylor said he was asked during the endorsement interview about the Good case but said he did not want to “Monday morning quarterback” the decision from the DA’s Office.
Mazzeo was vocally supportive of police in the aftermath of the Good arrest, holding a press conference to back the arresting officer. Still, Mazzeo said, neither the Good case nor the police prosecutions by Doorley were key in the endorsement for Taylor. Doorley contacted him after the interviews and thanked him for a fair process, Mazzeo said.
Of course in Mazzeo’s mind “strengthen communication between police and prosecutors” = prosecutors doing absolutely anything the police want them to do, no questions asked.
We chronicled the goings on in Rochester here, anticipating just this result: that political retaliation by the organized police was forthcoming.
My natural sympathies would be with Taylor: I’ve been a Republican, too. He and I even clerked for the same Judge, Richard Wesley.
But I can’t go along with his candidacy. It’s capitalizing on the negative political fallout from sorely needed principled decision making by prosecutors. The Greece Police were badly in need of disruption, though nowhere near as much as the Mount Morris police, further south. And the Emily Good arrest was wrong, and the District Attorney’s office was right not to prosecute it.
See, the police unions would rather things just go on in Greece – and for that matter Mount Morris and elsewhere – as they always have, which is to say that the police have the run of the place, take what they want and abuse their positions with impunity. And their collective behavior with regard to the Emily Good matter has always been irrational, stupid, vindictive and ugly. Mazzeo behaves like a political thug.
This behavior by the cops should not be rewarded. It’s easy to pander to the organized police and it’s been an obviously winning political strategy for years, if you want to even dignify it by calling it a “strategy”; it’s more like mindless toadying.
Principled lawyers – prosecutors or defense lawyers, big firm, little firm, solo, and everyone in between, will line up firmly with Doorley on this one. I’m sorry I can’t include Bill Taylor in this group.
But things being as they are, the smart money is on Taylor. That’s obvious.
Update: Gotta love this comment to today’s D&C article by one calling himself “OriginalAverageJoe” – who is probably a cop – but anyway:
The DA’s office really is an important factor in keeping our community safe. It is also important in keeping our elected officials honest. A DA with integrity is huge. Mike Green sold out for a judgeship. Sandra Doorley sold out for a chance to be DA. I don’t know Taylor. Since we know that Doorley will cave in to political pressure ( not supporting the local police on the Emily Good charge), she has demonstrated that politics will govern her decisions. Hopefully, the public will see this and vote accordingly.
“Caving to political pressure” is when you don’t “support the local police”?
The police are above politics, I guess. Their unions, their press conferences, their lobbying and spinning and so on are not “political”, just the right thing to do for “community safety”.
Keeping salaries and pensions high only happens to be a typical public employee political stance. In the case of the police, it’s all about public safety.