Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

STEALING A JUDGESHIP FROM THE VOTERS

Daily News – 9/20/05
Editorial
STEALING A JUDGESHIP FROM THE VOTERS

For sheer brass, no one in New York City politics surpasses Clarence
Norman. While standing trial on the first of four felony indictments,
the boss of the Brooklyn Democratic organization is giving a powerful
judgeship to a hack whose only judicial experience was judging the Queen
of Coney Island beauty pageant.

On Norman's say-so, Assemblyman Frank Seddio is taking a newly created
surrogate judgeship, a post he can hold for 12 years - without even one
voter having a say in the matter. And all that time, Seddio will have
free rein to dole out millions of dollars in patronage.

Surrogates - judges who handle estates of the dead - are supposed to be
elected. But Norman can install whomever he wants because this post was
created in a dark-of-the-night deal as the Legislature shut down for
business last spring.

Giving Norman say over the judgeship spared him the hassle of having the
voters select the new surrogate in a primary. Allowing the voters into
the picture would have put Norman at very real risk of watching the
surrogate's job go to an insurgent. Were that to happen, all the
politically connected lawyers and accountants who feast on Surrogate's
Court appointments would have been out of luck.

So Norman anointed Seddio, of Canarsie, a former cop who slowly moved up
the political ladder. And as Seddio's official Assembly biography says,
"He is best known for his elaborate Christmas display that surrounds his
home each year, which is visited by thousands." When Seddio [above]
becomes surrogate, there will likely be gifts year-round for the
Brooklyn machine.

It is repulsive that Norman would award, and that Seddio would accept, a
long-term post that belongs to the voters. Norman first offered the spot
to Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who wanted it badly but bowed out honorably.
Seddio should show as much class. He should step down so the governor
can appoint an acting surrogate. There would then be a primary election
next September.

Do the right thing, Mr. Seddio, quit and make your case to voters.

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