The Backroom Crowd

Indictments Looming, Power Brokering Goes on as Usual as Brooklyn Pols Meet

Last year, Lopez-Torres was forced to wage her own campaign for re-election after Norman, for the first time in party history, refused to back a sitting Civil Court judge. Lopez-Torres won anyway and quickly began campaigning for a Supreme Court post. Alone of the candidates, she showed up early outside the diner to greet leaders as they arrived. Assemblyman Lopez (no relation to the judge) arrived with his protégé, Councilmember Diana Reyna, who had beaten back a strong primary challenge the day before. "I'd like your support," the judge told him. "Likewise," snarled the assemblyman, walking past her into the diner.

During the meeting, it was proposed by reform leaders Alan Fleishman of Park Slope and Joanne Seminara of Bay Ridge that it would make sense to verify Norman's straw poll with a paper ballot by the assembled leaders. Other leaders quickly shouted down the idea.

"I was democratically elected and I don't see any reason why that body can't act in a democratic way by putting their will to a vote," Seminara explained later, adding that she had even brought ballots along with her to use if the idea passed. If Norman was going to present a slate that purportedly represented the group's will, Seminara told the group, then they owed their constituencies a real ballot. "The judiciary is an indispensable part of our democracy," Seminara said. "We have a responsibility to prove the process is fair and democratic."

Old friends: A sign promoting the election of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes still hangs outside Democratic boss Clarence Norman's political club on Nostrand Avenue.
photo: Mike Appleton
Old friends: A sign promoting the election of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes still hangs outside Democratic boss Clarence Norman's political club on Nostrand Avenue.

The reformers' proposal was resoundingly defeated. Lopez-Torres also lost, by a two to one margin.

"I think it was a good night for democracy," said Norman after the meeting was over.

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