Tuesday, September 19, 2006

All in the Lopez family

Daily News Editorial, September 19, 2006

"It was bad enough to learn that Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez is set to bestow a Supreme Court judgeship on his girlfriend's brother, but now comes word that Lopez is conniving to get Gov. Pataki to name his daughter to a spot on the state Court of Claims.
Here is the most powerful proof that Lopez views the courts as a patronage playground where judgeships are awarded based on personal ties. And home is where the plums get picked with two hands.
As chairman of the Brooklyn machine, Lopez has virtually absolute power to name his gal pal's brother, Jack Battaglia, to the bench on Friday, in one of the rigged conventions that federal courts have ruled blatantly unconstitu-tional.
In the case of his daughter, Gina Marie Lopez Summa, the boss is counting on Pataki - a Republican who has bene-fited from Lopez's support - to come across with a nine-year, $136,700-a-year appointment. Dear old Dad would then have accomplished the long-sought goal of seeing his offspring in cozy court jobs. Some history:
In 1992, Lopez asked newly elected Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Margarita Lopez Torres (no relation) to hire a party hack as her law secretary. She refused. Three years later, when Summa graduated law school, Lopez sent word that the judge could make up with the organization - and win a spot on the Supreme Court - by hiring Summa as her law secretary. After Lopez Torres refused again, another Civil Court judge took on Summa - and was promoted to the Su-preme Court.
Lopez Torres was then blocked for Supreme Court for seven years - and filed the federal court action that declared the party's stranglehold on judgeships unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, Papa Lopez backed Pataki's 1998 reelection and, like magic, Summa was named state Division of Hu-man Rights general counsel at $87,500 a year, a salary that has since been bumped to $119,658. Thus was her career greased. Thus has she been placed, with the thinnest of résumés, on Pataki's desk for a judgeship that can preside over everything from major suits against the state to serious felony trials. Summa has only one thing going for her - her fa-ther. That shouldn't be enough."

No comments: