Deborah Glick—You Will Not Shut Down My People’s Law Practice!
By Arthur Z. Schwartz
We are three months away from the first real primary we have had for a local state office since 1990. Twenty-six years since Deborah Glick won a 4 way primary, after scaring the legendary Bill Passannante into retirement. There is no question that Deborah Glick was the top lieutenant to former Speaker, and $5 million bribe taker, Sheldon Silver. It was not a secret in the legislature that Glick was the enforcer, the one who threatened other Assembly Members who dared challenge the leader. The Daily News has gone so far as to label her his “consigliere.” And I will continue to highlight Ms. Glick’s enabling of corruption in my run against her.
Glick’s response? To come up with a plan to bar outside income by legislators, which she says is the “principal source of corruption.” And on several occasions she or her lieutenants have asked in public forums whether I will give up my law practice, and live on the $75,000 salary the Assembly Members get for their work. And when I say “no,” she has me castigated. At one recent forum I was told that I was one of the most financially successful lawyers in the state. (Maybe successful, but not financially).
Glick has come up with this notion that my law practice, which involves representing working people and their unions, and parents fighting for better education from their school systems, and tenants fighting eviction, and old women improperly placed in nursing homes, is somehow going to corrupt me and distract me from my work as an Assembly Member. (This is from a politician who cannot list 10 bills she was the lead sponsor of in 26 years in the Assembly!)
So let’s be a journalist and address false premise number one: lawfully earned outside income is the principal source of corruption in the legislature. Sheldon Silver took bribes; he disguised it as income, but it was a bribe. Dean Skelos directed business to companies which hired his son. John Sampson embezzled money he was appointed to hold in escrow and then lied about it. Thomas Libous lied to agents from the FBI who were examining his son’s hiring at a politically connected law firm. Malcolm Smith offered to bribe Republican leaders to put him on the ballot. Pedro Espada stole from a non-profit to which he directed public money. William Boyland was convicted of bribery, mail fraud and extortion; he solicited bribes from undercover agents who asked his help on development deals and pocketed $70,000 in unearned Assembly per diem payments. William Scarborough used $40,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filing false claims for $40,000 in travel reimbursements. Shirley Huntley embezzled $87,000 in public funds and attempted to cover it up. Efraín González Jr. pleaded guilty to using hundreds of thousands of dollars from nonprofit groups to pay for personal expenses. Diane Gordon was convicted of offering to help a developer acquire a parcel of city-owned land in exchange for building her a house in a gated community. And my favorite, Brian McLaughlin, took money from taxpayers, labor organizations, contractors and even a Little League program.
I could go on. None of this had to do with income earned from legitimate outside employment.
I am proud of the work I do. The suggestion that I stop doing it would undercut my ability to represent our community. A lawsuit won the fields on Pier 40. A lawsuit stopped the construction of a Costco on 14th Street between 6th and 7th. A lawsuit kept a token clerk at the Sheridan Square subway stop. A lawsuit got Ruth Berk out of a nursing home. My legal work helps lots of other seniors fight to keep landlords at bay. And I regularly help people keep their jobs and address the impact of sexual, sexual orientation, race and disability discrimination. My work for school crossing guards (and as their union lawyer) has seen starting pay rise from $9.88 an hour to $15 an hour in just 18 months. I have brought suit to get a new hospital downtown, and am planning litigation to address the horrible horrors of the April 19th Presidential Primary. I have successfully sued to stop school overcrowding, and to get a proper public education for students with disabilities. My work helps people, and it doesn’t make me rich. And my work opposing corruption has landed over 40 union officials in jail, and got rid of long-time Local 32b-32J boss Gus Bevona, giving 70,000 building workers back a democratic union.
I am a People’s Lawyer, and will be a People’s Legislator.
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Democratic District Leader for the Village and a candidate for Assembly in the 66th Assembly District.