Downtown Brooklyn pedestrians on their lunch break yesterday encountered an unusual street protest at 16 Court Street, led by Reverend W. Taharka Robinson, above.
Their reason for demonstrating? Robinson is unhappy that Civil Court Judge Pam Fisher ran and was elected without going through the Kings County Judicial Screening Process. There is an Errol Louis column in the Daily News about it (he writes about Robinson a lot) which a demonstrator was handing out yesterday in lieu of a press release. Sam Newhouse at The Brooklyn Eagle has more of the legal background of this story and Newsday covers it too
Some background: Kings County Chair Vito Lopez has met in the past with Taharka on a number of issues. Both were Clarence Norman supporters back in the day, and Robinson's mom, Annette Robinson and Lopez were vying to be his successor in 2005.
More recently, there has been some quibbling over Fisher's qualifications and I had a long interview with Fisher's colleague and friend, Carl Landicino, about this and why Fisher chose not to appear before the panel. Attorney Jo Anne Simon, who has served on the screening panel, also addressed this issue and had a different explanation.
There are two stories at work here. One regards the circumvention of the judicial screening process and the ongoing issue of civil court reform. The other involves the political fissures in the Democratic Party that have been developing since September 2008, when an outburst occurred at a Kings County Democratic Committee meeting. Louis' column mentions the New Kings Democrats along with Robinson, though there were no New Kings present at yesterday's protest. Sources tell me that Robinson is interested in an alliance with NKD but so far their response (and Jo Anne Simon's for that matter) has been cool.
Finally, is it just me, or does every politcal activist in North Brooklyn have a Google News Alert for "Vito Lopez"?