CONGRESSIONAL POLITICKING. Kirsten Gillibrand’s long-shot attempt to topple John Sweeney as 20th District Congressperson looks serious, at least financially. A serious fund-raiser will take place in Manhattan on April 18th, at a Park Avenue address, with multiple names of distinction heading the invitation list and Sen. Charles Schumer as special guest. Six days later and a few blocks away (on East 66th Street), comes a Manhattan fund-raiser for Mr Sweeney, hosted by Mimi and David Forer.
JUDICIAL POLITICKING. The imminent removal of disgraced State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Spargo marks the end of one story and the start of another. Judge Spargo, whose territory includes Greene and other up-State counties, squeezed money out of lawyers who had cases pending before him—money earmarked for his defense against other misconduct charges, namely that he dispensed $5-value coupons and bought rounds of drinks while running for a Town judgeship; took on as a private client a district attorney-elect whose electoral victory was under legal challenge; and flew to Florida in 2000 to lead a squad of pro-Bush election recount saboteurs. Spargo’s departure (he is not contesting the State Committee on Judicial Conduct’s recommendation that he be removed) creates a vacancy. The successor will be appointed by the Governor on the advice of local party chairpersons. And among possible/plausible successors would be GreeneLand judge George J. Pulver Jr. He rates as a prospect in that he is a seasoned jurist (with lots of experience filling in as a Supreme), he’s not too old for the job, he has been a contender for promotion in the past, he graciously withdrew from contention in response to pressure from fellow Republicans, and GreeneLand deserves a ‘turn’ at filling the district vacancy. On the other hand, GreeneLand’s claim to preferment is weakened by its small size and hence its lack of political clout. Anyhow, if the Supreme Court job does go to Judge Pulver, (who was just re-elected last year), we expect an interesting, though subtle and dignified, scramble among GreeneLanders to succeed him. Among plausible or likely contenders for consideration we understand, are Tom Fori of Coxsackie, former Town judge; Peter Margolius, sitting Catskill Town Justice; and Terry Wilhelm, our district attorney. Fori and Margolius have been avowed aspirants for Pulver’s seat in the past. And Wilhelm comes into the picture because the office of district attorney often has served often as a route to the bench. (The career of our other county judge, Daniel Lalor, is a case in point). Now then, if Pulver succeeds Spargo, and Wilhelm succeeds Pulver, who succeeds Wilhelm? The most likely candidate, as an interim appointee, is Charles (“Chip”) Tailleur. He is Chief Assistant District Attorney under Wilhelm, and he held the same job under Wilhelm’s predecessor, Ed Cloke.
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