It is bad enough to perpetuate a system of picking judicial candidates that even those involved agree is flawed, and so much worse when they blatantly flout state elections law in the process.
Democrats managed this new abomination on top of the usual abominable behavior when they denied a Buffalo News reporter access to their convention in party headquarters while they were busily cross-endorsing state judicial “candidates.”
We are fortunate indeed to live in a democracy. And yet, when it comes to electing judges, Western New York looks more like a Third World dictatorship. This year, as in the past, party leaders anointed their picks, then cross-endorsed the choices. That leaves voters with no real choice in November.
Not content with that bit of non-democracy, Democratic Party officials decided that it was in their best interest to hold their nominating convention behind closed doors. No matter that the executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government offered the opinion that, given the public nature of the conventions, they should be open to the public.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner and his Republican counterpart, Nicholas A. Langworthy, sealed the deal months earlier when they agreed to cross-endorse Democrat Frank A. Sedita III and Republican Emilio Colaiacovo. The deal means both are sure to be elected in November, securing 14-year terms at $174,000 annually.
The fix has been in for years on the way State Supreme Court justices are selected in this region. In a bipartisan trade-off, the two party chairmen rubber stamp each other’s choices, thus denying voters the choice.
Republicans are due some very limited credit for at least opening their session at the new Marriott HarborCenter to reporters. The GOP at least managed to follow the law and allow the public to watch the rubber stamping.
Consistently absent in this entire process were the democratic principles upon which this country was built. The process of selecting judges invests all the power in the party bosses, so it is unlikely to change. But the Democratic Party at least needs to allow the public to watch its version of democracy in action.