“Dump Hynes” is how the Daily News bluntly started its endorsement of Kenneth Thompson for Brooklyn District Attorney. Their rationale is that, “Charles Hynes, 78, is running for a seventh term on a record that includes findings by two federal judges of grievous misconduct by a top aide, an investigation into whether dozens of cases produced wrongful convictions and credible charges of having failed to effectively act on sexual abuse in the politically powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.” For good measure they furnished a particularly unflattering photo.
The New York Times still has not endorsed either candidate, but they did a devastating review of Hynes’ reliance on Louis Scarcella’s improbable evidence and confessions. Hynes has now appointed a review committee but the Times makes the case that the review panel is not independent.
The authoritative not-for-profit ProPublica investigative journalism enterprise laid out the known defects of Hynes including: Michael Vecchione, 50 potentially questionable prosecutions based on the obviously sloppy police work of Louis Scarcella, forcibly detaining witnesses in hotels to coerce testimony, hiring and firing favoritism, vindictive prosecution of his enemies, and lax protection for Jewish victims of sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, in the ultra orthodox world the usual electoral map has gotten all mixed up. In previous elections Hynes was the advance favorite of most ultra orthodox Jews because he kept their molesters out of jail and threw gentiles into jail when Jews were murdered. In the past, Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg was the outlier with his mantra “Charles Hynes drinks the blood of Jewish children with his Irish whiskey.” Even Nuchem will admit to some hyperbole and concede that Hynes may not drink Irish whiskey. Even, Dov Hikind, who has despised Hynes for years usually sat it out or took a low key position.
This year, as of a week to election day, only political rivals NYS Assemblyman Dov Hikind and City Councilman David Greenfield had staked out positions. Hikind strongly endorsed Ken Thompson and Greenfield came out strongly for Hynes accusing Thompson of anti Semitism. Playing to Jewish paranoia is an old cheap trick, but Greenfield went too far when he seized on an amateur “PhotoChopped” picture which morphed Hynes into a chicken and claimed it was from the Thompson campaign and was calling for the murder of Hynes. A nechtige tug (no way). Greenfield miscalculated because it fed anti Semitic stereotypes about Jews. This is something that even dishonest Jewish partisans do not like.
Hynes has a few big problems this year. More people are upset with him for not protecting Jewish children from molesters. Others are angry at him for saying the orthodox Jewish community is worse than the mafia at witness intimidation and for the 103-year sentence handed down to Nechemya Weberman. Everyone is saddened to learn that Hynes never prosecuted the murderers of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger and Rabbi Abraham Pollack, instead putting away the innocent David Ranta and Jabbar Collins.
But Hynes’ biggest sin is that he is looking like a looser. Thompson is running a pretty good campaign and Hynes is being battered by negative coverage in the mainstream media The consensus is that the race is very close in both the secular and the orthodox world and the odds favor Thompson. Greenfield claims all sorts of ultra orthodox groups are supporting Hynes but in most cases he is confusing an odd Hasid off the street with the leadership of a faction. At this point the only confirmed ultra orthodox endorsements of any consequence come from the Aaron faction of Satmar and the 48th street faction of Bobov. But in each case there are equally large factions on the other side.
Failed Messiah’s Shmarya Rosenberg reported a rumor that both Satmar factions cut a deal to cooperate in supporting Hynes in return for favorable plea bargains for some of their criminals. If true, this would be outrageously illegal and a corruption of justice. But more important, by Brooklyn standards, this would violate the normal rule of fratricide that prevents these two from endorsing the same candidate. Even if it is true, it is awfully late in the game for this to have maximum effect. Unless this happens I expect the Haredi vote to split fairly evenly. So much for the powerful ultra orthodox voting block.