Brooklyn Boro

Chuck Otey’s Pro Bono Barrister for Oct. 26

October 26, 2015 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hillary Clinton. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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Will Hillary Attend Steve Cohn’s Big Breakfast, Set for Oct. 30?

One of Brooklyn’s premier political-civic events will take place this coming Friday morning when Steve Cohn stages his traditional Pre-Election Pumpkin Cheesecake Breakfast at the legendary Junior’s Restaurant on the Flatbush Avenue Extension. Reservations for this tasty show of Kings County unity can be made by calling Richard Goldberg (Steve’s talented partner) at 718-875-2400.  

Since Hillary Clinton’s national headquarters is pretty close — several blocks over on Court Street — some are predicting that she will show up that morning (if the Republican Benghazi Committee ever stops asking the same questions, over and over, hoping, of course, for a different result). Political insanity?

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News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Kings Inn of Court to Show Attorneys How to ‘Do the Right Thing: Select Issues in Ethics’

Kings County American Inn of Court President Justice Arthur Schack reports that the inn will hold its next CLE–accredited session on Oct. 27 at Brooklyn Bar Association Headquarters, 123 Remsen St.

A vaunted panel, headed by Justice Schack and Inn President Emeritus Edward Rappaport, will tackle one of the most defining areas of the legal profession: “Do the Right Thing: Select Issues in Ethics.” Among those appearing that night will be Justice Shawndya L. Simpson.

Thanks to Inn Administrator Lucy DiSalvo, members have already been provided with copious amounts of documents on the vital topic, such as the “New York Rules of Professional Conduct” with this all-important preamble: “A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients and an officer of the legal system with special responsibility for the quality of justice.”

The inn was founded 15 years ago by Justice Marsha Steinhardt, retired Justices Gerard Rosenberg and Abraham Gerges and former Justice Rappaport, now the president emeritus.  Among those serving as inn masters are Justice Carl Landicino, Judge Joanne Quinones, Hon. Barry Kamins, Appellate Division Justices Cheryl Chambers and Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Hon. Gloria Cohen Aronin, Steve Harkavy and Steve Goolnick.

The inn’s executive director is Jeffrey Feldman. DiSalvo promises a delicious buffet to those who get to BBA Headquarters by 5:30 p.m. The program starts at 6 p.m.

Our apologies to Justice Miriam Cyrulnik. In last week’s column, we incorrectly reported that Justice Schack was co-chair of the inn’s recent dramatic presentation. Actually, it was chaired by the Hon. Cyrulnik and Joseph Rosato.

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Hon. Elizabeth Bonina to Address Brooklyn Law School ADR Society

National Arbitration and Mediation panel member Hon. Elizabeth Bonina, a former justice of the Supreme Court, Kings County, has been invited to participate in a panel discussion offered by the Brooklyn Law School’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Society. The presentation, titled “The Future of Alternative Dispute Resolution,” will take place tonight at the school’s Subotnick Center, from 7 to 9 p.m.

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Will Arab-American Activist Seek Council Seat in Southwest Brooklyn?

No issue grabs more headlines, understandably, than the ever-present possibility of terror attacks within the United States. At the same time, there is the thornier challenge posed here of maintaining a smooth and respectful relationship between members of Brooklyn’s growing Muslim community and their neighbors. Unofficial estimates put the number of Mid-East immigrants who have arrived in greater Bay Ridge at greater than 10,000.

Strains have been noted at times, but leaders like Dr. Husam Rimawi — president of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge — Habib Joudeh and Rev. Khader El-Yateem have done a commendable job of smoothing out any problems that have arisen.

Over the last few years, however, there have been isolated physical outbursts — political vandalism at Jewish religious sites and Muslim mosques, one of which took place at the Bay Ridge Islamic Society’s headquarters near 69th Street and Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge.

For many years, the Bay Ridge Unity Task Force, headed by Rev.  El-Yateem, had served as an effective means of communication and positive work. Its leaders included Maimonides Vice President Douglas Jablon, Dr. Rimawi, Joudeh, Dr. Ahmad Jaber, Kathy Khatari and Larry Morrish.

These leaders, working with then-Councilmember Marty Golden, had cooperated on a number of civic projects before 9/11. One major Bay Ridge Clean-Up Campaign was, in fact, sponsored by the Bay Ridge Islamic Society. Hundreds swept the streets and painted over graffiti that day wearing “Bay Ridge Islamic Society Community Clean-Up” shirts. Since 9/11, they have worked diligently to restore the good feeling and camaraderie of that pre 9/11 era.

Some suggest that the “issues” in Southwest Brooklyn might better be resolved at the political polls. They note, for instance, that telegenic Islamic activist Linda Sarsour, who appears ready to seek public office, has founded her own New York City  Muslim Democratic Club, which The New York Times reported has its own Williamsburg Chapter inspired by Sarsour.

Creating her own political organization, which would clearly attempt to lure voters and financial supporters from the Muslim faith, might create a legal conflict since she is also the leader of the Arab American-Association of New York headquartered in Bay Ridge.

She told the Times that some are urging her to seek election to the councilmanic seat held by Vincent Gentile, who will become term-limited in 2017. According to the same Times article she’s even denominated her likely Democratic primary opponent, Justin Brannan, a former staffer of Gentile who co-owns a business on Third Avenue.

What may surprise some is that a well-known Republican, who just happens to have been Gentile’s unsuccessful 2012 opponent, has struck what could be interpreted as a preemptive political assault of sorts on the publicity-conscious Islamic leader.

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Republican Bob Capano Sees Sarsour as ‘Irresponsible’

He is  Bob Capano — once the top aide to Democratic Borough President Marty Markowitz and now the public right-hand of financier John Catsimatidis — who this week leveled a biting attack on her policies and personality that she will surely find hard to take.

In part, here is what Capano said: “Once again, Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, based in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, has made irresponsible comments supporting acts of violence against Israeli citizens. Once again, Councilman Vincent Gentile has remained silent and continues to lead the City Council in funding her organization.

“Last week, Linda Sarsour posted on her twitter account a photo of a Palestinian boy preparing to throw a rock at Israeli soldiers and called it ‘the definition of courage.’ It is bad enough that Ms. Sarsour has condemned New York City elected officials who support Israel in the face of terrorist attacks from Hamas, but now she has gone so far as to publicly support Palestinians who are teaching their next generation to commit acts of violence against Israel.”

A large part of Capano’s frontal assault focused on outgoing Democratic Council-member Gentile:

“Since 2012, Councilman Gentile has led the City Council in providing Linda Sarsour’s Arab-American Association of New York with [more than] $164,000 of our taxpayer money. Therefore, he is in a strong position to influence and condemn her comments. It is time for Councilman Gentile to follow the example set by Councilman Lancman [a Queens officeholder] and condemn Linda Sarsour and her pattern of comments supporting acts of violence against Israelis.”

Capano’s press release concluded by identifying himself as “the Republican, Conservative, and Independence party City Council candidate in 2009 against Gentile. He served as former Congressman Bob Turner’s (R.C-B’klyn-Queens) district director and is currently an assistant to former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.”

Will Capano be the GOP standard bearer in the race to succeed Councilmember Gentile?  Will Sarsour — whose political activities are well-known — seek to be the city’s first female Muslim councilmember and thereby dispel the rumors that the Arab-American Association is being used for political purposes? Stay tuned.

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Personal notes: This writer has, on occasion, been a member of the Unity Task Force, but my views in no way speak for the task force. But I do hope it takes a more positive and public role here. Also, Bob Capano’s assertions about Councilmember Gentile and city funding are strictly the views of Mr. Capano and do not represent the views of this writer. The Arab-American Association performs valued work, has some excellent leaders and provides essential services to those who are new in this country. Undeniably, there are those blind haters out there who wrongfully and painfully vent their rage on upstanding Arab-Americans. We all regret this.


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