26 THE QUEENS COURIER • JUNE 20, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Late no-shows at
Queens DA forums
BY MARK HALLUM
For the more progressive candidates in the fi eld
for Queens District Attorney, there would be no better
test of their dedication to reforms for black and
brown communities than showing up at a forum
at the nation’s largest public housing complexes,
Borough President Melinda Katz and retired Judge
Gregory Lasak did the opposite of this, however, at an
event last night at the Jacob Riis Settlement.
Katz has run on a platform that preaches criminal
justice reforms that would no longer place minorities
behind bars for minor off enses such as marijuana
possession or sex work. She has said she would
decline to request cash bail on misdemeanor crimes.
Although a Katz campaign spokesman said she
was absent for a government event, it would seem as
though she could be putting herself at a disadvantage
to the likes of Tiff any Cabán.
Katz attended a regularly scheduled borough board
meeting at 5:30 before venturing out to an event in
Hewlett Harbor, L.I. for St. John’s Episcopal Hospital
who was awarding her for allocating funds toward
a new labor and delivery unit. She later attended an
East Elmhurst/Corona Civic Association meeting.
Cabán has gained traction advocating for ending
incarceration as we know it altogether, declining
to request cash bail for any off ense, and garnered
high-profi le support from presidential hopefuls and
While some have cast skepticism on Caban’s candidacy,
questioning her ability to run a 600-person
offi ce with only seven years as a public defender, her
support only seems to grow.
With the June 25 primary for DA fast approaching,
maybe the public – if they’re concerned with criminal
justice reform – should question Katz’ true resolve to
accomplishing these objectives.
“Any opportunity that you have to connect to the
public that you want to serve should always be prioritized,
however I’m sure there are extenuating circumstances,“
Bishop Mitchel Taylor said in a phone
interview regarding the absence of the two candidates
before adding that the DA race will have implications
for Queensbridge residents. “Th e DA race
impacts this community much more than those that
are not of color.”
Leaders from Queensbridge and Astoria Houses
made it clear in February that they had felt unheard
in the discourse leading up to Amazon reneging on
their decision to establish their new headquarters in
Long Island City.
City Council data shows that in the last six months
of 2018 Queens had the highest number of misdemeanor
off enders in municipal jails than any other
borough. Of the 1,416 pre-trial defendants in this
period of time, 494 were being held because they
could not pay bail of less than $1,000.
It’s puzzling that any candidate for district attorney
would opt not to attend a debate at this stage of the
campaign. Considering recent history in Queens in
which far left candidates like Ocasio-Cortez have prevailed
in the primaries, and the high interest in this
contest from communities of color seeking criminal
justice reform, it would seem wise for each candidate
to get their message out wherever possible.
Whatever the reason, missing out on reaching
important voter demographics could come back to
haunt the no-show candidates on Primary Day.
Hotly-contested Civil Court
race also on June 25 ballot
BY MARK HALLUM
June 25 is not only the primary for
Queens District Attorney, but also an
opportunity for civil court judiciary
hopefuls to make their mark in criminal
justice as the borough seems to be
entering a new era without Richard
Brown as top prosecutor.
Wyatt Gibbons and Lumarie
Maldonado-Cruz are two of the
front-runners in this campaign, with
the former having the backing of the
mainstream Democratic Party while
the former has endorsements from
state Senator Jessica Ramos and
Democratic District Leader Hiram
Maldonado-Cruz said in a recent
press release that she was inspired
to run, like many women in the past
year, by Congresswoman Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez and her shocking
victory last June over high-ranking
Congressman Joe Crowley.
An attorney and mother of three,
Maldonado-Cruz claimed the Queens
County Democratic Party had worked
to prevent the primaries against civil
court judges. According to Cruz, this
means that people in the county have
been undercut by judges who do not
represent the racial diversity of Queens.
But Monserrate’s backing does not
come without some baggage.
Th e former state senator and councilman
has a checkered past, having
spent two years in prison aft er funneling
funds from his city offi ce and also
assaulting his girlfriend with a piece of
In 2009, he was convicted of misdemeanor
assault aft er he slashed his
girlfriend at the time with broken
glass in a domestic dispute, leaving her
Later he was incarcerated for misusing
$100,000 in City Council grants to
fund his state senate run.
Monserrate attempted a comeback
in 2017 in a race to occupy the
City Council seat left up for grabs by
Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. Monserrate
failed to overcome now-Councilman
Francisco Moya, who left the
Assembly to pursue the offi ce.
In September, Monserrate succeeded
in becoming a district leader.
Gibbons slammed Maldonado-
Cruz for her alleged association to
Monserrate in a press sheet obtained
by QNS that detailed his stances on
many of the issues.
Maldonado-Cruz disputed this by
claiming she had not been endorsed
by either Ramos or Monserrate and
argued that to minimize her candidacy
based on one person’s support minimized
the needs of other minority
voters who support her.
Th e candidate noted that Queens
County has been classifi ed in a report
from City Council as having the most
misdemeanor incarcerations, and
claimed that the borough’s criminal
justice system discriminates against
black and Latino individuals.
“What I’m trying to do is diversify
the bench,” Maldonado-Cruz said.
“My career has been all about the service
to human needs; that’s what I’ve
dedicated my life to.”
Gibbons accuses Maldonado-Cruz
of having only isolated support and
not having a solid background in
Queens. She rebutted by saying that
neither does Gibbons.
“Her support is not countywide.
And there is reason for that,” Gibbons
says in the press sheet. “As a true
Bronx native, no one here knows her.
She is an unknown quantity that’s
aligned herself with a person of questionable
character. To that end, can
she be trusted to sit on one of the most
important seats in Queens? We can’t
take that chance. Th is is not a learnon
Maldonado-Cruz claims she has
been in Queens for as long as she has
been running for the position and
practicing law for about 16 years.
Gibbons touts 30 years in Queens
civil and criminal courts.
Claudia Lanzetta and
Assemblywoman Michele Titus are
also on the ballot for Queens County
Th e New York City Bar gave
Gibbons and Lanzetta approval in
aft er an interview with the candidates,
but Titus and Maldonado-Cruz were
marked as “not approved.”
Maldonado-Cruz stated that this
was simply because she did not participate
in the process, but also pointed
out that she and Titus were the
only minority women not approved
by the Bar.
Lanzetta and Titus are no longer on