A few weeks back I had the pleasure of taking part in the Democratic primary debate for Westchester County District Attorney, hosted by News 12 Westchester. I was one of three seasoned journalists on the panel. The format allowed journalists to ask a question but not respond when the candidates criticized the question or answered in a way that deserved a follow-up comment or response. That’s where the political squabble took an interesting turn. You see, I thought it was interesting that an incumbent District Attorney was not getting the support of the police, local and county, in such an important election. So it was agreed, among the panelists, that I would ask the D.A. about the soured relations with the front line men and women of law enforcement.
My question to incumbent DA Janet DiFiore asked what she would do to improve relations with the police department since the County PBA had endorsed Republican challenger Dan Schorr. Ms. DiFiore jumped at me like a vulture at a turkey hunt, claiming I did not know what I was speaking about and I was not allowed to respond. I have since come to learn that there are two “county” PBAs in Westchester which play off of each other for political reasons with a slight derivation in their names. There is the PBA of Westchester and there is also the Westchester County PBA. The first is a fraternal organization and the second represents the active rank and file officers.
I was not wrong, as Ms. DiFiore had alleged on September 9th because the PBA of Westchester had endorsed Mr. Schorr in June – three months before the primary debate. More importantly, and subsequent to the debate, the Westchester County PBA , as I anticipated, also endorsed Mr. Schorr on October 5th. Most counties have only one PBA; here in Westchester we have two and BOTH have endorsed the Republican challenger for District Attorney. Therefore, no matter how you slice it and no matter how Ms. Di Fiore wants to color it, the black and white of it is that she does not have the support of the county police.
It seems Ms. DiFiore and her camp have spent so much time this campaign season calling everyone on alleged misinformation that they haven’t bothered to look in the mirror and review where in fact the D.A. has gone wrong by losing the support of the TWO county PBAs. In fact, as of today, there is still “misleading” information on Ms. DiFiore’s campaign website, making it appear as though she does have the support of the Westchester County PBA because the Affiliated Police Association of Westchester has endorsed her and one of their member organizations happens to be the Westchester County PBA. I was looking forward to re-visiting the issue in the upcoming News 12 debate when DiFiore would face off against Schorr. Unfortunately, I have been “uninvited” to the dance. I have been told that management at News 12 didn’t want a “blogger” on the air and that certain campaign staffers asked that I not make another appearance.
Hmmm, this “blogger” has probably won more national and international journalism awards than everyone else together on the primary debate panel. And as a former network news anchor, this journalist was and still is known for impeccable research. This “blogger” is also admitted to the bar in two states, a federal circuit court and the Supreme Court of the United States. I guess this “blogger” knows what she’s doing because to be asked not to come back in this case is a distinction I wear proudly. Free speech is not free if candidates can screen the jury.