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Judge Golar resigns in bid to face Meeks

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But Mike Reich, executive director of the Queens County Democratic Organization, said Golar was not fully aware of his own actions and was being manipulated in a scheme hatched by City Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica) and his cohorts."They have included Golar's name on the petitions," Reich said. "He has some short-term memory issues, to put it nicely. I think they have taken advantage of a 75-year-old man." Reich said Jennings is trying to take control of the 31st and 32nd state Assembly districts to ensure he is not voted out in the 2005 Council election. The Jamaica councilman has previously drawn the wrath of the Queens Democratic Party and has been charged by the City Council with inappropriate conduct toward five women.Jennings' office did not return phone calls seeking comment. Golar, a civil court judge, said he had the backing of the councilman but would not comment on the allegations that he was being used as a puppet. In a phone interview with TimesLedger, he said he had resigned his judgeship, although he would not say when he did so and would not provide contact information for his lawyers.The Office of Court Administration did not return a call seeking confirmation of Golar's resignation. Questions arose about Golar's intentions after the Board of Elections received two letters purportedly from the judge, a board spokesman said. He said the first letter, on Golar's official letterhead but not notarized, said he had not authorized his name to appear on the petition. The second letter, also on letterhead but notarized, said he had not sent the first letter and indicated he wanted to be on the ballot.The state constitution prohibits jurists from contesting other elections during their terms, and Reich said the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct was investigating Golar because he allegedly waited to resign until after he declared his candidacy. A spokesman for the commission said state law prohibits him from commenting on any inquiry.Golar did not provide an explanation of the letters but said he had considered himself a candidate from the beginning. He was removed from the ballot by the Board of Elections, however, after another State Supreme Court judge ruled he had violated the constitution, a board spokesman said. Golar said he had not done so because he was not officially on the ballot before he resigned. But the Board of Elections had him down as an early candidate.Golar was listed on petitions with at least two other Democratic challengers, a tactic used so that candidates running on the same party line can more easily gain the required signatures for their individual races. When Judge Jaime Rios ruled against Golar, his two fellow candidates-Michael Duvalle and Rachel Gordon-were also disqualified.Duvalle, who the Board of Elections said did not have enough signatures, is also trying to run on the Independent Party ticket and wants to face Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway). Titus is on the Working Families ticket. Gordon is seeking to challenge Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-South Ozone Park), who is on the Working Families Ticket as well.Gordon said she had been approached by an acquaintance seeking a district leader seat, a local party position that represents part of a state Assembly district and serves as a liaison between the community and the Democratic Party. The acquaintance, Garnet Lewis, said by joining with Golar and another district leader candidate, Brenda Archer, the group could more easily collect the required signatures."It does feel like I got caught in between someone's war," Gordon said. "The next time I run I'll make sure I'm on a petition by myself."Gordon said she, Lewis, Archer and Golar appeared before Rios Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 to determine Golar's eligibility and by association that of the others. Gordon said Rios seemed to favor the Queens Democratic Party's position and questioned Golar's mental capacity before dropping the quartet from the ballot."You could see a conspiracy firsthand," she said, explaining that the party does not like challengers to run against popular incumbents such as Meeks in primaries. "They don't want that at all." Gordon said she, Golar and the two other candidates were due in court again Thursday to appeal the decision.Reich said Jennings, Duvalle, Lewis and Garth Merchant, yet another candidate for a district leader spot, were behind Golar's run. "It reiterates the embarrassment Allan Jennings has caused his community and the entire county of Queens," he said. Duvalle, Lewis and Marchant could not be reached for comment.Patrick Jenkins, an aide for Meeks, said the congressman was surprised by Jennings backing Golar but did not necessarily view the attempted challenge as a conspiracy."To say he was behind it, I don't know," Jenkins said.Golar criticized Tom Manton, head of the Queens County Democratic Organization, and said Manton had given him a State Supreme Court judgeship after sabotaging his run for Congress years earlier."He runs Queens County as a plantation," Golar said, clarifying that he was not referring to race, only power. He said a Manton supporter had punched him in the chest in his chambers for running against Meeks, a claim that could not be verified. "It's gotten a good deal of publicity money couldn't buy," Golar said of the confusion surrounding his candidacy. "If I'm not on the ballot, I'll go fishing."Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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