You would think that a retired college professor would grasp things more quickly, but better late than never. At least she’s willing to admit she made a mistake. That’s more than you can say about most politicians.
On March 17, 2011, when Blackman was first running for Village Trustee, she told one of her closest advisors, while they were discussing the first draft of her campaign flyer that she “Was not convinced about a Village Court.”
Blackman said that despite the fact that the Ad Hoc Committee on the Feasibility of a Village Court had already delivered its report recommending the formation of a Village Court at the December 22, 1010 Village Board Meeting.
The ad hoc committee was composed of Trustee Scott W. Hunsinger, Police Chief Daniel P. Varrenti, and Susan J. Smith.
The unanimous decision of the committee upon a full and comprehensive analysis of the data is that the formation of a village court for the Village of Brockport is feasible
- Outside of the suburban counties of New York City, few local criminal court systems are more lucrative than Monroe County’s (NYS Comptroller’s Justice Fund Court Report).
- In 2009 Monroe County’s village and town courts collected $9.9 million, a $600,000 increase from 2008 (Democrat and Chronicle April 8, 2010).
- In 2009, Greece collected $1.9 million. Gates collected $1.2 million. Brighton collected $804,657, Webster $700,093, Irondequoit $667,946, and Henrietta $633,356.
- Brockport is the only municipality in Monroe County that has their own police department but no local criminal court within its respective jurisdiction.
- The Brockport Village Court, like all local criminal courts, will handle vehicle and traffic matters, small claims, evictions, civil matters, and criminal matters mainly involving violations and misdemeanors.
- Municipalities nationwide have been relying more and more on local courts and grants to raise revenues (Democrat and Chronicle April 8, 2010).
- According to the New York State Comptroller’s Office fines involving village law go directly to the municipality. From 2002 – 2009 the Brockport Police Department issued 12,951 traffic tickets. The majority of the revenue from the fines went to New York State, Monroe County and the Town of Sweden.
- The Brockport Village Court will be initially located at 49 State Street.
- If the Village Board wishes to move forward with the creation of a Village Court, the first step would be the creation of the position of Village Justice.
The wording of the proposed campaign flyer drew upon the ad hoc committee’s recommendation. “If Brockport is to survive as a municipality, it must promote economic development, and look to additional sources of revenue, including a village court which will bring in revenue currently going to the town of Sweden.”
But by the end of that meeting on St. Patrick’s Day 2011, Blackman had removed all the wording about a Village Court.
When the flyer went to the printer on March 28, 2011, it contained absolutely no reference to a village court. Blackman had replaced it with the words “The Brockport Fire Department has served the region well and cost effectively. Replacing it with a fire district that will cost us more is not the best solution.”
Now two and a half years later, Blackman has finally done her homework.
The time for action is now. It's never too late to do something.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
That seems to be the way she is. She has to do everything herself. A Brockport resident, who has worked very closely with Blackman in the past, described her this way.
“If you and I saw someone walk up to that door across the street and ring the doorbell, and then somebody opened the door and punched them in the mouth. And if we saw someone else walk up to that doorway and ring the bell, and again somebody opened the door and punched them in the mouth. You and I would know that if we walked up to that doorway and rang the bell, somebody would open the door and punch us in the mouth.
“Margay would actually have to walk up to the door and get punched in the mouth.”
Maybe that’s why it took her two and a half years to realize that a Brockport Village Court is a good idea.
How long will it take her to realize that the judges will be the key to making the Village Court effective?
A village judge doesn’t have to be a lawyer. It is not uncommon, for example, for a retired police officer to serve as a village justice. But a non-lawyer does have to pass an examination administered by the State.
Let’ hope Blackman has done her homework and found two honest people who can pass that exam, are willing to run for office and willing to serve as village justices.
If the judges are in the pocket of the college landlords, nothing will change.