His protestations didn't do him much good. When Ed Koch, whom nobody could credibly accuse of being a "self-hating Jew," contended that the DA's passivity had created a double standard that benefitted child-molesters and their enablers in the tightly-knit community, it became clear Mr. Hynes had better change course. There had long been the suspicion that he was less than vigorous in probes that could have reflected poorly on Orthodox Jews because he counted on their political support, which was especially potent because it generally was delivered in bloc votes.
He is hardly alone in getting a jelly-like sensation in his knees when it comes to dealing with the Orthodox. Talk to uniformed employees, away from the gripe-fests that blogs tailored to them produce, and they speak of cases in which special treatment is afforded to Orthodox Jews because of their political clout.
One Fire Officer of my acquaintance says the problem was actually worse when Rudy Giuliani was Mayor. The one anecdote he offered with any detail had distinctly comic overtones to it: a dozen or so years ago, a couple of Hasidim came to his Williamsburg firehouse to borrow a department tool, the kind you would use to pump out a flooded basement. It was a Friday morning, and he figured they'd have it back fairly quickly so they could get ready for the Jewish Sabbath.
Until its return, there was a certain level of alarm, the Fire Officer said. On the one hand, he said, it wouldn't necessarily be noticed that it wasn't readily available because "these were pumps that were rarely put into use." On the other hand, he continued, "they certainly were never given to a civilian. And if you lost a tool of some kind at [an emergency call], the older officers treated you like dirt for the next 10 tours. And here it is we're giving a tool out to non-Fire Department personnel."
That they had done so was a testament to the kind of juice the Orthodox Jewish community was perceived to have with City Hall back then. He recalled one resident making a request on another occasion, being refused, and saying in response that he was "one phone call away from talking to a Deputy Mayor." Nobody thought he was bluffing.
And this clout showed up when some phone calls were discreetly made within the department to see whether they were in trouble over the missing tool and how to handle it if it wasn't returned soon after. "We were told," the fire officer recalled, "'Don't worry about it, they're good for it.'" He felt greater uneasiness, he said, when he would lead members of his company on building inspections in the neighborhood, and find problems either with a lack of permits or potential code violations.