From the NY Times:
All of this might have Democratic Party leaders — Representative Joseph Crowley is the party boss in Queens — wailing and rending palm cards. Except that isn’t how it works in Queens. Power and money are found not so much in the voting booth as in the machine-controlled judicial conventions that pick judges, and in the courthouse on Sutphin Boulevard.
That is where you find Surrogate’s Court, otherwise known as widows and orphans court. This court appoints guardians who make handsome fees processing the estates of those Queens residents who die without wills.
To enter this court is to stumble upon Ponce de Leon’s own spring, an eternal source of easy money for the politically wired. The Surrogate’s judge appointed the public administrator, Lois M. Rosenblatt, who is a fierce and battle-tested elections lawyer, Democratic division.
Ms. Rosenblatt reappointed the court’s counsel, who for about a millennium has been Gerard J. Sweeney. In 2010, Mr. Sweeney’s office pulled down $2.284 million administering estates. This year has been slower; through the end of October, his take was $993,764.
As legal sinecures go, it is bearable.
Mr. Sweeney’s law firm on Queens Boulevard is a beehive of Queens Democratic worthies; Michael Reich and Frank A. Bolz III are partners and top party officers.
The geographic metaphysics of their party membership is curious. All three “Queens” Democrats — Messrs. Sweeney, Reich and Bolz — live on Long Island. The current Surrogate’s judge, Peter J. Kelly, is admirably frank about the ways of this world. He even frames the questions for you.
“Do I know Sweeney’s related with the Democratic Party and close to Congressman Joe Crowley?” the judge offers. “I would be a moron if I didn’t know that.”