Vito Lopez, Reformer?

One of The Politicker’s most knowledgeable Brooklyn sources keeps insisting that there’s more to the fight over the next county leader than reformers versus regulars or black versus white pols — that there are factions within factions, and lots of history.

In that light, it’s worth taking a second look at the pounding Vito Lopez, Clarence’s likeliest successor, is taking from the News and Times editorial boards at the moment.

Vito is, obviously, not the image of reform. But — despite a bitter feud with one judge — he’s also not particularly involved with the element of Brooklyn politics that has most deeply offended editorial writers and others: the notion that a group of Court Street lawyers make judges and then profit off their connections to the bench.

Lopez built an empire of another kind, one based on controlling social services. That helps power his own political machine, run out of his Bushwick clubhouse.

Now Lopez, whose aspirations to lead the Brooklyn Party have made him a target of reformers, is trying to show a willingness to loosen the party’s control of the judiciary, its last real redoubt.

In a draft set of proposals for “reform of the Kings County Democratic Party” that he shared with The Politicker, Lopez proposed strengthening the borough’s independent judicial screening panel and of creating a commission to review the process.

“I want to create a blue ribbon commission of distinguished jurists and legal professionals,” he told The Politicker, suggesting that the dean of Brooklyn Law School would be a natural choice for the panel.

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, but it’s worth keeping in mind that — unlike many of the “regulars” — Vito doesn’t draw his strength from the Court Street connection.

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