No justice without bail reform

By Arlene Kayatt

Bail’s out — The importance of criminal justice reform hasn’t been lost on the Upper East Side. What seemed to me to be an impromptu message — a Thursday email for a Saturday event — resulted in a large turnout at the Criminal Justice Panel held at the Church of Advent Hope on East 87th St.. The church, in partnership with UES Assembly Member Dan Quart, hosted panelists Marvin Mayfield from JustLeadershipUSA and Erin L. George from Citizen Action of New York. The discussion focused on the bail system and the fact that it is poverty-based — meaning that the poor who can’t make bail go to jail while the rich or those with the ability to borrow get to go free. And all while there’s a presumption of innocence. The push for advocacy on the matter of bail in particular and criminal justice reform in general was reflected in the personal story of Mr. Mayfield, who couldn’t make bail and was subjected to gruesome experiences in the jail system. His case was ultimately dismissed. Quart addressed his experience as a legislator, and the antiquated and prejudicial laws which may hamstring judges from exercising their discretion with respect to statutorily mandated fees. The Assembly Member, who is on the 18B Assigned Counsel Plan and represents criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney, told of his experiences in representing clients who were victims of the system because of their inability to either make bail or pay fees. One audience member, a prosecuting attorney in the Bronx DA’s office, spoke to what he said was “progressive” prosecuting. That gave rise to an exchange with a man who identified himself as from the Community Board and who disagreed with the Bronx ADA about the progressiveness of the Bronx DA office. Game on.

Bragging rites — With the onslaught of fast casual dining — if you want to stand-up-and-eat or join unaffiliated others at a communal table — it’s comforting to know that there are still some old-school restaurants with, as Tevye would say, “tradition.” So it was smile-worthy to see that Le Veau d’Or, the venerable French restaurant on East 60th St, now in its 82nd year, still serves such classic French cuisine as vichysoisse, grenouille, veal kidney, meringue dessert, and enjoys its status in the culinary world and the patronage of famed authors and eminent regulars. Le Veau d’Or shows it all off with two stacks of books in its entrance-way window. The stack (or pile) pays homage to its regulars who either wrote about the restaurant or mentioned Monsieur Robert in their tomes. Monsieur Robert is Robert Treboux, the influential chef/owner who took over Le Veau d’Or in the mid-80s and ran it until his death in 2012. His daughter, Catherine Treboux, now runs the restaurant. The books by celebrated authors that bear witness include Floyd Abrams’s “Soul of the First Amendment,” Thomas Knight’s “Eloise in Paris,” Oleg Cassini’s “In My Own Fashion,” and A.E. Hotchner’s “Papa Hemingway.” Bragging rights, too, for such departed regulars as Grace Kelly, Truman Capote, and Liz Smith. A bygone time for sure. Note to newbies: Remember to write.

Uppity and out — If you name a restaurant “Infirmary” where can you go from there? How far can you rise? Or fall? That’s my take on the recent demise of a restaurant with that name, which closed at the end of this January, and not because of rent. Infirmary was meant to conjure up the food and flavor of New Orleans — one of the of owners was a Louisiana native. Word was that Infirmary was the go-to place for the New Orleans Saints and for a Happy Hour-ish millennial crowd. But Infirmary was no sports bar — save for the tv screens. And happy hour was happy because, hey, there’s wine and beer and cocktails. But not the prices. Bar snacks, menu dishes were overpriced. Po’Boys, sandwiches, and starters started at $20. The atmosphere was more UES upscale than down-home New Orleans. And the penchant for local organizations and political clubs to have events at Infirmary didn’t bring in followers or foodies. Service was poorly organized. And the “event” food, except for hummus, was assuredly packaged, maybe frozen. But who can blame the food and prices when the name set the pall, along with ambiance and attitude. Too bad the owners an investors ignored the basics. And for the record: No fun having another empty storefront.