Yes, Gov. Kathy Hochul is questioning the handling of McDonald’s “ax-man” Michael Palacios. But it’s to try to blur the ugly fact that his instant release without bail highlights her own public-safety failures as Election Day nears.
Palacios walked free after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office lowered felony criminal-mischief charges to a misdemeanor and dropped menacing charges altogether. Then, on Monday, after video of him threatening customers with an ax and destroying property went viral along with news of his release, Hochul played damage control.
“We’re actually asking what the thought process was,” she said, because officials had “the discretion” to file “bail-eligible” charges.
First: Yes, Bragg’s decision was outrageous — but typical. The moment he took office in January, he made clear his main goal was to keep criminals out of jail, and he’s repeatedly declined to seek the toughest possible charges and penalties. Yet Hochul has refused to use her power to remove him for fear of upsetting perp-coddling progressives.
Second: As ex-prosecutor Jim Quinn explained in The Post, even if Bragg hadn’t reduced the charges, “Palacios STILL would have been released without bail,” thanks to New York’s disastrous bail laws. “Everything that Palacios is seen doing on that video,” he noted, “from smashing plate glass partitions, breaking tables, chopping his hatchet into walls and waving it at patrons, is a non-bailable offense.”
The laws require judges to release, bail-free, all accused criminals except those charged with the most horrendous crimes. New York judges, unlike those in every other state, can’t consider defendants’ threats to public safety — or their criminal records or risk of reoffending.
Alas, Hochul lacks the backbone to shame pro-crime Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins into fixing the statutes. Instead, she pretends they’re fine and shifts all the blame to judges and prosecutors like Bragg.
Her governor’s-race foe Rep. Lee Zeldin, by contrast, vows to fire Bragg and fix the laws.
And ground-level Democratic leaders, from Mayor Eric Adams to Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, want the laws fixed too. It’s “about the safety of our residents,” said Kennedy in joining a bipartisan call from Long Island officials.
Rather than do something about outrages like the bail-free release of ax-wielding madmen, Hochul opts to lie. She’s a pathetic excuse for a leader.