The Succession Fight
RITUAL having been satisfied -- after a fashion -- the council majority swung back into cold war stride. The conventional speeches about their late brother councilman had been delivered in accordance with ancient practice. But one thing would not be traditional, the Democratic majority determined: Pete's seat would not be filled by another. Communist.
It was straight cold war politics and the hell with the law which said that when a council member died he would be replaced by a member of his party. Up to that point, this was taken for granted, as indicated by the New York Times obituary on the morning after Pete's death. The story, written by a seasoned political reporter, said:
The death of Mr. Cacchione does not automatically reduce the number of Communists in the City Council. Under provisions of the Charter, the Council at large must elect another Communist from Brooklyn to fill the vacancy and the successor will serve until Dec. 31, 1948. At the general election of 1948, a successor to serve out the balance of the term, from Jan. 1, 1949 to Dec. 31 of that year, will be chosen, but not by P.R. ( New York Times, November 7, 1947.)
Consistent with the usual practice, the Kings County (Brooklyn) Communist Party Committee convened a meeting on December 1 to name Pete's successor. The committee honored the author by designating him, submitting its unanimous resolution to the City Council -- all, it should be emphasized, in accordance with the provisions of the City Charter. The County Committee's resolution, signed by Carl Vedro, secretary of the committee, was received by the City Clerk, read at the council meeting of December 2 and was "properly before the Council," according to Majority Leader Joseph Sharkey. It was thereupon referred to the Council Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, headed by Councilman Walter R. Hart, a Brooklyn Democrat.