Editorial

An affront to democracy

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In a borough where memories of arrested elected officials are still fresh — recall former state Sen. Pedro Espada and former Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, to name just two of the politicians most recently convicted for corruption — there is an urgent need for a district attorney who is willing to prosecute officials who misuse their office for personal gain.

News of longtime incumbent Robert Johnson’s unchallenged reelection bid was little cause for rejoicing earlier this year. Along with maintaining an abysmal conviction rate during his nearly three decades in office, Mr. Johnson appeared to turn a blind eye to corruption among other members of the Bronx political establishment. Note that the cases against Mr. Espada and Mr. Stevenson were prosecuted by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

It turns out Mr. Johnson was part of a brazen subversion of the democratic process. After weeks of denying rumors that he planned to step down, on Sept. 18, Mr. Johnson said he is leaving the DA’s office, after all. Since the announcement came after a pro forma primary, state law leaves it to the Bronx Democratic County Committee to appoint the next DA – giving voters absolutely no say in the process.

While Mr. Johnson has his eye on a State Supreme Court judgeship, fit reward for years of fealty to the Bronx political establishment, news reports say party bosses are poised to make judge Darcel Clark the next DA. Her close ties to Bronx politicians suggest she is no more likely to disturb the status quo than Mr. Johnson.

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