Virtual Appointment of New Bronx DA Without Significant Election Criticized

1 Oct

After almost 27 years as the Bronx’s district attorney, Robert Johnson retired, or maybe resigned is a better word, as he’s likely to acquire another impressive legal gig as judge.

Many people are pissed. Why? Because Johnson, DA for a quarter of a century, departed after primary election day in September. Therefore, his Bronx Democrat pals got to nominate a current judge, Darcel Clark, to essentially replace him without a November vote that matters. And those same Dems have effectively appointed Johnson to be a state Supreme Court justice. And since Primary day is long gone, potential Democratic challengers have literally been dismissed. As for Republicans, there hasn’t been a GOP elected official in the Bronx since State Senator Guy Velella resigned in 2004 (following his corruption conviction).

The Riverdale Press covers the story. It also shares its outrage and profiles Johnson’s likely replacement. And today, in the Times, former Riverdale Press editor Kate Pastor covers Clark’s visit to the Benjamin Franklin Democratic Reform Club on West 231st Street in Kingsbridge. Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, who is the chair (a second position actually) of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, had this to say about the election in Pastor’s article:

“The power that was allegedly taken away from the voters was gone already, because nobody chose to run against him,” Dinowitz said.

True, but 27-year incumbent DAs, particularly in Johnson’s case, rarely get much of a challenge, if any at all. Open seats do. Johnson sat on his seat until he got a new job.

What Johnson said about leaving his veteran position was in the New York Times right after the Democratic convention:

“Don’t resign a job without a job,” he said was often his advice to friends. “If I had resigned before this convention tonight, I would not have a job. I think that after 40 years of public service that I deserve to be able to continue to serve the community.”

If you’re interested in this, as all Bronxites should be, WNYC’s metro editor (and Bronxite) David Lewis, along with NY1’s “Inside City Hall” host (and Daily News columnist) Errol Louis — both veteran reporters — take a well-educated whack at what are essentially Bronx Democrats’ actions that ain’t so democratic.

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