While trying to concentrate on “8 Candidates Compete for a Job That May Involve Prosecuting Trump” the New York Times 3/25/2021 cursory review of those seeking to replace Cyrus Vance Jr. as New York County District Attorney[1] – Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad” flooded my mind and competed for attention.  Specifically, Petty’s repeated sentiment “I can’t decide which is worse.”  Not so much about the 8 candidates – although, so far, we are not overly impressed  – than Cy’s gross abdication of responsibility to finish the one truly important thing he’s attempted as DA.

Tom Petty

His investigation of the Trump Organization, that’s already made two successful roundtrips to SCOTUS and has great potential as one of three serious vehicles to prosecute, convict, punish and possibly imprison the killer/insurrectionist in chief.  The others being in Georgia, of the 11K plus needed votes and the federal district of D.C. where Mitch McConnell explained “There’s no question – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [January 6, 2021] the day . . . President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office . . . he didn’t get away with anything – yet.”

Vance’s tenure (that we very actively and generously supported when he first ran) has been competent, workmanlike and unexceptional, except his exercise of prosecutorial indiscretion relative to alleged rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his first opportunity to prosecute serial rapist/predator Harvey Weinstein.  But with the once in an eon opportunity to pursue the prosecutorial treasure trove presented by the Trump Organization’s criminal enterprise, Vance has left it to remaining staff to see this effort to a just conclusion.  He’s done that with the incredibly naïve or disingenuous belief that the staff he leaves behind will both be capable of and allowed to finish the job.

Cy Vance

Vance is going away with neither a “bang” nor a “whimper” – he’s just going away.  That leaves the issue of his successor and whether they will possess the qualifications, skill and stature to see the hugely important case through. Three of the eight contenders have never prosecuted a single case, let alone one of this type and magnitude.  Seven of the eight have called for less prosecution at a time when crime, nationally and locally is at its highest level in 30 years.  And the convenient Covid explanation evaporates when it is noted that crime has increased every year since 2014.

Lucy Lang

In this group, two candidates modestly stand out.  Lucy Lang, who we have spoken with and are supporting and Tali Farhadian Weinstein.  Both women are highly qualified to prosecute  the typical violent and white-collar crimes that have been and increasingly should become the DA’s priorities.  But neither, at least initially, commands the recognition and respect that the Vance name affords – even if most of that was earned by father rather than son.  And speaking of that name and family – so closely associated with devotion to public service in both generations – this is a singularly inappropriate time to leave this hugely important job to others, regardless how hard you’ve worked or tired you may be.  Petty’s question has been answered “which is worse.”  Cy, yer so bad.

[1]   In our ongoing attempt to convince NYS officials that these posts deserve CLE credits, we point out that the New York City Borough of Manhattan has no DA, it’s a state position, with one for each of New York’s 62 counties, including New York, the first of two in that Sinatra song.