TIME TO SAY what everyone's thinking: The three prosecutors involved in the Porngate email scandal must have something on D.A. Seth Williams.
Maybe just geeky high school pictures. But it's hard not to wonder if something beyond sheer arrogance is driving Williams to protect his boys at all costs.
Why else would a guy with unapologetic political aspirations continue to protect the jokers bringing him and his office down?
Even Williams' own Democratic cohorts are finally speaking out. And for a group who overlook all kinds of nonsense from their own - Here's looking at you, MIA City Commissioner Anthony Clark! - that's saying something.
It took a while, but last month U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who heads the city's Democratic Party, said Williams has to take action beyond the one-day of sensitivity training he ordered for Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo and Pat Blessington. "It's not good publicity if you have these [prosecutors] working for you . . . "
Former Gov. Ed Rendell gave his own mealy mouthed sound bite: "If they sent and received the worst of these emails that were racist and crude, misogynist and crude, then on balance, I think they should go."
If - every politician's safe word.
The real heroes of this sordid tale are the National Organization for Women leaders and female members on City Council who have stood in solidarity against the smut that just gets messier every day.
In case you missed the latest Daily News story, the attorney for contractor Griffin Campbell is challenging his client's conviction in the deadly Market Street collapse of 2013 on the grounds that Campbell and day-laborer Sean Benschop were prosecuted because of their race and economic status.
Defense attorney William Hobson said he questions whether Fina, who he said supervised the 2013 grand jury investigation, pursued the black men while giving the rich white guys a pass, including building owner Richard Basciano and architect Plato Marinakos, who got immunity for his testimony.
Not that Griffin or Benschop shouldn't have been prosecuted in the collapse that killed six and injured 13. They absolutely should have, but so should many others.
Hobson isn't the only person wondering how Fina, a former state prosecutor now working for Williams, chose his targets. Last week, a Dauphin County judge ordered Fina to testify in the bribery case against a state representative from Philly to determine if race played a part in the investigation he led while working in the state Attorney General's Office.
For its part, the D.A.'s Office is sticking to its silent script: "The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is reviewing the motion, but at this point in time we are unable to make any further comment," said spokesman Cameron Kline.
Maybe all these claims of racism are total BS, a legal maneuver.
Maybe - just maybe - these jokers were able to separate their distasteful taste in racist, sexist and misogynistic emails from their legal duties - you know, like the separation of church and state.
But how is the public to know, or trust, that?
After mounting pressure, Williams reassigned the trio to lower-profile jobs. But that's still not enough.
Not when their actions could affect criminal cases - and even if Hobson's Hail Mary claim goes nowhere, the mere appearance of it all taints the reputation of the D.A.'s Office and of Philadelphia's criminal-justice system.
Here's my suggestion. It's time for the city's power brokers to have a come-to-Jesus moment with Williams at the famous political hangout Famous 4th Street Deli. Order some big sandwiches, maybe an extra pot of coffee, and break it down for the D.A.:
No more, Seth.
The let-he-who-is-without-sin (or porn) defense didn't cut it.
Neither did the laughable sensitivity slap on the wrist.
Even the "Hey, they were working for then-Attorney General Tom Corbett when they had indecent inboxes" defense is coming up short.
They're your problem now, Seth, and these are public officials who have proven they're not fit for the responsibility or the privilege - no matter what public agency they're in.
Oh, and your constant no-commenting only makes you look more arrogant than people already think you are - and that took some doing for a dude who struts around the city pecs-first.
The gathering shouldn't take long. The message here is simple:
Either they go, or you go. Maybe both.
Either way, the sideshow ends now.
On Twitter: @NotesFromHel