Tuesday, February 16, 2010

THE VINES (# 01 – 2010) - Room Eight

THE VINES (# 01 – 2010)
posted by Rock Hackshaw
Mon, 02/15/2010 - 11:01pm

In my last Vines column (see # 10-09), I told you that I had inside info, which stated that upon finding out Eliot Spitzer’s team had tagged him for the Lieutenant-governor slot, David Paterson said: “they surely haven’t vetted me for this job”. And now Paterson goes up on a local radio station and directly corroborates said info. This had been a news item on the blogs (see Elizabeth Benjamin’s blog) last week. I hereby reiterate what I wrote in a column recently, calling for mainstream media (and alternative mediums too) to do a better job vetting candidates before elections are held; this is a responsibility placed squarely on the shoulders of the fourth and fifth estates (non-identical twins). And by fifth estate, I refer to all the alternative mediums that have sprung up with all the technological advancements in communications, since the founding fathers ratified the constitution (and the fourth estate). For example: the internet, twittering, blogging, texting and the like, can now be considered the fifth estate.

David Paterson needs to pass on this upcoming primary. He is dead meat. There has been too much “stuff”’ out there even before he replaced Spitzer as governor. And by stuff, I mean “bad press”. Look; I really don’t want to join this “train” they have been pulling on his reputation for too many months now. Gatemouth correctly calls it a “gangbang”. And as much as I feel for the brother, the truth is this: he has no one to blame but himself.

If David stays in the race he will only hurt the democrats’ chances of retaining the governorship. The primary could become a pig sty, and as a democrat I would hate to see that. David Paterson needs to lay down his sling-shot on this battleground, for the good of the party. David Dinkins, Charlie Rangel and a few others from the uptown crew, need to put him in a room and put some sense into his thick skull: he is dead man walking. I don’t think he, his wife, kids and extended family, need to deal with this sideshow anymore: enough already. It’s tiring. It’s boring. It’s distasteful. It’s demeaning. You can add your own adjective or adverb, if as a reader of this column, you so choose.

David Paterson has already made history (twice), and now it is time to move on. As far as I know, he was the first black minority leader of the state senate, and also the first black governor of New York. He may also have made history by being the first legally blind governor anywhere (definitely New York). Well, if I am incorrect, Gatemouth will definitely straighten me out here/lol.

Up in Queens we can expect some fireworks this September. It is rumored that Assembly member Aubrey is getting a challenge (via Miranda?); something he hasn’t gotten for a while. And if Jose Peralta wins Hiram Monseratte’s vacant seat in a special election next month, then expect Bryan PuFolkes to tackle Francisco Moya in the fight to replace Jose in the assembly. Rumors are that Malcolm Smith won’t be long in the Senate since he has his eyes on other things -outside of politics. BTW, from Queens: another Weprin went to the Albany legislature last week; I think this makes four of them now (well, at least three). Think family-dynasty folks.

Pedro Espada jnr. made an ass of himself at the Black and Hispanic Caucus events held in Albany last weekend. He tried to lead a walkout during Harold Ford’s speech, citing Ford’s evolving positions on immigration reform. He got one or two followers: that’s it. There was definitely no mass exodus as he anticipated. Espada is getting a primary challenge folks. Are you surprised?

BTW, reports from Albany indicate that Harold Ford did himself well with his keynote speech to the caucus. I viewed and listened on a blog clip and I wasn’t overly impressed. It was a’ight (as they say on the streets): meaning mediocre at best. Harold has a very slim chance of pulling off a victory here, but I must admit that he will bring a little excitement to the race.

I hope Mort Zuckerman (Daily News) stays away from this race. The last thing we need is to have one of Bloomberg’s co-conspirators in the term limits hijack, running for anything. Go away little man: and stay gone.

As much as I suspect Hiram Monseratte’s banishment from the Senate will be a long drawn out legal battle, I am really more concerned that this precedent will be racially applied like most things political and legal. As I predicted recently, survival in the Senate -by those who are convicted of misdemeanors- will eventually come down to clout, connections, and stature. I should have added race, nationality and ethnicity to the mix. I wonder if Howie Gatemouth really understands where I am coming from on this one. We shall see.

Relative to Senator Kevin Parker, it was disappointing to see that he was once again involved in another fracas before the vote was even taken last week. If you think he hasn’t gone after females -like he did with Diane Saverino- before, then you are sadly mistaken. I am starting to conclude that this guy is beyond redemption, and has serious mental-health issues. If he goes down for the count, then expect the race for his seat to be hotly contested. Right now there are five solid candidates ready to replace him. Two are ready to challenge him right away, even if he survives all his contemporary trials and tribulations. These two are: businessman/activist Wellington Sharpe, and educator/activist Rudy Daly.

The other potential candidates for this seat are Terry Hinds (attorney), Dr. Dexter McKenzie, and former city council member Dr. Kendall Stewart (YES). Let me further state that Kevin’s actual demise will only add one or two others to the mix. For now, these are the five people who have expressed real interest in such a race.

At the Black and Hispanic Caucus weekend, three of the candidates here were seen making the rounds (McKenzie, Sharpe and Stewart). Word is that Stewart has really taken his loss to Jumanee Williams to heart. It is said that he has dropped more weight than a Jenny Craig graduate. Doc Stewart needs to exit on the right, and leave politics for less stressful pastures. Meanwhile Williams was sighted making the rounds in Albany also. This young man is a rising star in Brooklyn’s politics. He was courageous enough to get on the city council floor, in order to publicly express his belief that Charles Barron was a good chairman, when he headed up the Higher Education Committee (2001 thru-2010). At some point during this tenure Williams was a student at Brooklyn College- where he obtained both BA and MA degrees. Although he didn’t vote to reinstate Barron, he paid him a fine compliment.

Despite all this, Barron immediately went after the Black, Latino and Asian members of this caucus at the next meeting, as he had done many times over the years. Barron berated them for allowing Quinn to get away with stripping him from his committee and for not supporting his reform effort, etc. Melissa Veverito was one of very few to stand up to Barron’s bullying and intimidating tactics. He is becoming a bully right before our eyes folks: all because he is impotent and ineffective in the council. By now he must have lost any support he may have tried to garner. What a friggin waste!!!

If you had a hundred dollars for every time Barron has called the caucus members “Uncle Toms”, then you will would be a rich man. Over the years, the name-calling, verbal abuse, loud admonishments and ill-treatment has happened many times -especially when he couldn’t get his way. I wonder if any of the other members have the moral courage to come out publicly and back me up on this. We shall see. Again, I stand by what I write here. And if he ever wants to challenge me to meet me in a dark alley, I will still stand by my column, as I walk into the alley all by myself. You see folks; the truth will always set you free. Charles Barron is the biggest disappointment in Brooklyn’s politics. Many electeds tell me this all the time, but they also refuse to go public with it.

If the race for the 21st Senatorial District (minus Parker) were to get crowded with too many blacks (and Caribbean-Americans), I wouldn’t be surprised if female district leader (44AD) Lori Knipel jumps in. Objectively speaking, I think she should. Why not? After all, she ran for the seat in 2002.

Of the first five contenders I have mentioned before, all are Caribbean-Americans. Three are Jamaican-born (Daly, McKenzie and Sharpe). And trust me when I tell you there are about four or five more Caribs looking at these unfolding developments. Until I speak to some of them I will keep their names out of this column. To be clear: I am not one of them. I have no intention of running to replace KP; none whatsoever.

Look; I also expect a Haitian-American candidate to jump in this race. Someone like Rev. Sam Nicolas would make a strong candidate here. My good friend Wellington Sharpe has already approached me for an endorsement and my support. Once the field is rounded out, I will facilitate him; but it is still early for all that. Wellington has paid serious dues with his community activism. He has a long track record of political involvement going back to the seventies. He deserves one more shot at elected office.

Don’t be surprised if Una and Yvette Clarke become key players in determining who wins this seat. I think Assemblyman Nick Perry will probably try to flex his political muscle here, but word is that Nick is finally getting a challenge after 12 years without facing a primary opponent. Who the rookie council member (Jumanee Williams) supports here, will interest many of those who still eye the 45th council district seat. He will be wise to thread lightly in this race.

In another development, Senator John Sampson was said to be getting a challenge from Kenneth Evans (again), but then the word on the street changed: and now I am hearing that Evans will tackle Inez Barron instead. The Sampson race would have developed into a grudge re-match, since in the eyes of Ken Evans, Sampson was one of about half a dozen people, responsible for him not holding elected office today. BTW, there is grumbling about the way John handled the Hiram Monseratte imbroglio. And this is coming from electeds. I really sympathize with John on this one: it was a no-win situation for him from Jump Street.

Also getting challenges come September are assembly member Junior Boyland (via Tony Herbert), and his district leader wife (via Darlene Mealy) in the 55th AD. Tony has begun interviewing prospective campaign mangers for this effort. In the past he has had some trouble putting together meaningful campaign structures, but this time he promises to do it right. I do wish him luck. One of those being interviewed is a former campaign manager of mine (Joeann Brusche), who was quite instrumental in helping to get Inez Barron elected to the state assembly.

Word out of the 40th AD suggests Kevin McCall will run for male district leader and challenge Earl Williams. State senator Velmanette Montgomery (via Mark Pollard) is also set to be challenged; while Rev. Camera (43rdAD) is getting a freebee; so too is Hakeem Jeffries. There is someone considering a primary challenge to Helene Weinstein (41AD). I am not at liberty to disclose the name right now. Ms. Weinstein hasn’t had a challenge in 16 years; meanwhile the 41st AD has seen many demographic changes since then. That could be rather interesting, won’t it?

In the 11th congressional, rumors have been swirling for some time that Yvette Clarke will be primaried; however even at this late stage, I have failed to uncover who that challenger could be. I am starting to suspect it’s all bullshit. Yvette has maintained a good profile since she came to office in 2006. She might be an intimidating candidate right now: plus it will take loads of cash to even have a chance of winning. She may not be the greatest fundraiser, but she has a base of voters here. She will be tough to beat; especially by a late starter.

It looks as though congressman Ed Towns is going to get a “freebee” this time around, since word is that neither Tish James nor Hakeem Jeffries will demonstrate the testicular fortitude to challenge him. Charles Barron (“Chucky Bee”) isn’t doing it either since he cannot raise the requisite funds for a meaningful challenge. And I suspect that Kevin Powell is a non-starter. Many people want Hakeem to run, but he is a very reluctant runner. Hey dude: “faint heart never won a fair lady”/lol.

Speaking of “Chucky Bee” himself, it appears that my article (“Don Quixote”) on him may just cost me my part time job with council member Darlene Mealy (Communications Director). I have been handed a letter outlining the council’s guidelines on “blogging”, from the Office of the General Counsel. I am studying the document and may have to get legal advice in order to continue blogging. The letter specifically cited the “Don Quixote” column. If you haven’t read that column, then go up to my archives here and do so. You can click on my name under “Bloggers” to get there. Tell me what you think about it. All I know is this: I do have first amendment rights via the US constitution. ‘Nuff said.

In fairness to Ms. Mealy, let me state unequivocally, that she and her two advisors who hired me, have never attempted to place restrictions on my writings, at any point over the last 3 months. If it is true that Barron protested my column -which is what has caused this letter to be issued- then he is nothing but a wimp. For years I have challenged him to publicly debate me whenever issues were hot (like “Ebonics”), but he always refused. In the past -whenever I openly critiqued him- I have challenged him to refute my truths, by writing columns on Room Eight New York Politics and other blogs; again, he has always refused. I was told by a highly reputable source that he is mad at me: so what. I write nothing but the truth from where I see it. His wife has been mad at me for years. Both Inez and Charles don’t get it, and that’s a shame. They may be well-meant, but they have one-tracked minds; close-minded in areas where they should be objective.

If this letter becomes a big issue and I have to give the council-woman notice, then c’est la vie. I am going to stand up for my first amendments rights to write my political columns as I see fit; to hell with “DON QUIXOTE” CHARLES BARRON (if he is the cause of all this). I have always survived the hits. This too shall pass. If I am fired over my writings then ditto.

I must say that working for an elected has been quite informative. Seeing things from another angle has given me fresher outlooks on city government. My perspective has surely been broadened. Some constituents swear that electeds can make miracles; but they cannot.

On another plain, it is pleasing to announce that John O’Hara has been reinstated as a lawyer. John lost his license to practice law when he was convicted of voting from the wrong address (even though he actually lived there also). Many people felt that DA Hynes was both vindictive and hypocritical in pursuing the case, which I will write more about in time. Welcome back John: we sure missed you in the insurgent trenches bro’.

John was one of the architects in the challenge to D.A. Charles Hynes (by attorney Sandra Roper) many moons ago. Some say this is where all his legal woes started. As for the Ropers, Sandra’s sister (Ms. Casilda Roper Simpson) will be running for public office again in the near future. When, where and for what office is yet to be announced. This dynamic young woman is a good candidate for any office she chooses. I hope you all will support her when the time comes.

In Harlem, word is that Adam Clayton Powell is running for Congress (again). He is said to be challenging Charlie Rangel again. There is another candidate already in the race, so I am sure old Charlie is smiling. Truth is this: Charlie needs to ride off into the sunset: like yesterday. You gotta make way (room) for the young folks Charles.

Word is that of the three “minority” congressional seats in Brooklyn (Clarke, Towns and Velasquez), after reapportionment (post-census) one will be gone. Yvette Clarke has the least seniority so she might be the most vulnerable. Remember, New York State has been steadily losing population (compared to many other states) over the past half century. Let’s hope the black delegation of electeds in NY fight to save the 11th congressional district. It’s about inclusion folks. It’s about inclusion.

When I speak to blacks all over the world lately, I am starting to get a familiar refrain. It appears that most are viewing the Republican attacks on Barack Obama as nothing but a racist backlash. They see Republican obstructionism as racially motivated. I keep reminding them that most of the voters who gave Barack his record victory (highest raw number for a president ever) were white. This doesn’t deter their view though. This isn’t good folks. Someone in the Republican Party has to step forward and do damage control. They are losing minorities in droves, and they never had a lot to start with.

I will leave you with this teaser: I won’t be surprised if a woman enters the race for Hiram’s vacant seat. The issue of domestic violence (DV) can aid a female candidate here. So far only men have shown interest in this seat, but I expect that to change before the September primary. There is a small rumor floating around that Hiram’s county-selected replacement has skeletons in his closet too; for his sake I hope it isn’t true.

Finally; let me say this: folks come up to me all the time and accuse me of writing this, or that, or the other; ready to step to me with bellicose intent; I always tell them the same friggin thing: read my columns before you step to me. And make sure you understand what you are reading. I stand behind what I write: always. I am sending this comment to not only elected officials, but also to their sycophants and ass-kissers. ‘Nuff said.

Stay tuned-in folks; things will be warming up soon.

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