LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE: SENATOR KEVIN PARKER VERSUS WELLINGTON SHARPE (AGAIN). Remember to vote on Tuesday Sept 14th
In New York City, political activists know that September is primary month; and soon enough Democrat State Senator Kevin Parker faces an old nemesis (Wellington Sharpe) in a primary for Brooklyn’s 21st senatorial district. It will be an intriguing contest: so fasten your seat belts all you political junkies.
The relationship between these two individuals has been “volatile” (to say the least). They have been in and out the courts for various reasons -with criminal, civil and political charges flying left and right. Sharpe has filed two legal actions against Parker: one civil and the other with criminal implications. Senator Parker has also filed twice in court: both times he attempted to knock Sharpe off the ballot. Parker has failed in both his legal political attempts to avoid a primary battle with Sharpe. Sharpe’s actions are a bit different in terms of results.
In the first lawsuit, Sharpe sued Parker for libel and slander, after it is alleged Parker told a reporter in 2004, that Sharpe was put (monetarily) into the three-way race against Parker, by then rival Noach Dear (white/Jewish), in order to siphon away black votes from the incumbent (Parker). Sharpe, who is a rather successful local businessman, was incensed by the implications that he could have been bought. To this day, Sharpe feels that Parker’s vicious words have minimized and trivialized his more than thirty years of public service, community activism and political involvement. He feels this has hurt him a lot politically.
Sharpe is a long-time member of Community Board 17, and chairs their “Parks Committee”. He has lived in Brooklyn since moving here from the island of Jamaica, West Indies, in 1973. He is the head of the block association where he lives on Schenectady Avenue in East Flatbush and is also the proprietor of Nelrak Child Development Center -an establishment that is over 25 years old. He is an educator and health-care professional. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and also a Masters Degree in Human Services. He serves on the board of directors of many a hospital in this city, and holds membership in many other civic groups.
Do note that Parker initially won this seat in the 2002 redistricting. The demographics show that near one-third of the registered voters in this district are white and/or Jewish. Blacks make up a little more than half the voters -with a heavy concentration of Caribbean-Americans. Parker has faced challenges every year he has been in office, so he is obviously insecure within these lines: especially against Caribbean-Americans.
Sharpe’s “slander/libel” lawsuit was supposed to have been settled with Parker agreeing to publicly retract his vicious remarks in various mediums -including city and local newspapers. I am told he never did this. Thus Sharpe is still looking for closure here.
The second lawsuit from Sharpe came about when Parker assaulted him at an event in Café Omar (birthday party for then councilmember Kendall Stewart). The claim is that Parker hit Sharpe in the back/shoulder-blade area of his body. He also threatened, menaced and challenged Sharpe to come outside and fight. Given Parker’s penchant for hitting, shoving, menacing, cussing, threatening and the like, it should be no surprise to anyone that he is caught up in all this. Last year, Parker allegedly assaulted a New York Post reporter/photographer and is said to have fractured the gentleman’s finger -apart from destroying his camera. The reporter was supposedly working on a story involving Parker, wherein he had purchased some properties which were then in foreclosure. It is claimed that that Parker was uncooperative throughout.
Last week this assault case was scheduled to begin in Brooklyn’s criminal court, with Parker facing felony charges which could put him behind bars. Then Parker’s lawyers found out that Wellington Sharpe’s son (Wynton Sharpe) worked in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and moved to have the charges dismissed on that basis. The implication is that somehow or the other, and in someway or the other, Sharpe’s son has interfered or tampered with said case; even though he doesn’t and has never worked on said case -as sworn in court papers by prosecutors. The judge refused to dismiss the case. He responded that it was a grand jury which indicted Parker to stand trial based on evidence presented; and that had nothing to do with Wynton Sharpe’s employment. (Do note that Wynton Sharpe has been at the DA’s office as an Assistant District Attorney for over 5 years now, and it is a well known fact that he is Wellington Sharpe’s son). Last week, Wynton Sharpe was unjustly suspended from his job without pay.
Parker’s move reeked of desperation. If convicted he will most likely be kicked out of the state senate, just like former Queens Senator Hiram Monseratte (who beat up his girlfriend) was. What Parker did get however, was the judge calling in a special prosecutor to take over the case. He also got a postponement till October, invariably avoiding a trial before the primary elections. This helps him tremendously as it relates to his re-election chances. You see, Tuesday, September 14th will be the second time Sharpe has challenged Parker for this seat. He last did so in 2004, and was tuned back in a 3-way race (Noach Dear). It is said that Parker is quite confident that Sharpe will be turned back again. It is also said that Parker expects a big victory. Sharpe’s campaign on the other hand has been steadily running into voters who are fed-up with Parkers antics as an elected official. This has given them hopes for an upset victory. However, it would have been much more helpful if Parker’s trial was taking place prior to the election.
Assemblyman Nick Perry -one of Parker’s many mentors- recently said that Parker’s behavior in office has been deplorable. He also said Parker has embarrassed himself and the community, with his antics and violent outbursts. However Perry still endorses and supports Parker. He claimed that he will never desert one of his colleagues, nor publicly chastise them. Nick’s remarks were a sad commentary on what apologizes for representation nowadays.
A few years ago Parker assaulted a NYC traffic agent in a dispute over a parking ticket. He was fortunate enough to get a lenient judge who allowed him to take anger-management classes as a way out of serious punishment. The legislature even passed a law making it a felony to now assault a NYC traffic agent: you can call it “Kevin Parker’s law”. Recently he called upstate white republicans from the state legislature, a bunch of “racists”, mainly because he disagreed with them on many issues in and out of committees. Parker has continuously displayed a lack of decorum in public. Parker even verbally abused Dem’s state senator Diane Savino (Staten Island) recently: one of his classy choice words called her a “bitch”. He then made menacing advances towards her as though he was going to punch her out. It took some of his colleagues to physically restrain him. It also took at least one male member to verbally threaten to go after him if he did attack Savino. It is rumored (unsubstantiated) that during the height of Parker’s verbal tirade, he even used the “C” word to describe Ms. Savino: a word that euphemistically refers to the very private parts of a woman’s anatomy. Given what many women face everyday in this city -dealing with abuse- Senator Savino needs to take a brave stand in this race: so too her colleagues of both genders.
Parker also cussed out State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz in the senate chambers: how disrespectful. He has blown up both in committees and in regular senate sessions; and has displayed a tendency to act as a bull in a china shop if he doesn’t get his way. His democratic colleagues even went as far as stripping his committee chairmanship away from him as a disciplinary move: it hasn’t helped. This is not the behavior we expect of an elected state senator; it is the behavior of a recalcitrant street thug: elected officials should be made of “sterner stuff”.
Prolific NYC political-blogger Howard “Gatemouth” Graubard has recently expressed the position that Parker’s past behavior alone, should have already drawn him at least a censure (if not expulsion) from the legislative body. Gate is totally correct. The democrat’s conference leader in the senate (John Sampson) is going to have to do something about Parker’s continuous bad behavior soon. Even if Parker was fortunate enough to get these charges down to a misdemeanor, he will still face the same situation that former senator Hiram Monseratte faced before being expelled from the august senate body: remember Monseratte was found guilty of a “misdemeanor” by a sitting judge; not a felony. He was still expelled from the senate.
The home stretch for this contest is upon us, and although Sharpe’s campaign should have been much more aggressive in getting Parker’s miserable record to the voters, there is still enough time to make the case for a new representative here. So far, the many newspapers which decried Parker’s past behavior(s) have been relatively silent about Sharpe’s candidacy: it is time for them to put up. If Parker is to be taken down then his challenger is going to need all the help he can get, from all areas of this city. The mainstream media, women’s groups, anti-violence organizations, police groups, trade unions, political organizations, political figures (such as elected officials), church groups, educators, professional organizations, and other such entities, need to start focusing on this race: like yesterday.
Stay tuned-in folks.