In my most recent “Vines” column, I was a bit hard on council member Jumaane Williams; I would admit that. I even felt it was justified based on the information I was working with. So it wasn't at all surprising when he called me to defend his position. This column essentially delves into the gist of the council member's response.
Readers should note that it is not unusual for incoming council members, to replace community board members appointed by their predecessors. In fact, it is practically a norm -as these things go. I will suggest that if you haven't read my last column, then you should do so now before you move forward in this column. It will give you a better understanding of what I am writing about here.
In that column, I wrote that freshman council member Jumaane Williams had decided to replace a prominent member on CB 17 (Wellington Sharpe/ an appointee of Dr. Kendall Stewart) with one of his own cronies. I also intoned that Kevin Parker's fingers could be behind the move, since this was relayed to me by a couple sources, who claim that Parker and Williams are strong political allies. Everyone knows that the Parkers and the Sharpes have been feuding for years: it may not be the Hatfields and the McCoys but it has had its share of minor casualties. Parker obviously sees Sharpe as a major political adversary; and Sharpe has no great love (or respect) for the senator either.
In a phone conversation with the council member last night, Williams claimed that he never made a full decision to rescind Wellington Sharpe's membership from Community Board Number 17. He said the initial phone call made to Sharpe was to initiate a discussion on Sharpe's board future. Williams claims to have done this with near all board members appointed by his predecessor. He even claims to have retained some of them on both CB 14 and 17. He said that from the git-go, Sharpe interpreted the call as a termination. He also said that Sharpe kept insisting that it was Jumaane's prerogative and as such refused to engage the councilman nor the real issue at hand.
Williams also claimed that at no point in time did he ever discuss this move with state senator Kevin Parker. He admitted however that he has never publicly chastised Parker, for his perpetual bad behavior over his decade in office. He admits that he considers Parker a strong supporter, friend and political ally; but insists that he (Jumaane Williams) is his own man (politically speaking of course). He claims that contrary to many perceptions and many running conversations in the district, he is not being controlled by either the Working Families Party or the many trade unions that backed his successful run in 2009.
Williams also claims that he is not trying to emulate the style of Charles Barron or any other elected official. He said that he has his own style and his own modus operandi (way of doing things). He said that he has a good relationship with Speaker Christine Quinn, although he believes that there should be some reform in the city council: especially as it relates to the powers of the speaker vis-a vis the relationship with the other 50 members of the body.
This brings me to some of the things I deliberately left out in yesterday's column. You see I was somewhat taken aback, when I read recently that district leader Chris Owens has publicly called for the resignations, of both state senator Carl Kruger and assembly member William Boyland jnr. You see these two elected officials haven't even gone to trial as yet: they have only been indicted so far. Usually when indictments are handed down on elected officials, there is a rush to judgment by onlookers in the public galleries, and from people who are less cerebral than say a Chris Owens. Thus Chris and the other leader(s) who have impetuously made these calls, are taking away the presumption of innocence in a rather premature manner. Plus, I jogged my memory in trying to recall whether or not Chris (and others), had made the same request of Clarence Norman, Angel Rodriguez, Diane Gordon, Roger Green, Charlie Rangel, Larry Seabrook, and the many many others who found themselves in straits similar to Kruger and Boyland (now). I really can't recall this ever happening. And we all know that Chris Owens has been in the public eye for decades.
Then something else hit me: state senator Kevin Parker. I cannot recall Chris Owens ever publicly calling for Parker's resignation. After all, Parker has been convicted before; and has even copped pleas before: so where is the consistency Chris?
Let me fill you in on one of the dirty lil secrets of politics in Brooklyn: the treatment that Caribbean-born electeds and political activists get, when compared to those born in the USA. And it even happens beyond the political realm. Most people (even me to some extent) don't care to address this, but it is something seething under the carpet of Brooklyn's ethnic arrangements, accommodations, and both public and private relations. People like myself, Colin Moore, Wellington Sharpe, Maurice Gumbs, Kendall Stewart, Waldaba Stewart, James Connolly (and quite a few others/including Una Clarke), have been ridiculed, ostracized and verbally attacked, for far less than the many indiscretions and abuses of others of a different ethnic ilk. Una has probably been the most skillful and successful in negotiating the quagmire, but many folks know of what I write. Gumbs was attacked many times because he wrote as truthfully as he could about Brooklyn's cesspool called politics. Moore was gang-banged for eloquently articulating the needs of blacks of all ethnicities and nationalities. Waldaba Stewart was taken down from his senate post mainly because he was not born in the USA. I could go on, but I won't: at least not right now; and definitely not here in this column. If Kevin Parker was born in the West Indies he would have been run out of town already. I think Chris Owens is being somewhat disingenuous in his call for the resignations of Boyland and Kruger given Brooklyn's recent political history. Is he man enough to admit this? We shall see.
Maybe one day someone who is academically inclined, will hold a symposium on Brooklyn's politics and delve into the belly of this complicated animal. Until then, stay tuned-in folks: the truth by its very nature is controversial. Over the years, I have been attacked from all sides. Even some of my own people (Trinis) hate my friggin guts: c'est la vie!