SAY IT AINT SO AL: PLEASE SAY IT AINT SO.
Of all the well known black leaders in this country, Al Sharpton has been one of the most enigmatic. Who else could have worn an FBI wire and still maintain a certain level of credibility in black nationalistic circles? Who else could be so flawed in character -over his years of activism- and still have candidates such as Hilary Clinton (and now Andrew Cuomo) kissing his ring? How the hell he has managed to stay out of prison is in itself a mystery: but then mysterious too have been all those fires that seem to have sprung up around him over the years; especially when the FEC, IRS, or some other governmental regulatory agency was on his back, or on the back of one of his organizations.
I have marched with Al Sharpton in the past; every once in a while his cause was solid and just. I like to call him “sharptongue”, since he is glib and witty. He is also a stone cold street hustler like too many of our NYC reverends (church ministers) who just happen to be black. Too many of them exploit the black masses for their personal gain. Too many of them peddle false hope to needy people of color. And powerful whites know bloody well how to single out the weak black trash in this group; and how to use then for nefarious political purposes, counter to the aims and aspirations of blacks en- masse.
Over the years corrupt black leaders have led us to where we are today (as a community within these disunited states): a place very few are truly willing to honestly discuss. A place too many would simply like to see disappear -but it stubbornly refuses to go since there is nowhere else to go.
I say all this to get to this: the fight for terms limiting elected officials in New York (both state and city).
There were many simple arguments offered by the supporters of term-limits: one of the main ones being that the odds were so stacked in favor of electeds as compared to insurgents (challengers) that election results become foregone conclusions in an alarmingly high number of contests. In some years it has gotten as high as one hundred per cent victories for incumbents in New York. It wasn’t competitive anymore. Eventually electeds stay in office way beyond their usefulness and too many became corrupted by their accumulated power. To me, the many examples of political corruption over the past two decades alone -which obviously cannot be the sum total- should make the case for term limits non-debatable. But believe me when I say that there are many other solid arguments for term limits, and I will leave them for another column.
Almost twenty years ago there was a raging debate about term limits here in NYC. Of course the self-serving incumbents opposed it to the very end. The voters decided that term limits were what they wanted, in not only one, but two referenda on the issue. They limited electeds of the council to two four-year terms only. And yet electeds refused to give up on the issue. The city council kept threatening to overturn the people’s will via legislation; refusing the compromise many offered: returning it to a third referendum. And eventually in October of 2008 the council voted to extend from two terms to three, what the people of NYC had twice voted on. Mayor Mike Bloomberg -who was the key architect behind this political abomination- betrayed his legacy for one more term of media glorification: how utterly crass, selfish and dumb.
When I was running for the council last year, I realized very early that the voters were pissed beyond measure about this term limits hijack. At the doors of registered voters they were admonishing all politicians for the council’s overturning of the people’s will. They were lumping us all into one: electeds and non-electeds. I knew right away that the turnout would be light. I also knew that Billy Thompson had a serious chance of upsetting Mayor Bloomberg in the general election. I even wrote a column supporting this contention.
I remember the days leading up to the council vote. I remember testifying at the council’s very public committee hearings -which in retrospect was nothing but a sham, since the “fix” was in long before the vote. I remember Wellington Sharpe, Eric Adams, Hakeem Jeffries and even Kevin Parker all from Brooklyn, and all testifying against term limits at these hearings on the same day. The New York Times spelt my name wrong when I compared Mayor Bloomberg to Dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, because of this hijack.
I remember Anthony Wiener, Norman Siegel, Billy Thompson, Charles Barron, Tish James, Bill DiBlasio, John Liu and many other prominent electeds, speaking out strongly at the many public rallies against the measure. I also remember that Al Sharpton was conspicuously missing.
Then yesterday in the New York Daily News, the story broke that Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (organization), received a hundred and ten thousand dollars from one of Mayor Bloomberg’s philanthropic groups; and that it was essentially for him to shut up and not oppose the term limits measure: thus his disappearing act in the lead up to the term-limits-extension vote. I am told that some of Sharptongue’s supporters are now claiming that during the imbroglio, he had put out a press release, showing that he was against the overturn of the term limits law. So far there is no physical record of this release. So now I have something very simple to request of Big Al: say it aint so. Please say it aint so.
Stay tuned-in folks.
Post new comment