Rock Hackshaw's blog
The constitution of this country reserves a special place for newspapers in this unfinished democracy: a special place which comes with specific responsibilities to the polity. Newspapers are expected to inform and edify the masses beyond the mundane day to day events of life in this city, state and nation. Its columnists, free-lance journalists and editorial boards are also expected to take positions on issues, in order to stimulate debate and discussion amongst elites, professionals and ordinary folks alike. Thus the roles and functions of any newspaper are quite important to the theory of democracy. And despite the fact that television, radio, the internet and other contemporary mediums within modern communications technology, have altogether surpassed newspapers as the main mode of information-gathering for most people, the responsibilities mandated by the constitution remain the same.
On any given day, one can create a checklist of issues facing us in this state: issues which need addressing by our Albany legislators in a timely manner; issues which affect millions of New Yorkers in profound ways. And yet, Albany’s collective response over time has left a lot to be desired. It is no secret that between the Senate (now 62 members) and the Assembly (150 members), Albany has been dysfunctional for years: very little gets done. It’s a joke that isn’t funny anymore: it’s an ongoing situation of which most serious political people have become frustratingly inured.
Over the years, there have been too few individuals who intermittently jumped up to seize the mantle for change in Albany. Over the years, there have been too few individuals willing to articulate a framework for reforming the way business is done up there: Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi was one. And there have been too few elected officials willing to fight to change the sterile leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver (as a precursor to real reform): Assemblyman Michael J. Bragman was one. The point is this: Albany harbors too many political cowards and convenient opportunists.
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.
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.
There will always be politicians you like, and there will always be politicians you dislike; and then there are some that fall in between like and dislike: that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Many, you may like, not because of their sterling accomplishments, but more because of their personalities: and this is the category in which I placed Charlie Rangel years ago. He has done a few good things in Congress but he is overrated like hell.
RAMBLING THOUGHTS ON A SCRAMBLED BRAIN: I AM BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN; BUT I AM STILL “SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED”.
It was more than 2 months before I sent my editors a new column for publication on Room Eight New York Politics (www.r8ny.com); and now, over the last week I have submitted two columns for publication: so I am back in the saddle again (so to speak).
I must admit that over that period I did consider walking away from writing here or anywhere. I stayed because I have always refused to end this blogging thing on anything but my terms: thus I will be sticking around a bit longer, since the last blog-flare up left me more convinced than ever, that there have been elements committed to chasing this audacious black Caribbean-American man off the NY blogging-scene: and that’s not going to happen. I presume it will be much to the chagrin of my “haters” for now.
So we are all watching as Senator John Sampson goes through his OJT (On the Job Training) as the majority conference leader of the state senate. The title in itself is as redundant as a recurring decimal. It is only meant to appease another very flawed and obviously failed elected official named Malcolm Smith (Sampson’s predecessor). Smith is another of the many black leaders who have now become major embarrassments. Apparently black leaders don’t seem to mind when the mainstream media piles up on flawed, failed and corrupt Hispanic electeds; and I say this because my observation over 37 years has been that you will hardly ever see black electeds publicly coming to defend their Hispanic colleagues. And yet, as soon as a black elected is exposed for his/her indiscretions, extravagances, corruption and abuse, some fool will jump out from behind some supposed militant rock to proclaim it’s some kinda conspiracy against black electeds. It is so predictable it isn’t funny anymore; and it has nauseously played it self out ad-infinitum.
There is little doubt in my mind that the electeds like Senator Kevin Parker, Nick Perry and a few others from the inept Brooklyn crew, symbolize near everything wrong with too many contemporary elected officials: a breed of mindless, spineless, classless, gutless, unimaginative nincompoops; clueless as to what a true elected should stand for or be about. I say this as I personally observed (all week long) Senator Kevin Parker fighting for his political life against challenger Wellington Sharpe: in a Brooklyn court room and also at the Brooklyn Board of Elections (both located on Adams Street). It’s that faulty part of the electoral process, wherein electeds do near everything imaginable, in order to avoid an election challenge any September. Truth be told is that judges, lawyers and other officers of the court facilitate and encourage this affront to democracy every single election year.
As the years have gone by I have come to a simple conclusion: people blog for different reasons; some of which aren’t healthy. This conclusion in itself isn’t profound, but it has been arrived at in some very hard ways, with some inner pain and through a lot of disappointing revelations.
Recently, many people have called me to reiterate something(s) said to me years ago: "Ignore the fools who perpetually attack you on the blogs". And in my last column I really felt I had finally gotten some kinda closure of sorts; but I was wrong: so let me try one more time.
When I was invited to be one of the original members of Room Eight’s writer’s colony, I was apprehensive. This was primarily because I saw the way the “silly people” (I don’t want to go profane here /as yet) had behaved, on the blog then called “Politicker”.
In journalism school they warn you not to publish stuff that isn’t verifiable; since the stuff you publish could be false and the repercussions can be devastating at times. Thus as a journalist you should get at least two good sources before you consider going with any item. Funny thing is I have given this lecture to many a student, and yet I was guilty of this cardinal journalistic-sin recently. You see, I misinterpreted what a source told me about someone’s illness and wrote that the person had passed away. It was an experience for me (to say the least). To this day, I genuinely believe it was what I was told (or heard).
Room Eight New York Politics (www.r8ny.com) is the blog site where one of my Puerto-Rican brothers in activism (Manny Burgos) promised an early response to my last column on the Puerto Rican situation -relative to its future relationship with the USA. A good thing I didn’t hold my breath. So while Mr. Burgos tries to (re)fashion and (re)shape his arguments for Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state of these (dis)United States, let me give him some more to think about.
Whenever you ask Hispanics about the current PR situation (as a ward of the USA), I invariably get an apology of sorts. No matter where the person originated (Caribbean, Europe or Latin America), I will hear similar things like: “Well what else can they do?” “They don’t have natural resources of any significance to fall back on”. “They need the USA; otherwise they will be worse off than any of the many backward(s) 3rd world countries in Africa”. “You want another Haiti in the Caribbean Sea?” “The people will suffer; there will be even greater poverty”. And so on, and so on.
Many folks complain that I don’t write enough about the happenings (and political gossip) in Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx: they are correct. I had always hoped that some activist type would come up on Room Eight New York Politics (www.r8ny.com) and cover those boroughs for us: but alas, it hasn’t happened yet. In this “Vines” column I will try to touch on some races in the other boroughs folks; but you all know Brooklyn is where my heart is; after all, Brooklyn is my stomping grounds.
The laborious petition process starts in one month, and you can expect lots of action in the upcoming September primary races all over the city. In the immortal words (well, the gist) of Viola Plummer: Let’s pray that a few incumbents get “assassinated” or “whacked” (of course I am speaking politically/lol).
Look, I wasn’t born on the island of Puerto Rico, or on one of those little islands situated nearby (like Vieques for example); so one can say I have no standing on this matter of PR’s relationship with the USA: and that’s fine with me. However, like most things political in nature, I do have a healthy opinion; and the last time I looked, I have a constitutional right to express that opinion: so afford me that luxury here folks.
I was born in the Caribbean. On an arrogant island -of a little less than two thousand square miles- called Trinidad. It is part of a Republic named Trinidad and Tobago; since it has been historically coupled with the tiny Tobago (116 square miles) situated a dozen miles north. This coupling -like so many things Caribbean and Latin American- was imposed by European colonizers (the British in particular in 1889). It is undisputable that Europeans made the Caribbean islands, plus North, South and Central America their playground of sorts, from the fifteenth century onwards. In fact, as I write this, many of the European nations still attempt to maintain their antics through economics, religion, politics, militarism, one-sided diplomacy, duress, unfair trading arrangements, monetary policy and the like.
If you want to get a pulse beat on what’s really going on in Trinidad and Tobago society, then all you have to do get down there during the carnival season and go to the calypso tents. Calypso usually reflects the harsh realities of life in these twin islands; and sometimes they can be brutally harsh with their truths. During the past three carnival seasons, many a calypso singer has recorded his/her disgust with the leadership of Prime Minister Patrick Manning and the ruling political party (PNM).
As I write this column, the naked truth is this: on any given day, you are about ten times more likely to be murdered in Trinidad than in New York. And if you compare crime stats coming out from the island(s) with those from England, then London is over 50 times safer than TNT; similarly situated (though lower) is Canada, Cuba and near every other state in the USA.
Those of you who have been following my columns and posts for the past five years must be aware that I have written many columns directly relating to Senator Kevin Parker’s explosive temper. Initially there were those detractors who would come up on the blogs to attack me for highlighting his lack of decorum and his uneven (sometimes volatile) temperament. And then there were those who suggested I was angry for not being the senator, since I did initially consider running for his seat (when newly created in 2002). I also demonstrated that he lacked integrity, for going back on his word during the early 2002 campaign for the 21st senatorial district. It was one of the reasons why I withdrew from the race back then.