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Dirty 10th District

With the inauguration of New York’s first black governor and the democrats seriously considering a black nominee, this should be the year that we celebrate the ascendancy of the new black politician.

Unfortunately, New York’s 10th Congressional District remains tethered to the merchants of a pestiferous black politics of yesterday.

Governor David Paterson and Senator Barack Obama may be shining examples on the national stage but the black politicians at the local level, it’s quite a different story.

This past week, the New York Post reported on investigations surrounding Assemblyman Darryl Towns’ involvement with the Highland Park Community Development Corporation homeless shelter. City investigators are reviewing records to determine if the politically-connected charity was just a bad manager of $6 million, or trying to defraud taxpayers with big pay hikes, padded expense sheets and payrolls packed with cronies.

The not-for-profit ended 2007 with nearly $1 million in debt, including unpaid taxes, water bills and rent. Executive director Robert Santiago pulled in $125,000-a-year while also serving as Towns’ campaign treasurer, and Towns’ brother-in-law, Kenya Blount, was paid $70,000.

Both men have also helped manage campaigns for 13-term Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn), the assemblyman’s father.

Days later the corruption trial of East New York Assemblywoman Diane Gordon began. This indignant politician was made for Court TV. According to prosecutors, Gordon demanded a new house from a corrupt developer in exchange for helping him obtain city land in her district.

“Since I am the assemblywoman, I definitely need a detached home,” Gordon told developer Ranjan Batheja, who was secretly recording their conversation. “I don’t need to be attached to anybody, Private. Detached. You can make it happen.”

Ms. Gordon is detached from reality, the reality of the everyday struggles faced by the people who sent her to Albany to represent them. Miss Gordon may get the opportunity to reconnect with some of her constituents in a secluded retreat upstate.

The elderly statesman of this district is Rep. Ed Towns, who in 2005 then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi threatened to strip of his committee assignments after he missed a key budget vote that the democrats lost by two votes. Towns’ response, “People miss budget votes all the time.” If he chooses to not leave the stage before he gets the hook, his 2008 campaign slogan should be, “Re-elect Towns, Indolent and Proud.”

The Emperor’s VIP Club has a thing or two to learn from this old pro. After receiving $17,000 from energy PACs, Rep. Towns voted for a bill that gave the energy industry $23 billion in tax breaks. Every congressional Democrat in the tri-state area voted against the bill and The New York Times called it “a pork-barrel bonanza of special favors likely to cost twice the advertised price.”

When the bill was reintroduced, half of the tri-state’s republicans and all of the area’s democrats voted against the bill, except Rep. Ed Towns.

It is disheartening to see black constituents continuously elect representatives, who go to Albany and Washington and behave as if they’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet. We see them sloppily stuffing their pockets with biscuits and meatloaf for their friends and family while the good folks back home go without

Brooklyn would be better served if the people entrusted to represent us followed the lead of Senator Obama, or Governor Paterson, instead of Detroit’s Kwame Kilpatrick.

Terrance Knox

Co-President, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn

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