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A BRITISHER’S VIEW - ‘Caribbean Charlie’ is about to have a ‘bad day’

Sometimes, making mistakes does mean that you have to sacrifice your career – and your reputation.

It is something that the House ethics committee is grappling with, and which Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel, the country’s top tax-writer and author of a memoir entitled, “I Haven’t had a Bay Day Since,” hasn’t quite grasped – even after conceding that he should have declared his rental profits from his vacation home in the Dominican Republic on his tax forms and by justifying it with a cursory, “I really don’t believe that making mistakes means that you have to give up your career.”

Mr. Rangel should be eating crow with a shovel after a media investigation unearthed that the chairman of the influential Committee of Ways and Means played fast and loose with the truth about why he failed to report the taxable income to Uncle Sam, like the rest of have to.

After an eagle-eyed shutterbug caught him snoozing on a lounge chair at Casita 412, Mr. Rangel tried to shirk and shrug off his growing albatross, then he pled ignorance, then he blamed his missus, who apparently handles the family finances, then he faulted the resort’s management for “failure to provide timely and regular statements,” and, then, when nothing else stuck, he blamed the Spanish/English “language barrier.”

That’s a fine performance from the head of a commission, which presides over all our tariffs and taxation in addition to other revenue-raising measures, and oversees such programs as Social Security, unemployment benefits and Medicare.

The galling flip-flop raises questions about this fat cat’s ability to connect with John Q. Public, particularly when he hauls in lucrative political contributions and holds four rent-stabilized apartments in a deluxe New York City hi-rise, which could surely benefit more worthy occupants, considering that he is paid $169,300 a year for representing a needy neighborhood.

That controversy has the House ethics committee probing whether or not Mr. Rangel rented those properties at below-market rates. Add to that an investigation into his improper use of congressional stationary for fundraising purposes, and Mr. Rangel is one properly embroiled, puffed-up pol.

His mendacity is case enough to nix term limits for cavalier career politicians, and is clearly in keeping with a 19-term congressman, who wields such immeasurable power that he appears to have forgotten that he is a simple civil servant, accountable to the citizens who pay his wages.

Now, his credibility is in question; an especially worrisome problem, considering that he is the principal author of a five billion dollar Federal Empowerment Zone program to refresh urban areas across the nation. Can he really be entrusted with that financial responsibility if he can forget to include income on his personal tax form? Or, not even know, by his own admission, that indeed it was taxable income.

Yet, Mr. Rangel remains ever-optimistic, brushing off his trifecta of woes with a half-hearted admission of guilt and the nonchalant, ungrammatical brag: “I’m a lucky old son of a gun, ain’t [sic] nothing going to stop me from getting back here next year.”

Mr. Rangel is one more example of a self-important politician, who thinks he is above the law. From all indications, not only does this ‘tax writer’ not know how to fill out his own tax forms with honesty, but the New York University and St. John’s University School of Law graduate, does not know how to articulate properly, either.

Both are reasons enough to remove him from public service with a dishonorable discharge.

E-mail“A Britisher’s View” at BritView@courierlife.net. All letters become the property of Courier-Life Publications and are subject to publication unless otherwise specified; please include your name, address and daytime telephone number for verification.

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