670 The Rangel Wrangle
Please forgive the unusual first person singular here, but this is a long time ago and I'm walking down W. 32nd St. toward Penn Station and run into Charlie Rangel or maybe it's he who runs into me and we grab each other by the forearms so neither of us falls over and he says to me "Richards, you look like crap and why don't you look where you're going?" and I reply "Charles, you're not looking so hot yourself and why don't you look where YOU'RE going?"
"Time for a sandwich?" "Sure." We go to the Blarney Stone which is right there and split a something or other on rye and I have a Jack and Coke and he derides me for having a Jim Crow drink and I deride him for what he's drinking, which you'll never find out from me. We are finding out officially now that Congressman Rangel of New York's 15th district has some ethical problems, all of which everyone always suspected but which didn't stop the electorate from electing him by margins in the 80 percent range and for good reason: he did and does look out for the people of the 15th congressional district which used to be the 16th and before that the 19th and before that the 18th and which is home to more than half a million people, mostly black and Latino in about ten tightly packed high rise square miles.
Rangel defeated and succeeded the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1970. Powell served from 1944. They forced him from a committee chairmanship because, they said, he mismanaged its funds. Now 40 years later, they're trying to topple Rangel from his committee chairmanship and this time, they're not gonna make it. (The Ways and Means Committee writes tax law, Social Security law and lots more.)
So Charlie has a house in the Dominican Republic. So Charlie uses a rent controlled place as a political office. So Charlie has some bucks stashed for his old age. Guy's turning 80 this year and you can't hear a bad word about him from anyone he represents.
Charlie is not stupid. But he did a stupid thing some time back, in accepting a trip or two to the Caribbean, a trip or two sponsored by corporations... something congressmen aren't supposed to do. He says he didn't know about the sponsorships. What? The whole thing is no big deal in the first place and in the second place if he didn't know -- that's hard to believe -- his staff did. The Ethics Committee seems to think he should have known. Maybe he should.
But this is more than about some sleazy trip deals. This is about the pure joy of toppling one of the highest ranking guys in the House. Stop any pedestrian in the 15th and ask if he thinks that's the right thing to do. You know the answer.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®