It’s been more than a week since I had my job offer. But because the headhunter company waited until I had an offer to start the paperwork, it’s unfortunate but I’m still going through a drug check and all the background checks. The drug test was a piece of cake. I might talk a lot of game but I haven’t had a toke in months, plenty of time for any detectable substances to metabolize through my system. The background check should be a piece of cake as well. I have no criminal record. I have never been fired from a company, at least not in my professional career. I’ve always had the philosophy that if things are getting so bad that management needs to get involved, it’s time to scoot.
But nevertheless, a background check is a background check. And I have to admit that one of the forms used to investigate my career history was completed incorrectly so that set the process back a bit. The way things look now, I’ll be starting a couple of weeks behind my original start date. Hopefully, this process will be complete by then and I’ll be earning a regular paycheck soon. In the meantime, I’m technically still on the market and ready to be somebody’s Access database application development whore.
Just the other day I got a call from the company that got me my last job asking if I would be interested in a job with another Fortune 500 company in downtown St. Louis. It would be another telephone interview. My skill set wasn’t exactly a match for the job that they were advertising for. But my reputation as a hard worker preceded me. The woman on the phone went on and on about all the great things she heard about me at the last job. Other than my immediate manager, and maybe her manager, the woman said that the people that I had worked with were still very supportive of me.
The woman on the phone and I went back. She was the very first person I ever talked to at this company. She just so happens to be their lead technical recruiter. Not exactly a friend. If she didn’t have a job for me chances were pretty good I’d never hear from her. But it was good to hear her say what she was saying. And then she laid a bomb of good news on me.
She told me that after I had left about three months ago, two other people who worked in my group left as well. And the people who have stayed are begging for management’s attention to help straighten out the problems in the department. Customers are complaining that their work isn’t getting done. Too many of the employees from this particular group are being written up and are being reported to human resources for corrective action. A lot of people inside the department and outside the department are unhappy. And it all seems to be because of my old manager and her inability to let the people who report to her do their job without her constricting, meddling, and totally unwelcome interference.
And then the woman at the other end of the phone gave me a bit of news that was a bit too good to be true. My old manager was written up and put on probation herself. She didn’t know why. That really didn’t matter. What mattered to me was that karma truly can be a real bitch to someone who’s a real bitch. Whatever else the woman at the end of the phone said was lost. I was trying to get her off the phone so I could call a couple of people back at the job for some kind of confirmation. I called my old partner for his take on things.
The guy I used to work with the most had no idea that his manager was under probation. But he did say it explained a lot of things that had been going on in recently. About a month ago, my old manager’s manager was reassigned and my old manager got a new manager. He went on to say that his boss, my old manager, had been calling in sick on a regular basis for the past couple of weeks. And when she did make it to work, she was only at her desk for a few hours before she would leave for the day to run an errand. My friend had thought she was looking for a job. He never suspected that she had been placed on some form of corrective action herself.
My friend was stressed. He always hated change, even when it could turn out to his benefit. But he has been through a lot lately. He wanted to find another job himself, but either his tolerance for pain was much greater than mine or he simply didn’t want to take his chances in this somewhat fickle job market. He sounded very sad and unenthusiastic. My heart went out to him. I assured him things would get better. It was always darkest before the dawn.
I hung up thinking that the upper management folks at that job must be a seriously clueless bunch of folks. My old manager has been there for almost a year and a half. She had virtually gutted a team that had functioned well prior to her arrival. She turned that group into a serious basket case. Now that group has to be rebuilt along the customer relationships that they once enjoyed. Upper management could’ve saved the company a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of headache if they had simply stayed on point and had done their job. Now, a lot has to be done to reinvent that team and set that ship right again.
But I must admit that my old manager did me one big favor. I’m out here working to do something for myself. Yes, it’s true that I’m trying to find another job. I’m doing the interviewing thing trying to get somebody to give me a steady income. But that is truly going to be a temporary. I have to do something for myself these days. Any time I go to work for somebody else, let somebody else call the shots, let somebody else yank my chain, I’m giving that person too much power over my life. Thanks to my old manager, I was a big basket case myself when I left. I don’t ever want to put myself into that position again.
Instead of giving the next company that hires me my all, I’ll only give what they pay for. A forty hours a week check gets a forty hours a week worker, nothing more and certainly nothing less. The major part of the rest of my time will be spent getting my own business off the ground. I owe that to myself and I owe that to my family and I owe that to our future. No more jumping through other people’s hoops. I see that as nothing but a waste of time. It’s time for me to do something new. And I could not have done it if it wasn’t for my old manager. As much as I hate to say it I really must say, thanks boss!
Where does all the time go? It’s been a couple of weeks since the misses and I started trying to do something for our selves. And like most people who go out and try to do their own thing, there isn’t enough time to get everything we need to do done. It’s a shame too.
We’ve been spending a lot of time surfing the internet and trying to find freelance database application programming and development work. There are a few websites built to facilitate people who need work done with people to do the work. But because these sites are on the internet, we’re having to compete with people in other countries where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is here. Five American dollars goes a long way in some countries. Five bucks will barely buy me lunch at a Subway shop, let alone what the misses will eat.
But that’s okay. We’ve gotten my database design and development time down to just eight hours for a relatively small and simple database design with a user interface for the data entry and maintenance of each of the underlying tables. Each interface gives our customers complete access to their information so that he or she can manipulate their data in any way they can see fit. And if the database doesn’t do everything they need, it comes with the most reasonable rates for future modifications and enhancements.
People elsewhere might be cheaper as far as rate goes. But with a plethora of experience, templates that make building a new and fresh database a piece of cake, the ability to see database designs in my head the way Rain Man sees the number of toothpicks on the floor, all combined with the ability to understand and speak English as my mother tongue, I think we have the ability to give my potential customers the best value for their money. The problem is that we have to convince our potential customers that we are the best despite the fact that we’re not the lowest.
A few weeks ago the misses and I went to talk with a guy about starting a business. He’s the guy that convinced us to do our database work with internet customers. One of the most profound things this guy told us was that we needed to develop an edge so that we could steal customers from our competitors. What can we do that the other guys can’t?
Our edge is that our proposals include a fully functioning database for the client to play with and to demonstrate our skills. We review a request for bids from each potential client and if we think we can do the job, we don’t wait to be selected, we will go ahead and start working on a database for them with all the bells and whistles and any other database feature we can imagine. Although they’re delivered fully functioning, each database has an expiration date. Our databases might be useful for about a week or so. But after that, these databases are about as useful as a copy of Space Invaders written for DOS 2.0.
And with each proposal we submit, we have a complete write up that takes about as much time to write as it takes to write a database. We have to do a lot of research to see exactly what might be available from a competitor whether it be Joe Blow from around the corner or some Microsoft wannabe in a third world country, we need to make sure our proposals come across as clean and as professional as they come. This takes a lot of time and a lot of work. But we are truly enjoying our selves at the moment.
Consequently, writing proposals and databases and getting them submitted to a client before their deadline takes a serious commitment that leaves little time for anything else. Unfortunately, I really haven’t had the time to devote to my website. I want to apologize for that. But trust me, my sites neglect is for a worthy cause.
It’s been about a week since we’ve started submitting proposals for jobs. We’ve gotten a few nibbles but nothing that’ll help keep the lights on. Today, I had to take a couple of hours just to let you know we’re still alive. I hope to get a real article together tomorrow. One thing I did find out is that when it comes to writing databases and writing internet articles, I find writing database code so much easier to do. Even though an article takes a relatively short two or three hours, it feels like forever. And although it takes about three times that amount of time to write a database, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I like to write articles. But I love writing databases and the proposals that introduce them.
It had been a few weeks since I talked to my brother. I called him the other day to share the news that I have a new job. He wasn’t home so I left him a message to call me whenever he could. That was today. He was happy for me. He knows what it’s like to be unemployed. I’m sure that it’s his opinion that he’s been laid off from his line of week more than his fair share. Combined with the way the economy has been shanghaied by a double dip depression and/or an unremitting recession that refuses to respond to the economic equivalent of Robitessen, my brother understands what it takes to keep a job these days, let alone get one.
My brother isn’t happy about this lackluster economy and he made it known. He has a job in transportation and knows first hand what the economy is doing. In his line of work, when people aren’t trying to move or trying to move things then it’s a sure fire sign that things aren’t going well from an economic perspective.
I laughed at him. As our conversation meandered into something only two brothers could meander through, I asked if he was going all tea party movement on me. It was his turn to laugh. I asked him if it was his black face I saw in the news supporting his local tea party candidate. He laughed some more. But after his chuckles subsided it didn’t take long for him to complain that there are just some people who would complain about President Barack Obama’s governance no matter what. I agreed. No matter what Mr. Obama did, some people, like the people pushing the tea party, would never be satisfied.
I agreed with my brother and took the bait to take things a little further. I told him that Mr. Obama might be in a little trouble this November when his political opponents get back into office and try to undo all the political moves Mr. Obama spent the last twenty moths trying to make. My brother wasn’t buying that conclusion. He thinks Mr. Obama and the Democrats can pull victory out of the jaws of defeat. I said we’ll just have to see.
I asked him to remember that I’m no official predictor of the future, but Mr. Obama has done little to keep his political base happy. I asked him if he saw the town hall with the black woman who asked Mr. Obama if this economic nightmare we’re living in now is our new reality. He said he didn’t, but then he added a comment that can be summed up as the black community was ready to turn on Mr. Obama as quickly as the tea party. It was his opinion that the black community simply refuses to support its own.
I didn’t hesitate to pounce. I asked my brother what has Mr. Obama done for the black community. He replied that Mr. Obama couldn’t do anything for the black community because he’s trying to win a second term. Once Mr. Obama has that second term under his belt he’ll eventually come around. The black community has to remember that he isn’t trying to be the President of black people.
I asked my brother how many times he heard Mr. Obama say that he’s not trying to be the President of black America. He said he heard Mr. Obama say it at least once or twice. I then asked my brother how many times he heard Mr. Obama say that he wasn’t trying to be the President of white America. He said he never heard Mr. Obama say that. I asked how many times he heard Mr. Obama say that white fathers need to stop acting like fools and become more responsible. He couldn’t recall a single time. I then asked him how many times Mr. Obama said the same about black fathers. My brother conceded another point to me.
I then asked my brother that the unemployment rate for the United States. He had no idea. I told him it was just under ten percent the last time I checked. But then I told him that the unemployment rate for the black community was almost twice that figure. The rate for the white community was less than eight percent.
So with all of these factors to shed a little light on our subject I asked why would the black community support a black man who has done so little to help the black community. Why would the black community support one of our own when one of our own does so little to support the black community? He didn’t have an answer for me. But I didn’t really expect one either.
No subset of the American populace has put their heart and soul behind Mr. Obama’s ascension than the black community. True, some black people complained that he wasn’t all black. He did have that white mother after all. But the fact remains that the man is obviously a black man despite the percentage of European blood that may course through his veins. Dude is obviously a black man and he was the benefactor of a lot of black pride. I would estimate that upwards of nineteen out of twenty black voters put their vote behind Mr. Obama. How has the black community been compensated for its overwhelming support? The answer is that we’ve been given by Mr. Obama himself is, among other things, that he isn’t even trying to be the President of black people.
So with that kind of apathetic support, why would black people be trying to get back to the polls during this fall’s midterm elections to help assure Mr. Obama has the most supportive legislature possible? We’ve already seen that we don’t matter. He’s not trying to be our President. He’s got his eye on bigger, more important things.
It was right at this point that my conversation with my brother was interrupted. According to the caller ID a call was coming in that I had no choice but to take. I apologized and without waiting for his reply I quickly switched over. But our conversation resonated in my head ever since. I began to think it would make a pretty good post.
Mr. Obama has forgotten a very simple and yet important rule: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. While he works so hard to reach across the political aisle to grab as much bipartisan support for his agenda, an agenda that his political opponents describe with four letter words like “socialism”, Mr. Obama has let erode the support he had wrapped up with the prettiest bow and given to him on a silver platter. If the black community was a bird in the hand we’d be long dead by the time Mr. Obama got around to giving us anything that even remotely resembles attention. And now we’re supposed to fall back into step behind him so that he can get more of his buddies behind him so that they can continue his agenda.
Thanks…but no thanks!
Come this November if Mr. Obama gets an agreeable legislature to work with him for the next couple of years, it’ll happen without my support. The way things are going I seriously doubt if he’ll get my support for a second term. Yes he was the lesser of an alternate evil. But that kind of self defeating logic just isn’t going to cut it the next time around. I don’t want to vote for somebody who’s going to screw me less than the next guy. I want to vote for someone who has my best interest at heart. If Mr. Obama feels that he isn’t trying to be the President of the black community then I think it behooves the black community to find someone who is trying to be our President as well as the rest of the nation.
Maybe you’ve seen the video of Arizona Senator John McCain practically calling a reporter a liar when it comes to the military’s handling of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy effecting gays and lesbians serving in the military (click here to see the video). Mr. McCain was adamant. He didn’t care what evidence anybody could produce to the contrary. Mr. McCain was insistent that the military does not actively search the emails of its personnel to find people who were homosexual. Mr. McCain said he knew people in the military and based on that knowledge alone he would defend the entire military. It was impossible that anybody there would do anything otherwise. People in the military simply do not do anything that goes against policy.
And to think that at one time this man was the conservatives’ best shot at obtaining the White House.
Mr. McCain’s support of the entire military might have been admirable if it wasn’t so bullheaded. He simply refused, or at least said he refused, to understand that there are people in the military who would use military resources to actively find homosexuals in the military who never made their sexual orientation an issue of their service. Mr. McCain didn’t care what anybody said, it simply doesn’t happen. It is totally impossible and any thought of an investigation to determine if anything might be different is a total waste of time and not worth his attention. The military would never do anything to harm any gay or lesbian person serving in the armed forces. It simply isn’t something that people in the military are concerned about.
This is interesting because just the other day every last Republicans serving in the United States Senate voted against any change to the military’s policy towards homosexual serving because of its potential harm to the military machine. There are way too many people serving in the military who are so against anybody wearing their unorthodox sexual orientation openly that they would be willing to abandon their service to their country as a protest to an end to the current status quo. But Mr. McCain will insist that these same people would never do anything to harm the career of their fellow homosexual soldiers. Can you really have it both ways?
I suffer from no illusion that there are people who are willing to give up their military career to keep our homosexual brothers and sisters in their rightful place. A gay or lesbian soldier enjoying the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts is simply not the American way. Too many of us feel that we need to have strong reminders to people who are different in order to keep our mindset of heterosexual superiority.
Everyone knows that homosexuals serve in our armed forces right along with their heterosexual counterparts. Even the people in the military who would like to rid the military of all gay and lesbian personnel know that these people are serving. That’s probably why they would be so willing to break the rules to expose the homosexuals among us. To think otherwise is to pull a maneuver that’s the equivalent of sticking one’s head in the sand or plugging one’s ears with one’s index fingers.
Our military is not an organization of saints. This is the same organization that is associated with the Abu Ghraib correctional facility scandal that exposed the physical and mental abuse of so many Iraqi citizens at the hands of so many military personnel. True, only a handful of military personnel were prosecuted for those crimes. But to think that a few grunts at the bottom of the military chain organized that entire fiasco is to truly underestimate the deviousness of the military machine.
Like any organization of hundreds of thousands of people, the personnel that comprise the military run the gamut of human behavior. That’s why it’s such an asinine statement to say that it is totally impossible that anyone in the military can be bastard enough to destroy somebody’s career out of spite. Personally, I know a lot of people who have served in the military and a good percentage of those people don’t have the integrity to change a light bulb let alone keep their nose out of the affairs of fellow soldiers despite what Mr. McCain might insist on to the contrary.
Believe it or not, I can appreciate the military machine of the Untied States. I like the fact that the mightiest military on the face of the earth is intended to keep us safe. But that intention can be easily misconstrued for an alternative purpose. And just like the military keeps us safe, we need to do our best to keep our military safe. We can’t afford to pretend that corruption in our military is such an impossibility that we cannot entertain the thought of examining evidence that might prove otherwise. Our military deserves better. The people in the military serve to protect the freedoms of all Americans and not just the ones who happen not to be homosexual.
Some people are homophobic. They hate gays and lesbians to the point that they would actively wreck the careers of their fellow soldiers for whatever reason floats their boat. Like all citizens of the Untied States, people in the military are free to hate that which they may hate. But they cannot discriminate against people solely on the basis of that hate. People in the military are just as capable of breaking laws and policies as anybody else. You’d think that somebody who would want to be President of the Untied States would work to protect all its citizens despite their sexual orientation. Mr. McCain proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we cannot sit back under same false assurance that somebody else can handle things on our behalf.
It is official. I have a new job. I start work at another Fortune 500 corporation come Monday morning as a Microsoft Access developer. I’m going to work as a consultant again. Being a consultant isn’t as secure as being in a permanent position. But these days, who can afford to complain. And I took a slight dip in pay to get back into the job market. I was no Rockefeller by any stretch of the imagination. But I’d rather take a slight dip to do Access, something I love, than to work someplace as whatever making minimum wage, a job chances are I’d hate.
In the two and a half months I’ve been unemployed I’ve only had one face to face with a prospective employer. I’ve had several interviews with headhunters. They’re all impressed with my credentials. But to really sell my skills, a couple of these headhunters have asked me to take an Access proficiency test to prove that I can do what I say I can on my resume. In both of the test I took I managed to score in the top ten percentile. One headhunter even told me that I got the highest score his office had ever seen. But for some reason, those high test scores and my resume couldn’t manifest a job interview with the actual employer. In the one job interview that I did manage to get, the following week I was told that I just missed being their top choice by a razor’s edge. Big fucking deal I say. If I didn’t get the job I might as well turn up last.
The process for getting this job was a lot different. I got a call from a small, no name consulting group about three weeks ago asking if I was still on the market, yes, and if I would be interested in a job with their client, another yes. I sent the company an updated copy of my resume and put them out of my mind. If they are going to call back then they will call back. I wasn’t going to generate any gray hairs hoping that they would call. And after a few days it totally slipped my mind.
When the headhunter called back last week I had forgotten all about the job. The rep apologized for not staying in touch, but said that the client took their time to collect resumes, weeded through their collection to find three candidates. And I had made the cut. They wanted to interview me. The only openings they had for the interviews was the very next day at a time I had made an appointment to have lunch with a friend. I told the rep I had a previous appointment and that I was unavailable. He understood with everything being so last minute and asked if I would be willing to interview the following Monday. It was going to be a technical interview conducted over the phone with four of the client’s employees. My Monday calendar was wide open and we arranged for a phone interview late in the morning.
The interview went well. One of the employees couldn’t make it. But my potential manager was there and two other techies. The two weren’t Access experts. They dabbled with the environment. But their specialties were elsewhere. I was being hired to compliment their work. My experience at my last job was ideal for this opening. They had a mainframe application that needed to feed a secondary database that would serve as an inquiry system. That kind of work was right up my alley.
The interview was short and sweet. I felt it was a little too short. I was actually enjoying the discussion. Twenty minutes into the call the manager said that she had all the information she needed and asked her colleagues if they had anything else to add. Nope. I asked a few more questions about their working arrangement, trying to convince them I had an interest in what they were doing when all I wanted was a job. And then the phone call was done. The manager gave me her email address before we disconnected. I waited a few minutes and then took a moment to send a thank you note. The next day the headhunter called and told me I had the job.
All’s well that ends well, right? Except, I started thinking how easy and quickly I got this job even when I wasn’t being as cooperative as I normally would. Whenever I was called for an interview I would break whatever appointment I may have previously made. I want the employer to know that I’m ready and eager. What made the difference?
It might just be coincidence, but this was the first job I ever got without ever having a face to face interview with anybody. People at the headhunter consulting company don’t know what I look like and the client has no clue what I look like. Come Monday morning I’ll be walking into the employer’s office for the very first time in my most impressive business attire with five year old locks growing off my head. Hopefully it will be too late for anybody to object. But it will be interesting to see people’s reaction nevertheless.
I have always said that if given a fair opportunity to be judged by my skills and my ability to sell myself, chances are I will get the opportunity. I do believe the problem comes when people see that I am a black man. Suddenly, there are doubts that I can do what I say or that I have the integrity to do my job with the utmost professionalism. Add the fact that I have an unconventional hairstyle for most black men in a business environment and I might as well put nails in opportunity’s coffin.
A lot of people believe that race is not a factor when people apply for opportunities. I just so happen to be one of the people who know better. If we can honestly take people’s race out of the picture and give opportunities to people who are indeed the best candidate for the job things will go better for us all. I know I can compete with anybody when it comes to doing what I do. It’s unfortunate that when other people look at me that they will let what they see influence their decision so much.
By far my most favorite seafood is salmon. I don’t even know for sure if salmon is a seafood since it comes out of a river, at least the ones I prefer to buy do so. I’m sure some technical hairsplitter somewhere will make a comment pointing out the error of my assumption that the animal classified as salmonus-eatemupis is a river fish and therefore not seafood. Out of all the things that come out of the water that isn’t considered some kind of plant or mineral, salmon is by far my favorite.
I prefer wild salmon. While the farm raised salmon might work in a pinch, to my taste buds the wild salmon is far deeper and more flavorful. When you see the two in the grocery store, wild salmon has a stronger color, going into a deeper ruby pink while the color of the farm raised fish looks washed out. Wild salmon feeds mostly off of wild shrimp which gives it its strong color. And while the farm raised stuff gets an injection of food coloring to help give it a more attractive color, it still comes out looking like a bleached, pastel orange.
But now I hear that a third option is coming onto the market. This morning while listening to my beloved National Public Radio, I hear that the United States Food and Drug Administration advisers is beginning two days of hearings on whether or not to recommend approval of genetically modified salmon for humans to eat. If given the advisers blessing it would be the first time a genetically modified animal will wind up on the nation’s kitchen tables.
AquaBounty Technologies, the developer of the genetically modified salmon, believes that its mutated fish could help reduce pollution, disease and other problems associated with having salmon fish farms and provide an alternative source of seafood to help reduce the impact of over fishing. The mutated salmon can grow bigger and faster than unmodified fish. Who can see a problem with that?
The people at AquaBounty really don’t have much vision. While they can envision salmon fish farms around the nation paying top dollar for their little mutant fishies, what would happen to the unmodified salmon population if one of those mutant fishes got into the natural environment and started squeezing out the natives?
Didn’t anybody learn anything from that fiasco with the Asian carp creeping its way into Lake Michigan? From what I understand, the United States Army Corp of Engineers is trying to hotwire Chicago canals to keep that beastie out of the Great Lakes and taking over those waters. At one point, somebody somewhere thought that fish was harmless or would have been properly contained. Who knew things were going to get out of hand?
And what kind of flavor would mutant salmon growing exponentially faster than its unmodified peers would have? If my experience with altered tomatoes is any indication, I’d probably think the packaging the mutant fish would arrive in would be tastier. If nature thought that it was a good idea for a fish to reach maturity in a couple of hours it would’ve probably happened by now. Nature’s secret ingredient has always been time. Farmers know that between sowing and harvest is time.
There are tree farms that plant modified trees that can reach maturity in a fraction of the time of regular trees. A tree that would take forty years to grow can now be done in ten years. But the lumber that is cut from that tree isn’t as strong as its naturally grown peers. If you pay close attention to the grain of the wood, you’d see that new wood has a lot of real estate between its grain lines compared to old woods that have tightly spaced lines. The integrity of old wood is superior to this new stuff that’s supposed to be such an improvement.
The truth of the matter is that the wood isn’t something developed for consumer’s benefit. It was developed to improve the profits of fish farms. Fish growing twice as big in half the time will take far less financial investment to raise to maturity. These companies will produce studies to show that the nutritional value of one of these balloon fish is the equivalent of the unaltered variety.
Like tomatoes altered to be produced year round and grow in a faction of the time they used to take, the resulting product will be something that wasn’t given the time necessary to mature with an honest to goodness flavor that can’t be reproduced artificially. If it was so easy to produce fish of the same quality as what grows in nature then farm raised salmon would be just as good as its wild cousin.
But I’m here to tell you that this is just not the case. Wild salmon is heads up superior than its farm raised cousin, and theoretically speaking these two come from the same stock. Throw in a genetically modified fish that grows so dramatically faster and larger, chances are really good that the flavor has suffered just as dramatically. Thank you AquaBounty and Food and Drug Administration, but I like my salmon totally natural and grown in the wild. No offense, but I’d prefer to keep genetically modified off the market.
House Representative Charles Rangel dodges troubles like former President George Bush doges shoes. The New York congressman defeated five challengers in last Tuesday’s primary election to win a historic opportunity at a twenty first term in office. Mr. Rangel was reselected despite the fact that the eighty year old incumbent is facing House ethics charges.
The former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means committee is charged with a variety of transgressions. He’s accused of using House stationery and staff to solicit money for an education center named after him. He is accused of soliciting donors with interests before the Ways and Means Committee and giving the impression the money could influence the outcome. He failed to disclose more than a half million dollars in assets and income in a series of financial reports to the Congress. He is accused of using a rent subsidized Harlem apartment as a campaign office. And he failed to report rental income from a unit in a Dominican Republic resort to the IRS.
If he was the average joe, Mr. Rangel would have been facing some serious troubles. Attention from the IRS alone is enough to make mortal men sweat. But with Mr. Rangel, it’s just something that needs to be worked out. The former civil rights figurehead has admitted to some ethical lapses and denied other allegations. He has tried to negotiate a settlement with the House in an effort to put this in his rearview mirror by the time general elections are held. But some political opponents, smelling blood, want to keep Mr. Rangel’s troubles alive. A defeat of Mr. Rangel is a defeat of the liberal establishment at a time when liberals are already reeling for not being able to solve all the country’s problems in a scant twenty months. But the primary election results proved that Mr. Rangel is about as vulnerable to a political upset as a snow ball is vulnerable to melting at the North Pole in deep winter.
When a New York resident was asked why she voted for Mr. Rangel the explanation was that he knew his way around Washington and that the nation can’t afford to waste any more time on getting out of the economic rut we find ourselves in. It was her opinion that Mr. Rangel has done nothing other politicians have not done. The woman went on to say that she hoped Mr. Rangel would do more to reach out to younger politicians in order to prepare them to replace him. But as long as Mr. Rangel keeps returning to office at the hands of this voter, what incentive would he have to prepare someone else?
Going back to a grassroots, community oriented campaign style with high public visibility throughout his district, Mr. Rangel’s run for another term placed him miles ahead of the competition. Mr. Rangel garnered Powell fifty one percent of the vote while his closest competitor collected just twenty three percent. If those numbers are any indication, Mr. Rangel is likely to enjoy victory in the general elections in November. What better way for voters to send the politically ancient Mr. Rangel a message about his various lapses in ethics than to send him back to Washington blessed with another term?
Mr. Rangel has already been in Washington for forty years. If he wins in November, he can have another two years to his record. He has done well for himself. Anytime anybody forgets that he or she has rental property on a Caribbean Island, chances are that person isn’t hurting financially. I’m pretty sure that you can count on one hand the number of people in Harlem who misplaced or forgot about more than six hundred thousand dollars in assets. Is anybody else under the impression that Mr. Rangel may have lost touch with his Harlem, New York constituents?
The neighborhood remains a predominantly African-American area, with census data revealing about three fourths of the population to have been black. Harlem suffers from unemployment rates that run twice as high as the New York average. It also suffers from high mortality rates as well. As a neighborhood with a long history of marginalization and economic deprivation, Harlem has long been associated with high rates of crime. And while all of this is happening to the community, Mr. Rangel is living seriously large. And with his forty year record as Harlem’s representative, he’s definitely in charge.
It might be true that Mr. Rangel knows his way around Washington. He has enough friends in the right places to keep his political opponents scratching their heads, trying to wonder how to unseat this guy. Corruption charges don’t do it. His personal financial enrichment while Harlem stays in an economic rut doesn’t do it. Depending on the people to vote for something other than the status quo doesn’t seem to do it either. Is it any wonder that from a political perspective nothing appears to change?