2010-02-04 / Letters/Opinion

Barron to Council Speaker: “Take My Chair, But Not My Voice”

Editor’s note: The following was received via E-mail last week from Councilman Barron’s office.

On January 21, I received a call from Speaker Quinn’s Chief of Staff, Charles Meara, at 9:30 am, informing me that I will not be reinstated as the Chair of the Higher Education Committee. No explanation was offered. This occurred just hours before the full Council was to vote on the Speakers’ reorganizing plan.

What a cowardly act!! The Speaker did not have the courage or respect to call me in for a face-to-face meeting and explain her reason for removing me as the Chair. That’s because there are no justifiable reasons. Speaker Quinn’s removal of me is unacceptable, unconscionable and a blatant display of a raw abuse of power. My record speaks for itself. I have by far been the most effective, productive and active Chair of the Higher Education Committee the Council has ever had. With my track record, if I worked in the private sector, I would have received millions of dollars in bonuses.

Speaker Quinn’s decision to remove me as the Chair was based solely on her being vindictive because I dared to challenge her position and run for Speaker. Speaker Quinn is accustomed to running City Hall like a plantation. Anyone who dares to vote their conscience, speak freely, and challenge her authority, she attacks viciously. It’s no wonder why Blacks, Latinos and Asians who constitute the new majority feared voting for one of their own to ascend to the powerful position of Speaker. Had one of them did that, the Black, Latino and Asian communities would have been able to secure much needed funding to deal with the high unemployment, foreclosure and health crisis that plague our communities.

I will give credit to the Black members of the City Council who refused to accept her offer to take my position as Chair of the Higher Education Committee. However, I strongly criticize Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, my Latino brother, a selfproclaimed progressive/radical, for accepting it. He fell for the oldest trick in the book, “Divide and conquer.”

On December 14, I was informed by Speaker Quinn’s Chief of Staff Charles Meara that the group that was planning a rally at City Hall to demand my removal, cancelled it. This was a white group from Queens that was supporting the racist Board of Trustee member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, who rudely and verbally attacked me at the groundbreaking ceremony for Fiterman Hall. I, in return, verbally defended myself. This rude racist attack was reported in the media to have said that blacks were “savages” and Hasidic Jews were “thieves.”

I later discovered on the website on the website of this organization that they cancelled the rally because the Speaker assured them that I would be removed in January. It is absolutely outrageous that this City Council would allow the Speaker to remove an outspoken effective leader from the Higher Education Chair at the demand of a small group of whites from Queens, who support a vile racist like Jeffrey Wiesenfeld.

I will never be silenced. For me, when you put your life on the line for our people, there will be consequences and sacrifices one must make. So losing my Chair pales in comparison to the sacrifices that others have made for our liberation.

To Speaker Quinn and the Council, I may not be the Speaker’s Chair, but will always be the People’s Chair. My voice is only going to get louder, my determination to fight for liberation will only get stronger. Remember what Steve Biko said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” For our children’s sake and for our future security of brothers and sisters in the City Council, Free Your Mind!! A Luta Continua (The struggle continues).

City Council Member

Charles Barron

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