Sunday, November 18, 2007

Now, that's chutzpah

There was an item in the New York Daily News that caught my eye, not because it's important, but because it defines the word chutzpah.

Chutzpah can be defined as gall, having a lot of nerve. This qualifies.

Just about 20 years ago, a young African-American girl named Tawana Brawley made headlines. She told authorities that she had been kidnapped from around her home in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., a Dutchess County community about 75 miles north of New York City. She said she had been held captive for four days and raped by six while law-enforcement officials. She said they had spread excrement on her and tortured her. The Rev. Al Sharpton became her spokesman, along with two other black activists, who demanded a high-level investigation. Sharpton screamed racism and demanded a special grand jury be convened. He got his wish.

The special state grand jury found that the teen was lying through her teeth, that she had not been raped by anybody. The story nearly ruined the life of Steven Pagones, a prosecutor who was implicated in the case. Pagones sued Sharpton, as well as Alton Maddox Jr. and C. Verton Mason, the two lawyers who aided Sharpton and Brawley. Maddox was disbarred in the incident. Pagones was awarded more than $300,000 by a jury as part of his suit.

So, what's the chutzpah? Brawley's mother and stepfather, Glenda Brawley and Ralph King, are demanding that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reopen the investigation into the incident. Brawley says the state owes justice to her daughter. None of the people named would comment for the Associated Press story picked up by the Guardian in the U.K.,,-7086114,00.html

I agree, to a point. I think the probe should be reopened, but only if Brawley also could be held responsible. In other words, if the probe finds that Brawley was indeed kidnapped, raped and spread with feces, then she should get the justice she was denied and those who did it to her would be called to account. Both sides should agree that statutes of limitations would be voided.

If the probe finds that Brawley lied, and that Sharpton, Maddox and Mason were implicit in those lies and knowingly promoted this fraud against the people of New York and Steve Pagones in particular, then criminal penalties should attach. Brawley should be brought to account for her lies and, if found guilty, do the time she escaped 20 years ago. Sharpton, Maddox and Mason should also face criminal charges if it is found they knowingly went along with what was proven to be a pack of lies. Again.

Glenda Brawley and Ralph King are right. There should be justice for her daughter. But there also should be justice for the people of New York in general and Dutchess County in particular, including Steve Pagones. If there is a probe and its findings are the same as the first, that Tawana was a liar, then Glenda and Ralph should be handed the bill for the investigation.

Page 2

Did you happen to see Fred D. Thompson on the television this morning (Nov. 18, 2007)? He was on ABC's Sunday morning news show and was asked again and again about his qualifications to be president. Was he a governor? No. What was his claim to fame? National security. How so? He was chairman of the Senate committee on national security. Did he have any executive experience? No, but it's really not necessary, he said.

Thompson looked a bit like a deer caught in the headlights, sort of how the perps looked after his minions got thorugh with them on Law & Order. Thompson worked for the Senate Watergate Committee that caught up with Richard Nixon, and did a good job there. He did a pretty good job on Law & Order. In the Senate, well, OK. Nothing spectacular.

Ol' Fred, he's a better actor than Ronald (Dutch) Reagan ever was, so I guess he feels he has the qualifications to take over the job that Reagan held. Enough said. Fred, I miss you on Law & Order. Go back.

Page 3

New Haven has posted its street sweeping plans for the spring, a plan that would have city workers sweep all the sand and salt that will be deposited on the roads during plowing.

I like the idea of streets being swept from time to time. It's not nuts like New York City, where each street gets swept four times a week, twice on one side and twice on the other. People who don't want to pay hundreds of dollars a month for garage space park their cars on the street in residential neighborhoods and need to move them for street sweeping, leading to a ballet of Bolshoi proportions.

We don't have that in New Haven, but that doesn't mean the exercise is error-free.

A couple of months ago, the car of an Orthodox Jew was towed because it was parked on a street that was to be swept. The problem was the car was parked on a Jewish holiday, when observant Jews are forbidden to drive their cars. The street was posted one day and the towing took place the next -- both holidays.

The person appealed to the city and finally got the ticket tossed out, but still had to pay a hefty fee to the towing company. That should not have happened. The city should not post and tow on Jewish, Moslem or other holidays. They don't in New York, where they are really nuts about street sweeping.

The towing company should be compensated by the city or the city should have gotten the towing company to forgive the fee. I'm not saying Jews should be granted favors. But the people who schedule this work should spend two minutes and make sure there is not a conflict. I'm sure any Orthodox rabbi would be happy to act as a consultant. If not, call me. I'd be glad to help.

Until next time...

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