The Charlie Rangel affair remains a top national story and today a tough-talking Adam Clayton Powell IV, who is running against the old walrus in next month’s congressional primary, tells the Washington Post that “I’m the one who is going to take Rangel out.”
Who knows? He could even get that lucky. When your name is on every corner of one of Harlem’s main drags (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., a.k.a. Seventh Ave.), and it’s tallest building (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, corner of ACP Jr. Blvd.) it has a familiar ring when voters go to mark and scan their brand-new paper ballots in next month’s primary.
In the meantime, for those looking to brush up on the record of ACP IV, who has served as city councilman and assemblyman, here are some highlights:
The most recent entry is the “driving while impaired” conviction from this past March stemming from his wee-hours pull-over on the Henry Hudson Parkway by cops who thought he might be drunk (“I had a few drinks, but I’m not drunk,” he assured the officers as he balked at a Breathalyzer test.)
These pale, however, next to the wonderful stream-of-consciousness descriptions he’s added to local political life. Asked by the Voice back in 2000 when he was running for Assembly why the name of one of Harlem’s most notorious slumlords was on his fundraising invitation he responded: “A lot of guys wouldn’t be on my list if I started digging into their records.”
The same went for more than $60,000 in campaign donations that a group of notorious anti-Castro fanatics who waged a terrorist bombing campaign in Cuba, showered on Powell when he first challenged Rangel back in 1994: “They may not be the best of guys, but they haven’t been convicted,” he asserted.
The Cubans hated Rangel because he opposed the embargo, he said. They endorsed Powell after he came out against it. Not that he didn’t have his doubts about the policy: “Just because it doesn’t work doesn’t mean we should stop it,” he said.
He applied the same logic back in his days as councilmember. One sunny day he was standing on the City Hall steps discussing another Voice column where he was referred to as “dumb as a post.”
“I have to find out who his sources are,” he was overheard confiding to an ally.
ACP IV told the Wash Post that they shouldn’t make a big deal about his father, who was beaten by an upstart Rangel in 1970. “It happened 40 years ago,” he muttered quietly. “People make too much of the name. It takes away from me and what I have or have not accomplished in my 20 years in public service here. It’s like it’s a Greek tragedy.” Or at least a Greek salad.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 9, 2010