Fasten your seatbelts and let me take you on a ride through the politics of East New York, Brooklyn. All the while, do remember this is a serious story worthy of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s attention. In the end, a man’s future is at stake. As far as I know, if this man is convicted, then he has to become a registered sex-offender because of the charges filed against him. However, when you examine everything closely, you do find a strange story with a whole bunch of twists and turns; and with a host of unanswered questions.
This is the column I promised readers a couple months ago. I came in a lil earlier than promised. After you read it, draw your own conclusions. I will also tell you why it took me a year to fully expose it (probably in part two of this column).
These are the five key players involved in this story: NYC Council member Charles Barron (#42); his wife NYS Assembly member Inez Barron (AD#40); Kenneth Evans- a Brooklyn lawyer and community activist, who last year challenged Inez for the assembly seat; Andre Mitchell -the controversial political crony of the Barrons; and a woman who I refer to as “Ms. X”, who is allegedly connected to Andre Mitchell: the potential depth of this connection is what is makes this story troubling. Word is that she is one of his many “baby-mamas” out there on Brooklyn streets.
For those who have been out of touch for a while, let me explain the term “baby-mama”, since it will come up again in this column. If you fathered a child with a woman you didn’t marry then she is your baby-mama. Got it? Or; if you made a child for a man you didn’t marry, then you are a “baby-mama”. I guess some will argue that the term can be ascribed even if you did get married. Anyway, let’s go on now; or as Fela Ransome-Kuti once said: “let’s do what we came into the room to do”.
I know that often enough some of my columns emerge from my role as “street reporter” and not “political analyst”. I offer no apologies for that. As it relates to writing about politics, I guess I am bi-sexual: I can go both ways here. LOL.
At some early point in last year’s primary season,” word” on the East New York streets was that Ken Evans will give Inez Barron a serious challenge for the assembly seat. Congressman Ed Towns was said to be backing the challenge with all his political muscle, might and connections. Present and former district leaders (Earl Williams, Dacosta Headley, Carol Faison) , plus the local political clubs (including the “Ron Brown” political club), various community board members (including Carlos Bristol and Manny Burgos), assorted community leaders, prominent local residents, and distinguished local clergy-members , were said to be all aboard the Evans wagon train.
Further word was that things were being put in place to do heavy fundraising, and to also bring in heavy support for Evans: from various political players and entities. There were many folks intent on sending Inez packing. There were those who said the district was suffering from “Barron-fatigue”. Things were looking good for Evans all through the petition process, and even after the preliminary court challenges.
In the meantime, Evans had assembled his inner circle of technicians and advisors, and even set up his campaign office, at an abnormally early point for an Evans challenge. Remember he had run many a time before; his patterns were known. Evans -who has always been a fairly decent candidate in terms of credentials and potential- has a propensity to run horrible campaigns; mainly because of his secretive nature and general distrust for people. Some have said that this distrust came from a stint in Viet Nam, during that infamous war; and the various unpleasant experiences he encountered there. What happened to him last year is full of irony: of the dramatic kind.
This time around he had a female graduate student from Brooklyn College managing the campaign (Joann Brusche). He had Bristol and Burgos paying key campaign roles. Further word was that former assembly member Darryl Towns was also supporting him. Expectations were that a groundswell of support from other elected officials (statewide) was going to come his way. Things were looking good. Things were looking up. Things were looking better than at any time during his previous seven unsuccessful runs for public office.
Veterans of Brooklyn’s political cesspool know that lots of rumors are spread throughout a campaign. Mostly this is done when one side attempts chicanery. Many veterans also know that sometimes the cesspool can hold dirty water. I have known about gunshots and threats in Brooklyn politics. I have written about human excrement being placed in the yard of one of my clients a few years ago -during a primary challenge. I have also written about stone-throwing incidents. I have written about poster wars and physical confrontations. I have written about lies and more lies. This story is about allegations of sexual misconduct/abuse. It is also a disturbing story of appearances.
Let me give a little historical insight and some background relative to the 40th assembly district. About two-thirds of the population is black. Hispanics make up just under a quarter of the residents. Whites/ other make up roughly ten per cent. The whites can be primarily found in the area once known as Starett City (Mitchell-Lama Housing). These are rough estimates prior to the 2010 census count. About one-third of the residents live under the poverty line. About two-thirds of the residents get some type of governmental subsidy relative to their food, clothing, shelter and health-care needs.
The area stretches all the way to the Brooklyn-Queens border. Back in the day there was a Panamanian-born pol named Ed Griffith who held the assembly seat for as long as I can remember. The politically ambitious (and opportunistic) female district leader (Dems) was Diane Gordon. She badly wanted to move up the food chain. Diane Gordon is just one of a long list of colorful characters who have emerged from East New York politics over the years.
This is the area where another colorful character named Ed Towns, started his political career by losing a race for district leader. He came up a few hundred votes short in a race he was favored to win. After that loss he pledged to never lose another race. I don’t think he has. This is one reason why the present congressman (10th district) Ed Towns, is always so panicky whenever he gets a challenge (even when he is clearly favored to win easily). He never psychologically squared away that loss.
Back in the day Pricilla Wooten was the area’s council member for a lengthy stretch. She was another colorful one. She headed up the city’s education committee. Word on the street was she didn’t even possess a high school diploma. I don’t know how true that was; but relative to politics, the ENY streets are always full of gossip, innuendo and outright lies (sometimes).
Charles Barron is another colorful East New Yorker; and Dacosta Headley (who I already mentioned). When Barron challenged Wooten in 1997, Pricilla ran around screaming to the high heavens. She warned everyone to hide the fine china, the family jewels, and all the young daughters (so to speak): since calamity and chaos was coming in the form of this radical ex-Black Panther (Barron). She won that contest; but term-limits forced her to give up the seat. Barron was elected next time out. Despite Wooten’s prognostications, Barron’s natural charisma won over people’s arousals, fears and suspicions.
Back in the day, Dacosta Headley -as district leader- would hold an annual fundraising event at “Le Cordon Bleu” (Jamaica Avenue) where some of the biggest names in city, state and national politics would show up. People always tried to figure out how the hell Dacosta pulled that off since folks from all political parties came. From governors, to assembly speakers, to state senators, to mayors, wannabee US presidents, to wannabee mayors, wannabee whatever, senate majority and minority leaders, congress members, et al: they attended Dacosta’s events. Eventually he gave up the leadership that some say he initially won with only a few hundred total votes. His son succeeded him. Rumors were that the dad switched his registration to the Republican Party. He also stopped hosting this annual fundraiser: the reason mystifies those old-timers who still like to talk and gossip about Brooklyn’s dynamic political environment.
In 1993 Diane Gordon challenged Pricilla Wooten for the council seat. Pricilla went around questioning Diane’s many “green card” marriages (I have no clue as to the veracity of these charges/the point I am trying to make is that these ENY political trenches are really rough). Pricilla made many other outrageous charges as to Diane’s character which I would not repeat here. Her supporters called Diane all kinds of names under the sun. When the two of them faced off for the female district leadership in 2000, more sordid stuff was circulated on the streets. Both camps were throwing charges of “ho” back and forth. It was fun to watch but it wasn’t funny really.
Anyway, she beat back Diane’s spirited challenge in 2003; maybe it was the hard-hitting campaign that got her the victory. In 2000 Diane Gordon held on to her leadership by trashing Pricilla so badly that she has since retired from politics. Some say it was because her husband had passed away and she never got over that.
Now don’t think for a minute that Diane Gordon is some kind of “political pussy” to be just beaten up on: “au contraire”. On any election day when Diane is running you will find an aggressive assortment of co-coordinators, poll-watchers and palm carders, who are usually intimidating by their mere presence. One year, I almost got my butt whipped (physically) outside a Starett City polling site by some of Diane’s henchmen. (LOL). The timely arrival and intervention of some NYPD officers saved my outnumbered ass, since I was foolishly trash-talking into a crowd of thugs.
During another challenge, while driving my van -which was being used to transport workers and such on Election Day- I was accosted and impeded(blocked) by some of her workers moving around in two SUVs; going from polling-site to polling-site. Again the cops got there in time to prevent some serious stuff. It was scary. Truly. For a minute there I was essentially kidnapped in that I couldn’t move. And I wasn’t packing.LOL.
Diane has kids and relatives (well, at least one aggressive daughter) who will get into your face in a minute to defend their mama/kin. Diane can also take good care of herself. Her very lengthy survival on the ENY political scene is a true testament to her strength and courage.
In 2000, Dacosta is supposed to have helped Diane unseat Ed Griffith. Word on the street said that Ed was too old to climb the many stairs of the many projects in the district (Pink Houses, Linden, Boulevard, etc.) in order to hustle votes. Ms. Gordon always had strong support amongst East New York’s seniors; plus she is an endearing person with some charisma, spunk, and lots of street smarts.
In 2006 while I was working for an opposing campaign, Ms. Gordon was facing umpteen indictments for corruption. I remember canvassing the doors of senior voters who refused to believe Ms. Gordon’s corruption issues. Many said she was being set up by the powers that be. Eventually, she was convicted for corruption and/or influence peddling. She was caught on video and audio tape trying to get a developer to build her a fancy home in Queens (yes; out of the district) in exchange for some city land. It was truly a learning experience for me. A humbling one too. The ENY voters returned her with over sixty per cent of the turnout. It was truly amazing. It was as though the indictments never mattered to the voters who were mainly seniors. As I said before: Diane had (and probably still has) lots of support amongst ENY senior voters.
The present word out of ENY streets is that Diane is out of prison now and aching for a political comeback. They are saying that she will be running for city council in 2013. That is something I want to see. The infamous audio and video tapes of her shakedowns will definitely show up again.
In 2008, Inez Barron replaced the imprisoned Gordon. She handily won the seat (as I had predicted) from five opponents. It was a tepid (mild) contest when compared to the rough and tumble ones usually held in this area.
In a district where allegiances switch from year to year, the campaign manager for Evans’s 2010 campaign had worked on Barron’s 2008 effort. In order to assemble and mount a significant and meaningful challenge, Evans (a former Barron ally himself) was forced to “throw down” with the anti-Barron forces in the district, for a 2010 effort. Over the years, Evans had been something of a political lone-wolf.
Folks; do remember this: in politics, yesterday’s enemies can be tomorrow’s allies (and vice-versa).
Let’s get back to the main story.
Recent media revelations have shown a connection between both Barrons and at least one of Andre Mitchell’s organizations (“Man Up”). Mainstream media has posited this: roughly a million dollars have been funneled to Mitchell by both Charles and Inez over the past five years or so. For the most part, these are taxpayer dollars folks.
One story (probably the most disturbing) showed that Charles and Andre Mitchell sat down secretly with some developers and lawyers from a large retail chain, hammering out a six year agreement, which was supposed to pump three million dollars into one of Mitchell’s groups (supposedly leading some other community organizations). The money was designated for job-training programs geared towards the ENY community youth (presumably minorities). In return Barron is said to have pledged support for their development project within his catchment area.
One lawyer present at/and part of these negotiations said:”it felt like a shakedown from jump street”. The only signatory to the agreement was Mitchell’s (representing his organization). There were spaces on the document for other signatories (and other organizations); but those spaces were vacant.
Now anyone worthy of their salt in politics will know that “job-training” and “job-readiness” programs are nothing but a bunch of crock for the most part. If you have been around long enough you will know that these programs are generally awarded to political cronies as payback for favors done over time; way too often politically connected people “get paid”, while the youngsters “get shafted”.
If you study these programs in terms of evaluating or measuring successful outcomes, you will find very few successes. Some folks recruit youngsters in the “hood”, with many promises of jobs, or training, or skills-development, or education programs and the like. They may occasionally run a few classes on how to dress, take care of personal hygiene, re-do a resume, fill out an application form, and other such mundane aspects. At the end, you will hardly find true job-placement, or any real job-development. I have seen this so many times it aint funny. I have seen it in every single borough of this half-naked city. I have seen it nearly every single year, during my thirty-eight years living in New York City while being politically active.
Recent media reports of Charles Barron’s political shenanigans since his election in 2001, has now led many to conclude that he has morphed into the same type of elected official, he himself despised, when he first started his political movement in 1996. It was a movement which recruited and attracted many people. It was a movement aimed towards transforming society and changing the political culture of this city: amongst other idealistic things.
Let me tell you about Andre Mitchell. I met the guy more than a dozen years ago. He had committed a high crime in his youth and had done some heavy time in prison. He was going about the admirable and commendable task of personal-rehabilitation. He was a member of Barron’s “OPERATION POWER” organization. With the Barrons always supporting him, Andre has unsuccessfully run for male district leader (Dems) three times (’06, ’08, ’10). He has been identified as the main recipient of public monies from both Barrons: via their discretionary funds and such.
Word on the street is that Andre Mitchell (like Paul Washington -another one of Barron’s political cronies) has more than a few ”baby-mamas” out there. Some say he has anywhere from six to ten out of wedlock kids. This is where the problem starts. Andre Mitchell is heavily invested in the political fortunes of both Charles and Inez baron. That’s just a fact of life. I am making no judgments on this fact. I am just stating it as a fact. Andre is heavily vested now: more so than ever before. He has programs to run. He has monies coming in from the Barrons that keep his operation running. His political (and programmatic) fortune is inextricably tied in to the political fortunes of the Barrons. This is the troubling aspect to what happened near the end of the campaign last year.
Here is the problem. At some point in the campaign against Inez Barron, Kenneth Evans sent out word that he was looking to hire community folks for canvassing and other political work. A reverend -now claimed to have connections with both the Barrons and Mitchell- brought Ms. X to the Evans campaign. My investigation has turned up that she did do some work for the campaign and was paid for her services. Why no one spotted the Andre Mitchell connection is baffling to many who have heard what happened on or before August 10th, 2010.
I am told that this attractive young lady (supposedly around thirty years of age) either left the campaign office to do” lit-drops” with the candidate, or met up with the candidate somewhere in the district for said activity. “Lit-drops” are normal in any political campaign. That’s when people are hired (or volunteer) to put campaign literature under doors of residents. How Ms. X ended up in the candidate’s apartment that afternoon is a mystery still to be solved (or resolved) by street-gossip, the criminal courts and pundits. It appears she did end up in his apartment. It also appears that something happened there. And speculation as to what happened has been the topic of street-talk since last August.
Look; I wasn’t there so I am taking no sides in this. I can say that in knowing Evans for fifteen years, and working closely with him in many a political endeavor, the charges against him here are totally out of character. This isn’t the kind of man to do stuff like this: at least not in my estimation or observation.
And yet, I could never swear for another man’s penis; or any woman’s vagina for that matter. I could only swear for mine. I know where it has and hasn’t gone in my lifetime. Look; whether it is loneliness, addictiveness or tenderness, penises do end up in the wrong vaginas at times. I have often told my students that there is a little Chihuahua in every man. I also know that people’s loyalties go as far as their options. An erect penis is no different to a flaming clitoris: they both exhibit very poor self control at times. They both demonstrate low levels of conscience at times.
Exactly what happened between these two individuals is something only God knows I guess. And I say this because perceptions can vary between any two individuals recounting any one incident to which they were both a party.
At some point very late that night (or in the wee hours of the next morning), there was a knock on the candidate’s door: it was the police. They had come to arrest him because this young woman had pressed charges against him for sexual misconduct. The serious allegations did not include rape. However they were closely related since it did include inappropriate sexual contact and such. These were very serious allegations. I saw today that the next court date for the case is early October. It isn’t over yet. It has been over a year now since this started.
Word on the street was that the candidate had tried to rape this young lady. Rumors of attempted rape is a destroyer of many a candidate worldwide: whether or not those were actual charges laid. It is said that the candidate suffered a conniption when he was arrested. It is said that he was in a mess; so too his relatives and loved ones. Some rumors said he fainted and had to be revived. Then he passed out again. Some say he was hospitalized: I haven’t been able to verify all this. But one can imagine the pain, anxiety and stress all this caused (on both sides of the divide).
Kenneth Evans is a pillar of respectability in this community. He was eventually granted bail. He has been dealing with all this for the past year. This is a man who has run for office quite a few times, and once headed up the Urban League. This is a man whose political activism goes back to his teenage years. He comes from a civil-rights background. His step-father was a key clergy member in Brooklyn, and also a civil-rights veteran.
Look; I wasn’t there so I don’t know what happened between these two adults. Some rumors say that they were “hooking up” (as the youngsters say on the streets these days). Others say it was a total set up to take down the Evans candidacy; and others are suggesting that something happened relative to miscommunication between adults of different genders. All I can say is this: it doesn’t look good; doesn’t feel good; doesn’t smell good; doesn’t sound good; and needs to be investigated.
My own private investigation has been able to uncover this explosive assertion: that before charges were filed, a man of the cloth -with connections to all five key players- made at least two phone calls, initiating what turned out to be at least two conversations, wherein it was suggested that the whole sordid episode could be made to disappear for a certain sum of money: which the accuser was supposed to receive. ***Let me caution here that I have been unable to ascertain whether or not this man of the cloth was representing Ms. X (as an agent) or not.
I am told that the candidate refused this offer; claiming to have nothing to hide. Then it is said that the young woman in question, by then, had gone to some nearby hospital with bruises to her arms (at least). This led to the chain of events which culminated with the candidate’s arrest in the wee hours.
Within ninety-six hours of his arrest the following things happened: (a) Congressman Ed Towns withdrew his endorsement and support. That took with it, the support of the district leaders (past and present). It also took the support of the political clubs, many community-board members, many clergy-members, many community activists, and more, et al. (b) Support for the Evans campaign in general started to dissipate rapidly. The rumor-mill was waxing profusely. The support that the campaign anticipated as forthcoming turned out to be non-existent. (c) The whole sordid episode hit the streets (and grapevines) long before it even hit the media. In fact, it is yet to hit mainstream media (as far as I know). I barely referred to it in one of my columns on the blogs just before the primary. It may have been the only media mention of this candidate’s dilemma. Remember, Evans was arrested somewhere around a month before the election. (e) Street talk was that the Evans candidacy was dead on the vine. It did die there. On Election Day the Evans campaign had no visible operation (unbelievable). The results will show that he was crushed by Inez Barron.
The margin of victory was almost five to one.
Now, at the time of this incident, I am told that the Evans campaign had already mailed to the voters and was picking up steam. Some of his supporters insist that there was momentum (“BIG MO”) going his way. The street-operations team was at least a dozen strong. The campaign-message was getting out to the voters. This incident was a death knell to the hopes and aspirations of this campaign.
So here are some of the multi-million dollar questions: What is someone so closely connected to Andre Mitchell doing working on a political campaign of Inez Barron’s opponent: especially given the relationship(s) between Mitchell and the Barons? What did Andre, Charles and Inez know about all this? When did they know what they knew? What did they do to prevent anything strange from happening (like this) where suspicions will naturally be raised? Could someone (or some people) connected to either Mitchell or the Barrons set this whole thing up (with or without their knowledge and/or permission)? Wasn’t there a motive for someone to infiltrate the Evans campaign with intent at subterfuge? Didn’t anyone anticipate that something like this could happen and raise suspicions?
Look; there are more troubling questions that can be raised. I will stop there for now. I was informed by one attorney that I will be sued for writing and publishing this column: fine. I have been threatened before: no big thing. Journalism and politics aren’t for the faint-hearted. And by the way: I am not afraid of death wherever it may surprise me.
Let me end here for now. Do note that I have had no direct conversations with Kenneth Evans since July of 2009. I did try to contact him a few times over the last year or so in order to further develop this story. However he never returned my calls despite contacting a few members of my political in-crowd.
I have had a hard time developing this story since many people have refused to go on the record with some of what they know. There are things I deliberately left out since the case is presently unresolved. I am told that there are threats of law suits and counter suits all over the map, from some of the key players and other ancillary players involved. I felt strongly that had I written about this (in-depth) during last year’s primary it would have been counter-productive. Maybe I was wrong about that.
Do stay tuned-in folks. I will get to part two of this column soon enough.