Monday, April 14, 2008


UP FRONT News April 7, 2008
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
"The paper that can't be bought and can't be sold."

By Tom Weiss

A near assault against me by Staten Island of Staten Island (PASI) activist David Jones was not my first political confrontation with a guy who, while he is capable of behaving himself inside a church, showed on April 5, that he can totally lose control in a church parking lot.

I do recall that in a brief discussion some months ago at a "First Friday Film" event at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island, he and I talked briefly about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

As many in that church and elsewhere are aware, I am opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and that I believe the ultimate solution is what is known as the "One State Solution." That would involve the creation of a secular state geographically including what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. All citizens, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, et. al. would have full civil rights. The freely elected government of that state would have the responsibility in coordination with the United Nations to resolve the matter of the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees. Indeed it was I who invited my friend the Palestinian-American activist Wael Sharaydeh, who has written a paper on the One State Solution, which at his request I edited, to speak at a meeting of the Social Concerns Committee of the Staten Island Unitarian Church, then chaired by peace and gay rights activist Marjorie Ramos.

In my quite brief conversation with Mr. Jones, I expressed my opposition to the Israeli occupation and also made it clear that I totally oppose the violent rejectionist approach of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, and Iran that urges the elimination of Israel pushing the Jews "into the sea" and the violence against Israeli civilians perpetrated by these groups. Mr. Jones, although under better control than he was at the First Central Baptist Church parking lot on April 5, became instantly angry and had some fire in his eyes as he expressed his anger at the Israelis. I did not push the point.

The next time Mr. Jones and I met, some months ago at a meeting at the Staten Island Museum of the group backing Debi Rose for the City Council to which Ms. Rose had invited me, things again became somewhat confrontational. During Ms. Rose's presentation of her platform summary, she made no mention of affordable housing/housing/gentrification/over-development issue, which I consider to be major issues in any political campaign.

When I raised my hand, Mr. Jones, who was "facilitating" (another euphemism sometimes used by people who want to control the agenda by any means necessary) the meeting, said I couldn't speak at that time but not indicating when I could speak. I then made mention of the affordable housing, etc. issue. Jones - adopting a resaonably convincing impersonation of Geoffrey Blank (a one time favorite of Mr. Jones's PASI political ally Mike May, who invited the psychopath Blank to speak at a PASI event on November 12, 2005), the deposed dictator of the No Police State Coalition of which, like a jailed Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Blank still considers himself to be "president" - declared that issue "not on the table."

Fortunately Ms. Rose (who needs to select someone other than Jones to run her meetings, assuming she continues to run for elective office) intervened and let me ask my question. I reminded her that Stapleton and its Homeport, very near my home, are now in the cross-hairs of the mega-developers and gentrifiers favored by people like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mayoral wannabe Christine Quinn. In her rather general response, Ms. Rose assured me that the issue would receive her attention.

Since, however, it subsequently took a bunch of unanswered voice mail messages and e-mails before I got an e-mailed reply from Ms. Rose, I am not at all convinced that she will be an anti-gentrification anti-over-development asset in the City Council. And given the rather physically explosive nature of at least one of her key backers, I do not think Ms. Rose should be in the City Council. Should she however shed people like the rather warlike "peace" activist David Jones, she might be a good candidate to replace the really bad State Assemblyman Matthew Titone, who occupies a seat in a body where the ethical standards are lower than those in the City Council.

I have been a member of the First Central Baptist Church, led by Rev. Demetrius S. Carolina, Sr. for several months. Rev. Carolina and I have become friends. I have supported him personally and in UP FRONT News in connection with his efforts with respect to the Jena 6 issue, the police abduction of a black teenager in Staten Island and other issues. I am a regular at his servcies and at his really interesting Bible classes.

Rev. Carolina has been of major assistance and support to me politically in my dealings with the fundamentally inept and negligent Democratic Party machine politician Titone, who is now facing possible criminal charges for his involvement in helping the New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau cover up the neo-fascist Geoffrey Blank's involvement in a series of politically motivated violent crimes against me.

Some months ago, during one of our many meetings, Rev. Carolina suggested the possibility of a Social Action Committee at the church. When I offered to serve as the volunteer coordinator, he said "It's yours." My main activities in that regard have been to extend an invitation to Barack Obama to visit FCBC at some point and to liaison with community groups and agencies such as Workforce1.

For months, as Rev. Carolina is aware, I have reached out to various people connected with the S.I. Unitarian Church and PASI. At the time, other than perhaps some awareness of FCBC via the Debi Rose-linked David Jones, whose wife Sally is perhaps the most media-visible PASI person, there was almost no PASI awareness of FCBC and Rev. Carolina. I suggested some PASI response reachout, presumably through me, to the church.

And so it came as a surprise to me when there was an announcement that there would be a PASI event at FCBC. It also turned out that the arrangements, apparently made in Dick Cheney-style secrecy between Sally Jones and an FCBC staffer, Min. Helen Holt-Vasquez (who nearly screwed up appointments at FCBC involving myelf, Rev. Carolina and Assemblyman Titone), created a schedule conflict for the church.

When I discussed this with Rev. Carolina one evening after Bible class, he asked me to try to help and resolve it. Rev. Carolina had made it previously known in an e-mail to me that PASI would be better off going to Borough Hall for more visibility. Nonetheless I received a reschedule assistance request from activist Bill Johnsen, who often participates in PASI events. He told me that Sally Jones was handling the arrangements and, since I was unable to locate her e-mail address and did not have her phone number, it was necessary for Mr. Johnsen, who does not use e-mail, to contact her.

Some days later on a Friday evening, while both Mr. Johnsen and I coincidentally were at the same event at the Everything Goes Bookstore Cafe in Staten Island, I got a call from Ms. Jones who asked me to arrange a rescheduling. I told her that, in my capacity both a member of the FCBC and as its Social Action Coordinator (a volunteer position), I would need an e-mail from her, which she somewhat reluctantly agreed to send.

Upon receipt of her e-mail I so informed Rev. Carolina. The scheduling was, however, apparently left to Min. Vasquez. The event was scheduled for April 5 in the FCBC parking lot. From Ms. Jones, a peace activist who definitely needs to learn the meaning of the words "thank you", there was nothing. A few days before the event I was among a bunch of people who received an announcement from Mary Campbell, the post-Marjorie Ramos Coordinator of the Social Concerns Committee of the Staten Island Unitarian Church.

As far as Min. Vasquez is concerned, I was (again) left out of the loop. Indeed, just before what became a confrontation at the peace event, Larry Beslow, an FCBC member and member of Community Board 1 in S.I. and an apparent Debi Rose supporter, smilingly told me when I told him about Vasquez' pattern of loop-exclusion, "She does that to everyone."

I think that Rev. Carolina is a great minister and a great civil rights leader but that he needs to address the Vasquez problem (and some others) in his church.

Why Ms. Vasquez was present when some weeks ago I did a internet talk show telephone interview in which Rev. Carolina participated, an interview that focused on the "left" menace of the fascists Lyndon H. LaRouche and Lenora Fulani, I am not certain but I had no grounds to object.

The PASI announcement listed as speakers only Rev. Carolina and a PASI favorite, Democratic congressional candidate Stephen Harrison. I've met Mr. Harrison and in fact voted for him when he ran against Cheney's man in New York U.S. Congressman Vito Fossella in 2006. In a year of a Democratic Party landslide in congressional elections, Harrison was decisively defeated by the Republican Fossella.

Harrison certainly has every right to run. (After all Lyndon LaRouche has run for president almost as often as Harold Stassen.) There is however another Democratic candidate, New York City Councilman Dominic Recchia, who happens to be an acquaintance of Rev. Carolina and of me. And so, since the event was open to the public, I contacted Mr. Recchia's campaign office where, based on my conversation with a campaign worker, it was apparent that he had not been notified of the event. They asked me for the information by fax and I later sent Mr. Recchia an e-mail.

On April 5 I got to the church early and learned from a typically sullen Vasquez that Rev. Carolina had an "emergency." When I asked her if he would be present for the event, she hesitated before saying "no."

I also spoke to John Lawrence, the president of PASI, who clearly had also been kept out of the scheduling loop and he apologized to me. When I approached Ms. Jones and very politely asked her about the non-invitation to Mr. Recchia at first she only smiled but did not respond. As some other PASI people were setting up for what, except for the anti-War signs, could have been a New York Jet tailgate party, I asked her again, suggesting that, in the interests of fairness, all candidates should have been invited. She then tugged me on my arm and explained that Mr. Recchia had not been "involved" in the anti-War movement and that he had failed to respond to a questionaire they had sent him. My response was that, certainly in light of Mr. Recchia's candidacy (as far as I am aware Mr. Recchia is a progressive Democrat) he should have been invited. I also expressed my view that Mr. Recchia, who chairs the City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations that is considering Councilman Tony Avella's Tom Weiss-initiated Resolution #1299 that cites the Chinese Communist Genocide in Tibet and calls for the removal of the 2008 Olympic Games from China, has a better chance of unseating the reactionary Fossella.

By the way, should Fossella manage to purchase another term, State Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer - who has more integrity in her pinky that Titone has in his entire being - has expressed to me the intention of running in 2010.

As I was discussing the scheduling and selective speaker games with several FCBC people and other acquaintances, churchperson Marilyn Averett began tugging away at me as she has on a number of occasions. Ms. Averett, a regular at Rev. Carolina's often exuberant services, from which one can hear the rock 'n' roll-infused gospel in the Stapleton streets, seems to regard herself as Rev. Carolina's self-appointed bodyguard. On several occasions, to the annoyance of not only myself but also some others at the church, she has physically tried to sort of block my way to Rev. Carolina. I've been going to (mostly African-American) churches for decades (I am a member of the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Flushing Queens pastored for many years by Rev. Martin Luther King's friend Rev. Timothy P. Mitchell) and I know how to behave with ministers - as well as rabbis and Buddhist monks such as the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Ms. Averett apparently also doesn't seem to think that Rev. Carolina knows his limits. Rev. Carolina, like Rev. Mitchell, whom I got to know personally, is a very direct man and knows his limits. I don't think he needs Min. Vasquez and/or Ms. Averett to protect him from me. David Jones, however, is another matter entirely.

Ms. Averett, who ironically placed herself in the role of a surrogate Jewish mother with incessant warnings to me to behave, then took it upon herself to show me a copy of the speaker's list (a Geoffrey Blank-style controlled roster) and told me that I would not be speaking. By that time, I had already concluded that the entire event was a farce and decided to stay on Wright St., outside the parking lot in First Amedment-protected territory. Since Rev. Carolina had made it clear to me in previous e-mails that FBCB was in no way
involved in the selection of speakers, Averett was exceeding her authority.

I told Ms. Averett that, in my view, PASI had disrespected FCBC and I planned to report as much in UP FRONT News. Ms. Averett not only apparently considers herself to be the Vice-Pastor, she apparently regards herself as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and announced to me that I could not mention the church in my newspaper. That is a Geoffrey Blank/Lenora Fulani/Lyndon LaRouche/Dick Cheney interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. I told her that I would print what saw fit.

At that point the aforementioned Larry Beslow exploded and began issuing warnings that soon took on the tone of threats. When he became quite verbally abusive, as my friend Roman Shusterman of the No Police State Coalition arrived, I backed away. I told Beslow that just because he is a member of the Community Board, he had no right to be abusive and to threaten me. He continued and so I made a comment critical of Michael Bloomberg, who in fact controls the Community Boards, which in most cases have done little to stop the rampant overdevelopment and gentrification in working class neighborhoods throughout New York. Read UP FRONT News at and my coverage of the battles on the Lower East Side (Manhattan Community Board 3) and the efforts of people like musician/activist Rebecca Moore and tenants right activist Monte Schapiro to save their neighborhood from crane accidents and the related depradations of Trump, Extell/Carlyle, Benjamin Shaoul, Bloomberg, Quinn & Co.

When I made the comment about Bloomberg, Baptist Beslow went Ballisitic waving his arms and saying something like he would "Bloomberg" me. I don't think Beslow was implying that he was going to give me one of the mayor's myriad PIN numbers.

As I backed away, David Jones, eyeing me like Satan, could be seen advancing menacingly in my direction as I crossed to the north side of Wright Street, where Mr. Shusterman was. Ms. Averett, finally doing something positive, had to restrain Mr. Jones.

As I told Roman of my plans to make a polce complaint, who should show up on the corner of Wright St. and Van Duzer St. but a NYPD vehicle from the 120th precinct. I asked Ms. Averett if she had called he cups and she, with the guiltiest look I've seen since Paris Hilton was on her way to jail and faux redemption, said she had. She may have been correct in calling the cops but since it was Larry Beslow and David Jones who committed the offenses she was directing her complaint against the wrong person. The police handled matters far better than did Ms. Averett and for certain Min. Vasquez. Before I left I made certain that they were made aware of the identities of those making criminal threats against me.

It is clear that the phonies in PASI are interested in parasiting their way into FCBC and that they have some help from a person, Min. Vasquez, who has been consistently hostile to me (in ways that Rev. Carolina doesn't even know yet) and that they are trying to seprate me from my church.

I have made this matter known to, among others (e.g. at Community Board 1 and to Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro), Rev. Dr. Tony Baker, Sr., Pastor of the St. Phil-lips Baptist Church in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Staten Island. Rev. Baker, a close friend of Rev. Carolina, is a candidate for the New York City Council and, as far as I am able to determine, much more qualified than Ms. Rose. (With someone like David Jones as her Chief of Staff, the citizens of the north shore of Staten Island could find ourselves losing the anti-gentrification battles and with a Chief of Staff who acts like another legendary Chief of Staff, "Scooter" Libby, who used to run things for Dick Cheney.)

If Vasquez, Jones and some other want to run me out of FCBC, as they are clearly attempting to do, that is a problem that Rev. Carolina, who arrived at the peace rally after I left, will have to resolve.

The problems presented by Beslow and Jones however will be addressed in UP FRONT News and perhaps by law enforcement.
* * * * * * *

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home