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Barron vows fight after being ousted as committee chair

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:32 p.m.
Barron vows fight after being ousted as committee chair

Brooklyn City Council Member Charles Barron didn't hold his tongue when he was ousted by the Council as chair of the Higher Education Committee last Thursday.

He didn't shy from calling the move "racist" and chastising Speaker Christine Quinn for making the recommendation. The City Council voted 47 to 1 to strip Barron of the chairmanship he's held since 2002.

The only vote for Barron to remain chair was one from himself.

Newly elected Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez from Washington Heights will take over the position. Several Black members were reportedly approached to take the job but turned it down.

Quinn explained that Barron was not a "unifying force" on the City Council and that he didn't deserve to be chair.

Shortly before Thursday's vote, Barron held a press conference on the steps of City Hall to discuss the governor's recent State of the State Address but also discussed the vote. Barron said he received word about the recommendation from his chief of staff.

"Nobody has been a more divisive council speaker than Christine Quinn," he said. "The bottom line is that you should be judged by your effectiveness as a chair, and as chair of CUNY, I have had 80 hearings in the last eight years."

Barron continued by highlighting his achievements as Higher Education Chair, including making a deal with book retailer Barnes and Noble to rent textbooks at a cost of 42 percent less and securing $56 million for the Peter Valone Scholarship, $600 million for fiscal capital money for repairs and $2.5 million for a Black male initiative.

Earlier this month, Barron challenged Quinn for the City Council speaker position, citing that since the Council is now a majority of people of color, he should have the job. Barron received no votes for his bid as speaker, with Quinn remaining at the post.

Barron believes that the move comes after a highly publicized incident last month where he and City University of New York trustee Jeffery Wiesenfeld got into a shouting match during a groundbreaking ceremony at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Last month, the organization Democracy Now, who supports Wiesenfeld, announced on its website that it was assured that there would be "restructure" in the City Council's committee chairs. At the time, Quinn's office claimed they had not made any decisions about any chairmanships.

"This is racist," Barron said. "I was interrupted by a racist fool. This is a man who called Black people 'savages,' and he's a Jew himself and he called the Hasidic Jews 'thieves.'"

Barron continued on by saying that he will still fight for CUNY students and plans to buy a gavel and will continue to chair hearings anyhow. Barron also plans to meet with lawyers to see if there is a basis for a possible lawsuit.

"There has never been a better chair in the CUNY system than Charles Barron," he said. "This shows that she is vindictive, she is punitive, she's a dictator and anybody that stands up and runs against her, she will try to do this. But this is not a punishment for me, I'm going to speak out anyway."