Our President-elect has to sift through a large number of candidates to populate his staff. Are Klien and Kelly really the best options? (39972)

“Dear President-elect, if you’re thinking about appointing either Police Commissioner Ray Kelly or Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to Homeland Security and [as] the secretary of education, respectively– DON’T! If you’re thinking about it–PLEASE DON’T!” So implored New York City Councilman Charles Barron regarding the quietly floated notion that the above might happen. Seems like the rumors are being whispered about in dimly lit rooms and in conferences of one or two persons. Those that know ain’t talking, and those who are talking are–well…talking. But no one official is going on record. A reliable source in the police department noted, however, that folk should not be surprised if Kelly emerges to be top cop–the position almost grabbed by Giuliani’s now disgraced former commissioner Bernie Kerik.

Terse “no comments” were issued from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office, the DOE and NYPD.

“Why didn’t they just say, ‘No, of course not’?” asked Barron rhetorically. “Both Klein and Kelly have failed the people of New York City in the area of education and community policing,” charged Barron. “Kelly has turned the city into a police state and has justified every police killing–even if was 50 bullets shot at an unarmed groom, Sean Bell. It is ironic that this should be an issue on the eve of the second anniversary of that young man’s death. And Klein is just under-qualifed–he is not even an educator. They had to waiver his lack of credentials to get him in. He has turned our schools into test-taking mills. And he has failed our children in science and arts and technology.

Pres. Barack, it would be a great disservice to the city and the nation to elevate these two characters to head of Homeland Security and education secretary. Don’t do it Barack.” Those considering Klein for the position, however, tout the former Washington lawyer’s six-year stint as chancellor of New York’s Department of Education, the country’s largest public school system. Rev. Al Sharpton, who is working with Klein with the Education Equality Project, declined a request to comment on the Obama team speculation. While he wouldn’t respond to an AmNews inquiry, Klein is quoted in published reports as saying that he didn’t want to comment so as not to appear “presumptuous.”

Viola Plummer, co-founder of the December 12th Movement and Barron’s chief of staff declared, “Klein– absolutely not. Joe Klein is not an educator. He is a prosecutor, a failed businessman who has turned the Department of Education into another failing capitalist venture.”

With equal gusto, she slammed Kelly as “pro-rendition, locally–in that when they pick someone up, they move them from different precincts, so no one looking for them knows where they are– that’s local, so you can imagine what he’d do on a national level. Kelly never takes a position on that phrase called ‘excessive force.’ With him, there’s always an explanation for police use of excessive force. “He was also paramount in secretly using surveillance on legally protected rights to assemble and demonstrate. He exploited the Handschu consent decree, and when he was caught, the American Civil Liberties Union sued them. Last year, they secretly stopped the surveillance because they didn’t want the court to say what they were doing was illegal.

“Kelly believes in extraordinary rendition and that countless Black men shoot themselves in the back, hang themselves, beat themselves with night sticks, etc. No, we don’t want Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and we don’t want Chancellor Joel Klein anywhere near President Obama’s cabinet.”

Word on the street, the Net and other places is that former New York Police Commish William Bratton (appointed under Mayor Rudy Giuliani) also wanted to be considered by President-elect Obama’s transition team for Homeland Security. Meanwhile, Kelly supporters point to his experience in not only being police commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but his time running U.S. Customs during the President Bill Clinton administration.

Bloomberg’s office said, “We decline comment.” David Cantor from the Department of Education said the same, as did the press office of the NYPD.

Retired Detective Marquez Claxton however, did not mince his words. “The vetting process should effectively eliminate Ray Kelly from consideration. Starting with his complete failure to reform the Haitian Police Depart- ment, followed by his lackluster performance as U.S. Treasury undersecretary, followed by the numerous employee discrimination and racial profiling lawsuits that were filed during his tenure as U.S. Customs Commissioner, to the segregated power structure and the excessive stop and frisks of innocent muted response to the killings of unarmed individuals during this current Ray Kelly NYPD administration, Ray Kelly shouldn’t be on anyone’s short list for appointment.” The Queens native, who is planning to run for City Council next year, added, “If the Ray Kelly apologists, promoters and cheerleaders examined his actual record, they would see that his successful crime-fighter tag is more spin and public relations than anything else. Additionally, Ray Kelly has publicly expressed disdain for federal law enforcement agencies and his overzealous self-promotion has strained relationships between the NYPD and the federal authorities.”