The last time I wrote about Charlie Rangel (D-NY), he was standing in the bowels of Congress shedding tears as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) read House Resolution 1737, which resolved he be censured.
Censure was his penalty for cheating the U.S. tax code which, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — and prior to that, as the ranking minority member — he had helped write. From the wailing and gnashing of teeth taking place that day, one would have thought that Rangel was actually receiving a penalty commensurate with the crimes he had committed. In the end, the punishment for his crimes was to have a 91-word paragraph read to him, out loud, before the House of Representatives.
But alas, like every good politician, Charlie quickly recovered and was back in with the mainstream media and hobnobbing in elite public circles. Behind him were the concerns that an average person would have had if Congress found them guilty of hiding income and assets, among other crimes.
Today, Rangel is busy doing whatever it is he does in Congress: attacking Republicans, attending O’Jays concerts, and giving awards to Dionne Warwick. He is also receiving his own awards — not for being a truthful, honest, diligent representative of the people — but for his support of national parks. Rangel received the “Friends of the National Parks Award” from the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in mid-July.
On the surface, this may seem like no big deal, but I submit it is a darn big deal. Rangel has represented New York’s 15th Congressional District — which includes Harlem, Spanish Harlem, and Washington Heights — since 1971. He is the third longest serving congressman in the House, and yet today, to hear him and his constituency tell it, they’re no better off. They’re still plagued by racism, poverty, unemployment, poorly performing schools, drugs, and crime — every day.