Friday, May 25, 2007

Adam Clayton Powell IV, Harlem's Hero in the NY Assembly

Jacob Gershman, in today's New York Sun, notes that while some New York Assembly members such as Joseph Lentol have sponsored over 100 legislative bills and others, such as Richard Brodsky, have sponsored over 200 in this session alone, Adam Clayton Powell, IV, has sponsored no, zero, bills in the past three years.

Mr. Powell's performance contrasts sharply with that of his grandfather, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (I assume grandfather not only because of the name but also because the photo attached to the article suggests that the acorn didn't fall far from the grandfatherly tree--I've never seen a grandson look more like a grandfather). Wikidpedia notes that Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the first black Congressman from New York, was head of the powerful Education and Labor Committee and a supporter of JFK's "New Freedom" and LBJ's "Great Society" legislation. Wikipedia also notes:

"Powell Jr.'s committee passed a record number of bills for a single session. That record still remains unbroken. As one of the great modern legislators, Powell Jr. would steer some 50 bills through Congress."

In contrast to his grandfather's performance in Congress in passing the most bills, Powell, IV has apparently set a kind of record for the New York State Assembly in proposing the fewest bills.

Between Powell, Jr. and and Powell, IV I think I'd prefer Powell, IV. attributes the quote "No man's life, liberty and property are safe while the legislature is in session" to New York Surrogate Judge Gideon J. Tucker in an 1866 decision. Others, such as Phil Maymin of , John Jerrett of Memorial University of Newfoundland,George Mason's Walter E. Williams, and Jefferson Review attribute the quote to Mark Twain. In any case, perhaps we owe a vote of thanks to Adam Clayton Powell, IV for reminding us that the government is best that governs least. Was it Socrates who said that?

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