[From Frank Brenner] Stones and Fleas
I write in response to Diana Hamilton’s appalling denigration of a former Mayor, whom she characterizes as “most times intellectually honest.” She questions his honesty because he condemns Michael Barfield’s parasitic pursuit of possible Sunshine Law violations against the City, a pursuit she wholeheartedly endorses.
The past is prologue. Lest Ms. Hamilton not have a full picture of Barfield’s unsavory past, let me help her. He has been convicted of 68 (not a typo) crimes, none of which include Aggravated Jaywalking. They do include forging checks, using stolen credit cards and conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury before a federal Grand Jury, for which he received a 10-year prison sentence. The federal judge who incarcerated him labeled him “a con man’s con man.”
Ms. Hamilton asserts that a former Mayor’s condemnation of Mr. Barfield’s endeavors is “an asinine disregard of the truth.” She finds Barfield’s unsavory background irrelevant to his present motivation and conduct. They pass her sub-standard “smell test” because, irrespective of his extensive criminal record, he is, she points out, “a husband and a father” and “a representative in excellent standing of the ACLU.” I ask her, Is “husband and father” the best you can do to neutralize his past, render him credible and worthy of public acceptance? Are you aware that the ACLU, like the Book-of-the-Month Club, does not impose moral standards as a prerequisite for membership?
Ms. Hamilton’s less than penetrating analysis of a plague on the City is biblically captioned “The First Stone.” This, of course, implies that those who find Mr. Barfield’s conduct distasteful should, nonetheless, refrain from criticism for they, themselves, are sinners. Well, I for one, under the circumstances, have no hesitation in casting any number of well-deserved stones.
Finally, in response to Ms. Hamilton’s conclusion that “I for one am beginning to appreciate and like Michael Barfield more and more,” I caution her, with like biblical reference, that “she who lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.”
Frank Brenner served in Manhattan as an assistant district attorney, criminal court judge and criminal defense lawyer. This column was in response to the “The First Stone” column in the Dec. 7 edition of SRQ Daily