Young's dubious history undermines his defense

December 06, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

THE NASTY, evil white racists at The Sun are at it again.

This week, the paper ran a story suggesting that state Sen. Larry Young was using his office to generate income. Young cried foul, held a news conference to explain his position, barred the two Sun reporters who wrote the story and charged that Sun editors were out to nail him because he's black.

Yessirree, John Carroll, Bill Marimow, Tony Barbieri, Jim Asher and Sheila Dresser just sit around The Sun all day deciding about whom on a long list of black folks they'll write a scurrilous story next.

But absent from Young's list of rampaging white racists were our esteemed rivals at the City Paper. A little more than a month before Scott Higham and Walter Roche's Sun article appeared, the City Paper ran a story that seems to contradict Young's claim that he is not a "devious, dishonest person." According to CP's "The Nose" column:

"State Sen. Larry Young has been crusading against The Sun lately, taking time on his WOLB-AM radio talk show Oct. 4 to accuse a 'new team of folks' on Calvert Street of 'coming after' black politicians. The complaint isn't new, but Young plowed new ground - and tossed discretion to the wind - when he told listeners about a conversation he allegedly had about the matter.

"Young declared on the air [that he had been told by a local judge] that there is 'an editor [at The Sun] who told [the] judge, 'I am going to get that nigger Larry Young.' "

CP said Young claimed the judge was Edgar Silver. CP staff contacted Silver, who denied making the statement. Young apologized on the air to Silver the next week, according to CP, which then went on to list other Young gaffes:

* Mr. Not Devious or Dishonest lied about his education during the 1987 run for City Council president, claiming a degree from Goddard College in Vermont he didn't have.

* An unpaid campaign debt of $55,000 from 1987.

* A 1987 lawsuit involving a traffic accident with an elderly pedestrian in which Young asked police not to mention that his mother was in the car. Young's office helped a drug suspect also in the car "obtain bail release on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of heroin and related paraphernalia."

CP editors then chided Young for not recognizing that the media's job is to keep their eye on the powerful. But Young called no news conference after CP's revelations. He made no charges of racists out to get black politicians. He reserved that honor for The Sun.

WCBM talk show host Les Kinsolving read everything CP's "The Nose" had uncovered about Young on his show. Why didn't The Sun write anything about Young, Kinsolving asked me.

"Les, you know, the minute we do the first charge that's going to be made is that The Sun is racist," I answered.

This past Wednesday, Young came in right on cue, as predicted. The race card was his first refuge. On Thursday, he appeared on the C. Miles show on WOLB radio to plead his case. Miles, ever lacking a sense of proportion, called Higham and Roche "hit men, Baltimore paparazzi." Young charged that Roche was specifically hired to dig up dirt on him. His proof? Somebody told him so. Those of you inclined to believe Young should refer to the incident involving retired Judge Edgar Silver noted above.

What ensued was a two-hour ofay-bashing fest. Miles mentioned that "the federal government spent $50 million to bring [Marion] Barry down and the people overwhelmingly re-elected him. How much will they spend to bring you [Young] down?" Young showed no remorse about being compared favorably to the nation's most infamous crackhead. Instead, he showed that he has a curious memory of events that continue to damage his credibility.

He is a powerful, outspoken black legislator who ruffles feathers, he implied. He challenged the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce for not having any black employees. Then he rehashed the issue of the Confederate flag on the license plates of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

"I attacked some fools who wanted to go around putting Confederate tags on our license plates," Young unashamedly trumpeted. The quote was dishonest and demagogic. Whatever else may be said about the Sons of Confederate Veterans, they are not fools. And they wanted the Confederate flag on their license tags, that they would pay for. They couldn't care less what Young or anybody else had on their tags.

The state Senate will investigate whether Young has acted improperly in office. But Young has shown in this and earlier instances that he is hardly Mr. Credibility. His news conference and radio appearances have been handled badly. A word of advice for the embattled Larry Young:

Senator, get a press agent.

Pub Date: 12/06/97

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