Young's constituents divided on senator's fate Some believe legislator victim of double standard

Ethics Probe Of Senator Young

January 14, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

It's about 10 a.m. and Waymon Le Fall is making his first cuts of the day at his barbershop in West Baltimore.

Le Fall's shop, at the corner of Edmondson Avenue and Bruce Street, is a hub for talk about everything social, religious and political.

Yesterday was typical and the topic was hot -- the recommendation of the General Assembly's ethics committee to strip state Sen. Larry Young of virtually all his legislative influence and for the Senate to call a vote for his expulsion.

While opinions varied throughout the city and the state about the senator and the allegations -- some firmly in support of Young, others glad to see the senator under scrutiny -- those at Le Fall's barbershop, which is located in Young's 44th District, made their positions clear.

"What do you think about the Larry Young situation?" Le Fall asked customer James Johnson as he walked into the four-chair barbershop and shoe-repair business operated by Le Fall and an apprentice.

"Larry Young got too caught up," said the 39-year Baltimore resident, who lives in Young's district. "Larry Young should have been out of there a long time ago. He's calling himself helping the poor. I haven't seen anything he's done for me."

Le Fall, who has lived and operated his shop in Young's district for the past 10 years, paused between scissors snips to inject his opinion: "It's a sad day in Annapolis for Larry, but it's only the will of the Lord."

"Did you hear Cathy Hughes this morning?" asked William Butler Jr., 53, sitting in the chair under Le Fall's hand. Butler then played a tape of the speech made yesterday morning by the co-owner of Radio One Inc. in support of Young.

During the broadcast, Hughes said that she would return $500,000 that her radio operations received from the state's Sunny Day Fund because of the move to oust Young from the Senate. Hughes said she was tired of attacks on African-American politicians.

When the tape ended, Le Fall still held firm to his criticism of Young.

"If the people of Baltimore are fools enough to put him back in his position, they deserve whatever they get," Le Fall said.

But as Le Fall and his customers were praising the ethics committee's decision, others in Young's district were condemning it.

"He did a whole lot of good," said 50-year-old Butch Jones, while he folded clothes for an elderly woman at the Soap Suds laundry on Edmondson Avenue, a block from the barbershop. "I don't think he should resign."

Then a woman at the laundry who didn't want to give her name shouted, "He ain't the only one crooked," adding fuel to Jones' argument.

"If you're going to clean out the bathroom, clean the whole house," Jones said.

Mijiza Dorsey, who lives in the Mondawmin area of Young's district and sells trinkets at the Lexington Market through her business, Mijiza's Creations, said she wasn't convinced that the ethics committee carefully considered all the facts concerning Young. She said it seemed that he and other African-American officials are held to a higher standard than other officials.

"There's always a double standard," Dorsey said. "They're going to always look at you and how you conduct business."

Back at the barbershop, Le Fall was shaking his head. He said he's heard the arguments in support of Young and he isn't impressed.

Every time he looks out his barbershop windows, he said, he becomes frustrated with Young and other politicians who seem more interested in helping themselves than the community.

"It's like you're out here on an island," said Le Fall, looking out his shop window. "There are boarded-up buildings around here. You can see rats as big as daylight around here at night."

"You don't have to wait until night," a customer added. Laughter swept the barbershop.

But Le Fall didn't laugh long before continuing. "People are so angry now. It's going to take some good leadership to bring the BTC community back together again."

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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