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July 25, 2008 / Brooklyn news / Politics / The Politicrasher

Kevin on the couch

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Is running for Congress the new therapy?

It seems like it is for House hopeful Kevin Powell, who this morning invited reporters to breakfast at Juniors and spent the vast majority of time discussing his very-human flaws and how he works every day to overcome them.

It was like watching a fallen celeb on Oprah’s couch — except Juniors has better onion rolls.

The official purpose of the press event was to refute a recent mean-spirited column by Errol Louis in the Daily News — no, refute is too vague: try deconstruct every point Louis made line-by-line.

Never mind that the Louis column is being debated in the 10th congressional district about as much as the status of the Seattle Mariners manager, Powell took time out of what should be a backbreaking schedule just five weeks from the Sept. 9 primary to make Louis’s column on him a central issue in his campaign against 25-year incumbent Ed Towns.

Recouping every penny of his self-professed 20 years in therapy, Powell described how hurt he was the Louis would rehash Powell’s history of violence, given all the hard work he has done to vanish those violent and sexist demons.

“Anyone who knows me,” said Powell, “knows that I deeply believe now in non-violence.”

And he took umbrage at Louis for bringing up the past when Powell has “been transparent and accountable for everything I’ve done in my life” -- including the violent episodes in the early 1990s and again in 2004.

He has indeed been open: bringing up his violent past, his loveless childhood, his efforts to, as he put it, “make my life story an example against violence.”

And this campaign, even more so than his truncated run two years ago, has given him the opportunity to experiment with group therapy.

The problem is that you, dear voter, are the group.

After about a half hour of listening to Powell calmly pick apart every point in Louis’s column, Politicrasher could not help but wonder why bother. After all, at long last, why hold a press conference to refute a column no one read in the first place? Errol Louis is not Citizen Kane (you provide the prose poem, he’ll provide the bore) so why summon the media if the only message you want to put out is that you’re a far different man than the one who no one ever heard of in the first place?

The good news is that Powell’s therapy sessions never devolve to self-aggrandizement. He knows he’s not perfect; in fact, he admits it. “I know I’m going to make mistakes, but they will be new mistakes, not the same three things that have brought down male leaders for years: sex, money or violence.”

That’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t make for a good campaign slogan (“Kevin Powell: New Leadership, New Mistakes”) but it sure beats the other one that came out of the Junior’s dining room (“Kevin Powell: My Therapy is Working!”).

Of course, the only thing worse than covering Powell’s “mea culpas” (or, more accurately, his “mea meas”) is trying to find something at all to cover with moldy old Ed Towns. Note to Towns staff: the boss has been in congress since Reagan was president and the best you’ve got is a press conference on the digital cable switchover next year? Twenty-five years in Congress yet still on a back bench?

Now that the past is behind him — “I forgive Mr. Louis,” Powell said on Friday — the candidate says he will now start picking apart Towns’s record of missed votes, bad votes and non-votes.

Hell also keep up his campaign to, as he put it, “create new definitions of manhood.”

Here’s Politicras­her’s advice: The district could use a bit more of the first kind therapy and a bit less of the latter.

Wherever there is a smoke-filled backroom or a smoke-free barroom, The Brooklyn Paper’s Politicrasher will be there, bringing you the inside dope on our next generation of leaders. Got a hot tip for the Politicrasher? E-mail Newsroom@BrooklynPaper.com.
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Reader Feedback

M from Downtown says:
Powell is 42, his last violent episode of record was in 2004 at 38... This isn't like he was a kid and made one mistake, he was a 38 year old man. This doesn't seem like someone who has really had a heart change but instead someone who has spruced up his image to try and amass as much fame as he possibly can. I think we should stick with Towns, he might not be a political hot shot or big boss of Washington but he is consistent and gets the job done. He has helped improve this city and thats more than a lot in congress can say.
July 25, 2008, 5:12 pm
JD from Ft. Greene says:
Like every abuser, Powell keeps coming back with a good story, begging for another chance and swearing this time will be different. He's been doing it for 20 years, and it seems there are always enablers there to tell him he's forgiven and everything will be okay and different this time.

He looks, sounds and acts like a kook not a congressman.
July 25, 2008, 9:12 pm
AIR from Fort Greene says:
I agree -- it takes a lot of time and experience to gain seniority in Congress -- I have friends from college who work down there and they say it's practically impossible to get things done when you are new. I guess that doesn't say much for the political process but it's reality. Plus I've heard about some good things Towns has gotten money for in Brooklyn - hospitals, schools, prison re-entry programs for offenders. Maybe Towns isn't a flashy in-the-limelight kind of guy like some other people in congress but that doesn't mean he's not doing important work. I think it's important we learn more about this Powell guy before we elect someone with no experience to Congress.
July 25, 2008, 11:53 pm
Rutgers from Ex Fort Greene says:
I am writing because I am one of the victims of Kevin Powell at Rutgers and can say that he has not been forthright about the level or amount of violence that he directed at women and men.
I have watched in the Real World to Vibe to current run for Congress and if he had been truly honest about what has done I would not feel compelled to write to this blog. Although he has spoken frequently about the famous knife incident at Rutgers that got expelled he fails to mention the many documented violent encounters with several female students as well as male that preceded it.
This is not about hurting Kevin, but rather preventing him from hurting someone else. The Congressmen in DC hold a special cache in DC, and given his poor decision making over the last 20 years (you should see the photo of the bite mark he left on the gentleman he bit in 2004), placing him in a position of power, where he would be exposed to vulnerable young women.
As an ex resident of Fort Greene I understand the desire to get rid of Towns, however it would be doing your readers a grave disservice if you wrote off legitimate concerns about Kevin, especially when domestic violence is a very serious problem that does not get discussed enough in the African- American community.
July 29, 2008, 11:12 pm
Rutgers from Ex Fort Greene says:
I am writing because I am one of the victims of Kevin Powell at Rutgers and can say that he has not been forthright about the level or amount of violence that he directed at women and men.
I have watched in the Real World to Vibe to current run for Congress and if he had been truly honest about what has done I would not feel compelled to write to this blog. Although he has spoken frequently about the famous knife incident at Rutgers that got expelled he fails to mention the many documented violent encounters with several female students as well as male that preceded it.
This is not about hurting Kevin, but rather preventing him from hurting someone else. The Congressmen in DC hold a special cache in DC, and given his poor decision making over the last 20 years (you should see the photo of the bite mark he left on the gentleman he bit in 2004), placing him in a position of power, where he would be exposed to vulnerable young women.
As an ex resident of Fort Greene I understand the desire to get rid of Towns, however it would be doing your readers a grave disservice if you wrote off legitimate concerns about Kevin, especially when domestic violence is a very serious problem that does not get discussed enough in the African- American community.
July 30, 2008, 3:20 pm
Towns stinks but Powell hurts from Clinton Hill says:
I know first hand, having worked in DC, that Ed Towns is a terrible, terrible politician and is owned by special interests such as the oil and pharmaceutical industries. He is terrible and should be ousted ASAP. Yet, for all of my disgust with his behavior (he voted for CAFTA after a very powerful Republican lobbyist graced his office) Kevin Powell should not be his replacement. Kevin's judgement is poor, than I know personally as well. His interactions with women are still disgraceful and desrespectful, and downright weird sometimes. Let's find a better alternative than either of these men offer.
Aug. 2, 2008, 3:16 am
So Why? says:
So why is he back by women's groups?
Aug. 3, 2008, 5:57 pm
rutgersalum says:
I am tired of hearing about Kevin Powell. He may talk a pretty good game, but this is a man that was violent and short-tempered while at Rutgers. My good friend had the misfortune to live in him dorm. One night, Kevin felt he had been disrespected by my friend (later proven to be a misidentification). Kevin gathered his followers and beat down his dorm room door. My friend was literally afraid for his life, causing him to jump out his second story dorm window, not returning for a week.

He can write all the books he wants, hold press conferences, but his history speaks for itself. If you don't believe me, just watch the Real World First Season and you will get a good idea of the real Kevin.
Aug. 5, 2008, 1:20 pm

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