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The InTowner
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We’ve been troubled over the past several months, as have so many residents around the city, by what seems to be a pattern of our mayor being seriously insensitive to how his conduct has been undermining the voters trust in his judgment. Maybe if he didn’t insist on so much inner-sanctum secrecy of the evil Dick Cheney variety and maybe if he put more distance between himself and his Attorney General (the “A.G.”) — and it is his A.G., not ours — who counsels secrecy as the way to rule the people, we might be less inclined to view the mayor negatively.

What brings to a head with us this line of thought at this time is the much publicized recent report that we believe justifiably activated, or should have activated, municipal alarm bells.

We refer to the allegedly “private” family vacation trip last month to Qatar, one of those over-the-top Persian Gulf sheikdoms. The mayor tried to keep it a secret that the sheik paid his way and made sure he had a grand time on the Arab oil money dime. We have been told he discussed “business” while there, but it completely eludes us what kind of business would be relevant. Is the city hoping to glom on to a lucrative oil lease or maybe get the sheik to open a gas station downtown? (Remember when Mayor Barry made an “official” visit to West Africa, called it a trade mission and reported back that we were going to get some poultry business, or something of the sort, to open here as a result?)

But what troubles us the most about his excursion to visit with the sheik’s buddies is not that he used public funds for the trip (which we are told he did not, and we take him at his word), but that as the representative of our city — which happens also to be the nation’s capital — he allowed himself to be the sheik’s guest at a prestigious international tennis match from which an Israeli player was barred because he was Jewish! That the sheik later allowed an Israeli woman player to compete does not make the initial refusal any less egregious.

Further, this is the same sheikdom that participated in the recent, Arab League summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that welcomed with open arms and plaudits all around of the Butcher of Sudan — that country’s monstrous president responsible for hundreds of thousands of his citizens slaughtered in Darfur and now the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity — a warrant the sheik and his compatriot sheiks of the UAE contemptibly refuse to acknowledge.

This is a country leader our mayor agreeably took money from and attended a tennis match that excluded a Jewish sportsman from competing because of his religion and yet never denounced the exclusion. He should have packed up his bags and gotten on the first flight out. But, no, he stayed on, had a good time and later issued some namby-pamby statement that what happened was regrettable, or wishy-washy words to that effect. Shame on you.