Recently Mayor Lutfur Rahman blew tens of thousands of pounds on a longshot attempt to save himself from humiliation.
Despite a High Court judge telling him that his claim against communities secretary Eric Pickles was “hopeless” he still opted for a second hearing.
Why not? It was free. What is £50,000 when millions comes rolling in the door from taxpayers.
Selling Poplar Old Town Hall, a building worth well north of a million, for just £875,000 is just a hiccup, not a crime, right? Who can miss millions that never existed?
Such sums are so large they cease to have any meaning for people on normal salaries.
Young Hamza Begum, who is profoundly deaf, makes those figures meaningful.
As his mother Husna, pictured, says without council support part of his support network – Overland Children’s Centre – might close.
These are not abstract figures on Excel spreadsheets, shifted between columns on a whim, they are the answer to the mundane, everyday travails of people trying to raise their families against formidable odds.
The missing money from Poplar Old Town Hall is not an abstract weapon in a political battle fought through semantics and small print. They are someone’s life made harder or someone’s life made easier.
That’s what this money means. A helping hand. A sense of security. A worry eased. This is what a mayor can do. He can be a hero to Hamza.
Forget the talk of £100million of Government cuts. Of course it’s tough but it’s too convenient to point the finger elsewhere when the council regime seems wholly focussed on its own perpetuation.
This is simply a matter of will and a matter of choice.
Lutfur Rahman, if he so wished, could save Overland. He could rally the council. He could devote the money and the energy he normally expends on himself and fight for the people he represents. That would be a purpose worthy of a mayor.
The choice is this. Do we pay taxes so Lutfur Rahman can fill the coffers of a QC or do we pay taxes so little Hamza Begum can learn to engage with the world around him?
Isn’t Hamza facing enough obstacles in his young life without coming up against a mayor bunkered and blinkered by crisis?
Sure, there are many good causes but surely the base level, bottom line, this-far-and-no-further quality of any progressive society is measured in the support it gives to vulnerable and disabled children.
If not them, then who else? If not them, what’s the point at all?