New York City has some bizarre ways to spend money but this one is really cool: $5,000 to a professor of etymology.
“One of the main things we said to the Council lady was we needed money to assist in teachers’ payments, and our library books and school supplies,” said Lynval Samuels, 56. “We didn’t know we were getting the money.”
Samuels has been a fixture at Union St. and Utica Ave. for years, neighbors said – stopping traffic, splattering paint on parking meters and fire hydrants, and handing out flyers for his self-styled etymology classes.
But Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D-Brooklyn) calls him “a fine king” and an asset to the neighborhood – earmarking $5,000 for him in the city budget and letting him teach in her nearby office on Saturdays.
“He’s educating people and showing love, peace,” Mealy said. “I thank God he’s in the community, and I stand firmly with his program.”
The money has not been transferred yet, pending a review by the mayor’s office of contract services – but Mealy said he’s worth it. “I should have gave him more,” she said.
Samuels prefers to go by the name Dr. Bidi XiLi Bey, and hands out flyers for classes at what he calls the QidaMaWi HaYeLe SeLaSe Supreme Regal Lodge – using the erratic capitalization because “some letters are positive and some are negative.”
Crown Heights residents feel the same about Samuels. Some greet him by raising their left hands and saying “beloved.” Others stay away.
Think about this: under penalty of law and the threat of imprisonment someone’s pay is forcibly taken from him and “redistributed” to this chuckle head. When you hear from a politician that a state’s budget has been cut to the bone, you might reflect on Dr. Bidi XiLi Bey and his friends.