Friday, July 06, 2007

Democratic Leaders Out of Touch

What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

The Democrats are in a tizzy over the idea that Treasurer Frank O’Leary, a white man, sent a racially insensitive letter to voters the week before the primary election against Bob James, a black man.

However, I haven’t seen in any of the stories, yet (Connection, Sun Gazette), exactly why the flap came after the primary election June 12. The Democratic Leadership has censured O’Leary, and O’Leary has taken his name off the practice Democratic ballot that will be handed out to voters on election day in November. (O’Leary has not dropped his affiliation with the party.) Party leaders then voted to remove his name from the practice ballot (it’s a bit like quitting two minutes after you got fired).

I haven’t seen why the flap is coming now, but I’ll take a guess: because the Democratic Party Leadership didn’t want it to.

According to the Connection:

“Despite being mailed on June 6 to 1,500 North Arlington households, the furor over the letter did not begin to pick up steam until several days later.

Christian Dorsey, leader of the African American Leadership Council of Arlington, said that his group did not become aware of the letter until June 10, two days before the primary.”

Two days. That’s plenty of time to whip up furor. Leaders willingly ignored the letter until after Mr. O’Leary was voted in, maybe they were hoping it would go away as the party fell in behind Mr. O’Leary.

Mary Hines, the long time school board member who is running for County Board as a Democrat, wrote an email on June 13 to Mr. O’Leary saying the letter wasn’t fair play, the Sun Gazette reported. June 13 was the day after the primary. What timing. Mr. O’Leary gets elected, Ms. Hines gets to say she rebuked him. Everyone is happy.

A writer named “Marisol” on the Sun Gazette’s web site chided both the Democrats and the Sun Gazette for not covering minorities and minority issues enough. Among other things, she wrote: “There is hardly any coverage in the Sun Gazette of those of us in lower middle class who are trying to survive in Arlington on $40,000 per year.” I agree. It’s part of why I started this blog. A lot happens in this neighborhood that the Sun Gazette, and the Arlington Connection (a paper I work for), doesn’t cover.

Republican friends of mine wondered why I endorsed County Board Member Chris Zimmerman in the election last fall. For one simple reason: he shows up. Something happens in this neighborhood, and Mr. Zimmerman often shows up. So does County Board Vice Chairman Walter Tejada. People will tell me that’s a stupid reason, and maybe it is, but at least I can bug them when they do show up. The Democratic Party process is so far beyond my reach to affect it, that it’s nice when I can get the ear of a person in power. Maybe I’m fooling myself. Maybe the party is too far gone.

Jay Fissette’s office staff asked me to cease sending the email update of the Buckingham Herald Trib to them back in either September or October, just send it along to the county board email address instead, the staff member told me (where it can quickly be discarded—I know Mr. Fisette’s staff wasn’t reading it there, because they would have known that I was already sending the updates to the general inbox). Mr. Fissette lives just a handful of blocks from Buckingham, and I never see him here. (At the treasurers debate Mr. Fissette told me that Bonnie, his assistant, saved him from a lot of problems. Sorry I’m such a problem.)

I endorsed Mr. O’Leary on this blog, and I’m not going to go back on that. He isn’t the problem as much as is the Democratic Party that is too far out-of-touch with the average Arlingtonian.

The first time in 25 years that O'Leary had any competition and he panics and resorts to stereotyping. Did he honestly think the voters would support someone who did not pay his county taxes on time? What was he thinking?

The real problem that the race issue brings for the Arlington Dems is that many long time black Arlington voters are unhappy with the Dems; they feel neglected as their traditional neighborhoods are shredded by developers. They feel angry because there is no black on the county board, meeting their needs.

The "minority" on the county board is a Latino. And while there are many Latinos living in Arlington, they are not a significant voting block, unlike black voters.

Black voters will and do vote, particularly if they feel abused or neglected. To whom will they turn?

Not to a Republican certainly. But there is Josh Rubner a Green Party candidate and a darned effective one at that.

If I were Mary Hynes, I would be worried. The well oiled machine is about to lose one its wheels.
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