And Get RUTHLESS!
by Chris Stevenson
Mayor Trouble? Call Washington. Not the White house, the ‘hood. Washington DC may no longer be “Chocolate City” anymore, but it’s still caramel-enough to send an ego-deflating message to former Mayor Adrian Fenty; Get Lost! Fenty-like many of today’s so-called “new black leaders” thought he could ignore his black voting base and just make white concerns look important.
If Fenty understood the history of DC’s voting blacks, he would have listened to them more often. When blacks in the nation’s Capitol smell a rat, they make their presence known to white DC. This happened in ’94 when they re-elected Marion Berry after his crack cocaine bust. Even though they knew Berry had issues, they suspected his televised setup was payback for something deeper than just his personal narcotics use. Barry won that election just two years after being released from a short prison stint and won 48% of the Primary vote and 56% of the general election vote.
The backlash from Barry’s crack-cocaine setup created such furor from blacks local to national, that the issue of whether he was transformative or transactional was never really an issue in ’94. During the primary all the Democratic candidates were black, and according to one conservative website: “indeed all black elections are often about which candidate is the most authentic black.” The Late Ron Walters observed, “people voted against the white power establishment’s attempting to dictate their lives.”
Fenty’s wife Michelle (coincidentally one of 5 high-profile black elected official-wives who carry that name) saw the handwriting on the wall weeks before the DC Democratic Primary when she was broadcast crying about how misunderstood he was. I don’t know this sister, but I wonder how she feels about her husband’s handiwork with Washington’s public educational system?
1-Their City Hall’s takeover of DC public School’s
2-His School’s Superintendent Michelle Rhee’s duct-taping her students’ mouths back when she was a teacher?
3-The overboard attention Fenty focused on white recreational activities such as the dog-racing, and even the Triathlon on the weekend prior to the election?
The major press predictably, concurrently acknowledged and belittled Fenty’s ouster, suggesting DC blacks don’t know what’s good for them. This is to be expected. But as the song says, “Express Yourself” caramel city, we in some other cities could take a lesson from you; particularly in Buffalo NY.
Coincidentally Buffalo has a Mayor who was elected just prior to him and continues to plot and scheme against his voters and supporters. Like Fenty, Byron Brown thinks he’s one of them and Buffalo voters are much less demanding than their supporters 6 hours to the south.
-Brown is well-known in Buffalo for recently making his Human Resources Commissioner the fall-girl, however it’s been recently revealed there is more missing money ($10 million) than what we were previously told. Its not surprising that Brown would turn his back on Karla Thomas. History shows us that this is a common practice of the Brown camp, Part of Brown’s latent misogamy is his figuring out a way to scapegoat a black female, wash his hands of the situation and leave her high and dry.
It’s an old story now that police and fire unions both were strong supporters of Brown when he first ran for mayor 5 years ago. For their efforts, neither one of them have had a new contract since Brown got elected. In fact, some black veteran fire fighters retired early to save the jobs of younger firefighters threatened by layoff. The most interesting thing on this point is we all know Brown did not conduct a nation wide search for police chief. Yet it was Karla Thomas that had the Mayors back with the press. Sadly Brown was not there for her when the press was after her.
-Fenty imposed a highly controversial $40 million educational budget cut that saw a reduction in teachers and city employees of whom are mostly black. Brown has revamped the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) loan department. This is the department that makes loans to small businesses. The problem here is, Brown has yet to make a single loan to anyone in a while – Black or white. Some Black businesses have had their loan applications on hold for over a year. Like the vacant BMHA position, this is another lost opportunity to help Black businesses. In his State of the City address Brown said he found $5 million for Mark Croce, hell he found that money some time ago, back on 12/14/10 he talked about how essentially allocating money to whites only was in the “best interest of the taxpayers.” For you novices in coded lingo, this usage of the word “taxpayers” is a racial buzz-term and in this particular context means No Money for Black Businesses.
Croce is a huge funder of the Brown Administration (he was previously awarded $6 million for the “adoptive reuse and historic Curtiss Building to create something called a “boutique hotel”). So Croce will now get started on the 18-story ghetto some of you call the Statler Building (reportedly even Paladino didn’t want it).
-Our new police chief was the brain child of none other than Steve Casey. The problem is, with all the money Derenda gave the Brown campaign; along with “in-kind services”, this was a simple case of “pay-to play”. I guess with enough money, you can get any job you want with the Brown administration. This would explain why there are more whites on the payroll than blacks. Derenda’s paid suspension of one of Buffalo’s worst police officers for choking a fellow officer while in the precinct was just a skillful method of protecting him until his personal, sick and vacation days were used up right up until the time of his retirement eligibility. In fact I’m beginning to wonder if his whole choking incident was staged.
-There’s an old saying, “your only as good as the people you surround yourself with”. Why has Brown surrounded himself with an all white advisory staff? Who has the most input for Brown’s decision? Maurice Garner and Steve Casey!
-Does the name Henry Littles ring a bell? Littles was the guy forced to resign as the Manager of the BMHA Marine Drive Apartments. Littles, along with Stanley Fernandez, and Ron Brown are all the Mayor’s NYC “home boys”, as well as Buff State classmates.
-Voters have already started to see through the Grassroots veneer, it’s no longer working. They run everything and should except all the responsibility when problems happen, they have no one to blame but themselves. Most Black elected officials are Grassroots. Mayor Byron Brown, Ellicott District Councilmember Pastor Darius Pridgen, Masten District Councilman Demone Smith, Chair of Erie County Legislature Barbara Miller-Williams, State Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, as well as the C.A.O. at 70 Harvard Place with Nate Hare in charge. There is no reason why they cannot deliver for this community.
-This is very important. We must convince the community that we can be just as critical of Black leaders as we are of whites like they do in Washington, and we need to start holding them accountable at the ballot box. We must hold our own to a higher standard.
-During Brown’s last election; he and “his advisers” did not think it was important to attend the Mayoral forum held by the Black Journalists of WNY. Just another slap in the face of this community. Rod Watson of the Buffalo News has been one of Brown’s biggest supporters. Not even that fact made a difference to the Brown Camp.
Part of our problem in Buffalo, is too many blacks aren’t really as angry as we want each other to think we are. Case in point again is Karla Thomas. Word has it that Brown asked Thomas to order something called a “Deathmaster” last April, and the shit hit the fan in August. She blames Casey for much of what’s happened to her, this is part of the black denial we’ll get into later. It’s not that Casey’s an angel, he is the Mayor after all. But Thomas has to make herself believe Casey is “poison” to prevent herself from realizing Brown can be as bad and backbiting as he’s been.
There was an all-woman’s meeting Karla reportedly held (at least it was women only who came) so that people in the community can hear her side of the story at a local church. One of Brown’s black female firees; possibly Michelle Barron from One Sunset said something along the lines of ‘I wasn’t going to say anything, I’m from One Sunset. I took the fall, it was Byron and Stokes who signed off on the bar (apparently they took the money from her dept.) and they refused me my unemployment… I wasn’t the only one.’ Now the very idea of any black-owned prospective business-even in good standing-bypassing the gratuitous “No” by white lenders, and getting one from a black firm, whether governmental or private, is tantamount to war in this area. How much more so with one whose financial dealings and political connections are reported to be along the lines of One Sunset; with it’s charges of having money loaned to them without disclosing it’s financial troubles, re-allocation of Ellicott District money to a Delaware District business, and the maneuvers to break the payments up so as to fly under the radar of the BERC loan committee. White people in Buffalo value their No’s as much as they value their smear campaigns, no position is too high to overcome you’re giving them ammunition.
According to one source, Thomas’ position today is more along the lines of ‘I don’t want it to be like a black woman fighting a black man.’ She is not the only close associate of the Mayor that takes this position after being rolled-over in forward and reverse by him. Last November saw the Buffalo Mayor remove a slew of GR members from committee seats, members related to elected officials, supposedly long-time friends of his. Hot anger from blacks toward Brown was rampant throughout East Buffalo. Brown had burned them and he did it the way he likes to, from a clean distance. Betty Jean Grant posted an angry letter to Brown in the Challenger Community News that pretty much summed up her personal anger and frustration, and then concluded with her talking about she still wants him to be her friend. Even for a known political flip-flopper like Grant, that’s weak, it made scalding hot water lukewarm, but that’s Buffalo.
I talked to a GR member who felt that Brown did the same to her family as he did Grant’s, it’s not that I mind listening to people’s stories, I like to hear what they intend to do about them, and when you ask, the tone changes. They go off into outer-space, talking about leaving it to “Jesus” or “the Lord.” They get real airy with you, it’s not that I don’t believe in God or Jesus, but I don’t believe in him the way some of these black Buffalonians do. To them Jesus is just a sci-fi safety-valve to avoid saying they are too afraid. Don’t they know Brown prayed to the same Jesus to help him stick it to they black ass? Along the same lines as Ms. Thomas not wanting it to look like “black-on-black” after being stepped-on by Brown, is they’re articulating to you an excuse made to sound like racially or spiritually-pragmatic thinking. All these spiritual officials, all this physical blight.
The thought hit me that day I listened to the complaints about Mayor Brown from yet another of his howling victims; yeah but you’d vote for him again wouldn’t you? I mean if Election Day were tomorrow Betty Jean, Karla Thomas, and that whole slew of people Brown shafted would be in line in freezing weather no-doubt, ready to vote Brown back in. And they would rationalize why they are doing it with their fluffy words of forgiveness, Jesus, and black-on-black love, why you could almost hear the Church organ player in the background if you listen hard enough.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, Political Affairs Magazine, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice and The Network for clbTV. Respond to him on the link below.