I AM PISSED-OFF: REVISITING TWO DISTRICT LEADER RACES
I did a post-primary election column last month that drew many inane comments from some of the anonymous jackasses who love to peregrinate these NYC blogs, essentially to torment those who are strong enough to put their thoughts in writing; and brave enough to have their views/opinions published. The thread was somewhat disconcerting, given what I think is the overall objective of this site: to educate the public politically. After viewing the official results released by the Board of Elections recently, I have decided to revisit two of the races on which I commented.
When I was first recruited to write political columns on these blogs, I envisaged many other local activists writing about their respective communities: bringing attention to local personalities, issues, races, events and the like. I have always been aware that mainstream media tends to ignore (somewhat understandably/given limited resources) many parts of the city, and as such there is a need for political-activist-writer-types operating on blogs like these. I enjoy political blogs like Queen's Crap, Daily Gotham, The Politicker, The Daily News Blog, Room Eight-New York Politics and Politico (especially Ben Smith's columns).
Over the years I have highlighted many races in the city that mainstream media ignored. I have edified readers on various races for city council, state assembly, state senate, district leader(s), et al. I have no resources to hire staffers who could search, research, audit, edit, proofread, further-verify, further-investigate, do historical and/or background checks and the like. I have had to operate by myself, using mainly a few choice friends -active in the game- as sources and resources: and using myself and my lifetime of community-activism and political-involvement, as both the frame-of-reference and jumping-off points. I have focused on Brooklyn since it has been my main stomping grounds since 1973; intermittently I would get into races, events, issues and personalities from the outer boroughs, Long Island and a few upstate environs: but rarely so when compared to Brooklyn -especially the areas around Flatbush Avenue; where Caribbean-Americans (like myself) predominate.
Understand that there is no money in this. I do not get a salary from the editors of the two main blog-sites, or from the Caribbean-American newspapers, or other places where my columns are usually published. It is basically a labor of love. And for this, I am at times subjected to hate-speech, racism, threats, smears, lies, aspersions cast, innuendo, slander and the like. On these blogs, I have been ridiculed and attacked relentlessly over the years. When I walked the streets during political campaigns of the past five summers, I heard things about me that I won't repeat and can't believe; but I am intent on leaving these blogs on my own terms and when I feel like leaving.
On the upsides, there have been a few rewards. My columns have drawn letters, e-mails, messages, phone-calls and the like, from both near and far. From different states and from even a few other countries. During the presidential primaries I was complimented on my analysis from members of Congress down to members of my classrooms. My early call on Barack Obama's presidency still bring kudos from many who followed my writings then. I was even selected (along with Howie Gatemouth) by the democrat's national convention committee (DNCC) to cover Barack Obama's nomination.
In gratitude (I guess) I received from my editors, an airplane ticket to Denver. All other expenses were mine. Even Gatey had to chip in and loan me a few bucks to tide me over that week (and yes, I did repay him/lol). Plus, despite my being a relative political-recluse lately, there are very few political places where I go now without name-recognition. So I guess some would say “it's all good”: but it isn't. Not to me.
I still believe that commenters on these blogs should be registered and their true identities verified. What they do here is often abusive. I know it is a zillion times worse on Ben Smith's Politico blog: but that doesn't justify it, nor does it exonerate the perpetrators here.
All this brings me to the race for the female district leader in Brooklyn's 42nd assembly district, in last September's primary. I did not endorse anyone in this race: so I had no vested interest. In my post-election column I wrote that the race was still undecided since about 100 votes separated the contestants (Bichotte and Holiday). I received some angry phone calls from a few individuals who were supportive of Ms. Bichotte. They claimed I was disseminating false information. They claimed the margin of victory was much larger and was being deliberately underestimated. They insinuated that I had some nefarious motive behind all this “misinformation” and under-reporting.
This is the official result, certified from the NYC Board of Elections: Rodneyse Bichotte 2068 v. Natasha Holiday 1962. The margin of victory was 106 votes.
Now why am I pissed? Well it is because NYC council member Jumannee Williams -a strong supporter of Bichotte- was one of the callers who admonished me for having the wrong info. Plus her attorney went up on my blog and wrote a long treatise that only showed how much he misunderstood my column. Then one of Jumannee's big supporters/associates (a Mr. Gerard Cadet) had the audacity to go up on both Room Eight New York Politics (www.r8ny.com) and The Daily Gotham (www.dailygotham.com) berating me for spreading false information: and saying many other things which in fact possibly amounted to slander. The accusations he made were stuff (being repeated) which has been viciously spread to discredit me in certain areas of Brooklyn. I think the council member should check his supporter(s) before and after these things occur. That's what leadership is about.
Anyone can rummage the archives here and view both the said column and thread: you will see what I am talking about. Even one of the candidates (Ms. Holiday -who to some minor extent also misunderstood some of what was stated by me), had to post an explanation on the blog. And now I realize that they have all sat on these results for weeks now, and never once has anyone picked up the phone to apologize for the way I was treated after writing that column. That's not what leadership is about Mr. Williams.
And here is the rub as it relates to Jumannee Williams: I helped him accumulate his activist credentials in quite a few ways over the years. I hired him in two major capacities in a Flatbush Community Development organization on which I was a key board member. I also helped him along in so many ways (politically) he couldn't begin to imagine; but to many in this the only game in town (politics): reciprocity isn't even a consideration; far less a factor. There have been a few times so far when Jumannee could have shown me some support (beyond politics too) and he didn't. I wonder what that's about? Still I wish him well: as I always have. And I still consider him a friend.
I have high hopes that Jumannee Williams turns out to be better than just a mediocre black elected- official overly-focused on community-service and self-aggrandizement. I also hope he stays true to his Afro-Caribbean-American roots. I would like to see him eventually show a courageous-independent streak, so lacking in most of his fellow council members (bar Charles Barron). I must admit however that I saw him disappointingly stand up in the council-chamber and vote against Charles Barron being reinstated chairman of the Higher Education Committee. This vote came seconds after he unequivocally stated that Barron was a very effective chairperson during his tenure; and that he (Williams) had personally experienced and witnessed this. So much for courage when confronted by Speaker Christine Quinn!
And lest his supporters come up here and attack me -as is the norm when I critique black electeds- let me state that all this is in the records (televised too). The stated meeting where this occurred was held back in January or February of this year, at City Hall. And if you don't believe me then ask Mr. Barron himself. I am sure he was (and probably still is) pissed.
In the 57th AD, the race for female district leader yielded these final results: Olanike Alabi (3,558) v. Renee Collymore (2,691). The margin of victory was 867 votes. My anger here is with those folks whose sole and deliberate intent is to discredit me and create confusion with some of my political friends and acquaintances in this area. As such, they have been spreading these rumors that I secretly supported one candidate over the other in this race. It is not true. I neither endorsed nor supported a candidate in this race. I know them both. I know Ms. Alabi a little better and a little longer than I have known Ms. Collymore. I endorsed Ola when she first ran and won her position. I deliberately stayed out of this race for various good reasons. However, I did write about it in my columns. And remember this was the race where there were claims of sex, lies, nudity and videotapes; of which I wrote a little bit back then.
I tell people all the time, that whenever they hear ridiculous stuff about me, what they should do is e-mail me, or pick up the phone and check in with me: I am brave and strong enough to set you straight on whatever is in contention. My political enemies, haters and rivals are many, and they have been trying to discredit me -and also run me off these blogs- for years. I refuse to let them.
Over the past year and change Dr. Eugene and his staff have been as gracious toward me as you won't believe: and this is a guy I have critiqued over the years; someone I even primaried. This is an example of the kind of civility that's lacking in politics today. We can disagree but we shouldn't be nasty about it. We can compete but we don't have to be vicious in so doing. I ran a full campaign against the man and never put out a single piece of negative literature against him. I offered the voters my views on issues, my positions as to solutions, some solid policy ideas and my vision for the district. My other opponent in that race attacked me unmercifully throughout. I must say that I did return a few of his hits: I had to defend myself/lol.
Look, at the end of the day and night, we are all in this together. Deliberately spreading vicious lies in no way advances the public discourse. I would think that by now all this would be as obvious as the fact that I intend to write on these blogs until I feel like leaving: which could be any day by the way. I am aware that I have made a few mistakes over the years writing here, but mistakes are just that: mistakes. Deliberate intent is a different beast. These persistent attacks on me are stale and tired: be more creative please.
Stay tuned-in folks: all the time. Do remember to vote next Tuesday.
Post new comment