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Friday, February 13, 2009

NOTEworthy News, 2/14/09

Shout-outs to Black Electorate and Black Politics on the Web for their news updates (see blog links).

Orlando (Florida) City Commissioner Says Black Community Should Get Its Share of Stimulus (February 9, Orlando Sentinel)
Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum urged her West Orlando constituents today to push Congress to make sure the federal economic stimulus package includes set-asides for minority contractors... Lynum will take that message to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday on behalf of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials. Lynum was elected president of the National League of Cities' black caucus for 2009. Full article.

Cliff Note: I’m really skeptical that set-asides will be put in place, and even more skeptical that it would actually get enforced at the state level, but I support Commissioner Lynum’s efforts. Meanwhile, up in Massachusetts, post-racial America poster-child Gov. Deval Patrick has appointed a real estate developer to oversee his state's share of economic stimulus money. It will be interesting to see if Gov. Patrick and his Stimulus Czar take Commissioner Lynum's advice. After all, what good is it to have a Black mayor, governor, or president if they won't push for policies that will directly benefit the Black community.

Barbour Ignoring Black Judge Applicants?
(February 12, 2009, Jackson Free Press)
The Mississippi Magnolia Bar claims Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has proved leery of appointing blacks to judicial positions since he won the governor’s office in 2003. “He has not appointed any African Americans for judge in any of his 20 appointments,” said Magnolia Bar Association President Malcolm Harrison. “It’s sad that he cannot believe an African American could do the job.” Full article.

Cliff Note: Nothing surprising about this; although I was a little surprised that Barbour didn’t even bother to appoint a conservative Negro in one of the counties that’s 70% Black. I just can’t believe there’s no local version of a Clarence Thomas in Mississippi. Anyway, Barbour, who used to be chairman of the Republican National Committee, has supported and spoken at events of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a modern day version of the White Citizens’ Councils which were the more public forms of the KKK during the 1950s and 60s. And just imagine, when those billions of dollars from the stimulus plan get to Mississippi, it will be Barbour that gets to decide whether or not Black folks get a piece of the pie. Gotta love post-racial America!

Florida Group Asks State to Enforce Black History Law (February 6, 2009, AP)
A civil rights group is asking the Florida Attorney General’s Office to enforce a 1994 state law requiring black history to be taught in all school districts. According to a complaint filed Thursday by the Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council, a 2007-2008 state enrollment report shows that only 19 of Florida’s 67 counties provide black history classes. Full article.

Cliff Note: This might just be asking too much. I mean, if the 1954 Brown decision hasn’t been implemented yet, it’s probably just unreasonable for us to expect that they would already start enforcing a 1994 law. Patience is a virtue…

Arkansas Black Caucus Rejects Membership of White Rep (February 10, 2009, Arkansas Democrat Gazette)
Rep. Richard Carroll of North Little Rock, Arkansas' only Green Party legislator, asked to be a member of the Arkansas Black Legislative Caucus but was rejected because he's white. Carroll represents District 39 in southern and eastern North Little Rock. The historically Democratic district has a black population of 65 percent, according to 2000 census data used to draw the districts in 2001.Full article.

Cliff Note: Okay, part of the reason i included this story is because it’s just so damn funny to me, especially when you look at some of the explanations that the Black Caucus members give for denying his request. But in truth, it’s really not a laughing matter, particularly since the reason the White representative got the position is because the Democratic Party disqualified their own (Black ?) candidate, thus leaving the door open for the White candidate, who happened to be running as a Green Party candidate. With that said, i actually support his effort to make it easier for third parties to get ballot access. That would come in handy in case Black folk in Mississippi, who make up 37% of the population, ever decide to leave the Democrats and form a new political party.

Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker Gets Help from Oprah in Battle for Local Power (February 9, 2009,
NEWARK – Television star Oprah Winfrey’s decision this month to drop a $500,000 gift on Steve Adubato’s North Ward Center effectively stamps out the fuse on a standoff between the North Ward Democratic leader and Winfrey confidante Mayor Cory Booker, in a resolution that underscores the political strengths of the two main combatants.
Full article.

Cliff Note: I like this article because it gives a much different view of Cory Booker, who stands right next to Obama and Deval Patrick as poster children for post-racial America. In fact, Booker is one of the new generation leaders featured in Gwen Ifill’s book. But as the article points out, Booker’s been having a hard time with some of the old-school local leaders. At the end of the day, whether you talk about race or not, the bottom line is you’ve got to get results. And while this new generation of politicians have shown that their capable of getting elected, I can’t say that avoiding the issue of race has helped them get much better results. But if anyone reading this lives in one of the post-racial kingdoms, please let me know wassup…

(Alabama) Panel OKs Proposal to Define Moral Turpitude for Voting Rules (February 12, 2009, Montgomery Advertiser)
Legislators are trying to define which crimes constitute moral turpitude so they can prevent felons who commit those crimes from voting. The House of Representatives' Committee on Constitution and Elections voted 8-3 to approve a bill that identifies more than 70 felonies as crimes of moral turpitude. The vote clears the way for the bill to go to the full House for further debate. Dissenting legislators from Mobile and Jefferson counties, which have large poor and minority communities, raised concerns about some of the crimes included on the list. They also questioned why Alabama continues to disenfranchise people who have served their time and paid any required fines. Full article.

Cliff Note: Obviously, felony disenfranchisement has become one of the most effective tools for those who wish to get around the Voting Rights Act. And as we learned in Florida, it’s not only useful for those with felony convictions but anyone else you want to target—deny the vote and then figure everything out after election day. Anyway, in addition to the panel mentioned in the article, Alabama's Attorney General and some other legislators are pushing a bill that would define ALL felonies as crimes of "moral turpitude", which is basically what the state was illegaly doing until a couple of years ago when a judge ruled that practice unconstitutional. The bottom line? We are seeing increased efforts to turn back the clock, and these efforts are increasing not only in spite of Obama's historic victory, but to a large extent because of that victory.

On that "note", i'm outta here...

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