Friday, August 28, 2009

Atlanta Mayoral Race Going Black!

Atlanta has had an African-American in the position of mayor since Maynard Jackson held the position in 1974, and it's possible that the city could have it's first white mayor since then. Presently, two African Americans are running for the office, Kasim Reed and Lisa Borders, along with Mary Norwood who is white. There is now a letter is circulating endorsing Borders and promoting a "black agenda." Below are the contents of the memo being circulated at the insistence of Atlanta political insider Aaron Turpeau courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:


The debate over the best strategic option for black leadership and the African American community as we approach the Mayoral election in Atlanta has become critical based on the fact that for the last 25 years Atlanta has represented the breakthrough for black political empowerment in the South.

It is debatable to what extent the objective socio-economic and political position of the African American community has improved. At the same time, most would agree that the Jackson breakthrough represented an unprecedented opportunity for black political representation nationwide.

A passionate argument has been made for us to develop a unity of purpose and position, and for that to be defined immediately, given the short amount of time remaining between now and November 2009 election day (two and ½ months from now).

There are unstated assumptions that need to be examined. Perhaps the most critical factor is the lack of an agenda against which to evaluate candidates. An agenda, beyond just electing a Black Mayor, would allow us to move from the margins of the debate to controlling the expectations associated with gaining our support.

Three basic assertions have been made. They are as follows:

1. There is a chance for the first time in 25 years that African Americans could lose the Mayoral seat in Atlanta, Georgia, especially if there is a run-off;

2. Time is of the essence because in order to defeat a Norwood (white) mayoral candidacy we have to get out now and work in a manner to defeat her without a runoff, and the key is a significant Black turnout in the general election;

3. The reasons support should be given to Lisa Borders is: 1) she is the best black candidate in the race who has a chance to win the election because she can attract downtown white support; and 2) based on polling data drawn from a host of sources between May 2009 and July 2009, the numbers suggest Borders is growing stronger as we move closer to the election, while the most recent polling data suggests that the other black candidates are falling further behind over the same period.

There are also at least three unstated assumptions that should be further explored:

Unstated Assumption

1. With the “Black Mayor first” approach there is an unstated assumption that having a black mayor in Atlanta is equal to having a black social, economic and political agenda or at least someone in office who would be sensitive to that agenda if not a full promoter of that agenda;

2. By coming out for Borders now would eliminate Reed, Spikes and Thomas as viable candidates. Some would argue that if the polling data is correct then those candidates who are only polling at 8%, 2% and 1% respectfully, are already effectively out of the race; and

3. It is unlikely that there will be a unified preference among existing black leadership and in the African American community for one candidate prior to the general election.

The Missing Factors in the Current Approach

There are at least seven real world common knowledge factors that must be taken into consideration as we debate how best to manifest our support in the run-up to the November elections. They are as follows:

1. The impact of current alienation among Black Atlantans from the political establishment;

2. The imperiled state of the Jackson Machine, (in part because of the displacement of close to 100,000 black residents over the past few years) and the effect operation of the NPU system by whites;

3. Shirley Franklin’s perceived poor performance;

4. The changing demographics in the city, the potential role of new city voters and the diminished role of religious and labor leaders in mobilizing the black vote;

5. The importance of the City Council races (which to date seems to have been ignored);

6. The persistent poverty in the city, the educational crisis in the schools; the human security/public safety concerns; the type of economic development policies being pursued; and the city’s awful financial management issues;

7. A Black Agenda that any candidate should be evaluated against.

What’s At Stake?

Determining what’s at stake depends on perspective:

1. The view that the times are too serious to stand on the sidelines is absolutely correct from the perspective of a black mayor at all cost. In fact, if a white candidate were to win the 2009 mayoral race, it would be just as significant in political terms as Maynard Jackson’s victory in 1973.

2. Therefore, the question becomes, if that were the case, how would African American interests be addressed; thus, the need for a comprehensive agenda. At the same time, just having a black mayor doesn’t guarantee that African American issues and concerns would be effectively addressed either (as the current administration’s relationship to the African American community clearly demonstrates). In other words, are we simply providing votes without any expectations of the candidate that would enjoy our support?;

3. While some may think that Franklin represents the last link to the Jackson Machine, it is not widely known that both Borders and Reed are directly connected to Franklin; or that Spikes and Thomas are Republicans, as is Norwood. Additionally, it should not be overlooked that whoever is Mayor of Atlanta will be in position to play an important role in the upcoming 2010 Georgia Governor’s race;

4. The changing demographics which show a more rapid growth in the city’s white population (faster and a higher percentage than anywhere else in the country) requires that we critically evaluate all candidates;

5. To ignore the alienation that exists among black voters towards the Franklin Administration’s performance is naive at best and dishonest at worse; and finally,

6. We need an overall governance strategy and a definition of who really governs in Atlanta. In other words, in 2009 we have arrived at a place in time where we can no longer afford to just look at race in the Mayor’s race or individual council races.

At the end of the day, “when the morning comes,” a black agenda would better enable us to have our interests respected by and our influence realized in any administration.

While the memo may make some valid points, the political process has to simply evolve over time with the best candidate eventually emerging. A potentially polarizing memo does a disservice to both African-American opponents.

Vick's Smiling Again!

Michael Vick ended a 2 year hiatus from football last night when he made his preseason debut with his new team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick played in 6 series going 4 for 4 in completions and running the ball once. Vick looked like he still has all of the skills that made him a Pro Bowl quarterback, but he clearly needs repetition and playing time.

Clearly this has to be a situation for Vick to get re acclimated to the NFL because he is a starting quarterback, and two stars Vick and Eagles starter Donovan McNabb will not be able to co-exist long term if this experiment is a success. As I've stated previously, Vick's ordeal has humbled him, so he will be a team player for the sake of his career.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Aaliyah: What Might Have Been!

Yesterday marked the 8th anniversary of the death of hip-hop superstar Aaliyah from a plane crash in the Bahamas. Aaliyah was 22 at the time of her death, and poised to rule hip-hop like no female artist before her. While Beyonce Knowles rules popular music from a female perspective, Aaliyah would've ruled the "cool" aspect of music with her quiet confidence and undeniable swagger. She had ruled the hip-hop and R&B charts with the assistance of mega producers R. Kelly and Timbaland and was coming off a hit movie with "Romeo Must Die." Aaliyah's trademark was her mystery, and she was surely just coming into her own as an artist and actress. Her music still resonates today and doesn't come close to sounding dated.

The Detroit Free Press has reprinted an article that was originally published 2 days after her death. Detroit was Aaliyah's home town and she graduated from Detroit's Performing Arts High School with a 4.0 GPA. Her loss is still evident 8 years later, and her legend was instantly cemented with her passing with a void that has yet to be filled.

R.I.P. Edward Kennedy!

Massachusetts Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy died last night succumbing to complications from a brain tumor diagnosed about 16 months ago. Kennedy was the last living male from the Kennedy political dynasty who served nearly 50 years in the Senate. Kennedy's support of President Barack Obama was instrumental in continuing Obama's political momentum last year.

While Kennedy was a major political force in the Senate, he also had his dark side with the Chappaquiddick incident from 1969 in which Mary Jo Kopechne died while a passenger in a car with Kennedy that overturned in a tide of water being prominent. Kennedy left the scene of the accident leaving Kopechne in the car and didn't report the accident until hours later. This incident dogged Kennedy's political career, and likely prevented him from becoming President of the United States. Kennedy did continue to be an influential Senator despite this incident, but his political effectiveness was always somewhat diminished because of his past.

Chris Brown Ordered To Stay Away From Rihanna For 5 Years!

Singer Chris Brown was sentenced yesterday in a Los Angeles court and ordered to stay away from Rihanna for 5 years in connection with the Feb. 8 beating that left Rihanna bruised and battered. Brown received 5 years probation and has to perform 180 days of community labor and 1 year of mandatory domestic violence counseling. Brown is required to stay a required distance from Rihanna and have no written or phone contact with her or face prison. Rihanna does have the option to have the protective ordered modified, but as of yesterday the judge was not interested in reviewing any modifications.

Brown is also reported to be "depressed" since the incident according to the New York Daily News. Brown will still have a long road back to the stardom that he once enjoyed. He was on track to join the likes of Usher in terms of longevity, but it remains to be seen if he can overcome this incident and get his career back on track. Still only 20 years old, it may be possible, but Brown will have a lot of work to do to regain the adulation of many of his fans.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Charlie Rangel Claims $500G More In Assets!

Politics is a very lucrative profession, just ask Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel. Rangel amended his 2007 financial disclosure forms to include more than $500,000 in assets, including an account at the Congressional Federal Credit Union worth at least $250,000, another account with at least $250,000, land in New Jersey and stock in Pepsi and fast food giant Yum!, according to the New York Post. Rangel, who is the subject of 2 House ethics probes has seen his net worth grow dramatically in a short period of time.

Hope the residents of Harlem, who Rangel represents are seeing their wealth grow at the same pace. This is the reason that many people become cynical about Washington politics. Certain occurrences just seem a little shady to the outside world, but I'm sure Mr. Rangel has a good explanation for his increased wealth.

Beyonce Named Billboard Magazine Woman of the Year!

Beyonce Knowles continues her almost unprecedented streak of success by being named Billboard's "Woman of the Year!" She will receive the award on October 12th in New York City. Arguably the best female musical performer of her generation, Knowles is riding high off a number 1 movie this year in "Obsessed" and a double platinum album in "I Am... Sasha Fierce."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Will Iverson Practice If He Joins The Bobcats?

Allen Iverson finds himself without a team, and rumors are circulating heavily that he may join the Charlotte Bobcats, reuniting him with Larry Brown his former coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. It's hard to believe that Brown would consider reuniting himself with Iverson. Perhaps he needs to see Iverson's infamous "Practice" rant that took place 3 years ago when Iverson was still arguably one of the top players in the NBA. Iverson is now coming off one of his least productive year as a pro, and quit on his former team the Detroit Pistons. He's apparently become so desperate that he went on a Twitter rant last week regarding how he's in such great shape.

While I love Iverson's talent and he's a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer, it pains me that he hasn't adjusted his game with time and evolved as a more complete player. Iverson only goes with one direction and purpose and that's the the direction that serves him points instead of trying to make teammates better. Warning to Larry Brown, beware of what you ask for, and hopefully Michael Jordan will have the foresight to veto this possible move.