Friday, October 26, 2012

Steve Bocckino's unfair assumption about Omar Beasley

Am I the only person fed up with the rhetoric surrounding the 751 South project? Proponents of the controversial project have made it the litmus test in qualifying those willing to serve on the Durham Board of County Commissioners.  The most recent attack proves that they are willing to win by any means necessary.
Who made them Malcolm X?
Steve Bocckino recently questioned the motives of Omar Beasley after the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black people received an $8,000 donation to help the group push their slate of candidates.  The gift came from Neal and Janet Hunter, backers of the 751 South project.  Boockino claims the gift raises a red flag related to Beasley’s position on development.
“I believe Mr. Beasley would like to keep his support of 751 South  – and vice versa – a secret, but no one is buying it,” Bocckino told the Herald-Sun. 
Bocckino’s attack of Beasley is based on the presence of paid poll workers distributing copies of the Durham Committee slate.  In response, Beasley told the Herald-Sun he is using a combination of paid and volunteer poll workers.
The use of paid poll workers is a common practice.  The People Alliance and white candidates have employed black poll workers to distribute literature to give the impression of black support.  It’s common for candidates to pass out literature with an endorsement.  Bocckino’s comments regarding Beasley are speculative. 
It’s the type of low blow political maneuvering that has plagued this election.  Sadly, the war between the local political action committees is a distraction from the most important election – the Presidency.
Bocckino and members of the People’s Alliance are unfair to expect Beasley to respond to a decision he did not make.  He has promised to review what is placed before him, and to respond in a way that is best for the citizens of Durham.  That’s all that can be expected.  No candidate should be forced to have a platform based on a decision they are not forced to make.
What Bocckino fails to respect is the power of the Durham Committee during a presidential election.  Beasley didn’t need the endorsement of the People’s Alliance.  He gains nothing in hiding a pro-growth agenda.  There are enough votes to win without the blessing of the People’s Alliance.
To imply that Hunter’s contribution to the Durham Committee proves the theory that Beasley is in the pocket of developers is unfounded.  It’s unfair, malicious and has no place in this election.  It’s rooted in speculation and is designed to prevent Beasley from taking additional votes away from Fred Foster.
No laws have been broken.  A donation was made to support the slate of the Durham Committee.  Would the conversation be shifted if Foster was on the Durham Committee slate?  A more important question involves the validity of engaging in a deeper discussion about how growth can be done in Durham.
What is the relationship between developers and government?  Do we want to become like Chapel Hill, and reject any movement toward development? Or, do we assume that developers are the anti-Christ and reject any thought of compromise.
If Beasley decides to have that discussion, does that make him wrong?  Or, does that make him open to new possibilities.  Bocckino and his anti-development thugs should back off the negative rhetoric long enough to give the process a chance to play out. 
With that being said, I am opposed to 751 South.  More conversation needs to be had.  I think that will happen, but it can’t when people are holding a pistol at your head while forcing you to state your claim devoid of any conversation.
Go vote.


  1. Well, I see what you are saying but I think that "pointing a pistol at your head" is a bit of hyperbole. And it is perfectly logical to follow the money, and in public life appearances count, something that Omar Beasley should understand by now. I almost am a little surprised about the paid poll workers thing and thanks for bringing that up! As a volunteers myself, I frankly think paying poll workers should be illegal. If a candidate can't rouse support for his cause, he shouldn't be running, and the playing field should be level.

    I am new in this town and am poorly versed in the many struggles the black community has had here, includings those to make development go its way for once. But I think you do a disservice to your argument by using hyperbolic language like that.

    1. So did the fact he use the hyperbole make what he said untrue? Yes, it is reasonable to follow the money. But is it also not reasonable to believe what a person says. Especially since his actions have not implied anything to the contrary?
      We certainly seem to have a lack of journalistic integrity at the Durham Herald and it is being highlighted during this election cycle.

  2. I once heard a lawyer talk about circumstantial evidence, suggesting it was like a jigsaw puzzle, and he used as an example o puzzle showing a hamburger. He pointed out you didn't need to have all of the pieces in place to pretty well decide what the picture was.

    This political donation is more or less like that, isn't it?

    Absent any other evidence, it is not unreasonable to assume it is made to further the political agenda of the donor, or certainly it's fair to think it goes to a candidate whose views are consistent with those of the donor.

    1. I guess by this logic I could reasonably assume that a candidate for president that receives an endorsement by lets say the KKK. That they are going to vote for a racist agenda. If I am not mistaken 751 is but one of the issues facing Durham County, and assuming that everyone on the slate for either of our two PAC's is going to vote for everything they want is a bad move. Especially in Beasley's case where he is on the record as undecided.

  3. I stand corrected! According to Ed Harrison, Mayor Pro Tem in Chapel Hill, they have a pro growth position. "Carl, I would recommend getting your facts straight when posting something that could be read by a Chapel Hill elected official," he responded. "I've voted against more developments in the past half-decade than any colleague -- and that was about 15 percent of the applications. Chapel Hill Town Council has turned down a total of two development applications in 13 years, out of at least 200 that came to Council in that time period. Those are the facts, and I can document them in entirety."

  4. I have asked Omar how he would have voted on the 751 issue had he been a commissioner. In my view it's an important indicator of how our community will grow -- continue the sprawl or focus on present developed areas in need. It matters because transportation costs will only grow in the future, our water needs are critical, and old-fashioned sprawl that accounts for neither can no longer be tolerated. This particular project also matters due to the way the developers carried it out. Omar ducks the question and takes no position. I find that more intolerable than taking a position I disagree with.

  5. Two things:

    1) The Hunters' and other special interests' votes should not count more than those of us regular citizens, but through donations like this, they effectively do.

    I could only donate about $50 to each candidate. So if $50 = a citizen, then the Hunters' donations amounts to 160 citizens. That's not Democracy.

    Regardless of where you stand regarding Durham's future development (in-fill versus new, outer-edge development, for instance), it should be disturbing to every citizen when special interests throw big $ at candidates or political action groups (for Hunter, this amounts to 1/3 of the Committee's donations this year, counting their previous ~$14,000 report, according to the Herald Sun).

    People don't hand over money like that for no reason.

    2) Given the broken state of politics in this country, any lack of transparency should be concerning to ALL citizens. These people work for US -- so we should know who they are and where they stand on the issues.

    By continually dodging the question regarding his stance on 751 South and, therefore, future developments on the edge of the county rather than in its center, where in-fill development is desperately needed, Beasley is clearly demonstrating a lack of transparency.

    At the polls, he has told some voters that he is a Democrat AND others that he is not affiliated with either party and will remain unaffiliated. This is an even more broad dodge and demonstration that he is far from transparent.

    Citizens need to ask themselves -- why should we vote for this person when we don't know who he is.

    The other candidates have voluntarily donated their time and efforts in numerous ways for the Durham community (Planning Commission, NAACP, INC, etc.). Where is Omar's proven record?

    He should serve Durham publicly before he runs for office. At least then we would know how he will truly vote on the issues that affect all of us.

  6. P.S. This 751 South development saga has been going on since before my two year old son was even a thought! It has been through 1 watershed protection public hearing, two rezoning public hearings, a city annexation and utilities hearing, a county sewer agreement hearing, questions at candidates forums (which Beasley has disturbingly dodged), discussions at PACS (including the Friends, People's Alliance, Committee, INC) and who knows how many closed door meetings with government officials (we know of several back when Frank Duke was planning director and shortly thereafter).

    How much more discussion do you need, Carl?

  7. I like Omar Beasley but I am suspect of his silence on the issue of 751. I was working for the Democratic Party at North Regional today next to Rod Cheney (he's the Tea Party Republican running for House 50 with billboards all over the place touting Voter ID, saying "NO" on the budget, etc). Cheney has started telling all the republicans who come to vote to vote for Beasley. These Republican voters over the past few days have called me a socialist, told me I don't believe in God because I'm voting for Obama, and so on. This also makes me wonder what Beasley has promised the Republicans if he gets elected. As you may know, many Republicans are being appointed to boards and commissions in Durham by the County Commissioners. The Democratic Party and the People's Alliance has taken notice and are rightly concerned. Without a voting record to go on and a record of commission/board work to review, I cannot support unaffiliated Beasley. The five seat Commission Board makes too many decisions that impact the future of Durham to roll the dice.