Monday, October 1, 2012

The Durham Committee on Affairs of Black People endorse Omar Beasley instead of Fred Foster

In a move that shifts conversations related to the upcoming election for Durham’s Board of County Commission, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has endorsed Omar Beasley over Fred Foster.  Beasley enters the election with endorsements from the DCABP and the Friends of Durham, while Foster is left depending on the strength of the People’s Alliance to win a seat on the board.
The DCABP also endorsed incumbents Michael Page and Brenda Howerton, but failed to give a nod to two candidates to fill the five seats on the commission.  There was speculation that the DCABP would endorse Wendy Jacobs as a compromise for the endorsement of one of the black candidates they supported.  That became complicated once leaders within the DCABP moved to support Beasley over Foster.
The People’s Alliance also endorsed only three candidates for the Board of County Commissioners – Foster, Wendy Jacobs and Ellen Reckhow.  The People’s Alliance website clearly states the agenda of the PAC. 
“In the Durham County Commissioner race, the threat to progressive values is not from Republicans, but from candidates who are beholden to shadowy developer super-pac money and who are not reliable on equal rights for gay and lesbian people,” the website states. “PA-PAC encourages you to override your straight democratic vote in this race by voting specifically for Foster, Jacobs, and Reckhow only. This will not affect your straight ticket vote in other races. You will still need to FLIP YOUR BALLOT and vote for progressive Judges. This is the best way to secure a progressive Durham, a progressive North Carolina, and a progressive United States.”
Those comments have further alienated Durham’s black leadership, and have seriously impacted the possibility of future collaboration between the two PAC’s.  In assuming ownership of Durham’s only authentic progressive voice, the PA has entered a war zone that may shape politics in Durham for years to come.
The loser in the war is Foster, who lost his endorsement with the DCABP due to his allegiance with PA. It was logical to assume the DCABP would endorse the four black candidates, with the assurance that Foster would win due to the endorsement from both the PA and the DCABP.  The PA rolled the dice on posting comments that labeled the DCABP in a way that negates the history and mission of the group.  Put another way, those were fighting words.
Given the lack of support from the DCABP, Foster will be hard pressed to win in a Presidential election.  The DCABP will not struggle with getting blacks out to vote, and many will lean heavily on the endorsements of the DCABP in selecting members of the commission.  In addition to the support of the DCABP, Beasley benefits from the endorsement of the Friends of Durham.
By making this election a one issue race, the PA has dug a ditch that may be hard to climb out from under over the next few years.  They have developed an adversarial relationship with the DCABP.  They have claimed ownership related to what defines a progressive political agenda.  They have spread rumors of commissioners getting paid by developers, making decisions to support the 751 project about personal gain versus how candidates feel about the project.
They have attacked the character of candidates and the credibility of an organization that has served Durham as the voice of black people.  They have bullied the process by refusing to compromise, and have used Foster as an example of legitimate black leadership.  They assumed he would be endorsed by the DCABP, and that he would serve in promoting their agenda.
The DCABP people took that away by endorsing Beasley over Foster. Now it’s strength versus strength.  It all comes down to who can get out the most votes now – power versus power.  Maybe the PA likes their odds, but something tells me they barked up the wrong tree.
Compromise could have saved the day, but folks on the PA closed the door by defining what progressive looks like in Durham.
Who wins in this type of battle?


  1. This article is based entirely on your/Carl's subjective opinions and political views. If he were involved in the years' long manipulation of our local democracy by the 751 South developers and their supportive county commissioners' backdoor dealings and disrespect of any and all whose views disagreed with theirs (look up the term 'Page Rage'), he would think differently.

    We want an accessible, transparent local government that listens to and respects its citizens' concerns and opinions, even when they are in disagreement with elected officials' views.

    We know very little of Omar Beasley, but the fact that he is supported by the Conservative Friends of Durham (as well as the 751 South developers) and the Republican party should be a clue that his agenda is not aligned with that of progressive Durhamites. As for his indecision regarding the 751 South development and the precedents it sets for future developments, someone running for our local board of county commissioners should certainly know all about this controversial issue (it's been making headlines for over 5 years now) and should have formed an opinion by now. His lack of transparency (though we all can assess quite easily where he really stands on the issue) is undesirable in an elected official.

    As for Howerton, I was told last week by several who know her well that she did virtually nothing while serving as a Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor (this can be verified by the meeting minutes during her term on the board) and is still ignorant about what the Soil and Water Conservation District is/does even though she was an elected supervisor and chaired the board. Her position as SWCD supervisor is why I and so many others were tricked into voting for her! While she has been commissioner, she has asked staff to spoon-feed her during BOCC meetings rather than reading and understanding the material given to her beforehand. Furthermore, she padded here resume by taking courses paid for (including meals and lodging) by the Durham taxpayers. I would rather she had learned about being a commissioner while ON THE JOB...but apparently this is not in line with her career path.

    Furthermore, Howerton is currently being investigated for misusing county and campaign funds -- in essence living off of them. Yet this doesn't bother the DCABP.

    In the meantime, the DCABP is more concerned about fighting with the PA than about supporting a long-time, truly involved, transparent African American who is a highly committed and respected official in the NAACP.

    It sounds to me like the DCABP is making this election all about 751 South and their animosity towards the PA, not the other way around. And given their consistent agreement with the FOD over the last several years, it is certainly logical to presume that the DCABP are more Republican than progressive, at least when it comes to development and environmental issues. It even seems their candidates are coming around to the Republican way of thinking regarding our public education system...

    I urge people to do their own homework before voting.

    1. To think Fred Foster placed second in the Democratic primaries, well above Page and Howerton! The DCABP has abandoned one of their most intelligent, unbiased, involved people...all because the rest of Durham wants to see him elected (oh yeah, and because he doesn't worship at the altar of the 751 developers).

  2. Melissa it would appear that the subjective opinions and political views that you accuse the writer of the article of are the same subjective views that you could be accused of. It is clear that you are anti-751 and in your opinion anyone that supports this development has committed the greatest sin in Durham politics. You say we know very little about Omar Beasley but yet you make a factually unsubstain assessment of Mr. Beasley just because of endorsements he's received during this political process. You go on to make accusations about Commissioner Howerton which are out right lies. I unlike you did a little fact checking. You stated that Ms. Howerton while serving as a Soil & Water Supervisor she was the chair of that board (Lie). Commissioner Howerton only served as a member and never the chair. Fact check number 2. You write that Commissioner Howerton is being investigated (Lie). When I contacted the State BOE about this matter I was informed that Ms. Howerton is not under any current investigation. How does taking board enhancement courses that are available to any elected official on any elected board qualify as resume padding. If I'm to believe your point of view, then the stipend that all the Commissioners receive as compensation for there service compliments of the taxpayers would that be padding their pockets on Durham Taxpayers. While I don't know how the DCABP conducts there business but I find it hard to believe that their endorsements are made because of what you describe as fighting with the PAs. I think that both groups support candidate that support their views and ideology and the last time I checked it was not a crime in any city for different political groups to support different candidates. It sound to me like you and the PA group you speak of are the only ones that's making this election all about one issue 751 south. Melissa my advise to you would be stop spending so much time psychoanalyzing candidate and political organizations and spend more time on getting your facts correct. A wise person once told me "Who Died and Left You In Charge" hint, hint, hint, hint......