16 JAN 11: The Unknown Committee
As much as I appreciate being mentioned kindly in the latest edition of "The Courier," that newspaper may need to update its SpellCheck. I wrote "essay-length" e-mails would be moved to Sundays -- not "easy type." For some of us, 500-word essays are the most difficult things to write....
SUNDAY SOAPBOX: We have one such long-form e-mail again this weekend. It was sent in response to last Monday's post about "Mimosa Madam" Judy Wilkinson, and her continuing effort to clear her criminal record....
Columbus does not have a civilian review board. What we have is a Public Safety Advisory Commission, which has absolutely no power or authority except to meet and discuss. I was what you might call a charter member of the PSAC until my councilor decided I was too outspoken and critical of the mayor and council as a citizen activist and she had me removed.
There is absolutely nothing of any consequence the PSAC can do for Judy Wilkinson or anybody else, which is why citizens are directed to go before the commission. It is probably the most useless board or commission in the city. It is a sham, a farce. It is an advisory board that offers no advice and rubber stamps whatever CPD wants.
In 2008 we attempted to have an ordinance passed that would establish a Public Safety Review Commission. There was a 5-5 vote and the mayor broke the tie. A number of us had supported Jim Wetherington for mayor because he had told mostly African American citizens he was in support of a review commission with more teeth than the PSAC. Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren claimed such a "review board" might cause officers to second guess themselves in the field, although he never fully explain how a review board that could not hire nor fire an officer and only review and recommend after-the-fact to public safety director and department chief would be a danger to the lives of his officers. 200 police officers signed a petition against the Public Safety Review Commission, which makes you wonder even more what they were afraid of from 11 of their fellow citizens. There was not one valid argument put forth against a review board.
Fear and ignorance are the reason we do not have a Public Safety Review Commission. The opposition lead by Mayor Jim Wetherington frankly lied to the public. They went as far as to claim a review commission with subpoena power would be illegal, but the subpoena power would remain with the council in case it was needed. Actually, if the departments heads are cooperating you will not need subpoena power. The barrier to communication was the color of the messengers' skin, which is so sad. A review board would still be a good thing.
A citizen review board, at least the model we proposed, would not have been able to overturn any sentence imposed by a judge, but it would have help establish more confidence and trust between public and Public Safety, particularly law enforcement. It would have been able to make helpful recommendations from a citizen perspective. It would have shown the public that our public safety operates aboveboard and has nothing whatsoever to hide.
If Judy Wilkinson is looking for answers or help from the PSAC she is going to realize that whoever steered her in that direction was either misled or that person help to mislead her about an appearance before the commission will accomplish.
Brother Love, Director
Grassroots Unity Movement for Change
So people in Columbus can advise police officers, but they can't "review" them. How many movie producers wish this approach was federal law?
In fact, a November Ledger-Enquirer article revealed the Public Safety Advisory Commission only meets four times a year. The source for that information was then-Mayor Jim Wetherington -- and being the former police chief, I'm guessing commission meetings were NOT held at the Public Safety Center.
But how do we know "the color of the messengers' skin" led to the split vote in Columbus Council three years ago? Did all the police officers who signed the petition have the same skin color? They might have been connected by the color of something else - as in that Tom Selleck drama, "Blue Bloods."
So if Judy Wilkinson wants her arrest at Formal Elegance expunged, she's apparently run out of options in Columbus. Wilkinson could appeal to a higher authority -- but since she's not listed as a donor to Governor Nathan Deal's campaign, her chances of being pardoned are pretty low.
You may have also noticed our Instant Message to C.A. Hardmon Friday. Of course he responded to that....
I have no reason to want to boycott your blog. I appreciate the fact that you put your money, so to speak, where your mouth is when it comes to Freedom of Speech. In fact, just yesterday at a press conference I told Ledger reporter Tim Chitwood you were always straight. Tim was trying to connect me with his line of questioning to the January 7th protest of the event hosted by the Greater Columbus, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and held at the RiverCenter. He reasoning, or so it seemed, since I emailed you I was one of the organizers. Those were local business owners, as far as I know. I, just like everybody else, just heard there was a pretty good chance they would be there to demonstrate.
I have always said if any African American in this city stands up and speaks out about any issue of racial discrimination I would get the blame in this city. Guess I was right, but I knew the costs when I took the job. Tim Chitwood informed me that Mike Gaymon thought that the front cover of him on the Courier next to a picture of a Klansman was more racially inflammatory than what he did. Talk about feeling superior and thinking the world revolves around you. Now Mike Gaymon is crying victim. He is a victim alright. He is a victim of his own deplorable conduct and racial insensitivity. Just that statement says all need be said about how Mike Gaymon thinks. He can be offended by the Courier, but African American citizens are not supposed to be offended by his egregious behavior.
I am not surprised. He is just trying to turn the tables and cause more racial division. However, from what I hear many Caucasian citizens are not happy about what he did to the African American employee. No one in their right mind believes Mike Gaymon donned a white table cloth and pranced around like the Phantom of the Opera in front of his subordinates for laughs and an African American employee was offended just by that. Something happen that night a little more dramatic and traumatic than that. That is no doubt the details Mike Gaymon conveniently leaves out.
Brother Love, Director
Grassroots Unity Movement for Change
I'm glad he told Tim Chitwood I'm "always straight" -- because a lot of rumors can start, when you've been single as long as I have.
The Chamber of Commerce protest may not have been C.A. Hardmon's doing, but he co-wrote a "cover story" about it in the latest issue of The Courier. That article admits not all African-American residents think President Mike Gaymon should be ousted. They apparently include the president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance - indicating that group doesn't put "Taliban" in its pamphlets anymore.
The Courier also includes a letter in Mike Gaymon's defense -- admitting the Chamber of Commerce president is "not perfect," but calling on all sides to "step back and lighten up." But of course, one person's attempt at humor can be offensive to someone else. Hmmmm - should the mayor propose creating a Community Comedy Review Commission?
When I asked the Greater Columbus Minority Chamber of Commerce for a comment on Mike Gaymon's actions this past week, part of my questioning was left unanswered. I wondered if the Minority Chamber had seen a growth in membership since the "tablecloth joke" became public knowledge. There may not be enough new members to fill a table at Monday's "Unity Award Breakfast."
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