Posts Tagged ‘Local Politics’
I believe it is time to settle this question in Norfolk. And the only way to do so is to put it on the ballot and let the voters decide. I’m willing to abide by the will of the people. Are you? Vivian Paige, writing in the Virginian Pilot
Whether or not our school boards are elected or appointed is a question that only we as residents of Norfolk can-and should answer. It’s our duty as responsible citizens in this great city. Me, writing in the New Journal and Guide
It’s often said that local issues aren’t necessarily partisan ones. Here’s proof of that statement.
The issue of whether or not Norfolk’s school boards should be elected or appointed is a question that only those who live here-and that means all of us, not just those who represent (in theory) us on City Council-can definitively answer. In order to do that, the question has to go before the electorate on the ballot.
I haven’t made up my mind either way, yet. I’ve seen what an appointed school board can do here, and “I’m not impressed” is probably too generous of a statement. The flipside to that is, having seen and experienced the ugliness of the campaign process, I know I don’t want to see that begin to adversely affect my kids or any other’s quality of education.
As we both say, though…at present, that’s not the issue. The only question that needs an immediate answer is “do you think the people of Norfolk have the right to choose for themselves how their school boards should be selected?”
I say yes…and I believe Vivian would agree.
So should you.
The ongoing redistricting discussion continues in Norfolk, with City Council voting on one of two different plans tonight. Here’s my comments to Council on the matter:
In a perfect world, representatives of the city of Norfolk would be chosen not based on race, but on their ability alone. Of course, we know that we don’t live in that perfect world. Because of the activism of generations before my birth, as well as the sins of others in that generation, a candidate or nominee’s race is often considered when election, appointment, or redistricting time comes around.
Tonight’s discussion of the “compromise plan” is only possible because an ill-informed public, often too caught up in the goings-on of Washington and Richmond, has enabled some on this Council to believe that their will and their preservation of power is all that matters. That’s our failure as citizens to hold up our end of the unwritten contract between the governors and the governed. It’s what allowed certain members of this council-who’ve gotten away with it for years-to print notices about redistricting on days when papers are barely read, and schedule hearings for it at times when many people are still stuck in traffic.
Yet out of the single public hearing on redistricting came a glimpse of a plan that goes far beyond the mere preservation of power.
The Jordan alternative seeks to develop a ward system that is more reflective of the city’s racial makeup. Under his plan, the city’s council would move from a 4-3 racial split, or 5-3 when the mayor is included, to the possibility of an equal 4-4 split. The Jordan alternative could also move us closer to the day when the segregation of racial voting power is irrelevant, as this plan shows to the Justice Department that our city has moved further away from the dark days of racial discrimination.
Yet this council is unwilling to consider it…and has given every reason possible not to, and has used every possible scheme to keep citizens in the dark about the Jordan plan. First, we geard that one of the wards in the plan was .1% short of a requirement from the Justice Department; that percentage amounts to about 200-300 people. Then, at the last Council meeting, no comments from the public were heard on redistricting at all. And finally tonight, the “discussion” of the Jordan plan will take place after the vote on this compromise…which means if the compromise is approved, the Jordan alternative won’t get a discussion at all.
Members of Council, it’s your responsibility to consider the Jordan alternative, beyond holding a single hearing on its merits and then burying it under tonight’s agenda. You’ve been given a plan that not only reflects the makeup of our city, but presents an opportunity to say-and show-to the nation that we are truly better than our past. You have a duty, far beyond working toward your reelection, to consider the Jordan alternative.