I was going to write this big long thing about the Herenton deal yesterday, but after reading Brassmask, Autoegocrat, and 55-40, I don’t think I really have that much more to add. Couple that with Wendi C. Thomas’ piece in this morning’s CA, and I’m really at a loss…which is strange because usually she pisses me off enough to get my blood boiling.
The primary thing that binds the three main characters, Mayor Herenton, Richard Fields, and Gwendolyn Smith, in this little scenario is that NONE OF THEM HAVE ANY CREDIBILITY.
Mayor Herrenton may well be the victim of some concerted effort to make sure that he didn’t get re-elected, but the thing that is most damning of his administration over the 3 years that I’ve lived here is his lack of vision his polarizing effect on the community, and his irrational behavior.
Richard Fields has no credibility because of his continued character assassination of a number of African-American officials, starting with the Ophelia Ford incident back in 2004, which led to his resignation/removal (different people have different accounts of this) from the Shelby County Democratic Party, and continued on with his infamous letter about Robert Spence, the mailer against Jay Bailey for the Chairmanship of the SCDP, and a host of other things scattered hither and fro.
Gwendolyn Smith has no credibility, not because of her fraud conviction, but because she admits that she took money from Fields to carry out his alleged plan. Only when the money dried up did she chose to go to Herenton. That sounds like a classic double cross. Who was blackmailing whom? Sounds to me like a case could be made that Ms. Smith was blackmailing Fields.
Still, none of this gets to the issue at hand, the mayoral race. In what will be noted as either a stroke of brilliance or just dumb luck, Mayor Herenton has effectively “flipped the script” from a campaign about issues that are devastating the city, to one about racially motivated powerbrokers, intent on the continued subjugation of the black community. By setting the stage to make the campaign an exercise in race baiting, and “white rule” as Thaddeus Matthews calls it, the mayor has used one of the most classic emotionally driven tactics to shore up the African-American community against anyone who would oppose him.
With just over 100 days until the city elections, and 34 until the filing deadline, there’s plenty of time for this molehill to either turn into a mountain, or be swept away in a tide of honest discussion over the future of the City of Memphis. We have a lot more important things going on in this city than some half-baked sex scandal. My hope is that the people of the city of Memphis will chose to focus on the candidates, their issues, and their vision for the future of the city, instead of the old standby of race.