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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why doesn't Jacksonville’s black community care about its children? (rough draft)

Yeah I said it, and it is what a lot of people are thinking too, so take a moment and let it sink in.

Now of course I am not talking about every black person in Jacksonville but I am calling out the ones that live north of interstate 10 in school district 5 and once again I ask you why you don’t care about your children because if you did care about them, then there is no way you would have accepted Betty Burney as your school board representative the last eight years or voted for her hand picked successor, Connie Hall.

While thousands of kids have left district 5 and those who remained behind often languished in schools mired in poverty and saddled with poor leadership from the district those two ladies made a killing off our children.

Betty Burney’s net income went up 70% while on the school board to nearly a half million dollars. When she joined the school board in 04 she also owned six properties and today she owns 16. I wonder how many are foreclosures where families with children once lived. Mrs. Hall on the other hand received nearly four hundred thousand dollars in no bid contracts over the last 18 months from the district and that’s on top of the six-figure income she received from the district the last few years she worked there. She was set to get nearly a half million more before I started asking questions and now she has swept her company and non-profit that performed the same duties just for a lot less under the rug. All that money went to those two and ladies and ask yourselves how your son or daughters school is doing?

A couple more questions, how many of you are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, seen your net income rise greatly, been recession proof and benefited from huge contracts the district was handing out? HOW MANY?!? My guess is not many of you.

This might sound a bit like sour grapes to many of you as I ran for the district 5 seat won by Mrs. Hall and you are right I am mad but I am mad at myself more than any of you who didn’t take the time to do the research or ask the tough questions, who voted for the status quo despite how disastrous it has been.

I didn’t ask one person for money and in fact I turned money away. I turned down the teacher’s union endorsement because I didn’t want to be beholden to them, I didn’t put up one sign or knock on one door and I was the recipient of a hit piece from the Times Union at the behest of Betty Burney, though in the piece you won’t find that mentioned and finally I am a white kid from a sliver of Murray Hill forced into district 5 a predominantly African American district. All I did was talk to anybody who would listen and post stories about the district on my blog.

Despite all this I still got 2800 votes, 23 percent of those that voted. I was telling my friends I thought the outcome for the three of us running would be 6000, 4000 and 60, with me getting the sixty.

I kick myself and I wonder what would have happened if I would have done more because if I could have gotten another thousand votes I would be in the runoff but because I didn’t the district despite her dubious history and obvious self serving nature, is about to be run further into the ditch by Betty Burney part II.

I knew I was in trouble when Corrine Brown started passing out flyers saying not to vote for me and to vote for Connie Hall instead. Corrine Brown really does deliver. I believe there are three thousand or so people in those poor neighborhoods, suffering while others benefit that would vote for Hitler in Corrine Brown told them too. They would think to themselves, you know I thought I had heard Hitler wasn’t that nice of a fella but if Corrine says he’s okay, he’s okay with me.

On the campaign trail a black preacher told me, Chris, I like what you have to say but you don’t realize what you are dealing with over here. I looked at him puzzled, I had heard already several times that I was the wrong skin color to run in district 5, but I reasoned if Alvin Brown was able to “overcome his race” then I could too and besides at the end of the day I had to believe parents just want what’s best for their kids and more of Betty Burney couldn’t be it.

What do you mean I asked? And what he said really shocked me, he said, Chris the black community is okay with a thousand people failing if just one makes it. Everybody knows Burney is terrible and Hall will likely be so as well but they need somebody to make it. Is it about “hope” I asked, they have to have hope that they can make it too. All he said back, was, that’s a good question.

What makes it all the more maddening is the black community had a viable alternative to both Mrs. Hall and me, Pervalia Gaines-Macintosh. Where I think I would have been better than her, I think she would have been solid. She unlike Hall and Burney has been in our schools over the last few years and unlike them she hasn’t profited off our children either. She grew up there and still lives in the neighborhood and I bet not in a quarter million dollar house either.

Yet she was snubbed worse than I was. District 5 had the option of picking a teacher and ed advocated me, a long time resident, who is on our schools helping our kids, Gaines-Macintosh or Connie Hall who I have no doubt sees dollar signs when she looks at our kids and they chose her. How didn’t they think their side of town needed a fresh set of eyes? Haven’t they noticed their neighborhoods dying? Or is it they just didn’t care.

District 5, wake up and that includes those citizens that live in Murray Hill, Lake Shore, Cedar Hills and off Wilson Boulevard, i.e, those parts of the district south of interstate 10, those parts of the district that have been ignored by your representative over the last few years, because if you don’t you can expect more of the same.

Expect more of the same or start caring friends. The choice is yours.

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