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Corrupt Memphis mayor re-elected, but at least he’s black, right?

My home town of Memphis has let me down in a big way, and it is both saddening and maddening that it happened this way. Just as New Orleans re-elected the horrificly inept race-baiter Ray Nagin due solely to his skin color, Memphis has done the same thing with their corrupt, morally bankrupt, incompetent, sleezy mayor with a God-complex, Willie Herenton. He was re-elected last night to a fifth term, surviving a virtual three-person race and winning with a plurality (Memphis has no run-offs) that was much less than the combined votes of the second- and third-place finishers.

Here’s a quick background for those of you who don’t know:

Herenton became Memphis’ first black Mayor in 1991. He defeated the incumbent Dick Hackett by 146 votes in a 65% turnout election. Though Willie Herenton had been the Superintendent of the failing Memphis City School System and drove it into the ground, the predominantly black city of Memphis voted for him anyway. He’s been there ever since.

Here are the things that can be attributed to the embarassment of a mayor (and these are merely drops in a bucket):

  • Failed to insure sound fiscal management of the City of Memphis.
  • Frequent references to himself in comparison with Jesus.
  • Failed to address multiple allegations of improprieties regarding Memphis Light Gas and Water (and the only competent person to run MLGW in years was fired by Herenton to be replaced by a corrupt crony who has since been indicted by a federal grand jury on bribery and extortion charges) .
  • Angered citizens to the point of becoming a target of a citizen recall effort.
  • Done little in response to the significant rise in crime under his leadership, stating that “No mayor in any American city can solve the crime problem.” How would you like a mayor that says “Well, we have too much crime here. That sucks. Deal with it.”?
  • Stated that those who don’t like the way he has served as mayor can move out of Memphis.

    I (and tens of thousands of others, including businesses) took him up on his offer on that last point, and my substantial income and I bask on the lower-taxed, better educated, and overall less effed-up beaches in north Florida. While I most definitely love it here, I do miss home a lot. But I think I miss what Memphis was, not what it is. Yesterday’s mayoral race gave Memphians a chance to craft a Memphis that can be much better than the Memphis that is. But the citizens didn’t want it badly enough.

    Here’s my question, a politically incorrect one that has been nagging me for a while now: just what is it about the black community that makes it turn a blind eye to their corrupt, arrogant, incompetent leaders who also happen to be black? Is ethnicity so damned important that results don’t even matter? Whether it’s Ray Nagin, William Jefferson, Willie Herenton, or whomever, it’s like black politicians can just simply do no wrong!

    I mean, even a plurality of black Memphians hate Herenton…but they vote for him anyway! Herenton has destroyed their schools, allowed their communities to rot, fostered corruption in their police forces, ignored crime in their neighborhoods…but hey, he’s black, so what the hey? I can’t get my mind around that. If a CEO of a corporation failed that miserably, he’d get sh#tcanned faster than the MSM recycling a DNC talking point for a lead story.

    But even if Memphians are just bound and determined to have a black mayor, that’s cool…but is there not a single black man or woman in a city of almost half a million people that want to make a difference, that could challenge Herenton? He had such a man last night in Herman Morris as an opponent, but with the addition of a white woman opponent (Carol Chumney), Herenton was able to prey on racial fears and tensions with “a vote against me is a vote for Whitey”, and it worked. I guess had Chumney backed out and threw her support behind Morris (or even vice versa), Herenton would have been soundly defeated.

    There are issues that are (or atl least, should be) important to all people, regardless of race, gender, or income level: crime; education; jobs; opportunity. Under Herenton, he has demonstrably failed in massive proportions on all of those issues. If black Memphians want their kids to get to get good schooling, if they want their crime rates to drop, if they want the city’s economy to thrive so as to create new and better-paying jobs, then their best chance to realize these things would have been to depose King Willie and vote in someone else who genuinely shared their values. The only thing King Willie shares with these folks is skin color. Alas, in Memphis, that’s apparently all that is needed.

    By the way, good reading on this issue from my friends in the Memphis Posse: The Truth Hurts and Blue Collar Republican.
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    October 5, 2007 Posted by | bigotry, The Memphis Posse | 13 Comments