Thursday, February 2, 2017

Deputy Mayor's Social Media Comments Not Helpful

Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods
Dr. David Hampton
Dr. David Hampton, Mayor Joe Hogsett's Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods, has raised some eyebrows based upon some social media posts he made.  You can read all about that over on Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics.

We can also talk about Dr. Hampton's right to post such controversial language.  Let's get that out of the way first.  Yes, it's his right to post whatever he wants to post.  He is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Is it appropriate for a member of the Joe Hogsett inner circle to post such comments?  Let's be clear, I'm not calling for Joe Hogsett to fire Dr. Hampton.  Hampton serves at the pleasure of Hogsett, and it's up to the Mayor to deal with this however he wants.

All I can tell you is how I feel.

I am a former neighborhood group president.  In fact, I took about a year and a half off of politics to do neighborhood stuff.  While I continued to blog, I did not serve as a precinct committeeperson, ward chair or as an officer in any political clubs.  I wanted to get in touch with the issues that neighborhoods feel day-to-day.

Our neighborhoods on the Southwest side have a myriad of issues.  Much of them are related to access to quality streets and sidewalks.  We just don't have many sidewalks down here.  Young people walk in the street to school, and it's not uncommon to see people in motorized wheelchairs using the shoulder of the street just to get back and forth from the grocery.

Down here, we are constantly fighting with developers vs. the comprehensive plan.  Developers have one idea about how a plot of land should develop, but the plans say other things.  It gets people's dander up down here on this side of town when developers tell them things that they know aren't true because they've heard them all before.

Within a 10 minute drive from my house, I can be at the sewage treatment plant, the largest power plant in the city, or the landfill where your trash goes.  Under that landfill, there's a mining operation deep under ground that, when blasting, shakes nearby homes and businesses.

In Decatur Township, my food options include a burger place inside a hotel, two sit-down Mexican restaurants, several fast food joints, a Denny's, a couple of Chinese places, two or three pizza delivery places, and that's really about it.  There's no fine dining.  I would have difficulty finding a nice pair of shoes, a new outfit, or a variety of other retail items you can find anywhere else.  Economic development is a problem.

The new mass transit plan doesn't even address this area to any great effect.  Buses are done running down this way by 6:30 pm.  From my house, it's a 30 minute walk to the nearest bus stop on Kentucky Avenue.

I'm just scratching the surface.

So, what's the connection here?  Worrying about national issues won't solve these local ones.  In my view, Dr. David Hampton's post was inappropriate for the city's Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods.

I'm not perfect.  No one is.  I just think that we have a better chance of dealing with each neighborhood's issues if we aren't divisive in how we speak no matter how we feel inside.  When you represent the Mayor, you just have to be careful.

Bad week for social media!

Dr. Hampton has released the following statement.

I humbly, and sincerely apologize for offending some in my recent comments, in which I used poor word choice. While I acknowledge that I am held to a higher standard in my roles as a religious leader and city official, I also acknowledge my human flaws.

In my frustration and desire to see more substantive dialogue between President Donald Trump and a select few African-American leaders, and more of a focus on issues of employment, healthcare, poverty, etc., I commented on a friend's social media thread. In my critique of what appeared to be a Black History dialogue between President Trump and African-American leaders, I casually, with no malicious intent, used a cutting term which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as: a black actor or actress, who takes roles that stereotypically portrays black people...and contributes to the perpetuation of degrading images; a sell out.

In the last 48 hours, another teen has been tragically shot, and as one of our city's leaders in the trenches, I care deeply about our city, and improving the issues that plague us. Like so many others, my passion to serve is manifested through my actions as well as through discourse – not rhetoric that distracts from the issues I am truly focused on. My personal comment was isolated, and does not reflect the Hogsett administration. I take full responsibility for my words, in poor taste.

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