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Saturday, April 10, 2021

I’m Just Sayin’: Democrats need to set new rules

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Here we are again with the Marion County Democratic Party.

Let’s stop pretending that the slating process is fair. Let’s stop pretending that politicians aren’t going to rig it to suite their own political needs.

That’s what they do.

If the world was just there would not be a Councillor Jason Larrison — we also now know he is no ally.

Given the current moment, an ally would’ve recognized the need to step aside in favor of the first Latina voice to be represented on the council — which just so happens to have a significant Latinx population in the district.

Rick Sutton did just that because he’s an ally.

Larrison believes he deserved a council seat. Politicians are like that. I don’t blame him really. It isn’t like he cheated — the system did for him. It even allowed him to vote for himself—a clear conflict of interest others have enjoyed.

I do wonder if a Black or Latinx candidate with his baggage would’ve been supported by the Marion County Democratic Party?

The last time we had Black young people running who had even worked for the party — we learned the hard way about who gets to be a Democrat and who is not.

That Latinx leadership didn’t have the political clout to stop what amounts to a polarizing figure at best and extremely offensive figure at most from being elected should be a wake-up call.

Being apolitical is not a strategy that will benefit the Latinx community long term.  

There is a real question as to how they will handle this issue. And as allies or even accomplices we need to follow their lead.

A councilor, a Democrat at that, called real live people “weeds” and the Marion County Democratic Party let that slide. I’m hoping Latinx leaders don’t let it slide.  

Who’s party is this anyway?

An additional issue this raises is the nature of the Marion County Democratic Party rules.

I know Kate Sweeney Bell and she has an unenviable job, and in this instance, the lax rules didn’t serve her, the party or the community well.

While the party has tried to make sure precinct committeepersons live in their districts for the regular slating process, it seems particularly unfortunate that they would deviate from that ethos here.

Besides the need to address conflict of interest in these kinds of situations — here is the bigger problem — how would you go about changing the “rules”?

Say for example, someone wanted to establish a rule that in the event of an elected official leaving office before his or her term that the precinct committee people that were in place for that candidate’s slating (and live in the appropriate precincts) were the only eligible people to participate in a reappoint — how would you even go about executing on that?

Would we just have the chair change the rules?

Are the precinct committee people actually having regular meetings in their wards where a rule like this could be promulgated and discussed? Would the ward chairs be in a position to weigh in on any party rule?

Does the Marion County Democratic Central Committee even meet regularly to hear such rules?

And while we are asking questions — when are we going to get a Black chair of the Marion County Democratic Party?

Someone needs to create an enforceable rule to keep politicians in check and to empower the base of the party. Period.

My larger point is that there is likely plenty of blame to go around for an outcome that resulted in Larrison receiving his seat.

He’s there now — seated with a deficit of trust because of a process that was manipulated by the party.

This is a direct challenge to the Latinx community where they must lead on this and seek allies and accomplices if this issue truly matters — if not I guess we will all just move on.

Oddly, it does say something that the mayor stood beside Larrison.

But Mayor Hogsett’s loyalty to former staffers has been a consistent trait and those in the know recognize that he hasn’t just been loyal to white people. Black folks have gotten some passes too beyond the public reprimands that we all know about.

(I won’t mention District 12 is where the criminal justice complex is being built and that a friendly councilor is of some benefit in this situation.)

I’ll just note that it is the sign of a healthy party that a rule creating transparency and empowering precinct committee persons who actually live in districts and avoiding conflicts of interest would be good moves right now.

What I am hearing ….

The AACI developed an agenda last summer and has been both at work in pursuing policy objectives as well as listening to community concerns. This past Monday’s city-county council meeting featured two items on the AACI agenda: proposal 197 addresses the citizens police complaint board and proposal 199 reestablishes a Indianapolis Commission on African American Males. I’m also hearing positive news about the use of force board and its composition.

Advocacy works.

See you next week …     

Marshawn Wolley is a lecturer, commentator, business owner and civic entrepreneur. Contact him at marshawnwolley@gmail.com.

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