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Chatham County commissioners are no better than David Duke

By Paul Cuadros
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2011

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Siler City, NC - The actions by the new County Commissioner majority were wholly political and an example of "get back atcha" politics where one party simply wanted some payback and a message sent that a new political wind was blowing. The new majority of Commissioners knew they had to stick to their campaign pledges of eliminating these three positions, especially the Human Relations executive position because they had been badgered to do so by their voting constituents who were angry and upset at the passage of the 287g immigration-law enforcement resolution by the previous majority.

That resolution sprung from the work done by the Human Relations Commission to recommend that act. Never mind that the resolution had no authority whatsoever when it comes to the implementation of 287g and is in essence an unfunded program that the county would have to absorb. Never mind that only the sheriff in a county can seek to implement such a program. (See this item to be next on the majority's agenda of keeping sore promises.) This was simply political payback for the new winds of change. There is a brewing feeling that retribution is needed in the county to countermand the programs, policies and even philosophies of the previous majority.

It's political "tit for tat" as they say.

The voters who elected the current majority bloc of commissioners wanted to send a message and the new majority complied willingly with a heavy hand. Transparency, indeed. The message was clearly received by the African American and Latino voters and people of Chatham County. To think that race was not a part of this message is simply to turn a blind eye to what was behind the motivation of eliminating this position and crippling any efforts to work on issues of race and poverty in the county. There has been a lot of talk that we don't need this position or this commission for that matter.

The last time a majority of commissioners sent such a message Siler City saw David Duke stand before its City Hall giving our largest community a black eye that it has yet to fully recover from. Google Siler City and see what comes up. That's because when leaders send subtle but discernible messages about race the fringe elements tend to become embolden and to want to push even further.

Siler City today is a majority-minority community. It's Hispanic population hovers around 50 percent, its African American population around 18 percent and its white population around thirty percent. (See US Census Bureau 2009 estimates). Those are estimates. When the hard numbers come out look for Census Track 204 to be even more Hispanic. (I haven't forgotten about those who live in Bennett and Bonlee--Census Track 205 puts that area at 18 percent minority and growing.)

But Chatham County doesn't need an effective Human Relations Commission and doesn't need a staffer coordinating it. We don't need this position until we need it.

Elections have consequences. This is a political fact. But so do policies. The new majority would do well to revisit the past in this area and remember this political fact, too.

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