For those who view Republican Councilor Jim Bradford as nothing more than an extremist reactionary who contributes nothing of substance for the city and the constituents he represents in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, it’s been quite a rewarding year. The outspoken conservative’s latest pronouncement is just another in a series of steps ensuring his own political demise.
Take his reaction to fellow GOP Councilors Scott Keller’s and Lance Langsford’s support this past week for the Human Rights Ordinance and the police merger ordinance. After earlier interrupting comments by Keller in a rude fashion following the police merger vote, Bradford stormed out of the city-county council meeting after both measures passed with a sarcastic “Merry Christmas” wish to his fellow councilors. Bradford later fired off an e-mail to the two. According to the Star’s Behind Closed Doors, Bradford’s e-mail contained the subject line "Hope you both resign," with a time and date stamp of 11:11 p.m. Monday. It read:
I will formally ask for expulsion from our Republican Caucus at our next schedule meeting, I have no need to believe after tonight (sic) vote that you both are truly Republicans, Jim Bradford.
Currently, the Democrats have just a one-seat margin on the council with a 15-14 slim majority. Before the last election, Republicans had controlled every council elected since the city and county consolidated in the early 1970s. If Bradford gets his wish, Republicans would have to win an additional three seats, rather than just one, to regain control of the council in 2007. Now, if I’m a Democrat, Jim Bradford is the guy I want calling the shots for the Republicans.
A little more than a year ago, Councilor Bradford also came up with a bright idea of cracking down on illegal gambling in the city. It sounded like a good idea, but there was only one problem: It targeted only pea shack houses in the African American community. It seems these establishments posed a major crime problem for the city, unlike the illegal gambling taking place in VFWs, American Legions and private clubs, despite their reputation for making charitable contributions to the black community. Before his plan got shelved in committee, Bradford managed to alienate every African American in his district.
Councilor Bradford, like any other year he’s been a member of the council, voted against every single proposed tax increase, including funding for housing juvenile offenders and foster care for children in need of services, as well as the police merger ordinance and every other budget-solving proposal before the council this past year. He then had the audacity to blame Mayor Peterson when the city had to close the one-truck fire station in Broad Ripple as a cost-cutting measure.
Bradford has also been one of the most vocal opponents on the council of the Human Rights Ordinance, apparently oblivious to the fact that his diverse Broad Ripple district is home to a fairly large number of GLBT and younger, more tolerant persons. As the owner of the Whistle Stop Deli along the Monon Trail, one would think Bradford would have caught on to this by now. These constituents will never forget his vote against their common interests.
Bradford, on one of his many occasions in the past criticizing Mayor Peterson, quoted lyrics from a John Mellencamp song to make a point. He said, “It's what you do and not what you say; if you're not part of the future, then get out of the way.” That’s exactly what many people are saying of Jim Bradford these days. Bradford would do well to remember the words of the GOP’s first President, Abraham Lincoln. He once said, “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Jim Bradford would be doing us all a favor by making as his new year’s resolution a vow to remain silent for the remainder of what most certainly will be his last term as a city-county councilor.