Saturday, November 07, 2015

RIP Amos Brown

Photo of Amos Brown courtesy of Twitter
This is a real shocker. Fox 59 News is reporting that Indianapolis' well-known radio talk show host Amos Brown has died. Brown's voice has been heard on local radio for more than 40 years. He hosted "Afternoons With Amos" on WTLC-AM, the most-widely listened to black radio talk show. He's been at the forefront of covering local politics and was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame. It's unclear what caused the sudden death of Brown, who seemed quite well the last time I spoke to him just a few weeks ago. WTLC-AM said Brown died at his family's home in Chicago after collapsing late yesterday. His presence will definitely be missed in Indianapolis. His passing leaves the City without a counter view so lacking in our local news media. Brown had some strong words of advice for Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett and sharp criticism of outgoing Mayor Greg Ballard, one of the few local politicians and only Indianapolis mayor who refused to be interviewed by Brown, in his final column in the Indianapolis Recorder, words neither of which wanted to hear:
My advice, from an elder community servant/leader, was contained in some of the issues I brought up to you last Friday during that final mayor’s debate on our “Afternoons with Amos” program.
You danced around the issues I raised, but they aren’t going away, because they strike at the heart of the major problems facing Indianapolis — problems my friends at Indy’s mainstream media continue to ignore. But they and you do so at their and our city/county’s peril. It’s amazing in a campaign that talked about lots of issues, the problem of affordable housing was ignored. As I mentioned to you during the debate, Indianapolis ranks eighth of America’s 20 largest cities in the percentage of renters who’re spending over 30 percent of their annual income on rent and utilities.
The 2014 Census American Community Survey (ACS) reported 57.1 percent of Indianapolis renters spend 30 percent or more of their income on utilities and rent. That’s higher than cities like Houston, Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas.
Median rent in this city is $788. Add in the growing utility bills from IPL and Citizens Energy, and that percentage is only going to increase. Mayor Greg Ballard had no strategy for (and really didn’t give a damn about) increasing the amount of affordable housing. We don’t know if those increasing costs are one of the contributors to rising crime in our neighborhoods, but I can’t help but think it could be. Mayor-elect, you sort of ignored the fact that last year the amount of city business that went to minority-owned businesses was just 6 percent. The city’s goal is 15 percent.
That’s a 60 percent drop, a stunning reversal of something Mayor Ballard and his Boyz had bragged about — how well they were treating minority business.
You ignored another of Ballard’s greatest sins: Destroying the whole concept of minority-owned business by allowing a white-owned business to be classified as an Asian-owned business. The city ignored federal guidelines and the practices of major corporations and other major cities and allowed a white man born in Turkey to be classified as Asian.
Then to make the sin worse, the Ballard administration refused to break down their minority-owned spending by race and ethnicity.
I know in the debate you promised to change that, but you didn’t call out the hypocrisy of the Ballard administration deliberately misclassifying a majority to become a minority-owned business.
Then there’s what I continue to call that bogus, undocumented theory peddled by the Indy Chamber and Ballard’s Boyz that says Indy can solve its tax revenue woes by reversing white flight through luring thousands of young whites with high incomes.
They’ve peddled that malarkey for the past couple of years without offering one shred of documentation that their theory holds water; no data on how many young whites with high incomes would have to move here to solve Indy’s municipal budget woes.
Meanwhile, a Brookings Institution report this September, by the respected demographer William Frey, reported Indianapolis was among many large cities that’s had virtually no white population growth since 2010. The Census ACS says white population has had a net gain in Indianapolis/Marion County of 1,359 since 2010. Compare that to gains of 16,000 Blacks, 7,300 Hispanics and 5,400 Asians.
I maintain you grow city/county revenue by improving the wages and economic conditions of all who already live here, instead of basing revenue growth on an untested pipe dream.
The question, Mr. Mayor-elect, is whether you buy the snake oil your predecessor and the Chamber’s been selling or you follow common sense. (Oh, and if the Chamber has documentation to prove their bizarre theory, produce it! Like, this week.) Sir, you also danced around the question I asked about convening a broad-based summit of Indy leaders to take hard looks at the revitalization of IPS — not just inside the schools, but in the neighborhoods outside — to reverse IPS’ continued decline.
According to preliminary enrollment data I got from IPS last week, the district’s preliminary 2015–16 enrollment is 28,527. That’s down 1,570, or 5.2 percent, from last year’s figure of 30,097.
White enrollment in IPS, which has steadily declined for decades, reached new lows of 5,790, down 7.1 percent. Black enrollment also fell to a new low of 13,885, down 8.3 percent.
Black enrollment declines are partly due to the proliferation of charters, but also to Blacks moving to Indy’s townships. If there’s scores of whites moving downtown, they’re not bringing kids with them. Mayor-elect Hogsett, you might have skirted those issues during the debate, but when you take office in eight weeks, these and many more issues you’ll have to deal with.
We’ve had eight years of no leadership in the mayor’s office. This city can’t take another four years of drift and division. During this campaign many times you said if you became mayor you would lead. Well, sir, the 277,168 African-American residents of this city/county and the remaining 657,075 residents are waiting for you to be true to your word.
We want to follow you.
It’s time you lead!


Anonymous said...

His entire career was spent dividing this city. Indianapolis is a little bit better place today.

Maybe now we can come together and unite as a city for our common betterment.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That's a very unfair, over-generalization of Amos' contribution to the local political debate.

Unigov said...

I agree with your first sentence. Mr Brown's columns tended to divide. There's so much racism in Indy that escaped him. All of IUPUI's leaders are white. The IHSAA has more representatives from Catholic schools than from black schools. WFYI features more ppl with English accents than ppl with urban accents.

His column praising Beurt SerVaas, a man who did biz with S Africa during apartheid, was bizarre.

May God bless Mr Brown.

Sir Hailstone said...


Chas. M. Navarra said...

Thank you Gary (@4:17)- I agree with your comment regarding Amos Brown.

I was stunned to read of Amos' passing. I did not know him personally although I had met him more than one time; I did listen to his show via his podcasts on his website. I often found Amos Brown's comments and questions, his insights, and his remarks about the local issues far more on target and often more profound than any of the so-called "political journalists" in local media whose specialty seems to be reading talking points from Democrat and Republican political machines.

This particular blog post with Mr. Brown's words moves me at the loss citizens face today with Amos Brown's passing. To be reminded that outgoing Mayor Greg Ballard refused [feared???] to sit with Mr. Brown says a huge deal about how some of the career politicos were afraid of Amos' ability to get straight to a matter.

Rest In Peace, Amos Brown. Our community experiences a tremendous loss with your death; the shoes you leave will be difficult indeed to fill.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Amos and I disagreed on many things, but we were in total agreement on a lot of the issues surrounding the political cronyism that dominated Indianapolis government and the fixation on all things downtown to the detriment of the neighborhoods. Amos frequently called to discuss issues with me. Amos had a great bully pulpit with the prominent role he played in the City's black community, and politicians feared and respected him. I could provide him information that he could take and build upon greatly because of the access he had to key persons. I was more than happy to see him bring those matters to light without anyone ever knowing about the communications he and I had shared on the subject matter. My only recent disappointment with him was the mayoral debate. I had expected him to ask some really tough questions of the candidates that had not been touched upon at other public appearances of the two candidates. He seemed to go too soft. He didn't ask a couple of questions I had suggested to him. I frequently sent questions to him to ask of his guests, which he typically obliged. Not sure what was going on there. He may have been under pressure by some other folks.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see WTLC choose Larry Vaughn as Amos' replacement. He'd keep things interesting.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I'm pretty sure the station management, let alone the advertisers, would never approve of Larry as a talk show host. He would keep things interesting though.

Anonymous said...

Amos who? Besides that, before section 8 housing eagledale rents were 500 a month, 0berryhousing sent the rents up.

Andre the Grandson knows this..............he's made out very well off of his Grannies slums

Anonymous said...

Amos Brown was an actor, a strategic shakedown lobbyist for the Indianapolis elite and cronies, the same system that is raping the taxpayers of Indianapolis, to give the illusion that blacks had a voice in the Recorder and on the radio.

He would argue on the blacks behalf, then behind the scenes the ghetto mafia, a small group of the same blacks, would swoop in, get consulting contracts, display and radio ads, sponsorships and do-nothing diversity/community outreach positions for their family members and insiders of the political patronage base. Some call it hush money. After they got what the wanted, the hell with the rest of the black community, until another opportunity such as another public project emerges with contracts or a change in administration that threatens political patrons jobs and contracts.

He never wanted harmony between the races, the shakedowns don't work if there is harmony.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:49, Since moving to Indy, I've become aware of this peculiar form of groupthink many of you practice. Your comment embodies it. There's a billboard out on I-70 that speaks to me. It says "Indy Says Shut Up, I Say Speak Up." You're the Indy that says shut up, and you're not even bright enough to understand what you are. You, Sir, and those who simply cannot tolerate dissenting opinion under any circumstances, are the reason why this city is an epic failure by any reasonable measure. By stealing from households least able to afford it and giving that money to the Irsays, Ballards, Simons of the world, you light the match, Sir that causes the city to burn. That you're okay with it and actually believe it is good and virtuous says it all. You are the problem and I'm sick of listening to you and those like you spout your special brand of Hoosier nonsense.

Chas. M. Navarra said...

Anon 7:55: THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:55, you got it wrong. The folks here aren't the rich households with money to burn, nor do they want the city to burn. We are the smothered middle which the rich, and connected, are happy to take more and keep the poor down. Those who comment here are the ones who speak up.

As for Amos? You can be at please now.