Friday, May 02, 2008

Black Churches Violating The Law In GOTV Effort For Obama: Take Notice Mayor Ballard

It happens practically every election in this town, but in some cases, the black churches are particularly brazen in flaunting their nonprofit status by engaging in partisan political activities. The Star's Robert King reports on how 25 black ministers in Indianapolis gathered yesterday to make clear their efforts to help Barack Obama. King writes:

"We believe, God, you have brought forth a man, in Barack Obama," Girton prayed amid the circle of pastors gathered at the Kennedy-King monument, "to lead us during our time of need." He got plenty of "Amens."

The Rev. Charles Harrison, leader of the broader citywide effort among more than 100 black churches to get people to vote early, on Sunday, said such a pro-Obama view is not what the overall drive is about, and that some black churches are led by Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters.

But among the subset gathered at the Kennedy-King monument -- pastors of small to midsize churches brought together by leaders of two ministerial groups -- there was no holding back. "We feel that Senator Obama is the one to bring hope and to bring unity," said the Rev. Rayford Brown, president of the Baptist Ministers Alliance. He, like the others, emphasized he was speaking only for himself. "What we are saying is that Senator Barack Obama is the one that is going to bring about this change."

The Rev. Fitzhugh Lyons, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, described the moment as "history-making."

"The White House was built by slave labor," Lyons said. "It is going to be a black man to go into the White House for the first time in the history of the country."

Of course, the IRS should be taking notice of these activities, but the person who should be waking up to what's taking place is Mayor Greg Ballard. After naming a member of the black clergy as his deputy mayor of neighborhoods, Rev. Olgen Williams, his administration has increasingly pandered to this clique. This past week, Mayor Ballard named another black minister and friend of Williams, Rev. Doug Hairston, to run the Front Porch Alliance. At the press conference, you saw the faces of several black ministers standing with Mayor Ballard and Williams. Noticeably missing from the press conference were any non-African-American neighborhood leaders. Are white neighborhoods not a part of the Front Porch Alliance? There is a troubling concern that Williams intends to funnel millions of our taxpayer dollars to his black clergy friends through the Front Porch Alliance under the guise of fighting crime, helping troubled youth and cleaning up neighborhoods. In the past, these programs have produced dubious results and raise serious questions about public funds being used for "religious purposes." One of this biggest recipients so far has been "Peace In The Streets", a program run by Williams' own son at the westside neighborhood organization Williams ran before becoming deputy mayor.

Mayor Ballard needs to remember who elected him mayor. None of these black clergy helped with his election last November. And that's the way it should be. They aren't allowed to use their churches' nonprofit status to engage in partisan political activities. People have attempted to explain to me that Ballard believes he won election last November because these black clergy told their church members to stay home on election day to deny Mayor Bart Peterson re-election to a third term. That's not what happened. People were fed up with rising taxes, out of control crime and the ethical lapses the Peterson administration and the Democratic-controlled council brought us. Mayor Ballard should never forget that.


Concerned Taxpayer said...

You have to remember, folks...since all of us slaveowners keep beatin' the man down, keeping them from high-paying jobs, preventing them from getting a decent education, and forcing them to commit crimes, it's OK that they bend the rules a little.

artfuggins said...

the nerve of African American citizens for thinking they have the right to vote. Next they will want non discrimination in employment and housing. If you would take time to rea the Star article carefully, you would see that this is a nonpartisan effort and everyone is welcome to vote the way that they wish.

Gary R. Welsh said...

A reminder of those non-partisan efforts from artfuggins (Wilson Allen)favorite politician:

With a wink and a nudge, Democrats gin up voter turnout.
Saturday, November 9, 2002 12:01 a.m. EST

INDIANAPOLIS--It was 5:45 a.m. when I arrived, tired and a little cranky, at Rep. Julia Carson's home. It was dark and chilly, and my cotton raincoat proved entirely inadequate. But I forgot about all that as I approached the scene in front of her modest residence. Vans and SUVs were pulling in and out of the driveway, and scores of volunteers were funneling into the large garage attached to the house.

This was Election Day, and Ms. Carson, a black liberal Democrat first elected in 1996, had seen her poll advantage shrink in recent weeks. Her losing would still be an upset, but she couldn't get too confident. Pesky white suburbs had been redrawn into what is now Indiana's Seventh District, and that could dilute the influence of Ms. Carson's black base in Indianapolis proper. Moreover, her Republican opponent, a former Dan Quayle hand named Brose McVey, had turned out to be a formidable challenger. Ms. Carson was re-elected with a whopping 59% of the vote in 2000, but a less lopsided result was expected this go-round.

Hence, the congresswoman who had never lost an election was poised to pull out all the stops, and eager apparatchiks of the famed Democratic machine were arriving in predawn droves, quickly filling up her makeshift headquarters and awaiting orders. The Carson campaign had invited me to shadow some of these folks as they went about the day "getting out the vote." And we didn't waste any time.

By 6:15 a.m., I was in a minivan with three volunteers--two young ladies and a young man. One of the women was a Carson staffer; the other was on loan from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt's staff. At one point the young man ordered the vehicle stopped. He hopped out, grabbed a Carson campaign sign from the back and placed it directly in front of a McVey sign along the road, so that other passersby wouldn't see the latter. (He was on loan from Rep. Cynthia McKinney's staff.) "That's legal," said the Gephardt staffer, presumably for my benefit. "What's not legal is for us to pick up the McVey sign." Wink. Nudge. After transporting two volubly pro-Carson voters to the polls, this trio of legal sticklers dropped me back at headquarters. I didn't see much of them the rest of the day, so I've no idea what other ("legal") high jinks they were up to later on.

Next, I rode with Milton, a gregarious black gent, to pick up another Carson voter. Ms. Miner was an elderly black woman who said that she'd recently moved and hadn't brought along any ID. We went to a local school and accompanied her inside. The voting inspector, hired by Republicans, couldn't find her name in the registry and told her she'd have to fill out some paperwork before she'd be permitted to vote.

Milton became indignant. He told Ms. Miner to "come on and vote, and we'll worry about forms later." The distaff inspector, the only white person I saw, wasn't about to get in Milton's way as he escorted his charge to the booth. Afterward, while she was filling out the paperwork, I introduced myself to two poll workers and listened in as they discussed the incident.
"When our people come in," said one, referring to black voters, "I tell them, if you don't want to fill out paperwork, just use the old address." "What about the inspector?" said the other poll worker. "Don't worry about her," came the reply. "She dumb. She don't know nothin'." Wink. Nudge.

Back in the car, I asked Milton if what transpired was unusual. "Not really," he said. "I tell people they don't need ID. Don't let them hassle you." Doesn't the law require poll workers to ask for ID? I inquired. "Yeah," said Milton. "But sometimes [voters] get intimidated by that. It's a hassle, so I go in with them."

The law can be such a hassle sometimes.

Back at the garage, the weather was worrying people. It had started to rain around 8:30 and never let up. Turnout could be affected. One of the lawyers present--the local Democratic Party had dispersed around 100 for the day, three times more than usual--told me that the phone banks would have to step it up. Two gentlemen, Bill and Gil, offered to show me one of several. Along the way, Bill stressed that Ms. Carson's opponent had "underestimated her street smarts."

Giving folks rides to the polls initially struck me as an inefficient way of turning out the vote. But Bill said I was witnessing only a fraction of the operation. In total "three or four hundred" volunteers were providing transportation, and several thousand would vote as result. The Carson campaign was coordinating efforts with 30 churches and the local arm of the "unquestionably Democratic" AFL-CIO. It turned out that these phone banks were the real command central.

A wealthy local businessman and Democratic Party contributor had made available office space and phones for "Operation Big Vote," a supposedly nonpartisan 501(c)3 outfit run by an affable attorney named Aaron. There, some 30 people were busy making 10,000 to 15,000 calls, and 75 vehicles were being disbursed to accommodate the 3,000 incoming requests for rides. Others were on walkie-talkies with volunteers stationed at the polls. When word came back that turnout was low in an area, the phone-bank workers would check their voter registration lists. Callers would then go to work on that specific area.

Aaron tried to insist, straight-faced, that this wasn't a Democratic operation, but he kept having to remind people who walked through the door, including my two companions, to remove their Carson campaign hats and buttons. When I asked Aaron if there were any Republican volunteers working here, he laughed: "Our Republican is out to lunch right now. I'll let you know when he's back." Wink. Nudge.

Ms. Carson won comfortably with 53% of the vote. And like I did, a lot of Democrat activists in and around this city probably lost some sleep on Election Day. But I doubt it was over suspect tactics.

Mr. Riley is a senior editorial page writer at The Wall Street Journal.

Greg said...

you said, "Mayor Ballard needs to remember who elected him mayor."

So, are you suggesting that he's not everyone's mayor? That he only needs to listen to Republicans? You certainly would not be suggesting that had Peterson won the election.

SW Lane said...

Greg Ballard tried to connect with the local black community with a few church visits during his campaign, and also appeared on the Amos Brown show, where he was ridiculed. Now, Amos tries to spin Ballard as being anti-Black community.

Speaking of political action by black leaders of a community, this and others, I'm looking forward to the implosion of the Democratic party after this Presidential campaign. Obama will probably get more popular votes...and Clinton will win the nomination/delegates.

What next, black community? Will you have finally woken up from years of being exploited by the Ds for your votes, having been lulled from independant thought and action and therefore the power of self-determination.. with the Ds Liberal-Socialist, womb to the tomb entitlement mentality wherein government is the panacea of all problems?

Maybe we will see a viable 3rd political party after all this? Perhaps black community leaders could get permission from Spike Lee to use his movie studio name as their parties' monicker.."40 Acres and a Mule?" What the hell, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler too' and all..there's precedent.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Greg, It means Ballard was elected by average, taxpaying citizens of this city, not black ministers. Every press conference Olgen Williams arranges is all about he and his fellow black ministers. These were the same people threatening to shut down construction on Lucas Oil Stadium if Mayor Peterson didn't find $25 million for their programs while the rest of us were fighting to do something about rising taxes and crime.

Chris Worden said...

Advance Indiana:

I've never believed people are above criticism because of their race. As a result, even as a white dude, I've called people out who are African-American when they need it, including Kim Brown, Ken Ackles, Monroe Gray, Andre Carson, and Woody Myers. I cringe at any knee-jerk reaction that criticism of black elected officials by white people is automatically racist.

At the same time, I know such criticism CAN be born in bigotry, and you're flirting with that line.

There's a difference between well-measured criticism of all people who engage in similar conduct and what you've been doing lately.

In the past month, you've engaged in something akin to a crusade to topple both Obama and Carson, and now you're singling out black ministers for being political. You have NO proof, mind you, that
the churches (as separate from the ministers who can act individually on their own time) are engaging in political activities (though I suspect some certainly are). But I also suspect a LOT of political activity is going on in WHITE churches.

Ever heard of Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition? How about Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority? Those organizations are populated by members of their leaders churches who do political work in church facilities. Also, I went to a white church recently where the pastor was encouraging the congregants to vote for pro-life candidates. He didn't mention any specifically, but he also didn't prevent "the public" (wink, wink) from passing out voting guides to members as they left the church stating who is or isn't pro-life. So why your focus only on black ministers?

In addition, it's revealing that you actually criticize the Mayor for having TWO black ministers on the Front Porch Alliance. God forbid, we actually have TWO black men in positions where they can help their neighborhoods. America denied black men jobs for decades, and now you're mad that an extra one is in an uncompensated position serving the city?

Also, you can't take refuge that you're reporting "facts." On the face of it, your posts may be something worthy of comment, and the data may even be factual (though the extrapolations you make from those facts are frequently inaccurate). But at some point, the aggregate effect of your "all-things-black-are-bad" drumbeat is that you become like a television program that only shows pictures of crime suspects when they're black. (Many would call that program "the nightly news").

The point is that if you ONLY point out what is wrong, you're going to quickly turn into a caricature. I'll let Varvel decide whether he wants to draw you or not.

(As an aside, if there would be an upside to Dr. Myers' winning the election on Tuesday, it would be that I can measure how quickly you would flip on THAT black man by using the same attacks your dreaded foe, Wilson46201, has been using on him.

Gary R. Welsh said...

ipopa, your comment is unfair and insulting. There have been dozens of posts on this blog criticizing the activities of the religious right by folks within my own political party like Eric Miller, Micah Clarak, Jim Bopp, Brandt Hershman, Woody Buton, et al. I'm getting sick and tired of the notion that any white person who dares criticize a black person is automatically labeled as being racist. People have had it with this double standard. You need to come up with a new name for your blog. There is nothing "painfully objective" about it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

And, of course, folks like you see nothing wrong when Amos Brown calls Justice Clarence Thomas "Uncle Clarence" in his column this week in the Indianapolis Recorder because Thomas voted with the majority in upholding Indiana's Voter ID law. You never see anything wrong with the blatant black on black racism to which every black Republican is subjected by the black liberal Democratic establishment.

artfuggins said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wilson46201 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gary R. Welsh said...

Wilson Allen continues to be banned from posting on this blog because he cannot avoid posting defamatory, rude and insulting comments about everyone with whom he has a beef. Please go away, Wilson. You are not welcome here.

artfuggins said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Observer said...

Alert! to community. Greg Ballard made a lot of promises to these clergy?????? members. Large monetary grants, property-keep your eyes on the former school located next to the Juvenile Center. It is accross the street from Fitzhugh Lyons church. He wants the school and Greg Ballard will probably give it to him. Good payoff for political support!

K2H said...

I remember sitting an a predominately white church during the 2000 presidential election and the pastor persuading the congregation that electing George W. Bush was good for America.

Let's not forget the Republican party's role in exploiting religion for political gain.

Brenda said...

My question is what can be done to stop the dishonesty at the polls? What I have heard from several people who worked in Texas and Iowa the same things were happening by Obama's people. Harrassing, running people off--especially older white people and voting more than once in the caucus'. Buses were brought in with people that weren't even living there and letting them vote with no ID. Why can't this be stopped? That's how we got Bush for the last 8 years. I just hope we do not get Obama or our world will forever change that is if we even have a free America left.

Unknown said...

Iopa, the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition are set up as separate political organizations. They are legally able to engage in politics without losing tax status. Individual churches are not. There is a long history of black churches allowing the pulpit to be used to promote candidates, even having those candidates speak. It happens to a lesser degree in some white churges. Regardless, that is ILLEGAL. What the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition did not is not illegal.