For the most part, the Journal Times has printed the commentaries that I have submitted over the past few years. A few did not make the cut. The following commentary is a few years old, and is obviously not timely, but it will give the reader some insight into the sensitive areas for the JT. Here it is.
Campaign season inevitably results in various accusations, rumors and outright lies. Usually they should be dismissed as devious campaign strategies. Yet it is not so easy to dismiss the disturbing news involving Racine County Supervisor QA Shakoor, largely because the charges are evidently true.
Two newspapers, including the Journal Times, have reported that Shakoor received about $16,000 in low income housing assistance, despite having a combined income of $120,000. Shakoor would have been eligible for the aid only if his combined income was less than $36,200. These are the facts, and nobody is disputing them.
In some places, this kind of activity can get people in trouble, but here in Racine it has been described as "legal". I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know if it is indeed legal in Racine to divert taxpayer money to wealthy politicians, but I know this: it shouldn’t be. So if our elected officials do nothing else, they should close the legal loophole that allowed this to happen, or it will surely happen again.
City officials did acknowledge a mistake, though. The forgivable loan of $6375, which Shakoor used towards the down payment on his home, came from the wrong account. Which sort of begs the question, what account was it supposed to come from? I am sure that lots of people would like to be paid thousands of dollars to live in Racine. If there is such a program in Racine, it should be publicized and made available to everyone.
For his part, Shakoor has stated, to the Milwaukee Journal, that he believed that he was eligible for the aid and that he didn’t know it was from a low income housing program. The Journal Times quotes Shakoor as follows "I was told that with this targeted area, they were looking for all levels of income- upper, lower, middle".
Shakoor, then, has been duped. He has been tricked into accepting money that should have gone to his low income neighbors.
Luckily, Shakoor is in a position to do something about this mess. As a newly elected Racine alderman, Shakoor can lead the way in changing the law, to ensure that no other Racine area officials are similarly victimized.
Of course, I don’t really expect the city to change any laws, or make any effort to hold anyone accountable. It seems that city officials would prefer that this problem just go away.
All of which makes me wonder, does anyone care that money intended to help the poor instead ended up in the pocket of a wealthy politician? Is anyone advocating for the poor? I posed these questions to one of our local judges. He basically told me that there are no advocates for the poor in Racine. How very sad. I think he might be right.
I wish the Journal Times would reconsider their practice of endorsing candidates on the basis of their race.
Their endorsement of Georgia Herrera was justified, in part, because of her minority status. The Journal Times claimed, without supporting evidence, that Herrera’s minority status would help the court "come to grips with the disproportionate number of minorities that are found in our jails and prisons". Does this mean that John Jude, because of his white skin, will be less able than a minority to confront the problem?
Imagine if the Journal Times cited race as a reason to vote for Jude. "Jude, a white man, is best suited to meet the needs of our mostly white community". The uproar would be considerable, and justified.
A far better idea is to evaluate candidates on the basis of their qualifications, ideas, integrity, intelligence, etc... and to ignore irrelevant physical characteristics.
I am sure the Journal Times efforts are well intentioned, but if we legitimize race as a valid criteria for selecting our leaders, minorities will be hurt the most.
I admit to some confusion regarding the price tag for the recently defeated school referenda.
A full page ad sponsored by the SC Johnson referendum account indicated, "the additional cost is just $22.50 per year for a home valued at $100,000."
Yet the Journal Times reported the cost as about $138 for a homeowner with a $100,000 home. They can’t both be right, can they?