This was a pretty mind-blowing interview that Talk 107.3-FM’s Bill Profita and Kevin Gallagher did with former Metro Councilman and mayoral candidate John Delgado, the subject of which was race relations in Baton Rouge.
We’ve had lots of disagreements with Delgado, but we’d struggle to find much of anything he says in this interview we aren’t on board with. He’s completely spot on.
Here’s the audio, courtesy of Talk 107.3’s site, and then we’ll have some highlights and comments to follow…
He comes in hot and notes the divisive and demagogic things Sharon Weston Broome has done since getting elected Mayor-President last December, which is not only good stuff but it echoes what we’ve been saying (not that we’re particularly novel or insightful in saying them, as they’re very obvious), and then he settles down to talk about something which is an excellent point and the fundamental indictment of the North Baton Rouge political machine Broome belongs to along with some of the other lesser lights who seem to have a stranglehold on city-parish government now. We’re talking about Sen. Regina Barrow, Reps. Pat Smith, Denise Marcelle, Edmond Jordan and Ted James, Metro Council members Lamont Cole and Chauna Banks-Daniel, Judge Janice Clark and a number of others here.
Namely, that this incessant race-baiting which spooled up when Alton Sterling was shot and has never abated is little more than a lazy, irresponsible substitute for actual governance.
Delgado gives the example of Gary Chambers being named to the Broome transition team and a citizen’s advisory board governing police practices, and calls him one of the most divisive people in town, and he’s right. What John Delgado doesn’t specifically say, though the implication is there and it’s correct, is that Chambers’ incessant race-baiting is borne of the same laziness and irresponsibility as those of the politicians with whom he’s in league.
We’ve been told a number of times that Chambers has admitted his social-justice-warrior routine is simply an act; that his website began as a publication covering the black business community in Baton Rouge and he just couldn’t make any money doing it until he found a niche that worked – which is to push the racial grievance angle. Once he started doing that he found patrons, social media followers and website clicks.
Which is not to excuse Chambers, or any of the others. But the problem is that we have an obsession with race that lots of people in politics see profit in stoking, and in Baton Rouge it’s becoming a self-perpetuating disaster that will very soon make this city ungovernable and unlivable – and that’s more important than whether Gary Chambers makes his house note or Denise Marcelle’s political career advances.
Delgado talks about leadership, and we’re not 100 percent sure his prescription that actual leadership would be about giving cops raises and better vehicles. But he’s correct in the general sense, that leadership in Baton Rouge right now would involve dragging the city out of the malaise of its racial strife and beginning to move the attention toward fixing tangible things which are broken. Streets. Schools. Crime. Drainage. Taxes. Budgets. The local economy.
Attempting to extract the scalp of Blaine Salamoni might make the grievance crowd feel better, but how’s it going to improve traffic in town? How many jobs will doing that create? How does it stop the middle class flight to the surrounding parishes?
If we could see some nexus between Broome’s actions and those critical needs, we might disagree with what John Delgado is saying. But there is none. And while it may seem peculiar that he’s so spot on in this interview after having made as many dumb statements in the past as he’s made, that doesn’t detract one bit from his points this morning.