Saturday, June 22, 2019

Rector and Johnson, Side by Side

Today, on HudsonValley360, Amanda Purcell published an article based on interviews with the two mayoral candidates in next Tuesday's Democratic primary and some independent research on her part: "Issues propel Rector vs. Johnson primary."

Among the most intriguing things in the article is that Purcell seems to have caught Johnson in a bold-faced lie. On June 2, Johnson stated categorically on his "Kamal Johnson for Mayor" Facebook page: "I have not been arrested." Still the Police Blotter that appeared in the Register-Star for June 5, 2008, indicates that he had: "On June 2, Kamal Johnson, 23, of Hudson, was charged with second degree harassment by [HPD Officer James] Nero. Johnson allegedly physically harassed a woman during an argument."

On June 2, after denying on Facebook that he was ever arrested, Johnson went on to say: "This is not to say that we should demonize people who have been arrested. I firmly believe that people can change--that a person can make a mistake and then redeem themselves." If this is what he believes, why not own and explain whatever happened in 2008 and assert, if he was in any way culpable, that he is now a changed man? Instead, in an apparent attempt to discount the information reported in the article and convince people that a Police Blotter entry from eleven years ago was a fabrication, Johnson posted this on his Facebook page today:
I am disappointed to see that forces working against my election are trying to distract us from these important issues with smear tactics and negative campaigning. I repeat: I have no criminal record nor have been arrested. Associating people of color and specifically, black men with criminality is unfortunately still a common tactic to undermine people of color in society. And in political races in the United States. It has been used for generations. It was less than a year ago that John Faso tried to use similar race-baiting techniques in his campaign for Congress. Luckily, Antonio Delgado overcame those tactics then, and we will similarly overcome them this week here in Hudson. Desperate tactics will not work.
In this statement, Johnson characterizes the local newspaper as "forces working against my election," dismisses its journalism as "smear tactics and negative campaigning," equates an article in that newspaper mentioning two documented issues--a reported arrest in 2008 and tax warrants from 2017 and 2019--with an attack ad paid for by a Republican Super PAC, and in the process tries to label his opponent a racist. Talk about desperate tactics.
COPYRIGHT 2019 CAROLE OSTERINK

31 comments:

  1. Let's call it what it is overall - the pro-gentrifiers getting a little scared of losing control of their precious colonized world, sounds like to me...And what exactly is the agenda of the incumbent? To slander a fellow Democrat and that's the best they can come up with? Because that's all I've heard so far. If all the incumbent can offer is to attack his challenger over quasi-racist and classist accusations and smear tactics, then that is a sad state of affairs for the Democrats in Hudson. All I've seen from Kamal and his campaign has been upstanding and hardworking with passioned and intelligent grassroots efforts. Can't say that about his opponent nor about this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A reader identifying as "Legal Eagle" submitted this comment:

    Three possibilities come to mind of why an arrest record might be sealed: One, that the case was dismissed. Two, the defendant was granted youthful offender status and the matter was adjudicated. Three, that he pleaded guilty and the record was sealed upon completion of community service or probation as part of a plea deal. Sounds like he was granted the third option. Otherwise, why did he deflect the issue in the article and on posts to Facebook?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Carole, interesting that you chose not to quote this part of the Register-Star article "The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office and Hudson Police Department have no record of any arrests involving Johnson."

    One possibility is the 2008 Register-Star article reported a false depiction of what occured. I believe Kamal when he says he was never arrested - the DA and HPD have said there was no arrest.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The police blotter entry does not state that Mr. Johnson was arrested; only that he was charged, implying the issuance of an appearance ticket, which is NOT an arrest.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dorothy Heyl submitted this comment. Full disclosure, Heyl is the wife of Common Council president Tom DePietro:

    So this is what dirty politics in a small town looks like. First there are the rumors about the young African-American man challenging the mayor in a primary for the Democratic line. The rumors of a criminal past are spread by a Republican operative, and the mayor denies any knowledge of them, or ability to stop their spread. Weeks go by and then less than a week before the election the local paper prints an ostensibly balanced piece comparing the two candidates. The piece publishes the results of “opp research” apparently performed by the mayor’s supporters. It seems that over ten years ago the local paper reported that the African-American candidate was “accused” of something. This news report is the only evidence cited for the long ago event. There are no police or court records concerning the event according to the reporter.
    What are voters to make of this old item from the newspaper archives? Either the “accusation” did not result in any formal charges, or there was an arrest with some disposition, but they were expunged. Either way, the news story is being used for racial stereotyping—to paint the candidate as a criminal.
    It is not surprising, perhaps, that a well-funded incumbent would look for dirt on a challenger, and then plant a story with the local paper. What is disappointing is that a candidate who touts himself as a “progressive” would allow his supporters to use tactics that are at odds with progressive ideas about criminal justice reform. Could this country forget its racist past and move beyond the mass incarnation of blacks if its leaders used long-ago brushes with the law to keep blacks out of public office or any positions of responsibility? Criminal justice reform promotes the expungement of arrests as a means to afford equal access. If news reports take their place, that tool is useless.
    Let us hope that voters are immune to this pernicious tactic. The fact is that whatever happened over ten years ago should be irrelevant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The fact is that whatever happened over ten years ago should be irrelevant." Dorothy, was this your attitude about Christine Blasey Ford's experience with Brett Kavanaugh?

      Delete
    2. Yes, Carole, I found Blasey Ford to be a sympathetic and credible witness, though the event happened long ago.
      I don't mean to suggest by my comment that if a woman came forward and made similar accusations about a candidate in Hudson I would dismiss it as irrelevant. But that is far from the case here. There is no Blasey Ford here, just an unverified item in the police blotter. And it's not for lack of looking for dirt on Kamal. I'm told One of the mayor's supporters FOILed Kamal's employment records from when he worked for the school district.

      Delete
  6. Now hold on. I feel like there's some irony here: presumably, you're citing this alleged run in with the cops to call Kamal's moral authority into question--that's an assumption, but I think it's fair; it's why we dredge up things from the past: to suggest that past behavior indicates character. But leaning on really dangerous and pernicious tendencies of our cultural to criminalize black men to question someone else's moral authority doesn't seem like a very moral or ethical thing to do. I don't have the numbers on this, but given what we know about the racial disparity in policing, given that we know that black people do not commit more crimes than white people, but are targeted, stopped, harassed, and punished disproportionately, doesn't it seem worth being incredibly careful here? This seems like pretty shaky moral high-ground...

    ReplyDelete




  7. A reader whose identity is known to Gossips submitted this comment:

    Where is accountability?
    Alderman Johnson wishes transparency. However, when contacted regarding his lack of minutes for his committee, He has no comment or still to this day has addressed the issue to his constituents and voters.
    Then when he makes a statement or a claim on his Facebook page which seems to be untruthful. When the statement is is then vetted for accuracy, Again there is deflection with no ownership or explanation of the statement. I can handle redemption when you own up to your past but I am not a fan for untruthfulness. So Yours truly,
    Accountability counts
    One more thing to add alderman claims to have a wealth of knowledge and experience in grant writing where was this knowledge during youth committee and police Committee where it is definitely needed

    ReplyDelete
  8. Might we speak about both candidate's actual, demonstrated experience and qualifications? The current conversation is deflecting us from a productive discussion about who should lead the executive branch of our city government.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Does everyone commenting above have similar tax problems? Speaking as a fiscally responsible person, that's the only issue which is of concern to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arrests (if that's what even happened) are expunged all of the time, and for the best of reasons.

      But if I take the tax problems lightly, then won't I be culpable, too, if things go fiscally wrong for the city?

      I still hold Don Moore and his supporters accountable for the years of legal fees the City continues to spend defending the zoning mess in South Bay. That's because he was warned, but still didn't listen (worse: he silenced the public).

      Ultimately, weren't Mr. Moore's actions as Council President fiscally irresponsible, and yet who will hold him to it when it was "so long ago"? (I won't say who I'm quoting.)

      Nowadays too few can remember anything before a few months ago (probably too medicated), while everyone reacts to the click bait of an alleged arrest (or charge) justifiably wiped from the slate.

      But what about the candidates tax problems? Nobody's concerned about that? What's up with that?

      Delete
  10. Kamal Johnson submitted this comment by email:

    I don’t think I deflected at all. I feel like my focus remains on the city and what’s important. So no I was NOT arrested there was no probation or plea. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time nothing was sealed there was no "Harassment" there was no case because I did not do anything. Nonetheless, my campaign has and remains about uniting and not dividing. I get that I didn’t provide the response that was expected (mass panic) and that the article was a swing and a miss for an attack on my character. I will not be sidetracked when the city has more important life threatening tasks at hand. We have had two shootings in less than a month near public buildings. Our Youth Center is crumbling, I barely have neighbors. The reason that my momentum in this race continues to grow is because you guys are so focused on me that you are overlooking the voters and their concerns. So Carole I hope you get back focused as well as someone who I feel is very intelligent in the history of this city. You named this article Rector and Johnson, Side by Side but yet it’s all about me much like this campaign. I thought I was the young guy why is it I feel like I’m the most mature?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with Kamal 100%!! He is ready to tackle the real issues and that is what Hudson needs.

      Delete
  11. "This is categorically false and today’s Register-Star story, in an apparent attempt to clear it up, was completely unclear. Unfortunately that only plays into the false narrative. It mentions a 2008 arrest found in the paper’s archives but goes on to say that the Hudson Police Department and the Columbia County Sheriff have no record of Kamal Johnson ever having been arrested. The truth is he was not arrested. The information did not come from a news story; it came from the police blotter, which is known for getting things wrong and not going back to make them right. The fact that the Hudson Police Department has no record of an arrest, in 2008 or any other year, means that there was no arrest. Period."


    https://imby.com/hudson/article/hudson-needs-to-reject-dirty-politics-in-our-mayoral-primary/


    ReplyDelete
  12. https://imby.com/hudson/article/a-bluer-wave-in-hudson/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nick Haddad submitted this comment:

    sorry folks, but the boys will be boys apologia just doesn't work here.

    even the merest whiff of domestic violence compels anyone in question to offer a complete and verifiable account of the matter.
    the absence of accountability from the outset is not a pardon, nor does it guarantee future good behavior.
    and attempts to frame this matter outside of the relevant political and community dialogue are irresponsible, inflammatory and quite frankly dangerously divisive to our community.
    and comparisons to Congressman Delgado are diversionary and an embarrassment at best.
    sorry sir, you are no Antonio Delgado, (apologies for plagiarizing a famous rebuke).

    ReplyDelete
  14. There was no 'boys will be boys' apologia. There was a complete denial and an explanation that Johnson was present at the incident but not involved. At all. The police blotter is often inaccurate. It got the name wrong. Johnson has never been arrested for domestic violence. He has never been accused of domestic violence. You are lucky, Nick, to have been born white and have never had to contend with prejudiced assumptions about you because of your race, not because of your behavior or your character.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nick, to support Enid's point, a white guy we all know was fortunate not to be arrested after pulling a knife on someone on Warren Street last summer.
      Or was that just a rumor--wasn't covered here or in the Register Star.

      Delete
  15. Carole, as a long time supporter of the good work done by Gossips, this was not your finest moment. This kind of stuff stirs the pot in a political culture that is already dysfunctional enough. Better to contrast the positions of the Mayor and Kamal on taxation, youth issues, education, waterfront, etc. That would be vastly more productive.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Unless, of course, that could make the Mayor appear in even worse light than the mud slinging..

    ReplyDelete
  17. Carol, Seems like there are two things you need to do:
    1. Apologize to Kamal and your readers for spreading misinformation.
    2. Acknowledge that spreading unsubstantiated rumors about a young black man is feeding into white supremacist ideas of why we should not be voting for people of color.

    You are accountable.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post and read.

    I had heard rumors - now its clear - we can move forward now.

    thanks !

    ReplyDelete
  19. Gossips received this comment from a reader who asked to remain anonymous:

    I am disappointed by the behavior and speech of some in this community. Questioning a candidate’s history is not using the race card. It is what a voter should do, no matter the candidate’s color or gender.

    I do believe the race card has been used for some time during this election season and am personally insulted. Placing placards around town stating “the rich man doesn’t want the black man to vote” is using the race card. A van driving around town should state “Everyone’s vote should be counted”.

    As one who helped blacks register to vote in Mississippi in the 60’s, I am insulted by this behavior. I have voted for several black candidates, competent people whom I felt could perform the duties of the office and be a good role model. I considered their being elected as a demonstration that our efforts at giving equal opportunity to blacks had worked, at least for some.

    When voting I look at qualifications and judge who can do the job. Mr Johnson’s cancellations of meetings, and his failure to follow the simple legal requirements of the transparency of minutes on the meetings, not only gives me nothing upon which to base a favorable opinion, it leads me to wonder if the candidate is serious about his responsibilities or simply incompetent. His indebtedness to the IRS leads me again to question his competence and his seriousness to manage a budget for this city.

    Take race out of this. The question is who is competent and trustworthy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, "take race out of this." Thanks for the above comment, which stresses qualifications and nothing else.

      Race notwithstanding, speculating on an expunged police record (or charge) is as low as it gets. Are we second-guessing the authorities who actually knew the circumstances? For all we know the candidate acted with nobility from first to last. The point is we don't know, and it's none of our business.

      Wondering about a candidate's "indebtedness to the IRS," however, is very much our business.

      Most here focused on the wrong thing, and I'd call that ignoble.

      Delete
  20. Chris McManus submitted this comment. I should say in advance that he appears to be reacting to a comment I posted on behalf of someone else rather than anything reported on Gossips. The only time I addressed the issue of missing committee minutes was in the post "In the Interest of Transparency" https://gossipsofrivertown.blogspot.com/2019/05/in-interest-of-transparency.html where I accurately reported the minutes available online for each committee in the current Council. What follows is McManus's comment:

    Curious how Kamal's notes from this year are posted on the website, yet when Mayor Rick chaired the Economic Development Committee, he missed 20 months of notes. Smells like Machiavelli to me. And yes, January and April are not posted from Kamal because the meetings were cancelled due to holidays or by the department head. Are you going to blame Kamal for that too? He hasn't missed a council meeting in his entire tenure.

    Oh, and now we know the real reason why it's called "Gossips" of Rivertown.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Above all the most important thing is which candidate will do the best job. Hands down Rector is the very best.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have known Rick Rector, Carol Osterink, Enid Futterman, and Peter Meyer for more than a decade. I consider them my friends, and I am troubled by the lack of harmony and civility in this election. For what it is worth, from someone living outside of Hudson, Rick Rector has been the best mayor during the more than 25 years I have followed politics in Hudson. He gets important things done by working with, and respecting, everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given the election results, I'm now ending my boycott of Gossips, wish the victor a hearty congratulations (and best of luck in November!), and correcting Ian, if his comment above was directed at me on Gossips (where I haven't been for a good month) or at me in Lowes, where we had a heated pre-election discussion in the barbecue aisle. I don't know why Rick lost, but I would suggest, as I did while standing amidst the gleaming grills, that he terribly disrespected several hundred property owners by not only allowing their assessments to be doubled and tripled--overnight!!!--but by calling the the protests and petitions "an election ploy." Rick Rector is a good man, with many decent qualities, but empathy is not his strong suit. God Bless Hudson. --peter meyer

      Delete