Sunday, April 17, 2005

Never again

Four years ago, as I was a candidate for Mayor in a contested GOP Primary. I was invited to speak at a candidate function at the Jewish Community Center. Both of the Republican candidates were invited. However, everyone on the the Dem's slate wasn't so fortunate. Josh Pollock, a 17 year old candidate who had grown up in the neighborhood and spent countless hours at the JCC was excluded. He could not give his presentation. Josh and I raised the questions in advance and then began to make a fuss.

Last year's event wasn't televised. This year's event is to be on TV.

At the event in 2001, I stood up and devoted more than half of my alloted time at the podium to the facts of the discrimination at hand with the organization and the operation of this event. I scolded in no uncertain terms.

I remember the event clearly. Sophie was there. Johnathan R was there. As were about 60 others, including my parents. Josh didn't picket. Josh didn't come as my guest. Josh got a serious blow-back after making a good amount of waves with his Temple's youth director and others.

By the way, Josh would then move OUT of the city into some suburban location. Then he has since moved out of state to school. Josh voted with his feet.

The stance I made then was clear. Today is is just as strong and clear. The lessons were not learned. The evil deeds of history are being repeated.

You'd think that certain minority groups and cultures would appreciate the overall situation with a more soulful response and associated actions.

On Sunday morning, April 17, 2005, the same mistakes are to happen again. But, this time, the stage is being set for TV coverage fo the event. It will replay in the evening and then "on demand" with Comcast.

Jeff Cohen is now head of the UJF. He knows me from his time at the Post-Gazette. We talked a couple of weeks ago as I heard of this folly. The UJF called me seeking Joe Weinroth's phone number. Weinroth is also Jewish. He is the lone Republican in the Mayor's race this year. He was invited to the candidate forum -- but the organizers could not reach him without some help from me.

Weinroth should NOT appear at the forum without being escorted by Les Ludwig.

Mr. Ludwig, a former men's club president at a nearby Temple, has been excluded from the forum on Sunday.

Jeff Cohen of the UJF gave me some whopper ideas as to why his organization was justified to put the cart before the horse and exclude people from the event. One reason was because the PDP did it. Yes, the Pgh Downtown Partnership also ran a country club event a few weeks prior. The PDP even excluded a black women from the Hill District who wanted to go to the event as a spector. The PDP invited who they wanted to speak -- and who they wanted to be in the audience. And the UJF feels justified in its actions by following them. Shame has seldom been more clear.

The UJF boss didn't want to turn his event into a campaign event for everyone -- only for the front runners.

The UJF doesn't think that being on the ballot is worthy of any extra merit. He said he doesn't need to invite EVERYONE in to speak. Everyone shouldn't speak -- but only those on the ballot should.

The UJF won't do a similar event leading up the the November election, so the Republican was included. But any Indie, Libertarian, Green and others still not needing to get onto the old-party ballot are to be excluded then.

I'm not certain as to the list of the other excluded candidates. Hop K, a black man, is NOT invited.

Four years ago, Leroy Hodge, the only black man in the Dem primary, was excluded from the UJF event, and many other forum and debates. I protested that exclusion too.

Then came an opportunity for me to appear on the evening interview show at TV 11 with David Johnson. An extra news camera man was on the set that night as a sting was on. A trap was set. One line from a protest email was taken out of context and twisted from here to the moon and made into a gottcha question. It didn't work.

Democracy is messy. Those who are absurd are obvious. Those who want fairness can join in the outcry. This is a collective treasure worthy of a few well placed mentions and letters.

United Jewish Federation = 412 681 8000

Anti-Defamation League of a specific temple = 412 521 0661

H. = 412 421 8919

National Council Jewish Women = 412 421 6118

Women ?? = 412 244 8660

Naa Matt (sp?) = 412 521 5252

American Jewish Committee = 412 421 7027

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