30 June, 2014

Politics and Preponderant Rumination Along the Dirty, Sacred River

from beechmontky.wordpress.com
The week before last I had the opportunity to go to a community meeting for the neighborhood I live in. The topic of the meeting was crime. There's been a rash lately... though it seems there's always a rash of opportunistic crime that somehow, according to someone, is indicative of the downfall of society.

Never mind, of course, that the economy is down, the heat index is increasing, and there's a serious lack of anything for kids to do in the south end that doesn't require cash. The problem, according to one... "enlightened" neighbor I will call "Bill" is that this roaming band of evil-doers are "Nigerians and Hispanics" and that "they don't care."

This wasn't the only ugly rearing of that "Blame The Other" argument, though. Lucky, too, that there's plenty of blame to go around.

The real purpose of the community meeting, was, of course, for District 21 Metro Council Representative Dan Johnson to try and look like he's actually doing something other than 1) blatantly ignoring his constituents and 2) using taxpayer money -- some of which is money that could be directly benefiting the 21st District --  to employ a bigot whose only claim to anything is that he was elected to the unnecessary post of Jefferson County Judge Executive. 

Division 4 Top Cop
After he failed to redirect the meeting into a sleeper of a political rally, the floor was turned over to one Major Kim Kraeszig, head cop at LMPD's 4th Division. According to her, the key to community involvement is that we lock our doors and stay vigilant. We're supposed to know who our neighbors are. We're supposed to leery of people wandering the neighborhood we don't know.

In other words: we are on our own.

I didn't have to go to a meeting to hear this. I also didn't have to go a meeting to know that bigots live in my neighborhood.

One of the highlights for me was when I pointed out that no one corrected "Bill." I pointed this out by reiterating and summarizing what I'd heard at the meeting thus far: lock your door, watch your shit, and don't trust Nigerians or Hispanics. Apparently the white kids who break windows and tag everything are just "boys being boys."

I was roundly interrupted by the top cop, who was disturbed that I could even draw that from what was said.  I wasn't the only one who heard the blatant bigotry and xenophobia*. I certainly wasn't the only one who was offended by it. But Amanda and I seemed to be the only ones who took any real exception to it... well, us, and in intern from the Americana Community Center. We spoke to her after the meeting and she said she was bothered by the absence of programming available.

A not very recent picture of Dan.
Ol, Dan Johnson... our elected representative... only pointed out that
The "Judge"
these kids need jobs, like one of the many available at the newly reopened Kentucky Kingdom. The word around the water well is that he's using budget money from a line item meant to go for neighborhood improvements to give his errand boy, Judge-Executive (cough) Bryan Matthews an undeserved salary for reminding the councilman to turn off his cell phone ringer during council meetings and for making him stop engaging in flame wars on Facebook like a 12 year old. I guess that's worth $50 grand a year... which is a full  $5 grand more than he paid his previous assistant, who happened to be a woman.**

Later in the meeting, which ended up being an opportunity for people to recount the list of crimes they have either been victim of or have seen or have heard about while shopping at the Pic n Pac, someone asked about what the coppers were going to do about the panhandlers.

This part of the meeting has been sticking in my craw a bit, dear readers.

Never mind that panhandling is listed among the various offenses committed under the watchful eye of Division 4: drug dealing, property tagging, theft, home invasion, and generally not being white. Never mind that there was no distinction drawn between aggressive panhandling... which is a form of assault and intimidation that should NEVER be accepted... and regular panhandling. Never mind that the top cop explained her feelings on panhandlers by describing one encounter she had while not in uniform during which she bought a panhandler a bucket of  KFC. This panhandler in particular was holding a sign that read  WILL WORK FOR FOOD. She drove by, went and bought the chicken, and took it back... only to have the unrepentant bum throw the bucket on the ground.

Her conclusion: clearly he was only interested in money. I do wonder, though, if she'd thought offering to feed him if he did a little yard work.

When people refuse public assistance or unemployment because they are too proud, it's generally lauded as a good thing by those who have no milk of human kindness. When a bum rejects KFC that he didn't have to work for, it's clearly because he was only looking for cash.

I was told I read that conversation wrong. I was told, by one pious soul in the neighborhood, that the top cop was only pointing out that some people panhandle "to make a living."

Well, sure some of them do. Some bums put on a badge that lets them bully people. But for some reason, we don't complain about those bums.

I could pray that we don't feel the need to give a select few power and authority over the rest of us for our own good,  I guess.

But I got tired of  pie in the sky a long time ago.


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*There is a school of thought that says we ought to forgive folks of a certain age for what is clearly sheer ignorance. This is the Poor Whitey Rule, which also says that as a white man, I ought to mourn for 1952. I do not because 1) I read and 2) I think. So, screw poor whitey in his homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted gloryhole.
** This story is playing out in the local media. Look it up. It's a hoot. It will restore your faith in dictatorships.


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