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WAS RISHAWN WRONG?

I’m starting out this piece by saying former Indianapolis Star columnist Rishawn Biddle and I have been friends for three years and we still are, nothing has changed. Biddle was fired from his job writing for the Star last week because of comments he made describing the antics and behavior of certain Black politicians in Indianapolis. Following his comments, the “community leadership” came out and went after him , as my grandmother would say, like “mad dogs after a raw piece of meat”. His bosses acted and let him go. That’s old news. What hasn’t been focused on in this entire controversy was the point Rishawn was trying to make, which I argue was lost in the posturing by the “community.”

The point Rishawn was trying to make was that the behavior of Black politicians as of late in Indianapolis has been quite embarrassing. The list is quite extensive, whether it was the mishandling of 300 East, the bar/restaurant in the Carson Center, City-Council President Monroe Gray whose name is synonymous with “pea shake”, State Representative Bill Crawford and his perpetual attacks on charter schools while defending a public education system in Indianapolis that is broken. City-County Council Member Ron Gibson who was charged with disorderly conduct, although the charges were dismissed. And City-Council attorney Aaron Haith, who now finds himself before the Indiana Supreme Court facing potential disbarment for alleged conflicts of interest. Need I say more?

Some Black politicians never ceased to amaze me. They engage in bad behavior and then have the audacity to hide behind the cloak of racism when they get caught, either with their pants down or with their hands in a cookie jar. If you don’t believe me, check out this week’s edition of the Indianapolis Recorder and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I would be more willing to buy this load of you-know-what if there weren’t dozens of other elected and appointed officials who for some reason unbeknownst to me manage to stay out of the pea shakes and pool halls and out of the papers as well. Despite my philosophical differences with Sheriff Frank Anderson, Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell, City-Councilors Paul Bateman, Sherron Franklin, County Auditor Billie Breaux or State Representative Carolene Mays these folks are all Democrats and somehow have managed to demonstrate to the public that they have some kind of home training.

When you are in the public light you need to conduct yourself accordingly. Behavior that might be acceptable in the hood is not acceptable where the only hoods people know are on the back of their jackets from Lands End. These elected officials have a duty to behave themselves and also engage in self-policing. When you don’t, expect the criticism.

I covered an anti-violence march at 35th and Illinois three weeks ago as neighbors protested the killings of three young black men within the past month. Gray had promised to be there but was nowhere to be found. Somehow I gather he is more punctual with his reported pea shake visits. But it is symbolic of the behavior that is wrong with a segment of Black leadership in this town. Look at the neighborhoods with the worst crime, abandoned homes and poverty and look at the leadership that is in charge. That should be more telling than anything else. If the Black community is going to elect leadership that looks to them on the theory that it will be more responsive to its needs, then the Black community needs to hold this leadership to a higher standard of behavior.

When I hear the sanctimonious, self-righteous and self-serving speeches from certain segments of Black leadership in this town, all I can think of is the “Balderman Davis” character from the old “Good Times” television show. It’s time for Black citizens of Indianapolis to say enough is enough. It’s time to elect people of character, not people who are characters.

  • Ralph

    But you said that Monroe Gray isn’t Black. Which is it?

  • Abdul

    If you want the rights, you also have to take the responsibilities.

  • Justice

    Dennis Ryerson’s article and the “Talk Back” comments are very interesting.

    Dennis Ryerson
    A message to our staff and to you

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007711040342

  • Anonymous

    Hey Ralph, real intelligent comeback. What a loser. If that is the best you have, them you are one sorry person.

  • Branden Robinson

    Forgive my ignorance, but this is my first time here (thanks to a link from Masson’s Blog).

    Can someone explain to me what a “pea shake” is? From context it sounds like some sort of graft.

  • Branden Robinson

    Never mind. Apparently no issue is too regional for the Wikipedia. Unlicensed gambling thing. Easy enough to see how profits from that might get skimmed off and funneled to police and politicians as protection money.

  • arnie

    To answer your question in one word…yes.

  • anonymous

    You know if Rishawn would still have a job if he were chief of IFD and called someone a “resident bulldyke” while in uniform at a public hearing.

  • Bumpy Johnson

    Branden, just Google “illegal numbers racketeering”. That is what the locals here unwittingly call pea shakes.
    These operations are ran by a black syndicate of organized crime in Indianapolis.
    Profits are funneled into narcotics, prostitution, auto theft, illegal minority contracts etc.
    Yes, local law enforcement’s involved in providing protection along with the prosecutor’s office.
    A change in control of this city could seriously affect the syndicates operation with a new Mayor and council to deal with.
    A new Mayor could force the Feds to move in take down the syndicate.
    For all intents and purposes, that was what the Recorder’s story was really about.

  • Anonymous

    You know if Rishawn would still have a job if he were chief of IFD and called someone a “resident bulldyke” while in uniform at a public hearing.

    Oh let it go, already. File an official complaint and move on.

  • Muckraker

    11:06 just how do you make an “official complaint” against a political crony???

    I’ll tell you, one files a law suit (COMPLAINT) in the civil court, and then the city pays $300,000…and that is just what happened and Crony Chief Greeson still has a job??????

    Riddle me that, anonymous?

  • Anonymous

    Yes Arnie, I’m sure you believe all of that. I used to believe in Santa Claus too, with the same innocent hopefulness and naivete.
    Check back with us Wednesday, kid. We all have to grow up sometime.

  • Joe

    The last two paragraphs of the Recorder’s article summarize what this entire election cycle has been about:

    Minister Malachi Walker, a firefighter and activist, encourages his fellow men to get a good education and carry themselves with integrity.

    “Being Black men we are often placed into certain categories and stereotypes,” said Walker, who is also director of Young Men Inc. an advocacy group for young Black males. “So we have to be careful, work hard, really sharpen our character and always be men of integrity to become successful and remain successful.”

    It is about integrity, something that too many of the incumbents do not have. Perhaps the writer, Brandon Perry, should take a long hard look at the reasons so many of Indianapolis’ leaders are being put under the microscope. A total lack of integrity.

  • arnie

    anon 11:25…After Tuesday my santa will deliver.
    Yours…well hop on the lil’ gov’s bus. He needs your help.

  • http://vote4katz.com Katz

    Abdul, have you filed a formal complaint with the city for Aaron Haith’s comments?

  • http://vote4katz.com Katz

    The point Rishawn was trying to make was that the behavior of Black politicians as of late in Indianapolis has been quite embarrassing. The list is quite extensive, whether it was the mishandling of 300 East, the bar/restaurant in the Carson Center, City-Council President Monroe Gray whose name is synonymous with “pea shake”, State Representative Bill Crawford and his perpetual attacks on charter schools while defending a public education system in Indianapolis that is broken. City-County Council Member Ron Gibson who was charged with disorderly conduct, although the charges were dismissed. And City-Council attorney Aaron Haith, who now finds himself before the Indiana Supreme Court facing potential disbarment for alleged conflicts of interest. Need I say more?

    If RiShawn was going to be canned for calling people out he would have been ousted on some minor technicality long ago. This time he slipped up with language that the Star wouldn’t be able to defend. It’s that simple.

  • Medea

    I think that your last last sentence is hard hitting and right at the heart of the matter, Abdul.

    “It’s time to elect people of character, not people who are characters.”

    Amen to that. If only every voter would follow this creed, regardless of race or party.

  • anonymous

    1106, Whats the difference between what Greeson said and what Rishawn wrote? One loses his job and the mayor attended a rally supporting it. The other gets ignored and is a public safety employee working for the taxpayers. Why should a complaint have to be filed? An investigation should be started and Mayor Bart should support it. After all he was a strong supporter of the HRO bill that the CCC passed. Put up or shut up, my guess is you’ll take the easy way out, have a nice day.

  • Jason

    I’m content to believe this is a big conspiracy because the Star’s higher-ups didn’t like RiShawn. Where’s the outrage for not firing the editor that let this comment get printed?

    My guess is someone got him all riled up or simply saw that (surely Rishawn’s put stuff like that in before and just had it cut out) and let it slide, knowing he was hanging himself. So where’s the rest of the outrage?

    I will say he should have been fired when everybody involved in that particular incident is held accountable.

  • Melyssa

    I’ve made numerous documented complaints to Chief Greeson’s boss Earl Morgan for the “resident bulldyke” remark. Nothing has been done. According to the city’s sexual harassment policy, Earl Morgan was supposed to file a complaint with city human resources. They have given me no documentation that this has been done.

    It costs money to file a lawsuit and since I will not sue Greg Ballard’s administration for something Bart did, I’m waiting to see who is in office before I file a lawsuit. But you can bet that a lawsuit is on its way should by some miracle Bart does not lose his seat.

    My document trail is ready for the lawyers.

  • Gary Welsh

    Melyssa, You have been told before you can file an EEO complaint with the city. It doesn’t cost anything to file the complaint. You don’t have to hire an attorney to file the complaint. It isn’t up to Earl Morgan to file a complaint with the EEO Board. That is up to you. I hope I don’t have to explain this again.

  • Melyssa

    Gary,

    According to the city’s written policy, Earl Morgan is supposed to file the complaint with HR. However, I will file the complaint with the EEO Board today.

  • arnie

    Dam lady, its about time you did the sensible thing. Yapping on the blogs is nonsense.

  • Melyssa

    Arnie, one would think our public “servants” would do the right thing and file the complaint with the city’s human resources department.

    But then, we should not expect Peterson’s administration to either ethical or follow the rule of law!

  • http://valuesalliance.org Lalita

    I heard a send-up on The Biddle Affair on NPR this afternoon. Seems it made the national news with show host Farai Chadeya wondering aloud whether Biddle received fair treatment or if his comments were over the top. Hint: I’d like to suggest that RiShawn consider an interview with Chadeya. I’m sure he has something to say worth hearing.

    Abdul, I’m with you: we’re ignoring the merits of Biddle’s complaint by focusing our attention on the language he used. For Black voters like myself, I chafe at attempts to assume that my vote can be counted on without ever attempting to learn what my interests are or that I would turn a blind eye to inappropriate behavior on the part of the Black electorati.

    We can do better.