Thursday, March 05, 2009

Strict Scrutiny?

Local radio talk-show host Rob Schilling has an (intentionally) incendiary post on his recently launched blog, which asserts racially-based manipulation of Charlottesville's electoral system by the city's Democratic party establishment.

A supplement to a recent broadcast on WINA-AM on this issue, Schilling documents what he calls a "sordid" four-decade history of "engineered" nominations for City Council seats.

Schilling writes:

Since 1970, when the first African American was elected to Charlottesville City Council, whenever an African American was currently holding a City Council seat, Democrat African Americans who attempted to obtain a nomination from the Central Party leadership were denied. Recent examples of African Americans denied the Democratic Party leadership’s nomination during years when an African American either already was serving on Council or was running for re-election include David Simmons and Lelia Brown.

This strange pattern of succession does not appear to have happened by chance, and through the lens of statistical analysis, it seems engineered. In a March 12, 2004 discussion, a Democrat City Councilor stated that this curious pattern of succession was actually a designed “system of patronage,” wherein in 1980, after a two-year stretch of an all-white council, the local Democratic Party leadership made an agreement with the local African American community that assured one, guaranteed African American Council seat at all times.

Charlottesville Central Party Democrats’ partisan, at large elections scheme has made it easier for this “system of patronage” to occur as it enables white majority precincts to dominate and control electoral outcomes over the voting preferences of minority-majority precincts.
Schilling, himself a former City Council member (and one of only two Republicans elected to public office in Charlottesville in the past quarter-century) concludes:
The history delineated here should be a shame to all who have participated in and perpetuated racial manipulation in Charlottesville City Council elections. Sadly, iron-fisted, Byrd-inspired tactics continue to this day in Charlottesville.

The system can be righted rather easily, if not by ward-based elections, by non-partisan elections, which easily could be implemented by City Council through a change of the City charter.

The non-partisan election model, mandated for our Charlottesville School Board elections, has resulted in four African American candidates being elected in two election cycles, while only six African Americans ever have been elected to City Council in the nearly forty years since Charles Barbour first held office in 1970, under the (Democrat-favored) partisan nomination process.

The results of a non-partisan election process in Charlottesville would likely yield an all-Democrat City Council, but at least they would be the People’s Democrats, not the Party’s Democrats, unleashed from the fraud, corruption and racial manipulation that has characterized Charlottesville’s Central Party Democrats for decades.
Rob Schilling's blog entry includes a link to the podcast of the original "Schilling Show" exposition of these issues.

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