Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why Commissioner JoAnn Hampton is bad for the African-American community

Please read this article and comment a the main blog, here:

I've been debating with myself whether I should publish a post like this.  I know what I am about to say here is certainly provocative, if not outright inflammatory.  But our county government is still a mess and it is high time Smith County residents took an honest look at their county commissioners.
So here's JoAnn Hampton's mugshot from the Smith County Jail:

Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton
Source:  Smith County Jail

We'll get to that issue later.  Let's talk about Commissioner Hampton's absolute FAILURE to represent her community.

Going along to get along

Hell, I'm guessing that if Hampton has an opponent in 2018, Smith County's establishment Republicans are going to secretly support Hampton.  After all, Hampton--the lone Democrat on the commissioners court--has proven to be more of an establishment Republican than anyone else on the court.  She consistently supported the FAILED policies of former Smith County Judge Joel Baker and often travelled with him to conferences where she was potographe at his side, accepting bogus awards for (ironically) stuff like "transparency in county government."

Putting more black men in jail

Hampton and her fellow commissioners have consistently increased the budget for the district attorney's office at a rate that is much higher than the population growth of the county.  And, they pushed and pushed for an expansion of the county jail until voters finally approved a $35 million bond package to add a 384-bed maximum-security facility to the existing jail.  But Smith county incarcerates its residents at a rate that is about double the state average.  Has Commissioner Hampton ever urged county leaders to explore why that is?  Did Commissioner Hampton ever speak out and demand that county leaders look at safe alternatives to pre-trial incarceration for non-violent offenders?
You see, a draconian legal system like we have here in Smith County disproportionately incarcerates young African-American men.  For one thing, African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested for low-level offenses like drug possession, for a variety of reasons.  Once they are arrested, minority defendants are less likely that whites to be able to post bail or to afford adequate legal representation.  Therefore a young black man is much more likely to stay in jail awaiting trial than a white defendant.

Letting her precinct crumble

For almost ten years under former County Judge Joel Baker, the county commissioners spent millions of dollars on unimportant pet projects while the county roads and bridges crumbled.  During that time the sheriff's department was chronically understaffed, and response times for emergency calls in rural parts of the county were way too long.  Many of Commissioner Hampton's constituents are low-income African-American and Latinos living in rural parts of the county.  They are the ones having to contend with washed out roads and inadequate law enforcement, and Commissioner Hampton has failed them!


"Cameragate" is a name I've given to an illegal, unconstitutional plan hatched by county commissioners to allow an out-of-state company to set up automated camera devices to catch speeders in school zones.  So what does this have to do with the African-American community?  The answer is that it would have likely disproportionately affected low-income--and therefore minority--drivers.
Let me explain.  You see, if you get a "regular" traffic ticket from a police officer, you have the opportunity to appear in court before the fine is assessed.  Therefore, if you can't afford the fine, the judge might work with you on setting up a payment plan, reducing the fine, or letting you do community service instead.  Not so with this asinine plan.  The out-of-state company would send the "offender" a bill for $150, called a "civil penalty."  The plan was for the county to withhold vehicle registration renewals for those who didn't--or couldn't--pay the fine.  Can't get your vehicle registration renewed, you can't drive (and get to work) or you keep driving and risk getting a ticket for that.  Cant pay that ticket?  You get a warrant issued for your arrest.  Then if you get pulled over again, you go to jail and possibly lose your job, can't pay your unpaid fines, and it goes on and on.  It's called "debtors' prison."

A bad example

Okay, so back to the mugshot.  Earlier this year, Commissioner Hampton was indicted and arrested for allegedly assaulting and injuring an elderly person.  Of course her guilt or innocence will be determined by a judge and/or jury.  But the incident was witnessed by the pastor of her church and was carefully investigated.  The story went something like this:  Commissioner Hampton and an elderly woman at her church were having a dispute over decorations at the church, of all things.  The older woman went in to discuss the matter with the pastor in private, in his office with the door closed.  Hampton barged in and confronted the woman and a shouting match between the two escalated to the point where the woman was pushed to the ground and injured.
Now I don't know if Hampton actually intended to injure the woman.  But ask yourself this: Mrs. Hampton is supposed to be a "leader" in her community.  Is this a good example to young people in how to resolve conflicts?  And please excuse me for saying something that may make some of you very uncomfortable:  Does this not help perpetuate the racist stereotype of blacks as being volatile and lacking in self-control?
You decide.

1 comment:

  1. Nah...This is good for smith county. Reap what you sew!