Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Indy Star Calls Ballard's Comments Like They Were

Today's Indy Star editorial calls out the Kennedy campaign - softly, but still it calls it out - on their deliberate warping of the facts to suit their gutter politics (my accurate choice of words, not the Stars').  Here is what they had to say:
In response to a question about high unemployment rates among racial and ethnic minorities in Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard, in an Oct. 15 televised debate, made reference to a "difficult population" in connection with his administration's efforts to create jobs in the urban core.

Was it the "gotcha'' moment of the 2011 Indianapolis mayoral campaign, an indication of the incumbent's lack of respect for or insensitivity to minorities in the city? Marion County Democrats clearly think so. They've been running a hard-hitting radio ad in support of challenger Melina Kennedy that blasts Ballard's quote as an "outrage."

Let's agree that the mayor's phrasing was awkward. Ballard never will be mistaken for an eloquent public speaker. But a fair reading of his comments, kept in context -- and, more important, his record over the past four years -- should dispel fears that Ballard doesn't care about or hasn't tried to reduce joblessness among minorities, especially for African-Americans and Latinos. One example: The city during Ballard's term has significantly increased the number of women-, minority- and veteran-owned enterprises that it does business with.

The fact remains, however, that the unemployment rate among blacks is unacceptably high. That's true not only in Indianapolis but also the nation as a whole. In August, the national unemployment rate for blacks (16.7 percent) reached its highest level since 1984. It declined slightly, to 16 percent, in September, but the long-term trend is discouraging. The unemployment rate for blacks has stayed above 10 percent for more than four years, and many economists predict that it will stay that high for years to come.

Several factors help explain why the unemployment rate among blacks is higher than in the general population. Black workers tend to be younger and less experienced and have a lower level of educational attainment than the American workforce on average. Those are stiff challenges -- difficulties? -- in the best of times. In a stubbornly weak economy, it's a formula for deep suffering and despair.

Given that reality, a few awkward words in the heat of a political debate should have little lasting significance. Far more important is ensuring that this community does all it can to create a fertile environment for jobs to be created, and to ensure that all racial and ethnic groups have the opportunities and skills they need to thrive in the workplace.
My party can do better than this and Democrats need to demand it.

No comments: