Dear Neighbors and Fellow Citizens:
I regret that I am unable to participate in the People for Portsmouth candidate forum tonight. As the founders of our country stated in the Declaration of Independence, “a decent respect to the opinions of [hu]mankind requires that [I] should declare the causes” for my absence. Otherwise, some might speculate that it is an indication of disrespect, forgetfulness, lack of accountability, or some other negative reflection on People for Portsmouth or myself. In reality, it is merely a demonstration that even in a 366-day year and despite everyone’s best efforts, irreconcilable scheduling conflicts do occur. To be more specific, months before PfP issued invitations to candidates for any local office, my wife and I had booked a family event involving non-refundable tickets for this particular date. Although I regret the missed opportunity to persuade you to vote for me, I expect that others will present themselves between now and Election Day. Additionally, if People for Portsmouth would provide me its questions after the forum, I will be happy to post my answers for the public to review and evaluate.
As a believer in small “d” democratic process, I am grateful to People for Portsmouth for taking on an essential but labor-intensive, civic responsibility. With the breadth of the local candidate field this year — five for mayor, nine for city council, and eight for school board — PfP committed to sponsoring no fewer than five forums allowing those running to present their cases to the electorate. No other organization in the twenty years I have lived in Portsmouth has undertaken such a task nor has had a task of equivalent magnitude to undertake. I believe all Portsmouth voters, and, most decidedly, all candidates, owe People for Portsmouth our deepest thanks for bringing us together in this fashion.
So, with highest hopes that the Mayor’s “lions” have already been well fed, may the conversation commence!
With warmest regards,
for City Council
[The following is a verbatim transcription of what Mayor Kenneth Wright posted on a mutual friend’s Facebook timeline. It is unedited from the original FB “stream-of-consciousness” style (i. e., without paragraph breaks) and without corrections to the grammar, word usage, and spelling found in the posting. It is referenced in Pandora’s Box Version 2.0?]
I find it completely hypocritical that the newspaper that started this mess would now try to speak about unity! Two and a half years ago, I pleaded with them to not pick the scab off of this sore. I told the reporter he was playing with fire! He was not from this area and appeared to be uneducated on the issue of race relations in Portsmouth. After an hour conversation and giving him the history of race relations, recalls, and the shift in political power, he understood but responded “I’ve gotta do what my bosses tell me.” (smh) He then provided me the names of people he was suppose to interview, and I shared with him that whoever provided you those names, truly doesn’t have our best interest in mind! They wanted to reopen that wound because of a few irresponsible comments made by Councilman Danny Meeks about the black preachers and black leaders (including me)! It immediately drew a response from members of the black community (including School Board Member Dr. Mark Whitaker) at the next City Council meeting. For the next two years, the Va. Pilot continued to sensationalize this issue which slowly included more and more citizens. This irresponsible reporting, with the help of WAVY-10, has gotten us to this point! (smh, smh, smh) Now, add to the mix police shootings, protesters, Black Lives Matter, People For Portsmouth PAC, the Tea Party, the Recall Nuts (which are part of both P4P & Tea Party), the Mother Emanuel AME killings, the Confederate Monumen, and your everyday racist, and you’ve got “A Perfect Storm!” Congratulations Va. Pilot and Hampton Roads Local Media! Please take a bow!! -Mayor Wright-
A friend opened a thread on her Facebook timeline in response to a recent Virginian-Pilot editorial offering us, as is the practice of the editorial board, their omniscient guidance out of the error of our ways. (See http://pilotonline.com/opinion/editorial/virginian-pilot-editorial-to-progress-portsmouth-needs-new-unity/article_b1bf0162-4610-5c6d-b854-0bd1265e6401.html.) My friend felt that the V-P was less than evenhanded in its distribution of criticism, an assessment that I share. Our mayor, who has so often refused to comment in the press on matters of concern to the public, used the relatively “safe harbor” of our mutual friend’s timeline to fire a broadside against both the V-P in particular and the news media in general. (The transcript of his remarks is available here.) Out of respect for the sensibilities of the host, I have chosen to house my critique of the Mayor’s comments, and any subsequent reader responses, in my own space. Continue reading Pandora’s Box Version 2.0?