Blacks can blame themselves for the 4-3 vote

Vaughn Wilson

Last week much was made about the vote of the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency’s (IA) reluctant awarding of $10 million to FAMU for renovations to Bragg Stadium.  The stadium is in danger of being condemned for much needed repairs and upgrades.  The IA diverted funds from a future FSU project to the immediate needs of FAMU to keep the stadium opened.

While Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox, a former FSU football player, and Tallahassee Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Cox vehemently pushed for the diversion of funds, three on the board did not conclude that this was the way to get it done and voted the measure down.  The City of Tallahassee’s commissioners unanimously approved the measure, but the close vote was among Leon County Commissioners.

The three dissenters were Bryan Desloge, Kristin Dozier and Jimbo Jackson. Desloge has been a consistent conservative voice on the county commission.  Dozier expressed concern about the process.  Jackson has been out front on several issues related to the Black community so his reluctance causes pause.

The three commissioners who voted against the money for FAMU were doing so with two motives.  First, they continually pointed to what they saw as a circumventing of due process.  Second, and most importantly, they considered their constituents.

Unfortunately, the first point is validated in that this was an “emergency” request.  The fact that FAMU has not strategically navigated the funding process with IA points directly to the lack in consistent leadership at the position of president over the past decade.  Larry Robinson, Ph.D. has done a solid job of addressing several of FAMU’s issues, but planning for funds of this nature require timetables and is not an annual funding source.  If FAMU learned anything from this experience, it should have learned that planning long term capital improvements with IA assistance needs to be addressed as middle and long term strategies.

The average person felt that this should not have been that hard a decision.  Considering the revenue that FAMU football games pump into the local economy, emotions say it should have been a no-brainer.  Hotels, restaurants, gas stations and retail stores thrive during football season.  Some local tax-paying businesses rely on football season to sustain them for the year.

While all three of those who voted against the measure serve mixed race districts, simple mathematics made this a clear-cut decision for them.  This is the point where numbers come in, not racism.  

If you think for one minute that elected officials do not survey the will of their constituents, then you miss the entire point of the political system.  This is where the sad reality of our own inactivity comes back to bite us.  If 50 percent or more of Blacks in either of their constituencies had voted in their elections, the measure probably would have passed unanimously.  At that point, the numbers would have said that the constituents that put them in office desired for the motion to pass.  Unfortunately, that is not nearly the case.

Analyzing the 2010 Leon County voting results precinct by precinct, the answer is crystal clear.  There were some precincts in the Black community that barely saw 200 voters cast their ballots.  Two hundred!  What kind of power is that?  In this realm your power is in your vote; but if Blacks continue to miss the opportunity to exercise their power, then they will continue to sit on the sideline and continue to be on a wing and a prayer every time something they all of a sudden see as important comes up for a decision.  People are elected to uphold the directives and will of their constituents.

Sure, it’s easy to blame Desloge, Dozier, and Jackson, but if you don’t vote and don’t encourage your neighbors, family and friends to vote, then you also voted “No” on the measure.

There is an even bigger scale coming in to focus at the time of this publishing.  Less than 48 hours after that IA vote, honorable Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away.  That means the inactivity of the Black vote in 2016 may ultimately name a Supreme Court Justice. 

Your next opportunity to be relevant is Nov.3.