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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kids of color, flash mobs, and scared white folks

Deja vu all over again. A couple months back there were "flash mobs" of urban youth terrorizing people on the streets of downtown Philadelphia. Mainly these kids of color had used facebook, myspace and other social media and texting to gather and get wild. Most of the kids were drunk (not literally) with the freedom of doing as they pleased and running wild, willy-nilly, crazy, or whatever you want to call it. Some got carried away and got violent. They broke windows, pushed pedestrians to the ground and got in fights with each other. They ran through Macy's and did damage to the merchandise. They repeated the game on South Street as well. Police presence and the presence of Mayor Nutter seemed to quell the disturbances. Or perhaps the school district looking into violence at the schools helped lessen agitation. And the police probably were aggressive in finding the social media trail that led to the organizers.

For the last 2 or 3 weekends there has been a similar blow-up of teen activity in Kansas City. Teens descended on The Plaza outdoor dining and shopping area last Saturday night and ran wild in the streets. People have called it a riot, a wilding, a Phily flash mob, hooligans, and of course, black kids out of control. These kids come from different high schools and gathered via notice on social media and through texting. They took to the streets, some got violent, several pedestrians were pushed to the ground or otherwise roughed up, and the police responded with pepper spray. Many comments in KC have revolved around the fact that "our beloved Plaza" has been denigrated by these "urban" kids who are violent and, and, and, well....they are black!!!

Today, however, takes the cake. Yael A. - an editorial writer for the local paper, the KC Star, actually patted himself on the back for daring to state openly that the youth involved are, in fact, black! He then goes on to state authoritatively that the reason these kids chose The Plaza:
That's where the crowd of mostly white adults hangs out.
And the youth know their presence will be disturbing to people who aren't used to seeing so many black kids in one place.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kansas City Schools and Race Relations

I have written a piece on the recent events happening in the Kansas City Missouri School District (KCMSD) regarding the school closings right-size plan and the recent school board elections. My take on this is related to the historical context of race relations in Kansas City and how that has shaped modern social and political dynamics. You can read it by clicking this link:

or click the Scribd button at the top of the blog. Scribd is a social publishing site where you can store your documents and allow others to read them!

I hope you will take time to read this piece and comment here, on scribd, on fb, or twitter!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

KC school board races - UNITY wins!!!!

Just a short post to say congrats to the Kansas Citians United for Educational Achievement (KCU4EA) candidates that all won by huge margins tonight in the school board race. This was a unity group, campaigning on the high road, and beat every single competitor with authority. This is not only a testament to the volunteers who worked hard to get the word out, get the vote out, and get voters informed, it is also a testament to airick west's School Board School sessions over the fall that helped train candidates and school advocates in how to effectively talk about the school issues.

While the competition slate was talking trash and telling tall stories, the KCU4EA team was working hard to be positive, talk about their vision for the district, and support the superintendent in a very tough school closing decision. It's great to see the best and brightest win and be given a vote of confidence as the next generation of leaders in the school district.

Congratulations to all!

Official Results 100%

Number of Precincts
Precincts Reporting
78 100.0 %
Times Counted
12033/151697 7.9 %
Total Votes

8214 35.79%
1933 8.42%
8307 36.19%
1744 7.60%
1291 5.63%
1211 5.28%


Number of Precincts
Precincts Reporting
15 100.0 %
Times Counted
1489/25601 5.8 %
Total Votes

981 68.13%
356 24.72%

Step 1 in Camden - Transparency

Kudos to Mayor Dana Redd of Camden. She is moving forward on several fronts in the city and letting people know what she is doing and sharing the input she has received. This is a first step in making Camden city government transparent. Others may say that the weekly 500+ page City Council agenda is transparency in action. Providing copies of financial statements, employee records, and all correspondence around an issue is certainly a bright light shining on the bureaucratic process. However, we need to understand what our elected and appointed officials are doing, their agenda, and how they are moving the city forward. The mayor has made good efforts in the last week.

First, she received the recommendations from her transition team for her first 100 days in office and beyond. Granted, she received this report just 2 weeks before her 100 days are completed - but she said she was busy handling the budget crisis and focused on that first. Uh, multitasking is an important skill for a mayor, madame Mayor.

Mayor Redd has posted the report in its entirety on the city's web page. You can read all 5 reports here: .

Second, Mayor Redd has called for applications to replace a school board member that moved up to city council. As other school board members' terms expire, she will appoint their replacements as well. The mayor now has full control of the board. The CP article informs us of who will be on the review committee and that is a huge bit of transparency. Unfortunately, the Mayor has not indicated anything about her priorities for qualifications or how she sees the school district moving forward and how her appointments will play a role in that.

Finally, the Mayor announced that the City received some revitalization funds from DRPA this week. The funds will be used to continue revitalization of Broadway in the downtown area. This will certainly enhance Cooper Hospital and the new medical school. Before people jump on that bandwagon of this is helping George Norcross, it also helps Camden. Shops on Broadway will do better business, people will be more inclined to shop locally, other investors may be willing to build, rent, and open stores and offices. This is good news. Unfortunately, the Mayor indicated that her first order of business is to hire a consultant to prepare a plan and in the fall seek feedback from the residents. This is a classic backwards approach to revitalization and one that smacks of power insulation - those in power will deliver a plan to the people and tell them how good it is for them. That's a big misstep Mayor. Listen to what you know to be the best move and do it. Don't follow the advice of so-called experts whose only agenda is to get contracts for professional loyalists.

All in all, it seems that things are moving a bit in the right direction for Camden. Let's see who gets appointed to school board, who get's hired as consultant and what they come up with, and most importantly, what Mayor Redd does with the transition recommendations. More insight on those recommendations later.