BAPAC attacks two council candidates
on November 1, 2010
The Contra Costa County chapter of BAPAC, The Black American Political Action Committee, circulated an e-mail Oct. 30 criticizing two candidates for city council.
The influential political group called candidate Jovanka Beckles “dangerous for African-Americans.” The note, which was circulated to BAPAC’s e-mail list, also leveled a series of charges at candidate Corky Booze.
“(BAPAC) has been asked repeatedly why we are not supporting Jovanka Beckles and Corky Booze, two African Americans,” the letter began.
“… We are at a time when we need real leadership. Someone who we can trust and depend on, someone who will stand on their own two feet, someone who’s able and willing to represent the entire city, someone who will be the same person with all the people.”
“We don’t see where Jovanka Beckles fits any of these.”
Beckles responded Monday, saying that BAPAC has always tried to politically undermine her by calling her a pawn for Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
“I feel sorry for them. It is a really desperate attempt to discredit forward-thinking leadership in Richmond’s African-American community,” Beckles said.
BAPAC wrote of Beckles: “Jovanka selectively identifies her ethnicity as African American, Latin American, based on the make-up of the neighborhood group or organization she is addressing.”
Beckles, who lived in Panama until the age of nine, said these comments were the most hurtful.
“ I never deny my blackness. What I do say is that I am African-American and Latina because I’m not going to deny that piece of me either.”
BAPAC also took aim at Booze.
The email questioned Booze’s dedication to poorer neighborhoods and asserted that he lacked leadership experience. It also criticized his role in the tent city anti-violence protests and his alliance with the Richmond Progressive Alliance.
“Corky is intimidating and his actions or inactions are excessively influenced by Tom Butt and the so-called Progressive Alliance,” the email read.
Booze dismissed the criticism, saying BAPAC opposes him because he has long refused to “join the club.”
“Here is a so-called black organization saying I am building plantations because of tent city?” That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” Booze said.
“I was trying to save lives out there…. where were they?”
Booze insisted he is not beholden to anyone.
“They are funded directly by Chevron Corp.,” Booze said. “They are afraid of me because I am willing to say how they are profiting for themselves at the expense of the citizens of Richmond.”
BAPAC President Lloyd Madden says his group’s email speaks for itself.
“It is what it is facts are facts. It’s our opinion and nothing else needs to be said,” Madden said.
Madden added that BAPAC has endorsed four Richmond council candidates: Maria Viramontes, Ludmyrna Lopez, Rhonda Harris and Virginia Finlay.
BAPAC remains a powerful political force in western Contra Costa County. It counts County Supervisor John Gioia and Sheriff candidate David Livingston among its prominent endorsees. The organization was established in 1999 to “work for the maximum effective representation of African-Americans in the political and economic systems of Contra Costa County,” according to its mission statement.
Beckles said BAPAC was coming up short of its mission.
“Here we are as African-Americans understanding that this is how we are going to be sustainable and they are trying to make it look like it’s a white thing when it’s not and how incredibly divisive is that,” Beckles said, “that you are willing to take this issue to divide us by color.”
While BAPAC has been active and vocal in its opposition to Booze and Beckles, it does support Mayoral candidate Nat Bates and council candidate Harris, the two other African-American candidates in this year’s field.
Bates and Harris are vocal proponents of Chevron Corp. and a controversial casino at Point Molate, which Booze and Beckles oppose.
Bates responded to BAPAC’s e-mail Monday afternoon.
“I don’t give a damn about what these people [BAPAC] are talking about — I got a campaign that I got to stay focused on,” he said.
Bates says he plans to “ignore all these side antics”
“You got to stay focused on your duties and responsibilities. I got no real comment on it. Good luck to everybody.”
Reporters David Ferry, Robert Rogers and Anne Brice contributed to this report.
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