Bizarrely, local blogger and attorney Greg Aymond is now endorsing Von Jennings’s candidacy for Mayor of Alexandria.
Mr. Aymond, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, has remained outspoken about his views on race. In March, Mr. Aymond wrote that “ethics among Blacks is usually a lacking character trait,” suggesting that African-Americans were, by and large, not well-equipped to serve on the State Ethics Board. (Though, to be fair, he did suggest that there were probably some qualified African-Americans). He’s called the majority African-American City Council a “pack of monkeys.” In December of 2008, Mr. Aymond called several local African-American officials “n**** street thugs.”
During the Jena Six protests, a Grant Parish teenager paraded through a crowd of protestors in Downtown Alexandria with a noose affixed to the back of his pick-up truck. After the guy was arrested, Mr. Aymond declared that the noose was actually a symbol of “freedom of expression.” Ever since, visitors to Mr. Aymond’s website have been greeted with an image of a noose with the caption “Freedom of Expression.”
Ms. Jennings may point to Mr. Aymond’s support as an example of her campaign’s ability to forge coalitions and bring people together. After Mr. Aymond attended a “meet and greet” with Ms. Jennings at the home of their mutual friend, Patrick Lacour, Ms. Jennings posted a photograph of her, Mr. Aymond, Police Juror Steve Coco, Patrick Lacour, and Joe Fuller on her campaign Facebook account, writing:
We are bringing together residents from all parts of Alexandria to unite with a common goal…ONE ALEXANDRIA…who knew this group would ever stand together but it shows that God is still working miracles!
While Ms. Jennings may believe Greg Aymond’s support is a “miracle” from God, Mr. Aymond’s made it abundantly clear that his support for Jennings has much more to do with his own personal dislike of the incumbent Mayor. Indeed, after attending the meet and greet, Mr. Aymond wrote that the event was primarily about organizing against the incumbent, instead of being in support of Ms. Jennings.
And I hate to break it to Ms. Jennings, but I seriously doubt Mr. Aymond actually supports her campaign platform. He’s been very critical of workforce development and diversity initiatives, both of which are central to Ms. Jennings’s campaign and her politics. This morning, on KSYL, Ms. Jennings spoke about ensuring that government procurement practices were inclusive and not influenced by institutional racism or complacency, something with which I absolutely agree. And when the City of Alexandria launched an initiative to ensure best practices in workforce development and diversity, Greg Aymond said the entire thing was “racist” and “sexist.” Ms. Jennings has repeatedly described herself as a champion of these exact issues. She’s built her career around them.
Earlier this week, Ms. Jennings was quoted in The Town Talk as saying, “There are needs throughout the city. His (the Mayor’s) accomplishments are not in Lower Third. They’re across town.” To be sure, there are, in fact, numerous projects currently underway in the Lower Third neighborhood, including the largest private-sector construction project in the last twenty years, massive renovations and expansions at neighborhood parks, and a multi-million dollar streetscape enhancement project. To me, Ms. Jennings was attempting to imply the Mayor’s real accomplishments were on the other side of town, not in Lower Third, a collection of majority African-American neighborhoods, but “across town.”
In my opinion, the quote should read: “There are needs throughout the city. His accomplishments are not only in Lower Third. They’re all across town.” But somehow, the numerous projects currently underway and the investments being made in Lower Third are invisible to Ms. Jennings. That’s unfortunate. Obviously, none of the current projects in Lower Third were the work of a single person. All of them were built and championed by people in the community. Lower Third has one of the most vocal and engaged community groups in the entire City, and their passionate, civic-minded advocacy should be applauded, not discredited or overlooked. Yes, there is much work to be done, but if you subscribe to Greg Aymond’s logic, then you probably believe that additional infrastructure investments in Lower Third (or any investment made by the SPARC initiative, for that matter) represent nothing more than a “give away” to “black neighborhoods.”
Incidentally, Mr. Aymond thought he was agreeing with Ms. Jennings’s statement about the Mayor’s accomplishments being “across town.” Quoting:
I agree with Von. All parts of this town need development, not just the Black parts to buy their voted (sic). Under Jacques’ plan, about 90% of the $96 million of SPARC will be spent in the Black areas of town but will be paid back by largely the White taxpayers. SPARC should benefit all racial areas of town.
According to Greg Aymond, Von Jennings was advancing the notion that infrastructure improvements should be prioritized by or considered within the context of the racial and socioeconomic make-up of a neighborhood.
She receives the support of Greg Aymond, calls it a miracle, and now, the man is not only endorsing her, he’s also attempting to define her platform.
Frankly, I’d find Ms. Jennings much more credible if she stood up to Mr. Aymond, instead of acquiescing to him and allowing her candidacy to be defined by him. Perhaps she believes Mr. Aymond can provide in-roads among white voters (at least the dozen or so who subscribe to the same political philosophy as a former member of the KKK).
Despite all of the attention I’ve given him, I’ve always considered Mr. Aymond to be a sideshow, a case study in cognitive dissonance, noteworthy primarily because of his prolific intellectual dishonesty and outspoken racism. There are a few static links on his blog: A tribute to the Confederacy, a sloppy image of the Mayor of Alexandria as Adolph Hitler, and a picture of a noose.
Congratulations, Von, for the endorsement.
And thanks for proving the old adage. Indeed, politics makes strange bedfellows.
Outspoken racism is kind of interesting, from a sociological perspective. Their absurd battle was lost decades ago, and yet they still cling to it. Maybe nostalgia is involved. It probably feels good to imagine yourself as the guy in charge.
The argument begins and ends with the quote you featured. There’s no such thing as a white area of town and a black area of town. You are free to live in whatever part of town you choose. All that limits you is your ability to afford to pay the rent, or to get a mortgage and pay the taxes.
That takes us away from race and into economics. Why should taxpayers want to spend money in poor areas of town? In my opinion, it is because we would get a valuable long-term return on our investment. By improving the poor areas of town, we make our community more attractive to businesses, and nicer for one another. What is wrong with spending a little bit of money, or even a lot of money, to make our town a nicer place to live?
It’s easy to pour sidewalks. The real challenge is not just in finding a way to improve the poor areas of town, but to improve the lives of the people who live there. How can we bring people jobs? How can we help them get the skills they need to get the jobs? How about affordable child care so it is actually possible to go to work. How about a better public transportation system so you don’t need the massive, impenetrable need for a car to better your economic situation?
Alexandria has a lot of problems, but spending too much on black people and not enough on white people is not nearly one of them.
That picture looks like a surreal band of “superfriends” ready to tackle the current administration.
Hahaha…what an oxymoron…Von+Aymond….going to put that one in my archives.
Secondly, landlords (slumlords) need to be more responsible in keeping up their rent houses and disposing their trash properly. This would make an incredible difference in the “poor” areas of town, Rabo.
I am glad to see the Housing Authority director ousted. This should improve the neighborhood substantially. I have read the guidelines that property owners need to follow in order to accept Section 8 from renters. You CANNOT tell me that the housing authority come out and inspect these dumps yearly and cleared them to be habitable. I have personal experience with the HA. I accept Section 8. Upon submitting my agreement to the HA, I made sure that I followed the guidelines to ensure my renter had a great place to live. They are supposed to inspect my rent house yearly, I have not seen hide nor hair of them, neither has my renter. No wonder these slumlords are getting fat on Section 8 checks and putting little money back into their properties.
Ok…totally a rant there. I needed to vent. Thanks Lamar! I feel much better.
Loved your closing line Lamar, about strange bedfellows…a classic!