FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Democrats Against Sanders

Incumbent Democratic Party Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, William Bell, is facing a tough re-election race, having placed second in an election on August 22 behind challenger Randall Woodfin, setting up a run-off election for October 3. Woodfin is running as a progressive, having received the endorsement of Bernie Sanders’ political organization, Our Revolution. The run-off will likely be a close election, and is already causing political drama in the Alabama area after recent reports surfaced on September 6 that the incumbent Mayor, William Bell, was trying to exploit his office to maintain political power.

During a mandatory City meeting on August 29 that was recorded, Bell told City employees that their jobs were on the line if he lost re-election.

“The political survival of my administration is at stake,” Bell said.  “And if you think that is just about William Bell, no it is about everyone in this room. It is about each of us in this room. Because I guarantee you while some may survive, the vast majority of you will not. OK. I’m not trying to put fear I’m just trying to tell you the realities of the situation.”

The meeting has raised legal ethical questions, as it is in violation of Alabama law for any person to use their authority to influence the vote or political action of another individual, as Bell appears to do in the meeting by passive aggressively blackmailing his employees to campaign for him. It is also illegal for city time or resources to be used for political activities.

Bell added in the meeting, “”Now, what do I need from you? It is improper for you to campaign during working hours. I am not asking you to do that, but what I am asking you to do when you are at work – do your job professionally. Reach out to citizens. Whatever they need try to meet them as immediately as possible. Don’t get into any arguments with people, but try to satisfy whatever their needs are. That’s the best thing you can do to help me while you are on duty.” He implored his employees to correct any disinformation or criticisms against him that they may come across during the course of the election, including through social media. “Tell the real story, and do it online. That is the battle front right now,” Bell said.

He then went on to further discuss the dynamics of the elections, claiming that the race isn’t between him and Woodfin, but  “this race is against Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party.” He then complained that groups like Our Revolution have boosted Woodfin’s campaign, putting him at a disadvantage. Bell cited that Our Revolution helped boost Jackson, Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Chokwe Lumumba to victory in his election earlier this year. “Now, they’re running the same tactics here in Birmingham, Alabama.”

He then encouraged his employees to take a “vacation day” to help him if they wanted and pitched a call for donations, “It could be a dime. It could be a dollar,” and cited that his employees could say good things about him at their church services.

Bell’s comments in the meeting signal how frustrated the Democratic Party establishment has become with Bernie Sanders’ popularity, and the enthusiasm he has generated in local elections across the country. Hillary Clinton wrote in her new memoir a criticism toward Sanders, complaining that he isn’t a Democrat and ran to disrupt the party, a criticism only “vote blue no matter who” Democratic Party sycophants care about, a sentiment steeped in a sense of moral superiority over the idea of being a Democrat rather than focusing on policy substance. Bernie Sanders’ book on the 2016 election, Our Revolution, focuses on outlining ways people can get engaged and involved on a variety of policy issues to make a difference and improve the country for all Americans. This engagement calls for disrupting the status quo that has enabled many Democrats across the country to exploit political office for their own benefit and those of their wealthy and corporate donors at the expense of working, middle class, and low income voters.

In Bell’s case, several instances of political corruption have marred his office in the past few years. In 2015, a contractor told the Birmingham City Council that Bell’s brother tried to politically bribe him, telling him “”I need to pay them in order to play.” The contractor was awarded $2.5 million from the city in a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

In 2011, Bell was embroiled in controversy over his lack of action over several companies, Walter Energy, contaminating for decades neighborhoods in north Birmingham, with 2010 EPA tests showing toxic chemicals and carcinogens present in the soil. Bell’s donors to his 2011 election were cited as local corporate interests. Bell was first elected in 2009 to complete the term of his predecessor, Larry Langford, a Democrat, who was convicted on federal corruption charges, but endorsed Bell to replace him. Bell traveled to the White House in 2016 to personally ask Obama to have Langford released, in addition to former Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman’s release, who was convicted on bribery charges . He embodies several incumbent Democrats across the country who have abandoned the interests of voters in favor of special interests and wealthy influences, keeping them happy to maintain political power while the issues facing their constituents are ignored.

 

More articles by:

Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail