Saturday night saw the first meeting of several ticked off political and community activists, who gathered together to discuss the current political situation in Louisville’s Southend. The gist of the evening’s conversation centered on the failure of either party to take seriously the concerns facing the Southend. First on the agenda was the local Republican Party, which continues to show little more than a passing interest in anything west of I-65. Personally, I wonder if there’s some unwritten pact with their Democratic counterparts to stay out of the Blue-collar Southend in exchange for the Democrats keeping out of the White-collar Eastend.
Two key Republicans praised for their commitment to the folks in the Southend was State Senator Dan Seum and Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins—neither of whom are exactly the darlings of the GOP ruling clique, or the Courier Journal for that matter. For those not familiar with the GOP and Southend, no serious steps to build any inroads have been attempted in years, despite poor opposition from the Democrats (more on that in a moment). Focus instead has remained east of I-65. The Republicans shot themselves in their...er...foot with their abandonment of key Southend candidates in the 2004 races, resulting in many leaving the party. They recently repeated a similar scenario in 2006. This left many of the Republicans in the group feeling like the proverbial red headed stepchild. But before the Democrats start to gloat, things aren’t any better on their side of the fence; Different cows. Same bull.
As an aside, when I ran for Metro Council in 2002, I brought up the idea of forming a “Southend Caucus”, regardless of party or office, for the purpose on working on the Southend’s diverse and serious problems together. The Courier Journal accused me of wanting to “Balkanize” local politics. Folks, it was “Balkanized” long before I got here. I was just trying to find a way to sidestep party politics and work together base on common ground. Well, you can call me “Tito” if you want, but I still think it’s a good idea.
Despite controlling the overwhelming majority of seats, the Democrats have shown little in the way of leadership. It was pointed out that the Democrats are poorly organized and poorly lead at every level, with their chief interest laying in playing the “status quo” game of politics of promising change while doing nothing. Everyone in attendance agreed that with the failure of the Republicans and of the Democrats to bring more police officers, economic redevelopment, job opportunities, businesses, and a non-partisan commitment to neighborhoods to the Southend. The time has come whereby the residents need to be encouraged to start voting in their own economic self-interest irrespective of party registration.
Could this affect the Democrats? Hopefully so. Since they control the majority of the seats in the Southend, they’ll want to protect those seats. Perhaps by working more closely with area residents in addressing their concerns, they may actually want to keep junkyards, trailer parks and meth labs out, and bring in more upscale developments and businesses (did you know the Southend has no bookstore? Nope. Not a one). As for the Republicans, perhaps they will use this opportunity to capitalize on the leadership vacuum by investing in its small (and declining) voter base (is it any wonder that the Southend has one of highest number of registered Independents anywhere in the county?). Perhaps too it may actually induce them to start working with instead of against its best know elected representatives, Seum, Hawkins (and let’s not forget Kevin Bratcher either). The meeting adjourned with a mutual agreement to continue with these discussions, and develop specific steps to bring the issues of the Southend to the forefront.
A Musical Note
I thought you all might enjoy this. A friend of mine recently wrote and produced a neat little ditty about our favorite terrorist group, the Hezbollah (we all know what a fun group they are). Click onto Rob’s site and check out his song (yelp, that’s him singing too) at: http://myspace.com/bobbyludwig. I hope you’ll pass it along to everyone red blooded American you know! And Rob, great job!