By John Singletary, Candidate for Mayor of North Charleston
Congratulations to Reggie Burgess and his recent promotion to Chief of Police for The City of North Charleston. It is especially worth noting that Chief Burgess is the first African American Police Chief in the history of The City of North Charleston, since the city’s incorporation in 1972. We take great pride that Chief Burgess is one of our own. Again, congratulations to Chief Burgess and the entire community wishes you Godspeed.
While we congratulate Chief Burgess, be it clear that no position alone will suffice in and of itself or will bring about the changes needed to make a difference in the prosperity and betterment of all our neighborhoods. Only when we have in place an administration, from the top down, that is fair and committed to fairness in the distribution of jobs, contracts, and resources into all of our communities, will we begin to see the equitable changes in North Charleston that will make a difference in the lives of all of our citizens. For our communities to receive what is just, fair, and long overdue it must extend beyond just a position, but we must have a committed city administration and specifically city mayor. It is only when we vote into office a committed mayor than we will begin to see a progressive city enhancing the quality of life for all its citizens in all our communities from Union Heights to Coosaw Creek.
North Charleston shares the distinction of having a black police chief, as many other cities in America. However, a black police chief alone will not solve the answer to the high crime rate and other disparities within our city. In fact, of the ten (10) cities with highest numbers of homicides and major crime, nine of those ten cities have black police chiefs. If the appointment of a black police chief alone is the answer to curtailing high crime, then nine of the ten largest cities in American would have low levels of high crime.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. While each of the nine black police chiefs wants the best for their communities, policing is reactionary to crime and not a catalyst for decreasing crime. The aforementioned painted picture of crime begs the question? ‘Then what does cause crime to be high?’ and ‘What can we do to decrease high crime in North Charleston?’ The empirical data clears show that the color of a police chief’s skin has absolutely nothing to do with establishing or decreasing the levels of high crime. Therefore, it would be an unfair expectation that crime could be decreased by any police chief simply because of their race, gender, or ethnicity.
Our first question: What causes high crime? Explicit, unmistakable, and transparent data on the subject leaves no room for confusion, doubt, or any speculation as to what causes high crime in neighborhoods. As stated, it is chronic prolonged joblessness and the denial of access to contracts in communities that are the most significant catalyst to deterring high crime in neighborhoods. Whether we consider writer Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” definitive research; The BOSCAR report by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) 2012 Report; The Effects of Unemployment and Crime Rate in the U.S. by Sandra Ajimotokin, Alexandra Haskins, Zack Wade April 14th, 2015; Marvin D. Krohn’s Book “Inequality, Unemployment and Crime: A Cross-National Analysis”, or any of the other well recognized research or reports dealing with the see saw relationship that deals with crime and employment or the symmetrical relationship that exist between crime and chronic joblessness is always the same and conclusive. Prolonged states with no jobs correlate to an increase in crime and a community filled with high crime. I only mention the above books and reports to give credibility to what we have already known as a community for years.
There is no substitute for correcting the challenge of high crime. The relationship between chronic joblessness and high crime is as solid as a hungry bear eating meat. While it is not his usual diet, under pressured circumstance he will eat meat or just about anything else to fill his gut. A society or community with lower unemployment and parity in contracts and jobs enjoys lower crime rates and lower overhead than those societies and communities with high unemployment and lack parity. This is not only indisputable, but it makes common sense.
Therefore, we should not, cannot, and will not fall for the okie dokie smoke screen and allow the appointment of a black police chief to pacify us in our quest for justice for our communities. We will not be that gullible or stupid Mayor Summey, your gambit and trickery is an insult. The only thing that we will settle for is an administration that manages with “good government” that is fair and equitable for all its citizens. Unfortunately, we still see an administration under mayor Mayor Keith Summey that continues to exhibit a pattern and practice of racial discrimination within the city as a whole. A recent Unity in the Community brochure distributed by a challenger of Keith Summey, 2019 candidate John Singletary exhibits on pages 8 and 9 one of the most clear-cut, straightforward, and concise graphs proving the very point that all the research data has found.
We refer back to the Singletary campaign brochure because it addresses several of the critical issues at hand for The City of North Charleston. Teddie Pryor is the Director of the Special Projects Department with a budget for The City of North Charleston of $18 million dollars: however, blacks receive less than 1% of these contracts. Only 1% of the contracts for 50% of the people, this is a travesty to justice and a discriminatory division we cannot and will not settle for. This kind of managing clarifies the fact that simply having just a black in a position will not bring about the fairness that we demand. The black community in North Charleston must search out and place in positions courageous leaders who will stand up for justice and demand economic parity in jobs, contracts, and community resource and who want fairness for all citizens in the city, and one who places an ultimatum on the demand for economic parity in every department.
The contracts awarded reveal only 3% of a $65 million budget goes to the black community. Whites who make up only 38% of the population enjoy $65 million while blacks and other minorities who make up 62% of the population wage war against each other for only $2 million. This is a travesty that we allow this administration to treat us so unfairly and we sit back and do nothing about it. Especially, considering that simply by voting we could stop all this madness. Mayor Summey only received 6,396 votes in the last election when over 28,000 blacks who are already registered did not vote. This is a shame and sad that we as a community would treat ourselves with such disrespect and contempt. I am confident that on November 5, 2019, we will do better.
The wages budget is in excess of $66 million for North Charleston. Blacks makeup 50% of the population, receive 40% of the jobs, most at the bottom tier thus receiving only 20% of the wages. The overall analysis leaves the supporting picture that the unfair division of jobs, contracts, special projects, and community resources is the single largest contributor to the high crime rate in North Charleston and the key to reversal is to obtain economic parity. Economic parity is the only solution to the problem of high crime if blacks are to remain in North Charleston. Crime is high in North Charleston, but not everywhere, only in the black community as confirmed by North Charleston’s published neighborhood crime statistics. I say because considering how Mayor Summey is speedily trying to annex and build areas that are largely white, the idea of gentrification and the mass movement of blacks out of the city must be looked at. Just as over 50,000 blacks were pushed out of The City of Charleston, please do not allow the same bee to sting us twice and allow this same thing to happen to us in North Charleston.
The one exception brings us to another moving piece to the puzzle. The City of Charleston was able to rid itself of its high crime in the black neighborhood by simply getting rid of its blacks and the black neighborhood. The City of Charleston, under a black police chief, was able to convince the black community to focus on the celebration of their black police chief while the city used gentrification to remove almost 50,000 blacks from its city. When we finally woke up and realized what had happened, our communities no longer existed. The city of Charleston has the distinction of being the most gentrified city in the entire United States of America and it happened during the tenure of a black police chief and a group of black leaders who became unfocused and took their eye off of the prize. The timing of the appointment of a black Police Chief in North Charleston is an old move by a new player. The very same gentrification tactics that were used in the city of Charleston are now being used in North Charleston. The Department of Justice’s documents, letters, and admonishments regarding the dilution of the black vote through annexation are all public information and can be found online at https://www.justice.gov/crt/voting-determination-letters-south-carolina and view the PDF files.
North Charleston, like the city of Charleston, has used annexations in order to dilute their black community’s voting strength. The present annexation war between the city of Charleston and North Charleston has been addressed in the media every position except the true underlying reason for wanting to annex the Whiteside Tract, the possibility of 15,000 homes that will be based upon the statistical average income data for the races in the area will almost guarantee the 15,000 homes will be overwhelmingly white. 15,000 homes will equate to in excess of 30,000 votes, all predominately white. This is the true reason for the war between the Titans. A recent Post & Courier article mentions an annexation is usually performed in order to gain something. The statement was true, but no elaboration took place. The two-fold objective for North Charleston was 1) to increase the voting base for white constituents and 2) to dilute the black community’s vote in North Charleston.
Here is the support for the above-mentioned statement. For North Charleston, if the annexation is achieved, North Charleston will it have to spend an exorbitant amount of taxpayer funds to provide utilities and services across the river to the new location. On the other hand Mayor Keith Summey has kept quiet, while ignoring public and city council concerns regarding the doughnut holes of 8,000 residences who are overwhelmingly black and being denied the right to vote. Annexing the doughnut holes would bring approximately $16 million dollars immediately to the city’s budget without any cash outlay whatsoever. The problem with that is it would also increase the black community’s voting strength. While Mayor Summey eventually would annex the overwhelmingly black areas he does not want to do it prior to getting the 30,000 new votes on the books. If he could hold out on the black community until he could get the 30,000 new votes he could kill two birds with one stone. He would ensure the dilution of the black vote and gain some black community support for eventually doing what should have been done much earlier all while stealing the black community’s rightful opportunity for domination. Much like the recent political move he made to hire a black police chief. Mayor Summey is transitioning Oak Terrace, the Mixon, soon to be Ashley Shores and Chicora/Cherokee to predominately white neighborhoods. Making matters worse is the ram in the bush community of Ingleside. The largest subdivision in the entire history of North Charleston is Ingleside. Ingleside is under the wing of Weber, where his son is an executive getting paid. The company has a contract with North Charleston.
The question of the day posed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was and still is: Where do we go from here? The answer is not complicated but it requires us remaining focused on what we must achieve. We must go to the voting polls Nov. 5, 2019, and release our people from being chained to the bottom rung of the ladder of economic freedom by voting out a corrupt administration and voting in “good government.” Not only do we go, but we must vow to carry two friends with us. No one should vote alone because this time we will win if there is “UNITY IN THE COMMUNITY.”
In spite of no real change in the chain of command regarding the city hierarchy of authority, meaning previously the chain of command was Summey, Driggers, and Burgess and today after all promotions the hierarchy remains the very same with Summey, Driggers, and Burgess, no change. Sorry, Driggers did receive additional money compared to the previous position holder while Burgess was denied the higher equivalent salary. Rather than look at the relative worth of the job they appeared to look at the relative worth of the skin color or person. In complete fairness to our newly elected Police Chief, Reggie Burgess, we the public need to understand and set our expectation clear in all fairness to him. We know statistically and based upon the crime in our communities that crime is a function of chronic joblessness.
The North Charleston Police Department, according to the North Charleston fiscal year 2017-2018 45th annual budget document has a budget of approximately $35.5 million per year. Fairness and economic parity would mandate 50% of the budget to go to the black community, in excess of $17.5 million. This type of economic parity has never happened under Mayor Keith Summey in any department since his tenure as Mayor. Payroll nearly $32 million would place $16 million in the black community. Operating contingencies would place almost $1.3 million in the black community, and capital outlay would place approximately $750 thousand in the black community. The Police Department has according to North Charleston’s most recent document 419 employees. The black community based on fairness and parity should receive at least 209 of the positions, not the 89 they currently have. That comes to at least 3 Deputy Police Chiefs, 5 Police Captains, 8 Police Lieutenants, 24 Police Sergeants, 12 Master Patrol Officers, 118 Police Officers, 1 Senior services Assistant, 1 Budget Coordinator, 2 Evidence Technicians, 5 Administrative Specialist, 12 Community Service Officer I’s , 1 Assistant Police Records Supervisor, 1 Administrative Assistant, 6 Police Services Technicians, 2 Animal Control Officers, 2 Crime Scene Technicians, 1 Crime Analyst, 4 Community Service Officer II’s , and a Background Investigator. This list makes it crystal clear what should be the expectation by the black community if they are interested in the Police Department to have any impact on crime in North Charleston. To expect anything less would be an insult to the intelligence of the North Charleston black community. Ultimately the Mayor must be held accountable to ensure Chief Burgess carries out these acts of fairness and the Mayor himself must be held accountable to do the very same in every single department in the city.
The budget can be viewed at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzt8VNyslCL8VHcxMlk5U2FaOVE/view?pli=1 to determine what the expectations for the Mayor should be for each department. The North Charleston fire survey can be found for 2009 at https://nfa.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo42895.pdf and another study can be found at https://nfa.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo47534.pdf for 2013. The end result is fundamental fairness under the present mayor has not in 24 years come to the North Charleston black community, many departments are decreasing in black employees and only insanity would cause one to assume it would or could under the same leadership.
New leadership like John Singletary, who vows to address the high crime with proven solutions such as new living wage jobs and community policing, would turn the city around. In order to improve the effectiveness of the police department and decrease North Charleston’s record number homicide trends real change is needed, we firmly believe Singletary can be that change.
Singletary’s new and innovative ideas relating to traffic management include a new public rapid transport model, dynamic traffic forecasting, widening some roads, a public cycling transportation system and more.
In addition, Singletary says North Charleston needs an effective housing redevelopment department that gives access to revitalization to more than select communities that are slated for gentrification. Growth for the second largest city in the state must be planned and not allowed to take place in a haphazard fashion as it is presently occurring.
Most critical is a need to wipe out food deserts in North Charleston. It is senseless to allow an entire section of a city to be barren of a grocery store when a $1 million fund is ready and available for anyone who will place a full-service grocery store in that area. This is another reason why jobs and contracts are so important. Grocery stores look at average income and population demographics when deciding to build in a location. A contractor requested and was turned down by the Mayor and City Council when they requested to build a grocery store in the food desert. This is an undisputable fact. The Mayor’s statement that a grocery store would be built even if the city had to build it was only empty rhetoric like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Singletary has since 2014 stated it is vital in North Charleston to have amenities important to community development and a grocery store is certainly one of those amenities. If the Mixon can have a grocery store with only a select few residents, than how can an entire section with numerous neighborhoods not be given the same consideration? It is our hope that the mayor does not take the position of how can we gentrify and run them out of their community if we make it comfortable for them to stay by making healthy whole foods available and convenient, then they will never leave.
Two years is enough time to demand the changes be made, just in time for the next election. No discussion is necessary because this is simply fundamental fairness and anything less would give credence to the smoke and mirrors show put on by the long overdue hiring of our first black Police Chief. While there is much more to be said, I believe this at least starts the ball to rolling. The overall crime in North Charleston must rest and remain at the door-step of the Mayor of the City. No expectation of releasing the mayor from his responsibility should be entertained. When the black community is faced with a Mayor who tries a dishonest sleight of hand trick when he believes the black community to be undeserving and to mentally incompetent (too stupid) to understand or see through the smoke and mirrors trick, it is time for a change. Mayor Summey must be voted out of his position via the democratic voting process. The mayor said, “Nothing is gonna change”. Sam Cooke says in his music as a civil rights activist “A change is gonna come”. Who do you believe?
In conclusion, I am asking all communities of North Charleston to take ownership and vote John G. Singletary, Jr. as our new mayor.
He will bring “good government” to our city that is respectful and fair to all of our citizens. North Charleston’s black community is 53% of the overall votes in North Charleston, others will not respect us if we do not respect ourselves. It’s been a long time coming, but our change is gonna come November 5, 2019.