Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Unpublished editorial reply

Re: http://www.sptimes.com/2006/09/17/Opinion/Helm_drives_Democrats.shtmlHere is the reply that was never published:
Re: Helm Drives Democrats Editorial, 9/17/2006

Your editorial attack on the Democratic Party Chair Ed Helm was not unexpected, considering the TIMES’s long history of animosity towards Helm. What was a surprise was your attack against your own editorial masthead policy of “merely to tell the truth”.

Your claim that Helm “sought to defeat his party’s strongest candidates” is just plain wrong, unless your measure of strength is the large sums of money given to some Democratic candidates by Republican developers and their handful of Democratic henchmen who seek to bulldoze all affordable housing in Pinellas and replace it with high-rise condos populated by the well-to-do who will subscribe to the TIMES to boost your falling circulation numbers. These Republicans and their henchmen always support the most bland of Democratic candidates who, if elected, will act like Republicans and bend to their and their lobbyist’s will and not truly represent the people who elected them.

In fact, Helm did not recruit Norm Roche to run against Commissioner Harris. Harris, by his actions in 2004 in supporting Republican Ronnie Duncan against Democratic candidate Roche, did the best to recruit Roche in 2006 as a candidate. If Commissioner Harris thinks that the fact that he is African American gives him license to openly support Republicans and then come, hat in hand, to the Democratic Party for a free shot at election, then he—and others of like mind—are sadly mistaken.

You questioned why the Democratic Party turned to Helm for leadership, and further on answered your own question by stating that the “…Democratic Party may not have been particularly effective in the past…”. They are sore losers in the Democratic Party as a result of our recent election for chairman and they are doing everything possible to disrupt the party and ensure a Republican victory in November to embarrass Chairman Helm, and they may very well succeed in the short term. In the long term however, they will fail. In a few short months, with Helm as chair, we have witnessed a three-fold increase in membership on the Democratic Executive Committee, the decision-making body of the Democratic Party in Pinellas County. For the first time in memory, we have more activists supporting the Democratic Party than the Republicans have under their chair, Tony DeMato. This is the result of new energy and enthusiasm in the Democratic Party as a result of Helm’s victory. I might point out, in fairness, that I am one of the six Democratic Party District Chairs (out of eight) that supported Helm in his quest to become chairman. We saw up close the failure of direction and leadership over the past several occupants of that office. We saw Helm’s election as an opportunity to rescue and restore the Pinellas Democratic Party from years of failure, indecision and defeat.

I’ll admit that working with Ed Helm is not for the faint of heart. He is truly a whirlwind to behold. Being passionate and attempting to right a sinking ship is not an easy task, and Helm goes at it with the “pedal to the metal”, and he is fearless in his determination to push his crybaby critics (including the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES) aside.

As for your view that Helm “has done his party real harm with black voters, who are usually reliable supporters of Democratic candidates”, you could not be further from the truth. For too long, the Democratic Party has taken the Black Community for granted, and has looked at them as a monolithic block that can be depended on to deliver their votes to Democratic candidates. The Republican Party recognized this and seized upon it to enlarge their majority while paying lip service to goals such as “educational equality”, “economic opportunity”, and “family values”. What the Republicans really want is a breakup of our publicly-funded school system, and “opportunities” such as low-wage dead-end no-benefit jobs, and they attack any group that does not meet their puritanical standards.

The African American community is as diverse as any other group of Americans. The one thing they have in common is the color of their skin, a characteristic that has caused suffering and discrimination for hundreds of years, and continues still today. The time of the Democratic Party relying on two or three self-appointed African Americans to speak for their community is gone in Pinellas County. Chairman Helm has recruited a large and diverse number of blacks into the Democratic Executive Committee, and more are most welcome. This bodes well for the future of the African American community, and for the Democratic Party.

In closing, I never leave the house in the morning without reading the TIMES from front to back, and I believe you are entitled to your view. However, it would be wise to have your facts straight. Otherwise, your readers might be led to conclude that your publication is more suitable for wrapping yesterday’s dead fish.

Jim Donelon
P.O. Box 379
Bay Pines, FL 33744


At 7:34 PM, October 16, 2006, Anonymous Gitar Chris said...

From Paul Starr, Chairperson Dist 54:
re: Taking sides costs Democrats

For whatever reason, Will Van Sant has repeatedly taken the anti-Helm side without reporting the whole story. Since Ed Helm was elected County Chair last July, Vice Chair Briley has focused his attention on the next County Chair election this coming December and has led a disgruntled faction in disrupting the Pinellas Democratic Party. Shame on him, and shame on Will Van Sant for disguising his editorials as news. Ms. Thurman wrote a letter to Ed Helm which she then faxed to Arlin Briley. The first that Helm saw of the letter was when Briley distributed copies at our Tuesday meeting. This was also the first that our State Committeeman knew of Ms. Thurman's decision. There was no attempt to censure Mr. Helm at the Tuesday meeting, but if there was a prepared resolution I can only assume it was prepared by Briley as he was the one who had prior knowledge. Mr. Briley needs to stop trying to advance his own position at the expense of the party, and Ms. Thurman needs to stop being Briley's fool.

Paul D. Starr
Chair, House District 54 Committee
Pinellas Democratic Party


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