Thursday, September 4, 2008

Brian Wahby thinks we're losers. What did we lose?

Last night a friend and I stopped by The Royale for a drink and managed to catch most of Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention.

I noticed Brian Wahby sitting at the bar. Wahby chairs the city's Central Democratic Committee. He was heckling Palin on the screen.

His heckle was aspiring to a chant at Palin's expense, based on the futlity of drilling for more oil. The chant neither caught on nor inspired public opposition (though there were a few, bedraggled Ron Paul Republicans slouched just down the bar from Wahby).

I did my best to ignore Wahby, which is not easy to do. He is a large, loud man. His default setting (easily observed from the above image with state Sen. Jeff Smith, pinched off Smith's website) is "NOTICE ME!"

I was thinking that if the folks at The Royale had a better understand of City politics and Wahby's role in it, they would be heckling HIM.

Wahby is one of many foot soldiers helping to execute the divide-and-rule politics that runs the City of St. Louis. He personally gave Mayor Francis G. Slay campaign money right after Slay's administration demoted Fire Chief Sherman George, setting off a firestorm in the black community. More recently, Jake Wagman of the Post busted Wahby funneling money to Slay through the Central Committee. Wahby's wife, Robbyn, earns nearly $100,000 year from taxpayers as a Slay appointee. She is responsible for what has been Slay's biggest failure, even more significant than the Sherman George caper: public education.

But, there is a contested presidential election to win. Wahby is a Democrat. Jeff Smith has assured me that Wahby has worked hard to elect Barack Obama. I believe that to be true.

Wahby passed by my table, on his way out the door. I had joined state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, who had been sitting alone when my buddy and I entered the bar. Jamilah introduced Wahby to me. Before this moment, we had been more names than faces to one another - unpleasant names, as Wahby recognized.

"Oh!" he said, when he heard my name. "The one who writes stuff about me!"

"Good stuff?" Jamilah said.

"No, bad stuff," Wahby said.

I said, "We are on the opposite sides of some important issues."

"Why?" Wahby said. "We're both Democrats."

"City government," I said.

Wahby was still moving toward the door. With his usually booming voice and physicality of gesture, he said, "That's right - you're on the losing side!" and left the bar.

That was all civil and decent. But I was left wondering, "Which side am I on? And what did we lose?"

When Wahby was busted moving money through the Central Committee to Mayor Slay, state Sen. Maida Coleman objected, saying that half of the organization opposed using the committee to fund the mayor.

She made those remarks in the minutes of a meeting. Wagman didn't ask Maida to elaborate, but most readers probably understood her to be saying that most black Democrats in the city are opposed to the mayor.

That has certainly been my experience, as a white guy who works for a black-owned newspaper and tends to see city politics through the eyes of my mentors, who are from the African-American old guard.

I'll be asking those guys, "What did we lose? Why is our side the losing side?"

Maybe I'll ask Wahby. What winning side was Brian Wahby on? Did he do something we don't know about to undermine Sherman George? Certainly our side has lost that one, so far.

Did he participate in the recent underground effort to starve a potential mayoral candidate of funding? We know he did all he could to kick cash to Slay - but is he also working to undermine the fundraising efforts of a fellow Democrat? If so, please let the people know, Mr. Wahby.

As for his favorite mayor, last I checked, you can't even file to run against him in 2009 yet, and the last time Slay ran, The St. Louis American didn't endorse anyone. We didn't win, but we didn't lose.

I'll have to ask Wahby these things the next time I see him. Who is on my side? Black St. Louis? Are we all losers? What did we lose?

And if Wahby won, what did he win?


Michael R. Allen said...

If you have to ask, Chris, maybe you don't deserve to win...

Confluence City said...

I have to ask, Huh? Even if that further limits my deservedness (sp?) to win!

Anonymous said...

YOU and the st. louis american are trying to divide and conquer the city among racial lines. I would assume that is what brian was referring to since your efforts obviously arent working. You are not part of the solution for bridging the racial divide chris, YOU are part of the problem.

Confluence City said...

Dear anonymous, I'll have to assume you are anonymously part of the unnamed solution.

Michael R. Allen said...

Let me get this straight: the white editor at a black newspaper is somehow perpetuating the St. Louis racial divide?

Confluence City said...

The American also gets lettes (we'll run one next week) asking why we don't do stories about white people. It's like the editor of a sailboat magazine getting a letter asking why they don't do letters about speedboats! St. Louis is gradually coming around to niche publishing.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with Brain Wahby?
Now you talking about a race for mayor, it is tuggin now. Threaten the Senator son -Breaking her car window!!
To you Brian Wahby- you're messing with the wrong ones???
To the people of St. Louis;
If any thing go down let's look at Brian Wahby and Slay.(remember Denise Coleman)
We don't want any problems but a when a brother talk about bullets and guns...
Read this article people of St. Louis:From Senator Coleman website

Senator Maida Coleman quotes:
My supporters, friends and voters are well aware that the Democratic Party is my philosophical base, however at the local level we have been let down by some of the local party leadership who play games like putting people in the Mayoral Primary with a similar name to my own. That is what prompted my decision to run as an Independent.

There is no question that the tone of my comments in today’s article were passionate, however part of that passion was fueled by two incidents that occurred within days of the St. Louis American interview. There have been inflammatory verbal threats made directly to my son by Brian Wahby (Chair of the St. Louis Democratic Central Committee), stating that he had bullets and guns ready to "take me down," as well as a window of my car being smashed shortly thereafter. This is a deplorable display of harassment that I will not tolerate, and one that the residents of this city should not tolerate.

I've supported, worked with and raised money for good Democrats my entire life, and I do not expect this to change. Likewise, I will continue to speak out against inside-party intimidation, and I thank you for your continuous support of my endeavors both as Former Senator, and as a candidate for Mayor of the City of St. Louis.

Are you with me or not. I know Senator you're not down with harassment and will not tolerate it. But we have to have a sister's back.
Do a Sister need body guards? I know you have family all over the USA and I know some of them are not about politics!!! Maybe on the the otherside of the law -you get my drift, Brian-Slay gang!
We can go there!
However, Senator, I will honor your request with the no hassment. But we got your back!! And will be watching...............

Confluence City said...

I don't endorse any of this talk of violence. It's never a solution.

Also, the hints that Maida Coleman has family members who could be called upon in some violent capacity - I don't know anything about that.

Maida did tell me today though that Wahby threatened her son. Wahby says Maida is delusional. We'll see.