Has Thomas Stith's Durham mayor campaign crossed the line?

Durham's been buzzing the past few days as the details of Thomas Stith's robo-calling campaign have been spreading through the community.

Here's a transcript of one of the calls:

Hello, this is Thomas Stith.

Did you know that Durham is a sanctuary city, a city where illegal immigrants commit crimes without fear of being deported? That's right, our local police can't inquire about the citizenship of people who commit a crime in our city.

We can change that with your help.

In Monday's city Council meeting, I'm going to introduce a resolution that ends the policy that makes Durham a safe haven for illegal immigrants. Call members of the City Council, and attend the City Council meeting on Monday to show your support. I'm Thomas Stith. Thanks for your time.

You can listen to a tape of this call here.

Couple of points to make about this. First, Stith not only voted in favor of the resolution making Durham a "sanctuary city" four years ago, he seconded the motion. So, we've got some flip-flopping going on. Second, Stith started raising this issue within hours of John Ham bringing it up on the JLF's Right Angles blog. (Kevin points out that Ham actully bragged about this.) So now we've got water-carrying for the organization that Stith was formerly employed by (to be precise, Stith was a VP for Civitas Institute.) The call itself is nothing but ethnic fear-mongering, distasteful under any circumstances, but perhaps more so coming from a man whose family was instrumental in fighting against American apartheid in the 50s and 60s.

But for me, here's the worst part.

Several African-American Durhamites are reporting having received a second version of this call, which leads off with Stith making the claim that "he knows what it's like to be targed by the police because of the color of his skin."

So we can add race-baiting to the mix as well.

Stith has said he will try to introduce a resolution at tonight's council meeting to revoke the "sanctuary city" status, and called on his supporters to turn out. There's something unseemly about trying to turn a council meeting into a campaign rally, and we hope to have enough people there tonight to keep that from happening.

there's also ongoing discussion about what exactly the "sanctuary city" means. Clearly, it does not mean that the government of the city of Durham will shelter illegal aliens from deportation or arrest by the feds.

Again, Kevin's post linked above discusses the ramification of the 2003 council resolution. I've got several posts up on this topic as well, including the full text of the police order which describes DPD's interpretation of the Council resolution.

If you're in Durham, come on out to tonight's council meeting at City Hall. The meeting starts at 7, the fireworks should begin sometime after 7:30, after the ceremonial stuff and the consent agenda are out of the way.


Puppet strings

They're like a school of stinky fish. One turns, they all turn. Mindless automatons spawned in the pool of hate-and-divide.

Frontpaged by Anglico

I don't recall Stith running

I don't recall Stith running an especially divisive campaign 4 years ago. The main issue i had with him then was that he apparently packed a Durham Committee meeting in between the primary and the general, and got them to drop their endorsement of diane Catotti, and endorse him instead. Catotti still went on to be the leading votegetter, but Diane Wright, who had finished second in the primary, dropped out of the top three.

She would have been a great voice on Council.

Olditmers i talk to around town (i've only been in Durham since 93, so i don't count) say they've not seen anything like this in many years, if ever.

Meet the "Robinsons"

Stith's "former" co-worker at Civitas, Jeff Mixon, was Vernon Robinson's campaign manager. Like Stith, Mixon "resigned" to work on Robinson's campaign but came back later when Robinson lost. Apparently the dirty tricks were stored in the basement.

Hi! I'm Vernon! I am now in charge Thomas!

Meet the "Robinsons"

Stith's "former" co-worker at Civitas, Jeff Mixon, was Vernon Robinson's campaign manager. Like Stith, Mixon "resigned" to work on Robinson's campaign but came back later when Robinson lost. Apparently the dirty tricks were stored in the "Pope underground communcation bunker".* gregflynn

And just when you thought Vernon had retired from politics, he shows up at a Pope internet conference last week and makes nice to Ed Cone. You just can't keep a beated Pope man down with Thomas.

Council meeting update

Stith got smacked around pretty good tonite. About 85 or so folks showed up in support of the immigrant community, and Stith's resolution never even got on the agenda. He tried to blame it on a mixup between him and Patrick Baker, but that didn't fly.

Best moment was when Cora Cole-McFadden said she'd been out of town for a few days, and couldn't understand how all these people in attendance tonight would have the mistaken impression that this item was going to be on the agenda. Had something been miscommunicated in the papers, she wondered. Which gave someone an opportunity to stand up and explain for the record the whole robo-call mess.

Good times.

More details here.

Thanks, Barry

And thanks for the link to your blog. I love the name.

Thank you. I will try to

Thank you. I will try to stop by and post updates on the election between now and November. I'll unfortunately be away from Durham for a significant amount of time leading up to the primary, but the Mayor's race is not on the October ballot, and i don't expect any City Council surprises in that election, as the field is whittled from 10 candidates to 6.

I expect the final ballot to be Ali, Brown, Catotti, Funderburk, Harris, and Peterson. The hard work there will be the third seat. Both Brown and Catotti have endorsements from the progressive People's Alliance and the more conservative Friends of Durham, and i think as incumbents, their seats are relatively safe.

All four of the remaining candidates have been endorsed by one of Durham's main PACs (Harris by the PA, Funderburk by the Friends, and Ali and Peterson by the Durham Committee), so they all start with a base of about the same number of votes. Who draws the most of the remaining voters is the question.

I'm suporting David Harris based mostly on his work in the Durham Democratic Party, and his other neighborhood based civic involvement. Laney Funderburk is vice-chair of the Durham Republican Party. Farad Ali is an independent who has a lot of good qualities, but at this time in the history of our country, i'm voting for a Democrat over an independent any day. Victoria Peterson is unqualified for public office, in my opinion. None of these four have ever held public office.

More on Stith

Anybody got time to check this out? Came to me via email

Vernon Robinson has reported that he was being paid by Civitas (he was) and was working on the Stith campaign. In addition another contractor for Civitas, Robert Jones, worked on the Robinson campaign and may be working on the Stith campaign.

The Ringmaster at Civitas circus - Jack Hawke - was doing campaign ads for Robinson with Jones and is reportedly doing the same thing for Stith.

A question to Robinson as to whether he was paid by Civitas for "work" would be worth asking.

Jones has been seen going into Civitas almost daily.

Seems like a lot of coincidences for a "non-profit" that Stith used to work for.

We all know that the Puppetshow likes to walk right up to the edge of electioneering laws, and some would argue they routinely step over that line. So it wouldn't surprise me at all to find that the Civitas Circus is deeply and inappropriately involved in electoral politics. I'm not saying they are, I'm just saying it wouldn't surprise me.