Looking Back: Yellen’s Views as Vice Chair

National Journal
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Nov. 20, 2013, 3:11 p.m.

AT­LANTA: Not Quite Post-Ra­cial

The city that be­came “a post-civil rights move­ment em­blem of the polit­ic­al power held by Afric­an Amer­ic­ans could have a white may­or for the first time in a gen­er­a­tion — a pos­sib­il­ity that has some in the black com­munity scram­bling to hold on to City Hall.”

Coun­cilor Mary Nor­wood, who is white, “is one of the front-run­ners” along­side State Sen. Kasim Reed and City Coun­cil Pres. Lisa Bor­ders, who are both black. All three “have bristled at a ra­cially charged e-mail cir­cu­lated by a black lead­er­ship group call­ing for Nor­wood’s de­feat be­fore a pos­sible run-off” (Haines, AP, 9/1).

A loc­al group known as the Black Lead­er­ship For­um “called for Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans to con­sol­id­ate their sup­port around” Bor­ders, say­ing she had “the best chance of win­ning sup­port from white busi­ness lead­ers” and de­feat­ing Nor­wood. The memo read: “For the last 25 years At­lanta has rep­res­en­ted the break­through for black polit­ic­al em­power­ment in the South. In or­der to de­feat a Nor­wood (white) may­or­al can­did­acy we have to get out now and work in a man­ner to de­feat her without a run­off, and the key is sig­ni­fic­ant black turnout.”

The “call for black unity drew sharp cri­ti­cism from” Bor­ders and Reed, who both “in­sisted in sep­ar­ate news con­fer­ences” 8/27 that At­lanta “must not choose its next may­or based on his or her race.” Reed called the memo “ra­cially charged and vit­ri­ol­ic” and said it “dis­hon­ors the legacies” of black and white may­ors who led the city through the civil-rights move­ment. Reed: “This cam­paign should be waged on the mer­its of each can­did­ate, not the col­or of their skin” (Bauer­lein, Wall Street Journ­al, 8/28).

If the black can­did­ates “split the vote, Nor­wood may find her­self in a run­off, where she could be­ne­fit” (AP, 9/1). Mean­while, state Rep. Ral­ph Long (D) en­dorsed Nor­wood “from the heart of his heav­ily black south­w­est At­lanta dis­trict” 9/3. Long is the “first black lead­er to back Nor­wood.” Long “con­demned a ra­cially charged memo that cir­cu­lated last week among black At­lantans” and said “his en­dorse­ment was based on her sup­port of a homegrown po­lice chief and eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially in blighted areas” (AP, 9/3).

Black Lead­er­ship For­um mem­ber Joyce Dorsey said 8/30 she sup­ports Nor­wood. But she also said she “agreed with many of the ideas in the memo” and said it was “un­der­stand­able that black At­lantans would want to con­tin­ue to have ‘rep­res­ent­a­tion that re­flects the group.’” However, Dorsey said “I just don’t find a Mary Nor­wood in the oth­er can­did­ates.” Dorsey said the group “has not form­ally en­dorsed any can­did­ate and hin­ted oth­er mem­bers of the group also sup­port can­did­ates oth­er than Bor­ders” (Bax­ter, “South­ern Polit­ic­al Re­port,” 8/31).

BO­STON: It’s Hard To Keep Cool In A 3-On-1 Rush

The three chal­lengers “seek­ing to un­seat” May­or Thomas Men­ino “took turns at­tack­ing his re­cord on edu­ca­tion, de­vel­op­ment, and pub­lic safety” 9/2 in the first de­bate, say­ing “city schools are fail­ing, tax breaks are un­fairly doled out to de­velopers and too many young people are dy­ing vi­ol­ently in city streets.” But “per­haps the most poin­ted vol­leys in the fast-mov­ing, free­wheel­ing de­bate fo­cused on fair­ness and ac­count­ab­il­ity at City Hall” (Slack/Leven­son, Bo­ston Globe, 9/3).

They “hammered him” 9/3 at an­oth­er de­bate “over a lack of minor­ity work­ers on Bo­ston con­struc­tion sites, pos­sible mis­spend­ing of fed­er­al hous­ing grants, and the un­even qual­ity of the city’s pub­lic schools in a rol­lick­ing for­um that ex­posed far more raw emo­tions than” the pre­vi­ous de­bate.

Men­ino “de­fen­ded him­self against ac­cus­a­tion after ac­cus­a­tion, cit­ing pro­grams and stat­ist­ics that he said show the city is mak­ing pro­gress on a vari­ety of long-stand­ing prob­lems.” But un­like the 9/2 de­bate, Men­ino “grew more flustered at the con­stant at­tacks, rolling his eyes at points, sigh­ing, and snap­ping at his op­pon­ents when they leveled charges” (Leven­son, Bo­ston Globe, 9/4).

‘05 City Coun­cil can­did­ate Kev­in Mc­Crea 9/2 called City Hall “cor­rupt,” ac­cus­ing Men­ino of “giv­ing away mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar tax breaks to the rich and valu­able land con­nec­ted in­siders.” City Coun­cilor Mi­chael Fla­herty “as­ser­ted that get­ting per­mits at City Hall hinged on whom you know” and City Coun­cilor Sam Yoon “called for an over­haul of Bo­ston’s strong-may­or form of gov­ern­ment.”

All three chal­lengers “lam­basted Men­ino for his ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment and called for the elim­in­a­tion of the city’s semi autonom­ous plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment agency, the Bo­ston Re­devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity.” Yoon said the agency, “at the may­or’s be­hest, ex­ecutes mil­lion-dol­lar deals with favored de­velopers be­hind closed doors.” Mc­Crea, “wav­ing a prop­erty deed, re­coun­ted a deal in which he said the may­or signed off on the sale of a piece of land in West Roxbury to a BRA em­ploy­ee” which was as­sessed at $95K but sold for $5K. Mc­Crea: “This is the type of cor­rup­tion I’m talk­ing about. We need to stop the giveaways.”

They all said “they sup­port lift­ing the cap on charter schools, ex­cept for Mc­Crea, who blas­ted the idea.” Mc­Crea: “Charter schools are the latest buzzword for these politi­cians to pre­tend they care about what goes on in the Bo­ston pub­lic schools.” Mc­Crea said “he sup­ports oth­er changes, such as longer school days” (Bo­ston Globe, 9/3).

Bo­ston Globe‘s Mooney writes, “There was only one real is­sue in the first de­bate” — Men­ino “and his 16 years in of­fice. … For an hour, Men­ino … par­ried the thrusts of his op­pon­ents, who tried to score points by at­tack­ing him on the is­sues of crime, pub­lic edu­ca­tion, real es­tate de­vel­op­ment, and his man­age­ment of the city’s fin­ances and bur­eau­cracy. Men­ino was nicked a few times, but did not ap­pear to be ser­i­ously wounded by the shots fired. … De­bat­ing has nev­er been a Men­ino strong suit, and one goal of last night’s per­form­ance was not to lose his com­pos­ure in the face of at­tacks. He suc­ceeded. While he at times seemed irked by some of the chal­lengers’ con­ten­tions, his re­sponses were gen­er­ally meas­ured and on point” (9/3).

Bo­ston Globe ed board writes, “Men­ino took something of a beat­ing from his chal­lengers. Men­ino was in­ef­fect­ive in the de­bate. Had he been that in­ef­fect­ive in of­fice, voters would have giv­en up on him long be­fore his fourth term. … His over­all ef­fort was flat. … Men­ino will need to make a much more spir­ited de­fense of his re­cord when he faces his chal­lengers again” (9/3).

Bo­ston Globe‘s Le­high writes, “This was the key ques­tion go­ing in­to the first tele­vised may­or­al de­bate: Who would es­tab­lish him­self as the most cred­ible chal­lenger” to Men­ino? It was “primar­ily a con­test between” Yoon and Fla­herty. “I gave Yoon the edge. Po­lite but poin­ted in his cri­tique of Men­ino, Yoon re­turned re­peatedly to his con­ten­tion that a strong-may­or sys­tem … isn’t good for Bo­ston” (9/3).

Bo­ston Globe‘s Payne writes, “Old Bo­sto­ni­ans saw the May­or Men­ino they know, with his thick tongue and thin skin. … Yoon prob­ably helped him­self the most, but get­ting new Bo­sto­ni­ans to vote is an­oth­er mat­ter” (9/3).

Bo­ston Globe‘s Loth writes, “Mc­Crea dared to ask the rude ques­tions that May­or Men­ino’s oth­er two chal­lengers avoided. … Mc­Crea gave voice to some of the quiet qualms Bo­ston voters have after 16 years of one-per­son rule” (9/3).

All four can­did­ates at­ten­ded a 8/31 event sponsored by a gay-rights group, where Dorchester law prof. Dave Breen said Men­ino called him a li­ar “after he cri­ti­cized the may­or’s par­ti­cip­a­tion in the South Bo­ston St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” which has long banned openly gay groups.

All four can­did­ates were hop­ing for an en­dorse­ment from the group, but “after four rounds of vot­ing” Men­ino “failed to gain the two-thirds ma­jor­ity of votes needed for an en­dorse­ment,” pick­ing up as much as 63% to Fla­herty’s 34%. Breen “called at­ten­tion to the fact that Fla­herty has taken a hit from the gay com­munity for march­ing in the South­ie parade” and sug­ges­ted that Men­ino “has got­ten a pass, ar­guing the may­or in ef­fect does march by walk­ing along the sides of the route shak­ing hands and at­tend­ing house parties.”

Mod­er­at­or Sue O’Con­nell: “The may­or said, very loudly, ‘Let’s get this ru­mor out. That’s a lie.’ And raised his voice. He was hot.” Men­ino spokes­per­son Nick Mar­tin said the may­or “nev­er lost his cool but took strong ex­cep­tion to Breen sug­gest­ing he par­ti­cip­ates in the parade” (Weir, Bo­ston Her­ald, 9/2).

Mean­while, a Bo­ston Globe in­vest­ig­a­tion shows Men­ino “has signed off on the sale of hun­dreds of city-owned lots at a frac­tion of their as­sessed value in an ef­fort to get them back on the tax rolls, but the way City Hall doled out the land of­ten has not in­volved com­pet­it­ive pub­lic bid­ding.” The mat­ter “is now draw­ing sharp cri­ti­cism” from Mc­Crea (Slack, 9/4).

BUF­FALO: It’s A Brown Out

May­or Byron Brown “is flex­ing all the muscles of the of­fice in the dwind­ling days” be­fore the 9/15 primary, a “fact that was in evid­ence” 9/3 when Rep. Bri­an Hig­gins (D) ap­peared with Brown to en­dorse him. Brown “is also ex­pec­ted to ap­pear with oth­er pop­u­lar” Dems in com­ing days and his camp said “top statewide fig­ures from Al­bany may also come here to sup­port the may­or.” Mean­while, city coun­cilor Mi­chael Kearns “hit the air­waves” with ads on two chan­nels (Mc­Carthy, Buf­falo News, 9/4).

CLEV­E­LAND: Sapped Mo­mentum

Clev­e­land Plain Deal­er‘s Gomez writes, “Giv­en a mi­cro­phone” 9/2 “at the highest-pro­file de­bate” of the race, each of May­or Frank Jack­son‘s (D) “op­pon­ents passed on the op­por­tun­ity to provide a game-chan­ging mo­ment.” Voters “hop­ing to hear a spe­cif­ic plan or vis­ion that is starkly dif­fer­ent from Jack­son’s surely came away dis­ap­poin­ted. None of the chal­lengers provided one of those, either.”

The de­bate “was a fi­nal chance for the chal­lengers to gain mo­mentum” be­fore the 9/8 primary. Jack­son “stuck to his cam­paign theme of steady lead­er­ship that has kept the city budget bal­anced without drastic cut­backs. He dis­cussed his goals to cre­ate a sus­tain­able eco­nomy and to build on the re­gion’s renowned health-care in­dustry.”

Three of his op­pon­ents “offered spir­ited and sting­ing cri­tiques of his per­form­ance” while Robert Kilo, “prac­tic­ally en­dorsed Jack­son with a string of com­pli­ments.” Even ex-city coun­cilor Bill Pat­mon, “who in re­cent weeks has hammered Jack­son on key is­sues, kept a lid on his sub­stant­ive pro­pos­als for eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment and edu­ca­tion.”

Can­did­ates Kim­berly Brown and Lav­erne Jones Gore “tried to paint Jack­son and Pat­mon as part of an old guard of failed lead­er­ship.” Jack­son “did not dir­ectly re­spond to his crit­ics,” but noted at one point that “any­one can talk a good game” (9/2).

MEM­PH­IS: Prince Mongo Makes It Fun

Shelby Co. May­or A.C. Whar­ton and ‘07 can­did­ate/ex-coun­cilor Car­ol Chum­ney “took a couple of jabs at each oth­er” 8/27 “in a tele­vised polit­ic­al for­um that was billed as a may­or­al de­bate.” The event at Op­era Mem­ph­is “turned in­to more of a chance for nine may­or­al can­did­ates to use an hour and a half of air­time to show po­ten­tial voters how they re­act un­der pres­sure and to hint at the kinds of pri­or­it­ies they would bring to City Hall.”

The “only real de­bate began in­no­cently when Chum­ney was asked about provid­ing re­cre­ation for the city’s youths” and “segued from the ori­gin­al ques­tion, turn­ing it in­to a chance to cri­ti­cize city and county elec­ted of­fi­cials for fail­ing to take an act­ive part in storm cleanup ef­forts dur­ing the sum­mer.” She said “she spent a full week work­ing in neigh­bor­hoods from Box­town to Hick­ory Hill to help storm vic­tims” but Whar­ton said”snapped” at Chum­ney that “You don’t just pop up while the cam­er­as are there.”

Of 44 people “who have so far picked up pe­ti­tions to run for may­or, only 17 have re­turned them to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion” and the “nine de­baters were from that group.” Also tak­ing part were atty Charles Car­penter, Coun­cilor Wanda Hal­bert, per­en­ni­al can­did­ate Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges, May­or Pro Tem Myron Lowery, wrest­ling celebrity Jerry Lawl­er, Mem­ph­is school board mem­ber Shar­on Webb, and Rev. Ken­neth Whalum Jr.

The “long-haired Hodges, who donned goggles for the de­bate, pro­posed flush­ing most politi­cians along with the ‘rest of the crooks’ down the toi­let.” Hodges: “I’m the only one who tells the truth or goes out of the box” (Lol­lar, Mem­ph­is Com­mer­cial Ap­peal, 9/27).

Hodges had ori­gin­ally been told he would not be able to par­ti­cip­ate in the de­bate be­cause “he had not been act­ively in­volved in cam­paign­ing” had an atty draft “a pe­ti­tion for an in­junc­tion that might have delayed the de­bate.” The par­ent com­pany even­tu­ally gave Hodges the OK and “he ar­rived bare­foot with goggles, a flow­ing blonde wig and his bare legs painted purple and pink.” He said the “purple rep­res­en­ted roy­alty and the pink stood for blood.”

Be­fore the de­bate Whar­ton sent a let­ter say­ing he was “con­sid­er­ing with­draw­al from this de­bate.” Whar­ton: “I ac­cep­ted this in­vit­a­tion based on the good-faith as­sur­ance … that this de­bate would in­clude only ‘ser­i­ous can­did­ates.” Com­mer­cial Ap­peal colum­nist/ques­tion­er Wendi C. Thomas: “His (Hodges’) pres­ence made a mock­ery of the demo­crat­ic pro­cess. It dis­tracts from the real is­sue” (Mem­ph­is Com­mer­cial Ap­peal, 9/29).

The 28 can­did­ates make up “the largest field” in the 41 year his­tory of the may­or-coun­cil form of govt. But be­fore the 10/15 spe­cial elec­tion, “there is next week to con­sider.” The 9/10 dead­line for those “can­did­ates to with­draw if they wish” and “talks to get some of those … to drop out are already un­der­way.” Whar­ton “began meet­ing with sev­er­al rivals” last month and said “he nev­er asked can­did­ates to get out of the race, but in­stead told them the is­sues he planned to run on” (Dries, Mem­ph­is Daily News, 9/4).

MIN­NEAPOL­IS: Glenn Beck Will Love This

Robery Car­ney Jr. (R) “says he was denied a chance to file both his party and his polit­ic­al prin­cip­al be­low his name on the city bal­lot” and is “seek­ing a judge’s rul­ing that would force the city to ac­cept both.” Car­ney said elec­tion of­fi­cials “denied him the right to la­bel him­self a ‘mod­er­ate pro­gress­ive Re­pub­lic­an’” on the bal­lot, say­ing “the city charter al­lows him to list a polit­ic­al party or prin­cip­al but not both.” Car­ney then filed as a “mod­er­ate pro­gress­ive cen­sored.”

Car­ney, “rep­res­ent­ing him­self, has served the leg­al ac­tion on the city al­though he is still try­ing to raise the money for the fil­ing fee” for dis­trict court (Brandt, Min­neapol­is Star-Tribune, 9/1).

PITT­S­BURGH: I Sell Donuts Might Be A Good Slo­gan

Al­legheny Co. Judge Joseph James 9/2 “dis­missed a chal­lenge to the can­did­acy” of busi­ness­man/Steel­ers’ Hall of Famer son Franco Dok Har­ris (I), who will re­main on the bal­lot. The chal­lenge was brought by “people with ties to the cam­paign” of atty Kev­in Ack­lin (I). They “chal­lenged thou­sands of sig­na­tures on Har­ris’ pe­ti­tions, but the judge ruled that enough were val­id, or could be cor­rec­ted, for Har­ris” to stay on the bal­lot.

Har­ris’ atty “agreed to strike al­most” 1.5K sig­na­tures from his nom­in­a­tion pe­ti­tions. With so many sig­na­tures re­jec­ted, Har­ris “was asked if that showed some slop­pi­ness in his cam­paign.” Har­ris: “I’m not a pro­fes­sion­al politi­cian. I’m a busi­ness­man and I sell donuts” (McN­ulty, Pitt­s­burgh Post-Gaz­ette, 9/2).

What We're Following See More »
Gen. Kelly Rips Rep. Wilson for Criticism
2 hours ago
Bush Slams Trump, Implicitly
2 hours ago
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 hours ago

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Trump to Hill Next Tuesday
4 hours ago
Longtime Progressive Members Pushed Out at DNC
5 hours ago

"A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez. The ousters come ahead of the DNC's first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge this year to unite a party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary race."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.