Friday, November 28, 2008

GREEN COMMUNITY ORGANIZER CHALLENGES CORRUPT DEMOCRAT IN NEW ORLEANS

Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report - The December 6 New Orleans congressional election isn't just a local choice between a privatizing "minority" Republican, a notoriously corrupt Democrat and a caring, competent community organizer running on the Green Party ticket. In these times when anyone, anywhere can contribute to the efforts of real progressives with the click of a mouse, or volunteer to reach undecided voters, the days leading to this election are a test of whether there exists even the shadow of a national movement mature enough to hold any black Democrats the least bit accountable to the needs of his constituents

The congressional election in Louisiana's 2nd district was delayed to due Hurricane Gustav, and will take place on December 6, 2008. What was once an overwhelmingly black district containing most of New Orleans and a sliver of neighboring Jefferson Parish is probably still majority black, but with a much thinner margin.

The Republican is a Vietnamese American who almost never mentions his party affiliation when campaigning inside New Orleans. The Democrat is disgraced nine-term incumbent William 'Dollar Bill' Jefferson, under indictment for bribery after the FBI discovered $90,000 stashed in the plastic containers of his home freezer. The Green Party candidate is longtime community organizer Malik Rahim, a co-founder of Common Ground Relief Network, a grassroots organization brought together in the wake of Katrina to open medical clinics, distribute flood relief supplies and repair and rebuild homes damaged by the flood. With a projected low turnout, it's shaping up as a three way race that could go in a surprising direction. 'We are shooting for 30,000 votes here,' a Rahim campaign spokesperson told BAR, 'and we think we can win.'. . .

Malik Rahim lived in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, one of the few places that wasn't flooded, and where water supplies were not compromised. Ignoring orders to evacuate, Rahim was one of many local residents who remained in New Orleans to save lives and assist his neighbors, since the authorities would not. He helped other families evacuate, tried to get white vigilantes to stop shooting random black people and began organizing shelter and assistance to the victims of the flood.

While thousands of his constituents were swimming for their lives, trapped in attics, on rooftops and expressway overpasses, or penned up in the Louisiana Superdome, congressman Jefferson commandeered six Louisiana National Guard MPs and a five ton truck to drive to his home in the flood zone and linger there for an hour or more while he removed personal belongings including a laptop computer, suitcases and several boxes. According to ABC News. . . the truck became stuck as it waited for Jefferson to retrieve his belongings.

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