New Bedford’s Democratic Party Fails Own Cries For Inclusiveness
For a political party that tirelessly cries out for tolerance and diversity, the New Bedford Democrat City Committee sure disgraced themselves in their own standard of inclusiveness last week by denying the only candidate for Ward 3 who is a non Democrat.
Party affiliation in local New Bedford matters, has never been a traditional factor. There are many times when people make a conscious decision to not mention if a local councilor or mayoral candidate is a Republican. New Bedford, especially the dominant liberal Democrats here, love to boast about how it is a city which welcomes "any and all" walks of life.
Ethnic, sexual and religious diversity receive open arms here perhaps but there is a serious ideological bigotry problem within the liberal ranks that is ugly and unapologetic. To be a conservative Republican running for public office in New Bedford in recent years, is, well kind of like being the exact opposite of being a gay, black Communist Party candidate running for office in Mussel Shoals, Alabama in 1964. Instead of burning crosses though, you are simply crossed out, blocked, excluded, demonized and ignored.
The City of New Bedford's Elections Commissioner, Maria Tomasia, once threw out every single Republican vote with a grand total counted as : 0. Now, of course that is impossible and was proven wrong but let's look at how Republican city counsilor for Ward 3 Henry Bousquet was treated when he fought to receive his salary as a city employee. Mr. Bousquet also earns a salary as a culinary arts teacher at the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Despite a history of Democrats working for either that school or an entity whose budgets are, in part, affected in part by city council votes, they received both checks unmolested by any political rivals, serving as finger pointers and Democratic heavy state boards or appointed liberal judges who saw conflicts of interest. In fact, it tok about two years for the Democrat, city clerk Dennis Farias to offer that fact to assist Mr. Bousquet's position in the public debate. Bousquet appealed in April of 2014 and Farias didn't point out existing precedence for pay until October of 2015.
George Rogers received pay as a teacher at "Voc Tech" for many years, serving on the New Bedford City Council from 1980 to 2003. He worked at GNB Regional Vocational for 20 years as a teacher from 1979 to 1999, an overlap of 20 years! He essentially got both paychecks for the duration of a full pension without so much as a peep from the same Democratic dominated state ethics commission that denied Republican Henry in his appeal.
Mr. Bousquet has since resigned from office. penniless for his 33 months or an estimated 5,000+ hours served as city councilor in a Democratic bigoted stronghold. What's the difference between the two? Not the Massachusetts Conflict Of Interest Law, that has been in place since 1963. The difference is, nobody considered Voc Tech as being part of the city when a Democrat was getting paid, but only after a Republican was.
Last week Jill Ussach was excluded from a debate forum for New Bedford's Ward 3 city council position, vacated by Henry Bousquet. The debate was sponsored by the Democrat City Committee. Five candidates, all Democrats were invited. While it is sponsored by the Democrat Party, this has not been done, at least to my memory in the confines of the city's recent history, no matter who the sponsor was.
Why would party affiliation suddenly matter concerning the duties and responsibilities of a city councilor now when it hasn't ever before? In my opinion, the city's bigotry toward non-liberals is more brazen and unapologetic than at any point in history. Celebrate diversity elsewhere because, for Republicans and conservatives, New Bedford gets an 'F'.
Ken Pittman is a talk show host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9am-Noon. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.