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Some Jacksonville council members embarrassed themselves

Florida Times Union

Submitted by Ron Littlepage on April 29, 2010

Opponents of Parvez Ahmed's nomination to the Human Rights Commission are demanding retribution at the polls after City Council approved his appointment.

I agree. There should be retribution - against those council members who voted no on Ahmed's nomination and shamed the city in the process.
Start with Don Redman.

I've been covering the City Council as a columnist for more than two decades, and I've never seen a more embarrassing moment than when Redman called Ahmed, a Muslim, to the podium Tuesday night and asked him "to say a prayer to your God."

Whatever point Redman was trying to make in his bumbling, disjointed inquisition of Ahmed was inappropriate.

When Redman's name appears on the ballot next spring, surely the voters in District 4 can find a better candidate to represent them.

Clay Yarborough in District 1 also needs to go.

His previous questions of Ahmed about "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, gay marriage and whether he would support and defend the U.S. Constitution - with the underlying hint being that Ahmed would replace it with Islamic law - kicked off this ugly mess.

Glorious Johnson joined Redman and Yarborough in voting against Ahmed. Using incredibly twisted logic, she confused all of those listening.

"Look at us," she said of the polarization surrounding Ahmed's nomination. "Just look at us. We have separated ourselves from one another."

Then she said she would vote no because Ahmed would be a distraction on the commission, a bizarre conclusion for a politician who promotes herself as wanting to shake things up.

Fortunately, Johnson's mayoral campaign will fail, and we will be rid of her.
Ray Holt in District 11 and Jack Webb in District 6 hopefully will draw strong opposition.

Holt's reasoning for voting against Ahmed showed he clearly doesn't understand the difference between analysis and advocacy.

Webb complains he had "legitimate questions" about allegations Ahmed had ties to terrorist groups and he is being criticized for asking them.

The problem is not Webb's questions, but the fact that he refused to listen to the answers.

Considering Webb's well chronicled stumbles of late in the Trail Ridge Landfill debate, the dispute over the JTA allowing advertising on bus shelters and now this, his fellow council member should reconsider Webb's elevation to the council presidency this summer.

The sixth vote against Ahmed by Daniel Davis was disappointing. I've always considered Davis a straight-shooter and fair.

He told Times-Union reporter Tia Mitchell his vote was based on concerns he and his constituents had about Ahmed.

Davis can't run for re-election because of term limits, but he is eyeing a legislative race.

Coincidentally, Adam Hasner, the current Florida House majority leader, helped stir the opposition to Ahmed. Hasner is someone Davis would look to for support.

If Hasner influenced Davis' vote, I would be even more disappointed.

The best thing about Tuesday? The 13 council members who ignored the intolerance and voted to approve Ahmed's nomination, and offered apologies for what he had been put through.

ron.littlepage@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4284

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