Welcome to the circus of Cleveland racial politics, everyone!? Woohoo!? Make sure you have plenty of popcorn!? So what the hell is going on here?? Simple.
If you had any doubt that Issue 6’s passage in Cuyahoga County has created in a single county executive one of the most powerful elected positions in the entire state, erase that doubt now.? How can you tell?? George Forbes has crawled out of his hole.
And who the fuck is George Forbes?? He’s the most powerful clown act to ever grace Cleveland politics.? From 1973 to 1989, Forbes was president of Cleveland City Council, spanning multiple mayors, including Dennis Kucinich & George Voinovich.? Forbes was bombastic to a vaudevillian degree, throwing chairs at people, launching verbal bombs almost daily, but most of all, playing racial politics.
Between George Forbes and long time congressman Lou Stokes, racial politics metasticized into old school vs. everyone else, to the point of rot.? The Forbes-Stokes old guard has stunted the political growth of any potential black leadership on Cleveland’s east side for decades.? The biggest throwdown in this arena was the 1989 mayoral election, when Forbes ran against then state rep. Mike White, who the Forbes-Stokes crowd saw as an Uncle Tom.
Mike White crushed Forbes, sending him out of council and into oblivion, largely running against the Forbes-style of politics, winning the white west side handily, becoming the most powerful black man in Ohio.? Along the way, Forbes was so buffoonish, the campaign deteriorated into a Three Stooges episode, at one point Forbes attacking White in a televised debate, with that oh-so-blacker-than-thou flourish he loves so much, “you a slumlord!? Bottom line!”? To this day, Forbes nurses that grudge.
And Nina Turner is heir to the grudge.? Why?? Because Mike White made Nina Turner, by making Turner city council liaison, where she watched over all the former Forbes allies like a hawk.
She quickly earned a reputation among council members — and not a particularly good one. As White’s eyes and ears at council meetings, she was responsible for keeping tabs on who criticized the mayor publicly and who spent time huddling with news reporters.
She also was White’s messenger when the mayor decided to hold up or pull the plug on council members’ preferred neighborhood projects as retaliation for stalling his agenda.
“I used to call her the assassin,” said Councilman Joe Cimperman, who was in White’s doghouse at the time. “I was nervous when she came to council. People were intimidated by her. She had this attitude of ‘don’t mess with me.’
Mike White is long gone from the scene, having himself imploded to an alpaca farm somewhere.? George Forbes ain’t gone – somehow, Forbes still is president of the Cleveland NAACP.? That’s why last week, the Don King owned Call & Post, (yes, THAT Don King) Cleveland’s black newspaper over which George Forbes still ridiculously holds power as its “legal advisor”, printed the cartoon depicting Turner as Aunt Jemima.? Nina Turner’s been an Aunt Jemima to Forbes and his old guard since Forbes first heard of her, because she worked for Mike White, who is an Uncle Tom to Forbes.? But why now?
Because now, Nina Turner could become the most powerful black person in the state of Ohio.? If Turner runs for county executive and wins, the old guard power structure which Forbes sits atop will lose every ounce of whatever sad, pathetic remaining power they still hold over the black community in Cleveland. ? It used to be real power,? leveraged not to help the black community who to this day suffer amidst dry rot right under Forbes’ nose, but for themselves.
Everyone knows this, so thus begins the scrum.? Enter Peter Lawson Jones, who once was as much of an Uncle Tom to Forbes and Stokes as Turner is an Aunt Jemima.? Jones has no job at the end of 2010, and we now know where he’s looking for his next one – county executive.? Because Peter is suddenly defending the Call & Post cartoon, finger duly up in the air, smelling that the fetid Forbes swamp is looking for someone to ratfuck Nina Turner.? Well played, Peter, but not well enough.? You’re a fool if you think you can play in this league.
Confused yet?? Get more popcorn, this is just getting started.? There’s a county party angle to play out, a US Senate primary angle to play out, 11 county council seats to play out…..THANK GOD this isn’t going on during a presidential election.
The Stokes-Forbes-Don King circus has been slow to end, but it is dying out.? There apparently is one last song and dance left in them.? And if I were Nina Turner, I’d be thrilled to be the one calling the tune.