WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Charges of elitism & racism fly in Newark over Amy Roe's letter to U.D. officials

In more than four decades of covering and following local battles in a variety of places in several states, to my memory, nothing quite compares to the battle over that proposed power plant in Newark.

Campaign-type signs remain on display in Newark's residential neighborhoods; some young people who ordinarily don't get involved in local issues are engaged; each side battles for momentum and the moral high ground; and somewhat unusual alliances can be found, as in business/organized labor (Anti-power-plant activists would say... mainly from OUTSIDE Newark!).

Rumblings about the latest dust-up surfaced yesterday, when I had heard the normally mild-mannered New Castle County Council President - Reverend Christopher Bullock - pastor of New Canaan Baptish Church, had lashed out at a top leader of the anti-power plant crusade, former Newark mayoral candidate Amy Roe, for racial or class insensitivity.

Others were attacking her too.

What apparently led to the piling on was a private letter Amy Roe sent to University of Delaware trustees. (How that letter originally leaked is another question.)

In it, Roe appeared to suggest construction workers erecting that power plant could compromise the safety of young women students. She recounts how a least some union members attending a zoning hearing two months ago "had been drinking and smelled of alcohol" plus "acted in a manner that was intimidating." (Some irony: A complaint about alcohol on a college campus!) Further, "Are we about to return to those days when I had to fear to walk through my neighborhood after dark?"

So erupted a vigorous debate on whether Amy Roe's concern for the safety of U.D. students represented a broad attack on organized labor, or worse, outright classism, elitism, and/or racism.

In a way, this turns the confrontation in Sussex County over remarks from two Sussex Council members upside down. In Newark, you have a young white woman with a liberal, progressive reputation under fire for racial, class, and social insensitivity.

So let the pile-on continue.

Business, organized labor, and yes, Governor Markell, call it insensitive and insulting that working people would be seen as some kind of threat to public safety.

Meanwhile, longtime Newark folks are jumping to Roe's defense, noting her activism for civil rights and environmentalism.

Let's be clear: Just as the Right has its ideological divisions, the Left has long had fissures between organized labor, minorities, and environmentalists. And you have predictable fissures WITHIN organized labor. No great shock that the steering committee for the union representing U.D. faculty found itself in unanimous agreement with the U.D. Faculty Senate in opposition to construction of the power plant.

Or how about a couple of generations ago when many blue-collar, union people applauded Chicago Mayor Richard Dakey's police cracking the heads of anti-war, pro-civil-rights protesters outside the 1968 Democratic Presidential nominating convention? But that was mostly white vs. white, but alas, blue-collar cops vs. kids from mostly white-collar backgrounds.

To return to Newark:

Could Amy Roe have expressed her concerns in some other way? While pro-power plant folks may, in fact, be genuinely outraged, could the intensity of their reaction reflect a fear that the anti-power plant forces have been steadily chipping away at what some saw as the inevitable momentum towards approval and construction of a data center with the power plant? And is there not a bit of irony to find deeply ideological conservative folks suddenly showing great sensitivity for organized labor and political correctness?

Posted at 8:23am on May 21, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, May 21, 2014 8:53am
I’m a native Newarker who has lived in this city for more than 60 years. I grew up on “the wrong side of the tracks.” I have witnessed and experienced firsthand the attitude Ms. Roe is exhibiting.

The problem with the power plant is that it is too near “their” neighborhood. If it were proposed for the neighborhood I grew up in, there would be no opposition. If the construction workers were in my old neighborhood, the elitists would not object. Reverend Bullock is correct to call her out on this. Ms. Roe’s letter clearly shows a side of many liberals that they prefer to expose to each other only during their dinner parties. To have their disdain for the “working class” exposed to the public is rather awkward for them. But that attitude is engrained in their DNA.

Wed, May 21, 2014 9:16am
I will certainly back up that fear...

here is how it goes...

"hey girlfriend, come over here and give us all a bl*w job" Laughter among the guys... This... this truly does get shouted out across the street, right out in public! What's the co-ed supposed to do?

Or this...

Hey, b**ch, come over here, bend over, let us all have a turn at you... Again, raucous male laughter.... Again, what's a co-ed to do?

Hey, P**sy, we're tense over here, come help us out... again raucous male laughter..... Again, what's a coed to do...

You, as an adult, approach them and tell them they shouldn't do it... They gather around you, .... you want make something of it?....Huh? Huh? They bump you... Are you SURE you want to make something of it?... What's a defender of a co-ed to do?

This is a very real problem. These people have no accountability. They can say, they can do, whatever they want with impunity....

This is a very real concern, and only a crony employed by the TDC would even dare write a letter questioning the motives behind this....

Get Amy Cherry on Newark's streets today with a microphone and interview co-eds to find out just exactly how much harassment supposedly "real "working-class" males" inflict on women of all ages.....

This is gigantic...

A lot of the problem stems from ignorance and that these men do not, and have never, ever, ever, ever, received any sensitivity training...because of the nature of their work, and the independence with which they show up and get picked for work.... Their knowledge of women, is solely based on strip clubs and hookers. They have no accountability and don't even know what they are saying, is deemed rude. To them, they think they are having fun and they assume therefore, so is everyone else...

Again... get some independent research from a women's point of view... This is a big complaint... rarely reported by American media....

I do concur this should not be part of the TDC controversy, there is enough there with killing Newark's residence with radon and lead poisoning... but to dismiss this as being non-existent or to cover it up as stooping to sexism or racism, is flat out wrong... It is bullying... and as a separate issue, needs addressed...

Wed, May 21, 2014 9:22am
And I would differ with your depiction of organized Labor. They were and have been successfully melded into the upper class, and work for them now... The heads of organized labor are not the fiery heads of Gompers, Lewis, and Debs.

A better name for today's union leadership would be the term women use when they speak of their pet cats.....

Wed, May 21, 2014 9:33am
And one more point... Intimidation is in the eye of the beholder... Back in Franco's Spain, the police all stood on street corners armed with sub-machine guns. But to us, being American, they weren't intimidating at all. Friendly, jovial, it was just a part of the uniform... But seeing the exact same thing in East Germany, to us, being American, was very intimidating. It did put the idea into our heads, that they could come for us in our hotel and no one would ever, ever, ever hear from us again...

This intimidation factor is very real... No one in Newark wants scum like this there... Yet, were they deemed a part of the community, their actions would have been taken as jovial and humorous...

"These people" are their own worst enemy... I'm curious how much TDC offered Chris Bullock. I suspect that like Ken Grant, he will say that he... "has not been paid yet, but it is under... negotiation..."... No one else would have done what he did otherwise.... especially a minister. They are trained to be aware of being used like that....

Wed, May 21, 2014 9:40am
Crap... the bigger question is when is private no longer private? I see Amy Roe's controversy lifted right off the tactics behind that of the Sterling controversy... Something said in private gets put out publicly. When we all know, if public, it never would have been phrased like that at all...

Whereas Sterling's was "yo', don't bring any black friends to my games" was probably based on his concern over maintaining his business reputation. In Amy's case, as expressed above, this is a very real fear based on the reality of rogue men, who as in the military of some third-world nation, have zero accountability.... and can perform what ever atrocities they want, with impunity....

Mike from Delaware
Wed, May 21, 2014 10:22am
I'd say that both JimH and Kavips nailed this. Another phony baloney unmasked. What's good for the elite isn't good for the working class.

Wed, May 21, 2014 10:28am
Why is this type of misogyny a concern in Newark, but wasn't a concern when the hopes of blue-collar workers building electric cars in Newport were initiated?

Wed, May 21, 2014 10:48am
Well Said JimH...for all their talk of "equality", the Left is only talk.

Wed, May 21, 2014 7:05pm
I think we need to ask "Dr. Utopia" what he thinks.

Thu, May 22, 2014 12:25am
To Arthur. That was a thought-provoking question. After looking at it, I would have to say because it never got to that point.

This Newark incident is directly a result of the meeting at Newark High School in March. Had that never have occurred the letter would never have been written, and we would still be discussing ... Benghazi.

But the misogyny exists. It is universal. It exists even on this blog, whenever BillS happens to get ticked off at all the women who have turned him down.

And as for Earl's comment, I'm still trying to figure out what he is talking about... More elaboration, please?

Thu, May 22, 2014 12:40am
This controversy, as do all controversies, pulls everyone into it and each individual brings his/her pet peeves... That always happens, and even our Founding Fathers knew it. That is why they designed a government that would react quickly in one branch of the legislature, and slowly in the other... in order to give Time a chance to sort out all the wheat from the chafe.....

This letter was a list of all the wrong this data center would do to Newark proper... One of those, was this threat by the labor unions, who with hindsight, shouldn't have created a 100-foot gauntlet of green signs on both sides of the entrance that every freakin' towns-person had to walk through... I'm sure it was someone's spontaneous idea of showing their power, and certainly intimidation was visible on some of the faces, and as a result, it caused some rather severe backlash, perhaps costing the data center its local support... However there were a good number of parts in the letter that also were very damaging to the data center..... They were conveniently ignored at Bullock's reading...

Pollution.... More people get cancer from the smokestacks of gas-turbine power plants than they do from those of coal-power plants... Simply because gas-power plants are in residential areas, and coal-power plants are in low-density areas. So whether it is cleaner than coal or not is irrelevant... more people die.

That is the concern.... These aren't windmills. These are car-exhaust pipes... BIG car-exhaust pipes... And they will be belching across a 75-year lease.... Next Renegotiation in 2090.

Thu, May 22, 2014 6:55am
And more people still die in car ACCIDENTS than from anything coming from a smokestack or tailpipe.

Thu, May 22, 2014 10:47am
You're wrong about that. "The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released the 2012 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data indicating that highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012," which is the most recent year for which data is available (http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA+Data+Confirms+Traffic+Fatalities+Increased+In+2012). Meanwhile, "Researchers from MIT ... tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States, and found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000."(http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/study-air-pollution-causes-200000-early-deaths-each-year-in-the-us-0829)

Thu, May 22, 2014 12:34pm
"Reverend Bullock is correct to call her out on this. Ms. Roe’s letter clearly shows a side of many liberals that they prefer to expose to each other only during their dinner parties. To have their disdain for the “working class” exposed to the public is rather awkward for them. But that attitude is engrained in their DNA."~JimH

kavips: The Left claims to be for the "workin' man" but in reality has great disdain/disgust for the working-class citizen...that's what I mean. The Left talks a good talk (in public) but fails to walk-the-walk (true feelings are those said in private when you think no one else is listening)...

Mike from Delaware
Thu, May 22, 2014 3:22pm
That can also be said of Republicans: Look at how Mitt Romney showed his true colors in that private meeting of wealthy Republican donors when he made the famous 47% comment, where he tarred and feathered retired folks getting Social Secuirity as TAKERS, right along with the welfare queens.

Just another reason I'm a registered Independent. Neither party is honorable, both will do and say whatever they need to do in order to win. Makes voting a real pain in the .......neck.

Thu, May 22, 2014 7:04pm
cr1158: I don't want to outright say that the "early death" stats on pollution are bogus, but how are they determining the cause of death? Are they finding certain pollutants in their systems at autopsy? And if so, how can they say for sure that the pollutants had anything to do with it?

I'm not trying to be combative here, but I don't think the deaths from pollutant stats are as easy to confirm as a traffic death, which of course is obvious.

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