My Conversation with Jonathan Pelto re: Urban Agenda

Below is a series of Facebook message exchanges between myself and independent gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Pelto. As I mentioned in previous columns, Pelto welshed on his promise to me to include an urban agenda in his campaign platform. Note that Pelto did not respond to a message from me reminding him of that promise. Pelto told me that he would draft a racial justice plan covering economic and criminal justice issues, and share it with me prior to releasing it publicly.

David Samuels
Founder
Community Party

January 15

David Samuels

1/15, 5:56am
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David Samuels

I’m going to call a spade a spade. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. After observing Steve Perry critics for the past few months, I now believe that he is correct when he says that race is a factor in the campaign against him. When I started out criticizing Perry on my Twitter page, whites were retweeting me, becoming followers and interacting with me. When I started talking about the need for folks to stop fixating on Perry and educate the public about what he represents (Wall Street’s war against public employees, systematic oppression of workers through bullying), whites became offended and acted like they didn’t understand what I was saying.

I see that I’m still being kept on the outside by you and others who started the campaign against Perry. I’m not going to allow myself to be used as a token while a predominantly white led coalition goes after a Black target. One of my pet peeves is phony white liberals and I’m definitely seeing what I consider to be a racist element in the strategy whites are employing against Perry.

You used to be a lawmaker. You know that changing public policy is the only way to improve the conditions in this country. Even if the Board of Education got rid of Perry TODAY, you know that the profit driven charter school system and the attacks on public schools and teachers will continue. The Community Party is working on legislation which would address Perry’s bullying of teachers and you have done nothing to support the bill. I told you weeks ago that we’re holding a public event this month which will give teachers and parents an opportunity to share their complaints with a lawmaker; you never responded. Buttering me up with a blog post and a flowery holiday email cannot obscure what I’m seeing. I am insulted.

•January 18

Jonathan Pelto

1/18, 1:53am
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Jonathan Pelto

David, I’m sorry I certainly didn’t intend to keep you on the outs. I’m trying to work on as many pieces of this corporate education reform stuff as possible and still work on all the other issues. I’ve tried support your work on the profiling stuff and I on the workplace bullying. If I dropped the ball i’m sorry and hope we can resolve the problem.

•January 18

David Samuels

1/18, 1:10pm
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David Samuels

Are you going to promote Matt Ritter’s town hall on your blog? Are you going to email your coalition and encourage them to attend? Will you attend and bring some teachers with you to tell Matt how they have been bullied at Capitol Prep? Are you going to publicly support our effort to expand the Safe Work Environment Act to cover city employees such as public school teachers?

•January 18

Jonathan Pelto

1/18, 7:54pm
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Jonathan Pelto

yes, will publicize, will share with teachers, will do all i can to support

•February 18

David Samuels

2/18, 3:02pm
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David Samuels

Do you know about this bill? It would allow charter school employees to unionize. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=5066&which_year=2014&SUBMIT1.x=12&SUBMIT1.y=13

Bill Status
http://www.cga.ct.gov
Connecticut General Assembly Official Legislative Site for Bills, Legislation, Statutes, and sessional activity. Visit our site to find all your legislative information

•February 19

Jonathan Pelto

2/19, 6:46am
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Jonathan Pelto

NOPE, THANKS!

David Samuels

2/19, 7:07am
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David Samuels

No problem. This bill would provide employees with some protection against workplace bullies like Perry.

•April 6

David Samuels

4/6, 2:43pm
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David Samuels

You wrote a column about how the state is playing Clark School parents, but it seems like members of your coalition (AFT CT, Hartford Rising) are also playing them. What’s up with that?

Jonathan Pelto

4/6, 5:22pm
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Jonathan Pelto

Fair question – I’ll start looking

David Samuels

4/6, 5:24pm
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David Samuels

I’ll be doing the same…

•April 20

David Samuels

4/20, 3:07pm
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David Samuels

I suggested months ago that you run for governor; you should definitely do it. Blogging is not enough. The Democrats take voters on the left for granted. The people need an alternative and the Democrats must be challenged from the left. A third party candidacy would give liberal / progressive voters a real choice.

•April 27

David Samuels

4/27, 11:20am
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David Samuels

I’m deeply disturbed that since you’ve been discussing your possible gubernatorial candidacy you haven’t talked about racial justice issues, specifically poverty, Black and Latino unemployment and racial wage / wealth disparity in Hartford and other urban areas. You’ve talked about poverty often in your blog; I’ve quoted you multiple times in my Hartford News column. You have also talked about the Community Party’s racial profiling bill, which I sincerely appreciate. That being said, I’m going to have a lot to say about any gubernatorial candidate who ducks racial justices issues. I know how candidates water down their message for the sake of political expediency.

Tom Foley has created a think tank on urban policy. That’s a smokescreen, but at least he said the word “urban.” If I don’t hear any talk about urban policy from gubernatorial candidates on the left, I’m going to have a big problem with that. I’ll call a spade a spade; I think it’s good you’ve been holding Malloy accountable for the past few years but I see that like other liberals (Black, Latino & white) you avoid talking about the layered aspects of structural racism, which I know is the reason why you tend to distance yourself from me. I’m just going to give you fair warning that I will hold you accountable if you don’t use your platform to talk about race and how structural racism impacts the economic and criminal justice systems in this state. You should also know that a few months ago an urban legislator asked me to ghostwrite a public message to 2014 gubernatorial candidates, demanding that they include an urban agenda as part of their platform.

•April 28

David Samuels

4/28, 4:37pm
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David Samuels

Malloy ignoring you for four years did not work for him; I don’t know why you think that will work for you. Have it your way; it’s on…

•April 30

Jonathan Pelto

4/30, 5:52pm
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Jonathan Pelto

David, the fault is simply being overwhelmed with things…. and still trying to make a living and raise a family. I assure you I will not run without a breakthrough urban platform and will not develop one without sitting down to discuss and include the work you and the Community Party are doing. Politicians like to use words like – promise – but I promise you that i have it on my top tier to do list. jonathan

David Samuels

4/30, 5:55pm
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David Samuels

Jonathan, I’ve been hearing this from you for years. We’re all overwhelmed in our own way. I’ll believe what you’re saying when I see it.

•May 2

Jonathan Pelto

5/2, 11:43am
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Jonathan Pelto

Fair enough… I’ll put things down on paper and share them with you.

David Samuels

5/2, 11:53am
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David Samuels

Ok.

•June 15

David Samuels

6/15, 10:54am
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David Samuels

I just heard on Fox CT that you’re running; there weren’t any reports on the media outlets I check daily on Twitter. I don’t see an urban agenda listed on your platform. I haven’t received the plan for low income communities of color that you promised.

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