Gubernatorial hopeful, Rob Astorino thanked National Action Network chairman, Rev. Franklin Richardson and other black leaders in Westchester County who publicly endorsed him is his for re-election for County Executive. In his opening greeting at the NAACP 78th NYS Conference church service at Bethel Baptist Church in White Plains, Astorino spoke candidly how instrumental Rev. Richardson was to his re-election campaign. In an effort to show that he has the black vote, he mentions local Chapter Presidents in NAACP who also publicly supported him but made the distinction that their support was on a personal level and not in an NAACP capacity.
Richardson’s endorsement of Astorino, for re-election was an endorsement of everything Al Sharpton has recently spoken out against. In March at Richardson’s own Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon the civil rights activist delivered a fiery sermon that mixed politics and spiritual uplift. Richardson, who publicly endorsed Astorino for re-election last year, wasn’t however present. Sharpton’s sternest message was directed at Astorino for his handling of a federal housing settlement and for Astorino’s refusal to settle the HUD lawsuit that would give housing to many families in need in Westchester.
“You want a promotion? Do the job you got right now,” Sharpton said to loud applause. “Settle the lawsuit.”
HUD has been withholding the grants, more than $20 million worth, since 2011 over the county’s failure to complete an analysis of local zoning required by the settlement. With the administration of County Executive Rob Astorino refusing to do any more work on the analysis, the Board of Legislators has been trying to step in and finish the work with the help of the court monitor overseeing the settlement, Jim Johnson of Debevoise & Plimpton, the Journal News reported.
In a dispute over a requirement that the county analyze zoning in Westchester municipalities to identify obstacles to multifamily and affordable housing. A 2009 fair housing settlement requires the county to fund the construction of 750 units of affordable housing in 31 mostly white towns and take other steps to promote fair housing.
“Right now, federal funds won’t come into Westchester County from HUD because county leader Astorino and them have not settled the lawsuit,” Sharpton said.
After his visit to Grace Baptist, many were wondering will it take Rev. Al Sharpton to put some back bone into Westchester Black Pastors to be more vocal on the many issues in Westchester County? But Astorino’s brief appearance at Bethel Baptist Church last night sparks new questions such as; Is Sharpton’s relationship with his NAN Chairperson Rev. Richardson, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church killing civil rights movement in Westchester County? Is Rev. Richardson the same reason why Sharpton has not Marched or Rallied in Westchester against Astorino’s bid for Governor like he said he would and why the host of MSNBC’s PoliticNation has been AWOL on the many unjust killings of black men like DJ Henry and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
“I have been asked on several occasions what is the National Action Networks position on the killing of my father Kenneth Chamberlain Sr,” shares Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. “And to that I will refer to a quote I read somewhere which says ‘The world will not be destroyed by those who commit evil but by those who stand by and do nothing.’ I find it very interesting that some of us can speak to injustices around the world but will not address issues that are in our very own back yards. When it comes to injustice we must speak to all of it not some of it.”
Black Westchester reached out to the NAN for comment, a receptionist named Ella promised they would call after Sharpton finished recording his show. When we didn’t hear from they we called and were referred to the NAN Director of Communication Jacqueline Johnson who we were told was too busy to give us a statement until after the holiday and did not answering her direct line. We were unable to leave her voice-mail before posting because her messages are completely full.
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.