Last Thursday, the councilman up for re-election in Ward 3 filled Anniston’s airwaves with a one-hour paid political ad on WHMA/1390-AM. It was a smorgasbord of his ideas, plans, theories, promises and concerns.
Among them were several topics Annistonians might want to hear.
In no particular order, Little said:
• There are “serious problems” within the Anniston Police Department.
• Creek Indians legally own the rights to the land on which the former Fort McClellan sits, and that the U.S. Army never had legal authority to that land.
• Anniston’s new justice center is a waste of $15 million.
• Councilman Jay Jenkins is an “illegal” councilman because of what Little says are conflicts of interest regarding Jenkins’ other city position.
• Solutia should be sued if it doesn’t properly compensate Anniston for environmental pollution.
That’s a tiresome list — and it’s not all of what he discussed during his rambling, long-winded radio appearance. (He also ticked off a nice list of street-improvement projects he’s working on in his ward.) Unfortunately, also peppered throughout his radio advertisement were both direct and oblique mentions of race. None of them were necessary. They divide the city like lines on a map.
On several topics, Little used the phrase “the white man” when discussing contracts, meetings or McClellan deeds. When discussing the power of public education and Anniston’s struggles to improve its public schools, he said, “That’s why they don’t want to put money in the education system. They don’t want you to learn.”
Those incendiary statements were given on air as statements of fact. There were no questions or opposing views. In fairness to the councilman, The Star gave Little the chance Thursday to clarify his comments. The councilman’s response: He stands by most of what he said, particularly his comments about Solutia, Jenkins, the Creek Indians and the justice center.
The Star also asked Little why he felt it necessary to inject race into these subjects that are not racial in tone. “It’s not racial,” Little said. “These are the faces of the people who have been holding people back in Anniston. It just shows how things continue from back then up until now.”
And, who is the “they” who want to keep children in Anniston’s public schools from learning? The councilmen who voted for the $15 million justice center and “the others who were conniving with them … That’s what I’m sticking with. If they want (to put money into education), they’ll put their money where their mouth is ...
“They’d rather lock you up instead of educate you.”
When pressed for further clarification, Little wisely began to back away from the unnecessary racial phrasings during his radio ad.
“Maybe I’m wrong on some of that stuff. As much as I talk, I may say some things off the cuff. I may be guilty of doing that stuff too often. I surrender on that. See, Ben Little can compromise.”
Our message to voters is to be wary of the election-year drivel that will ooze up this summer. Don’t believe the nonsense. Anniston suffers when its airwaves are filled with racial-tinged noise and continual claims of unfounded corruption. We trust that Annistonians will see through the fog and make wise decisions in August.