Political EYE

State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed wrote a lengthy letter to The American responding to last week’s Political EYE column, which she said accused her of “misrepresenting my constituents and the African-American community by working across the aisle.” We will let Nasheed have her say here and make some further responses to her response. But first, let’s set straight what the column actually said last week.

Nasheed is reacting to an inside item in the EYE with the sub-headline “Democrats vs. Nasheed.” This does not raise new accusations against Nasheed, but rather reports on something that is a matter of fact – namely, that Nasheed’s fellow Democrats have been considering throwing her out of the Democratic Caucus because of some of her recent votes and what her colleagues perceive as her excessive chumminess with Republicans.

This is a fact, and Nasheed knows it. Nasheed herself has been confiding her concerns about this development to a regular contributor to the EYE. The feelings Missouri Democrats harbor about Nasheed and state Rep. Penny Hubbard (who was mentioned in the same item last week) were made clear in the remapping of state legislative districts proposed by a committee largely appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon. In this redistricting plan, Nasheed and Hubbard would run in the same district. Missouri Democrats seem prepared to let Nasheed and Hubbard fight it out at the polls to the political death of one or the other.

“Your paper also took issue with my vote in favor of the congressional redistricting map,” Nasheed writes. That is not true. We reported on the fact that her fellow Democrats have taken issue with her vote. “What you forget to mention,” Nasheed continues, “is how this map safeguards the voice of African-American voters living in St. Louis city.” In fact, the April 7 edition of the EYE had the big, bold headline “State House map protects Clay’s district.” This April 7 column – which was criticized by the same progressive Democrats who would later oppose Nasheed for her vote in favor of the map – gives Nasheed direct credit for protecting the integrity of U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay’s district. To quote: “Nasheed was on the record with this paper as being dedicated to preserve the integrity of the 1st Congressional District.”

The problem with this map, as the April 7 EYE noted, is that a “Missouri congressional delegation that has been splitting 6 Republicans to 3 Democrats will now split 6 Republicans to 2 Democrats.” Most Missouri Democrats do not regard preserving (or even strengthening) Clay’s district as an acceptable trade-off for losing a likely Democratic seat, let alone the one currently held by U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan and by Dick Gephardt before him. The EYE was criticized for not savagely blasting this map, and then Nasheed was criticized for voting in support of it. We have not, as a matter of fact, “took issue” with Nasheed over her vote on redistricting. 

Payday loans and puppy mills 

Nasheed writes, “The article stated that I voted with Republicans on the payday loan legislation. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I voted against the Republican payday loan proposal because I felt it didn’t go far enough.”

That is true. Nasheed did vote with the Democratic minority against the payday loan bill when it came to a vote on the floor of the House. However, her action on the bill still drew criticism from Democratic colleagues, because she voted the payday loan bill – which was seen by Democrats as a weak and feckless bill – out of committee. When she could have stopped it, many Democratic colleagues concluded, she didn’t; her later vote against it – given the Republican super-majority – was irrelevant.

Nasheed notes, “The St. Louis American has criticized my vote to modify Proposition B.” Again, that is not true – her vote on the puppy mill bill was included in a list of things that ticked off her fellow Democrats.

She continues, “My district voted 80 percent in favor of Prop B in the last election. My vote in the House reflected that of my district. The mandate passed by voters was unfunded – I sought to enforce the puppy mill laws by securing state money to pay for it. I also voted for the ‘Missouri compromise,’ which the Humane Society of Missouri and Missouri dog breeders both support. I am confident the people of my district voted in favor of Proposition B because they want to protect dogs from being treated inhumanely. The bills we passed this year to fix Proposition B stay true to the intent of the voters without running reputable dog breeders out of business. The final compromise has been agreed to by everyone from both sides of the issue.”

The fact remains that (as stated) Nasheed voted WITH Republicans on both pieces of legislation dealing with Proposition B. The first bill, SB 113 totally overturned Proposition B and the compromise second bill, SB161, reinstated some provisions to ensure some humane treatment of animals.  

‘Across party lines’ 

Nasheed’s letter goes on to list at length her legislative accomplishments in Jefferson City, which she credits to her ability “to work across party lines.” She mentions her work to pass the local control bill, which of course this paper has covered (giving Nasheed explicit credit for her work) too many times to count. She notes, “This session I also passed a bill that requires school districts to have students adopt personalized plans of study with the hope of preparing them for their goals after graduating high school.”

Even in making her own case, Nasheed shows how she has irked many Missouri Democrats, including Gov. Jay Nixon. She writes, “By working across the aisle, I was able to strip dollars that were irresponsibly used by our governor from his travel budget. I then moved the funding to an area where it can do some good – to fund dropout prevention efforts in our city. I also placed three hundred thousand dollars in the budget for a new math and science tutoring center in North St. Louis City.”

Nasheed notes, “All of these actions were possible because of the productive relationships I have built with colleagues from each party.” No doubt. At issue here, however, are how her Democratic colleagues feel about “the productive relationships” she has made with members of the other party and what votes she may have traded to build those relationships. As the EYE noted, “It is no secret that Nasheed and Hubbard ... have been making deals with the Republicans. If they manage to deal themselves out of the Democratic Caucus, they also may have dealt themselves out of a political career unless they plan to relocate to a neighborhood where a lot more Republicans vote.”

This was a warning, based on fact, not a baseless attack. Given the state legislative redistricting map proposed since this column appeared, it seems to have been a timely – indeed, prescient – warning.

The warning is still timely. And so is a reminder. The political value for Missouri Republicans of Nasheed and Hubbard is their critical importance in veto-proofing against a Democratic governor. It’s nothing personal. 

Earnings tax payday

Over the weekend, Dave Drebes posted the following note on his Arch City Chronicle site: "Rep. Jamilah Nasheed pulled in $5,000 from the Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis campaign according to their April filing. The committee was the vehicle to keep the city's earning tax. According to the report, Nasheed was paid for ‘strategic campaign oversight.'"

This, no doubt, will open a new chapter for Nasheed’s detractors, since many St. Louis Democrats helped on this campaign without collecting on a fee. Her getting paid for her efforts puts her next to the likes of Richard Callow. More company one keeps at one’s own peril.

 

 

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(2) comments

Pianki

"Rep. Jamilah Nasheed", a democrat, is protecting a democratic seat ... Right?.

nick_kasoff

Frankly, I am amazed that Nasheed, hardly a moderate, has gotten so much done with the Republicans in control of the legislature. That she is able to do so is a testimony to her personal skills as a legislator. That some Democrats would use this as an excuse to eject her from the party shows that they care more about their party than their constituents. Fortunately for Ms. Nasheed, they can't eject her from office, nor can they deny her the Democratic nomination in her next election, as they seem to be threatening. That privilege is reserved for the voters of her district, who are likely to enthusiastically support her reelection.

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