Nina Smith: Response to Councilman Butt's Comments


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blogimage.jpgI feel compelled to respond to Councilmember Butt’s comment, quoted in the West County Times on March 7, 2014, in which he implied that public housing residents’ expectations of safe and habitable apartments was akin to expecting “maid service.” 

I am appalled and disgusted by the arrogance, condescension and outright contempt expressed in this comment.  Mr. Butt appears to care more about buildings than about people and has absolutely no clue what it is like to live in this society as a poor, disabled, dis-empowered person.  It is unacceptable to me that someone with such attitudes should sit on our City Council. Mr. Butt needs to apologize to the residents of Public Housing and the people of Richmond. 

But he needs to do more than just say he is sorry for “misspeaking” which seems to be the common politician’s response when their unconsidered words reveal attitudes of bigotry that they usually try to hide. He needs to do a living amends and begin a process to work towards gaining some humility and understanding that he has no right to judge others whose life experience he has no way to understand. I doubt he has ever experienced what it is like to be poor, oppressed, and treated with contempt on a daily basis.   He should start his reeducation by moving into Richmond Public Housing and living there, perhaps indefinitely.  His experience would not be equivalent to his neighbors, though.  He has white, upper middle class privilege and education and would know that his stay was only temporary.  He’d know that if things got really bad his complaints and requests for maintenance would be responded to, unlike his neighbors. But maybe, maybe, he might start to conceive a glimmer of understanding that he doesn’t know everything and doesn’t have a right to judge and rule over other people.

Nina Smith

Richmond Resident

Showing 6 reactions

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  • commented 2014-03-17 07:25:21 -0700
    HUD has a lot to do with it. George Miller, our congressman, well, let’s just say he sways whichever way the wind blows. HUD’s failure is a national problem and issues similar to Richmond’s are occurring in many cities. Here are some examples:

    http://articles.philly.com/2014-03-06/news/47938456_1_hud-housing-authority-jay-gillian

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/17-months-nycha-sandy-victims-waiting-article-1.1718410
  • commented 2014-03-16 23:29:28 -0700
    Thank you, Jeanne. Disregard the man behind the Chevron curtain, agitating to weaken the City Council, so it can better influence its voting.
  • commented 2014-03-16 22:17:29 -0700
    Has nothing to do with anything. Even your congressman agrees this is a mess and was a mess before HUD cut funding. If they were to blame for it all, every city that receives HUD funding would be in this spot. They aren’t. This is mismanagement, not underfunding.
  • commented 2014-03-16 13:34:52 -0700
    I agree with Ormond Otvos. While I’m shocked at the deplorable conditions of this housing, and I agree no one should live in such conditions, HUD is the main player in this, as is Corky Booze, who was the liaison between the Housing Commission and the City Council. He said nary a word to the Mayor or the rest of the city council, but he must have known! All he can do is grandstand, posture, make a circus out of the council meetings, and deflect his responsibility in this onto others. What an opportunist!
  • commented 2014-03-14 23:50:21 -0700
    Not a word about HUD, which has starved public housing because Congress would rather spend money on corporate welfare and sabre-rattling than fairly distributing taxes back to the disadvantaged. Not a word about the savage condescension of Corky Booze towards the democratically elected Mayor and Commissioners, nor a word about the rude and unruly public that seems to have the impression, no doubt from the commissioners, that anything goes at City Council meetings. Not a word about the vast improvements in Richmond’s financial status and crime rate, to which Tom Butt contributed more than any other commissioner past or present.

    No, just following the crowd and yellow media, baying after whomever is targeted that day in the press, ranting about some perceived slight of language rather than the complete failure of HUD.

    You’re being played like a banjo, folks, to sell papers.
  • commented 2014-03-14 17:37:57 -0700
    I wish he would move in to the Hacienda. Preferably the top floor that was completely shut down.
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