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Cameron Turner: Unfair Hampton Bashing Undermines Council Race

Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 | 11:43 am
 

No evidence has been presented to prove that Tyron Hampton had anything to do with damaging or removing the two dozen campaign signs that his city council election rival, Calvin Wells, had to replace the other weekend. Nor is there any evidence that Hampton had any involvement with the alleged disappearance of copies of the Pasadena Journal newspaper which endorsed Wells and reportedly vanished from Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ and a few other locations around town. But the lack of evidence hasn’t stopped some of Hampton’s critics from making vicious and unproven accusations. This has polluted a campaign that should have been seen as a win-win for Pasadena – a race between two excellent and principled candidates.

Tyron Hampton and Calvin Wells are both men of integrity who have demonstrated their love of Pasadena through public service – Hampton with two years on the Pasadena school board and Wells with three years as our fire chief (capping a three decade career with the Pasadena Fire Department). Either man would make an honorable addition to the city council.

Hampton bashers take a much dimmer view. In back to back editorials (March 18 and 25), Pasadena Journal publisher Joe Hopkins excoriated Hampton as “another crooked politician” with “flexible ethics” who faces “a lot of unanswered questions about his lack of honesty” and whose city council bid is “based on illegal activities.” But Mr. Hopkins offered no facts to prop up these harsh allegations. Instead, his editorials presented nonspecific and unsupported claims of cronyism, guesswork about how much Hampton may have spent of campaign posters, and an assertion that, when he ran for school board in 2013, Hampton “promised a number of local residents” that he would change his political party membership.

That many of these vague and unsubstantiated attacks depend on hearsay and rumor makes them all the more unfair. In his March 18 piece, Mr. Hopkins states that “a number of people” claim that Hampton’s camp has “initiated a campaign to replace Calvin Wells campaign signs with Hampton signs on their property.” Mr. Hopkins closed his March 25 op-ed by restating the unproven sign-stealing allegation as if it was a fact. As for those stacks of the March 18 Journal that were allegedly taken from various places, Mr. Hopkins admits in his March 25 op-ed that he has no proof that Hampton was involved. However, he writes that “one guy told us he saw a tall African American woman in a nice car” taking the papers from a distribution spot in Altadena.

Perhaps the worst use of rumor-based reporting is Mr. Hopkins’ March 25 claim of a Hampton family conspiracy to take over City Hall for personal gain. Hopkins asserts that “the Hamptons are already… discussing which family members they will put in appointed positions” and that “the father is saying that he can now get all the things done that he has wanted done for years.” Did Hopkins get this unnerving information from a verifiable source? No. He attributes these claims to “word on the street.”

As the leading African-American newspaper in the San Gabriel Valley, the Pasadena Journal plays an important role in illuminating the events, people and issues of concern to the black community. I am proud that the Journal is one of the outlets to which I contribute as a writer. But the publisher’s attacks on Tyron Hampton (which actually predate the current city council contest) are a disservice to all of us.

The groundless, rumor-based attacks on Tyron Hampton unfairly impugn the character of a respected and dedicated public servant. And, even more significantly, they undermine discussion of the important issues that voters must consider as they prepare to cast ballots in the April 21 runoff election.

Thank you for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.

 

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