House Speaker Tobin Called Out On ‘Ghetto’ Comment

by Floyd Alvin Galloway
Special to the NNPA from the Arizona Informant

Andy Tobin (Courtesy of the Arizona Informant)

Arizona Speaker of the House Andy Tobin met with members of the African-American community July 16 following his controversial tweet calling a Democratic official “very ghetto.”

Tobin had posted on his Twitter account that Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard “very ghetto,” The statement happened following the Supreme Court’s upholding the Affordable Health Care Reform Act as constitutional.

Gaspard had posted on Twitter, “It’s constitutional. Bitches.” Anti-healthcare reformists upset over the decision, including Tobin, took offense to the statement. Gaspard in a subsequent post had stated, “I let my scouts (Supreme Court of the United States) excitement get the better of me. In all seriousness, this is an important moment in improving the lives of all Americans.”

Many in the community had not heard of Tobin’s statement until community activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin brought it to their attention.

Maupin and Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Johnson set up the African-American community with Tobin. Close to 50 individuals attended the July 16 meeting at the George Washington Carver Cultural Center and Museum in Phoenix.

The meeting according to Johnson was to discuss issues of concern to local African Americans, on state funding of African American organizations, African American state-level political leadership, and the creation of an African American advisory committee

Maupin had previously met with Tobin to get clarification on the statement and encourage the third highest state official to get a better understanding of the African-American community.

This will be a candid discussion with the Speaker,” Maupin told the audience. “We want him to have a better understanding of us and our community and the issues affecting it.”

A New York transplant who resides now in a rural part of Northern Arizona, Tobin seems to have very little knowledge of the Black community in Arizona, but said he was willing to learn. “I have an open door policy.

Tobin agreed to the formation of an African-American advisory group to meet with him regarding various issues.

Maupin challenged the Speaker to meet with a bi-partisan group to look at the budget and other issues that been mostly one-sided in the Repub-lican dominated House and Senate.

Speaker Tobin was pleased with the open dialogue, to hear concerns and the possibility for building a relationship with the African-American community. “I think when folks can share their frustrations, their thoughts, I took a lot of notes, I think that goes a long way and I think that opening up this relationship is critical and overdue. And shame on us for not doing it sooner,” said Tobin.

Maupin was pleased with the audience and results from the meeting. “We are dealing with some very serious issues and to see the cohesiveness of the community was inspiring,” said Maupin.

He added, “I think at different moments during the meeting when we held the Speaker’s feet unapologetically to the fire we got some candid answers from him and I think we’ve got a concrete framework for moving forward. Some real results, not a rubber stamp committee, not a ‘I hate the Speaker’ committee, but a plan and a committee where we can get something done for Black people.”

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