Saturday, January 06, 2007

Thank you, Beth Brewer

I hope you all know about Beth Brewer, the Durham citizen with no political experience who led the fight to defeat Durham DA Nifong in the November election.

Brewer wasn't looking for campaign work. But no one else among all Durham's "leaders" was willing to step up and take on a rogue DA. So she added defeating Nifong to her work and family activities.

After Nifong deceived his way to a narrow Democratic Primary election win on May 2, it looked to everyone like he was a sure bet for election in November. He had no opposition in heavily Democratic Durham County. On primary night Nifong thought he was home free.

This from an interview with Fox News that night:

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, sir, this was a Democratic primary. Is there a general election and you're unopposed? Is that correct?

NIFONG: Yes, ma'am, that's correct. No Republican filed, so as the winner of the Democratic primary, I will run unopposed in November.
But he didn't run unopposed. The Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek campaign came into being and Brewer volunteered to serve as its spokesperson and helped lead the group in countless other ways.

Brewer worked to use the election exactly the way our Founders hoped citizens would: To throw out scoundrels who abuse the public trust.

RN-VC gave Nifong a stout fight and in the process helped convince many people of how fraudulently he's used the powers of the DA's office.

Nifong had the active support of the Durham Democratic Party, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the People's Alliance, the Durham Herald Sun, and The Independent, a self-described "progressive" publication that tells readers it doesn't like police and DAs who violate citizens rights, but decided to make an exception in Nifong's case and enthusiastically endorse him.

Nifong also had at least the tacit support of Durham's Mayor, Bill Bell, every member of the Durham City Council, and every County Commissioner except Lewis Cheek.

Perhaps most important for Nifong, he had the tacit support of Duke University's Board of Trustees and its President, Richard H. Brodhead.

Brodhead refused to say a single word critical of Nifong, even after Duke Law Professor James Coleman and others had called for Nifong's removal from the Duke lacrosse case. Brodhead on a number of occasions expressed his support for Nifong's plan to bring three clearly innocent young men to trial.

Had Brodhead spoken critically of Nifong before the election, his words would very likely have been a death blow to Nifong, who won in a squeaker.

With all his support, Nifong got only 49% of the vote while other Durham Democrats in contested elections were pulling about 75% of the vote.

I plan sometime next week to say more about what I think Brewer and those who helped her accomplished in the campaign. In my opinion Brewer and the others accomplished much more than the public has recognized.

Meanwhile, I'll end with part of the tribute colunist Joan Collins paid Brewer:
After the election, Beth will return to her private life as a citizen of Durham. She will return to her home, her family and her career. In his book, “The Greatest Generation”, Tom Brokaw observed, "Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip quietly away." After the election, Beth will slip quietly away, but her contribution will not be forgotten.
Hat tip: Liestoppers, which published Collins' column.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Minor point, but all of Joan Collin's profiles were published on the FODU site.

Profile in Courage - Beth Brewer
http://friendsofdukeuniversity.blogspot.com/2006/05/letters-from-friends-2.html#c116161120181769908

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Board of Trustees:

"Durham residents Anne and John McMahon, each gave $2,500 to Monks in September. She is a retired health care consultant, and he is former chairman of the Duke Board of Trustees and former president of the American Hospital Association."

http://www.newsobserver.com/1185/story/504607.html

Anonymous said...

Beth Brewer! While the men of Durham cower from Nifong she had the guts to take him head on!

She is a true hero in my eyes

Anonymous said...

Thanks John!!

RN-VC was all about getting a message out to the people of Durham. A whole lot of people, yourself included, contributed to the success of RN-VC.

A win would have been much better but, a campaign without a candidate almost beat Nifong...

Thanks to everyone that helped!!

Beth Brewer

Anonymous said...

Dittoes to 9:22 PM. And way to go Duke Students for an Ethical Durham. You played a crucial role in depriving Mike Nifong of his majority. You helped put the bitter in his bittersweet election victory.

Anonymous said...

From me too, thank you, Beth Brewer!
Texas Mom
(Another Proud Blog Hooligan)

Anonymous said...

It is a ludicrous and unbased assertion that President Brodhead condemning Nifong would have been "a death blow" to Nifong's DA campaign. He lost by almost 10,000 votes, and most of Cheek's votes already came from the people Brodhead would have influenced. It is statements such as these that have led people to attempt to discredit blogs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John, and

THANKS BETH !!

"...use the election exactly the way our Founders hoped citizens would..."

That helps us to recognize the importance of what Beth and others did there.

Anonymous said...

12:23 PM

Let's not forget, Nifong won the primary (on May 2nd) by less than 1,000 votes. Its really hard to argue that Brodhead's stand on the case didn't help Nifong win the primary.

And, he won by only 5,000... not over 'him' as you say, "He lost by almost 10,000 votes" -- Don't forget that Lewis Cheek wasn't campaigning or running for office - Nifong won by a mere 5,000 votes to a non-candidate, an empty seat.

Anonymous said...

sorry... intended to sign the last post...

Blog Hooligan

straightarrow said...

"It is a ludicrous and unbased assertion that President Brodhead condemning Nifong would have been "a death blow" to Nifong's DA campaign."?????

Mike, is that you?

joan collins said...

Beth Brewer is a true hero. Thanks John for remind us again.

bill anderson said...

I agree with Joan. It is easy for me to write from the comfort of my home or office, far away from Durham. Beth Brewer, on the other hand, stepped up and did something that cost her plenty, laid her open to criticism (to put it mildly) and, given she was going against a lawless DA and police who would stop at nothing, placed herself in potential danger.

(Let us no forget that Nifong trumped up charges against Moez Elmostafa just to be able to impeach his testimony that he had picked up Reade Seligmann. No doubt, he was watching Beth Brewer closely, too.)

The outcome of the recall actually was much better than we could have imagined at the time. First, it showed that Nifong's support was weaker than that for a normal Democrat in Durham County.

Second, it gave Nifong and his supporters a false sense of security, making them think that Nifong could boldly break the law and continue to get away with it. Ultimately, it was Nifong's swaggering "I-am-the-law" decision to hide exculpatory evidence that has placed him in his present predicament. Had he lost in November, this might not have come to light at all.

Again, I give my thanks and gratitude to Beth Brewer and all those who risked much to act as responsible citizens.

Concerned NC Conservative said...

This is something you may wish to post and comment on, John. Thanks

Time For Leadership on NC budget
By North Carolina State Senator Fred Smith

During the 2006 election, many candidates for office faced questions from voters about the increasing size of North Carolina state government. Questions about the fiscal responsibility of the Easley Administration and Democratic legislative leaders are timely. The past ten years, General Fund spending has grown 24% faster than combined inflation and population growth – translating into a $1,116 increase in real dollars for a typical North Carolina family.(1)

State government spending continues to be out of control with a projected $500 Million revenue shortfall in 2007. The most recent state budget increased spending 9.7%, on top of an 8% increase last year. The failure of the Democratic legislature and Governor Easley to prioritize and control spending has resulted in millions of dollars of inefficient expenditures – instead of worthwhile investments like educating our children or building and maintaining roads. Ultimately, this careless, undisciplined spending has also forced North Carolina to impose on its citizens the highest tax burden in the southeast. Meanwhile, the local tax burden is also increasing.(2) Irresponsible year-after-year increases in spending strain family budgets, stifle private sector growth and damage the ability of small businesses and entrepreneurs to create new jobs.

Even Lt. Gov. Perdue, one of the most liberal Democratic officeholders in our state's history, seems to recognize the problem. She recently penned an email to supporters touting her hot new "reform" idea: a permanent state efficiency commission. The commission, she says, would "present a maximum of ten separate governmental efficiency proposals" to "counter the pressures in the system favoring wasteful spending and loopholes."(3)

Taken as a stand-alone plan, her proposal is not a bad idea. However, Perdue's latest press release misses the larger point. The failure to control spending isn't for lack of boards, commissions, or processes – it's for lack of leadership. The governor already has the power to appoint advisors or seek outside counsel on fiscal issues – or any other state problem. The governor has the veto power on the budget. He controls the Office of State Budget and Management. He has the bully pulpit.

On the campaign trail in 2004, Gov. Easley's "solution" to the spending problem was a self-enforced spending cap. During the 2005-2006 General Assembly, Easley promptly broke that pledge by signing two budgets that blew through his own cap. Now, Perdue has the magic bullet: her permanent efficiency commission. She says the group will create the "institutional momentum" needed to fight spending. Why add a new commission to the over four hundred boards and commissions already in existence, rather than just rolling up our sleeves and tackling the spending problem? Real leaders take excuses off the table, use the tools they have and get the job done.

Some skeptics may look at Perdue's record and fear that her efficiency commission proposal is just political lip service. She can prove the skeptics wrong though by signing on to support the constitutional amendment I have introduced to cap state spending growth.

Our rapidly growing, rapidly changing state doesn't have time for bureaucratic piddling with new processes. Instead of tinkering with the system, we must make real change which requires leadership. My Taxpayer Protection Amendment limits government spending growth to inflation and population growth. This legislation would immediately put real limits on government growth, finally forcing the legislature to prioritize spending.

Talking about fiscal restraint, finding government efficiencies, and getting tough on spending is a lot like talking about going on a diet. There are a lot of gimmicks and new fads, but we all know there's only one real solution: discipline. We don't need a new "fad" plan, we just need a leader with the discipline to make sure government eats less and exercises more. A constitutional spending cap would force government to create a strategic plan for growth, prioritizing what we consume and cutting outmoded, irrelevant spending.

We don't need a new blue ribbon commission. We don't need to pass the buck. We need results – and that takes disciplined leaders who will roll up their sleeves and make tough decisions. At the end of the day, improving government efficiency and reducing unnecessary spending reduces the demand that government places on the private sector, so the private sector can create jobs and economic growth.

(1) "The State Budget." John Locke Foundation: http://www.johnlocke.org/agenda2006/statebudget.html
(2) Lowrey, Michael. "By the Numbers: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties." The Center for Local Innovation. http://www.johnlocke.org/acrobat/policyReports/btn2006.pdf
(3) Perdue News Update, December 29, 2006.
 

Anonymous said...

"I thank you and support you 100% for your efforts against Mike Nifong. Witholding crucial evidance from the grand jury is unthinkable!!!!"