Crystal Moore: Back in uniform and back on the job

Crystal Moore

Crystal Moore

Crystal Moore, the lesbian who said she was fired from her job as chief of police in Latta, S.C., in April, is back in uniform and back on the job today, despite Mayor Earl Bullard’s best effort to keep her away.

Bullard fired Moore in April, claiming she failed to maintain order on the force and questioned authority. But Moore said Bullard is a homophobe who fired her because she is gay, a claim backed up by a homophobic tirade Bullard launched into during a phone conversation that was recorded and released to the public.

The rest of the Latta Town Council put a hiring freeze in place to keep Bullard from hiring anyone else for Moore’s job until an election could be held on June 23 in which residents of Latta voted to replace the town’s “strong mayor” form of government with a “strong council” government, clearing the way for the rest of the council members to reinstate Moore. Bullard temporarily stymied that plan by announcing that he had already hired someone named Frankie Davis as the town’s new police chief, getting the action in just after the hiring freeze expired and just before the town’s residents voted to change the power structure in the town government.

But the council met Friday, June 27 — a meeting at which Bullard was eligible to vote but which he did not attend — the council voted to invalidate the two-year contract Bullard had signed with Davis and then voted 6-0 to reinstate Moore. Moore took the oath of office at that meeting and then was greeted by about 15 residents on Monday morning who showed up to welcome her back.

—  Tammye Nash

Mayor blocks lesbian police chief’s reinstatment

Crystal Moore

Crystal Moore

Residents of Latta, S.C., thought they had made their wishes clear on Tuesday when they voted to change the city’s government from a “strong mayor” format to a “strong council format,” stripping Mayor Earl Bullard of most of his power in doing so. And former Latta Police Chief Crystal Moore, an out lesbian, thought she was on her way to being reinstated to that job.

But Bullard pulled a fast one on Wednesday, announcing that he had used the power he was set to lose today to hire a new police chief on Monday to keep Moore from being reinstated, according to reports on Huffington Post.

Tuesday’s vote came after residents of the town of about 1,400 rallied behind Moore, fired by Bullard in April over allegations of insubordination even though the chief had  a spotless 20-year record with the Latta PD. Moore and her supporters claimed Bullard fired her because she is gay and he is a homophobe — charges he denied, despite the recent release of an audio recording of the mayor going off on an anti-gay rant.

Bullard announced he had hired someone named Freddie Davis as chief and signed Davis to a two-year contract, timing his move to fall just outside a 60-day waiting period the council imposed in April to specify when another police chief could be hired.

Crystal told TV news station WPDE NewsChannel 15 she was devastated and felt has if had been fired all over again.

—  Tammye Nash

Town’s residents vote to reinstate lesbian police chief

Crystal Moore

Crystal Moore

Residents of Latta, S.C., on Tuesday approved a referendum that changes the town government from a “strong mayor” format to a “strong council” format — thus giving the town council the authority to reinstate lesbian police chief Crystal Moore, according to reports on SCNow.com, the website for The Morning News.

Latta Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore in April after giving her several reprimands and claiming that she failed to maintain order and that she questioned authority. Many of Latta’s about 1,400 residents, however, believe that Bullard fired Moore  because she’s gay — a belief bolstered, despite his denials, by a recently-released recording of a phone call in which the mayor launched into a rant declaring he would rather leave his children with a raging alcoholic than with someone whose “lifestyle is questionable.”

Ballots in the referendum vote will be canvassed on Friday, and council members have said their first order of business afterward will be reinstating Moore.

—  Tammye Nash

Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

UPDATE: Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle appear headed to runoff for Dallas mayor

With 426 of 555 precincts reporting at 9:25 p.m., it sure looks like former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings and former Police Chief David Kunkle are headed to a June runoff.

Rawlings leads with 42 percent of the vote, and Kunkle is second with 32 percent. City Councilman Ron Natinsky is third with 24 percent, and he now trails Kunkle by more than 4,000 votes.

Rawlings has 25,245 votes to Kunkle’s 19,023 and Natinsky’s 14,683. Edward Okpa has 1,321 votes, or 2 percent.

 

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Rawlings continues to lead Dallas mayor’s race; Kunkle pulling away from Natinsky

With 202 of 555 precincts reporting, former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings continues to lead in the race for Dallas mayor. And it’s looking more and more like Rawlings will face former Police Chief David Kunkle in a runoff.

Rawlings has 43 percent of the vote, Kunkle has 30 percent, and City Councilman Ron Natinsky has 25 percent. Edward Okpa has 2 percent. Kunkle now leads Natinsky for second place by almost 2,000 votes, but there’s still a ways to go. Remember, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June runoff assuming Rawlings doesn’t eclipse 50 percent.

In other Dallas races, with 20 of 56 precincts reporting, challenger Scott Griggs has expanded his lead over incumbent Dave Neumann in District 3. Griggs now has 59 percent to Neumann’s 41 percent, and appears well on his way to a rare upset of an incumbent. Griggs is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

In District 14, with 11 of 59 precincts reporting, incumbent Angela Hunt maintains a hefty lead over gay candidate James Nowlin. Hunt has 63 percent to Nowlin’s 20 percent.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

CCGLA surveys candidates, sets meet-and-greet events

As municipal elections approach, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance has sent an online survey to city council, school board and mayoral candidates in Allen, Frisco, Plano and McKinney, and “meet-and-greet” sessions for candidates are planned in Frisco, Plano and McKinney in April.

The organization will also create and distribute a voters’ guide.

The Plano “meet-and-greet” will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. For more information, go online to CCGLA.org.

Results of CCGLA’s candidate surveys will be posted on the CCGLA website prior to each event. The events are informal, non-partisan, and all candidates are invited.

Oak Cliff Earth Day to feature vendors, info booths and more

Oak Cliff Earth Day, which has become the largest all-volunteer-run Earth Day since it started five years ago, will be held on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park, located at the intersection of Colorado Street and Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff.

There is no charge to attend the event, which will include art, food, plants and other environmentally-friendly products available for purchase.

There will also be educational booths on topics such as how to save energy and clean up the environment, along with locally-grown honey, animals to adopt and native plants for gardens.

Parking at the park is limited, however, free parking is available at Methodist Hospital, in Lot 10 only, located at 1400 S. Beckley Ave. across from the hospital entrance on Beckley Ave. Methodist Hospital is providing a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the event.

Participants are also encouraged to take DART to the event or walk or ride a bicycle. There are a number of bike racks, funded by Oak Cliff Earth Day, at the park.

Mayoral candidates to speak Sunday on animal issues in Dallas

Dallas’ mayoral candidates will participate in a forum on animal issues in the city of Dallas on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Central Dallas Library, 1515 Young St., in downtown Dallas. The Metroplex Animal Coalition is sponsoring the forum, with is free and open to the public. Journalist Larry Powell with Urban Animal magazine will moderate.

The mayoral candidates are former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, Councilman Ron Natinsky, real estate consultant Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and Dallas homeless czar.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Meet David Kunkle at Stonewall Young Democrats — and enjoy 2 free UV Vodka cocktails!!!

David Kunkle

Fresh off his endorsement for mayor from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, former Police Chief David Kunkle is scheduled to appear tonight at the regular meeting of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats. The Stonewall Democrats endorsement, of course, applies to the Stonewall Young Democrats, who will also hold their 2011 officer elections tonight.

The DSYD folks got on Instant Tea a while back for highlighting their use of free adult beverages to promote their meetings, and this time we received a very official press release about the event with absolutely no mention of alcohol whatsoever. However, over on the Facebook page we found this: “Attendees can enjoy complimentary UV Vodka cocktails (limit two) during the meeting.”

Also attending the meeting, according to the Facebook page, will be U.S. Senate candidate Sean Hubbard and James Nowlin, the openly gay challenger who was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats in his race against incumbent City Councilwoman Angela Hunt in District 14. Members of Stonewall Young Democrats reportedly played a pivotal role in swinging the endorsement to Nowlin.

The meeting is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at DISH Restaurant and Lounge in ilume, 4123 Cedar Springs Rd, Suite 110. For more info, go here.

—  John Wright

More on Ron Natinsky and Stonewall Democrats

Ron Natinsky

Mayoral candidate Ron Natinsky may have been eligible after all for an endorsement from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, according to the group’s president.

As we reported over the weekend, Natinsky abruptly pulled out of Stonewall’s candidate screening on Saturday over questions about whether he was eligible for the group’s endorsement since he’s a Republican.

According to Stonewall’s bylaws, “Endorsements may be made in Dallas County non-partisan elections if the candidate has a Democratic Party primary election voting history and/or affirms allegiance to the Dallas Democratic Party.”

Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said Monday that it’s possible Natinsky would have been eligible for the endorsement despite the candidate’s Republican primary voting record. The group instead endorsed former police chief David Kunkle.

“Bylaws cannot be waived, but there’s a lot of gray in that bylaw, just depending on how it’s interpreted and how it’s read,” Narvaez said. “I can’t tell you how it would have gone had he [Natinsky] been there. All I can say is that Kunkle had a lot of supporters in the room already.

“It was sad that he [Natinsky] ended up dropping out at the last minute, because it was another opportunity to actually speak to us,” Narvaez added. “When a candidate’s there it really means a lot more to the members. When somebody just decides that they’re not going to come speak at all, it makes the membership feel almost slighted — ‘why wouldn’t you show up?’”

—  John Wright

Gay teen beat up at school; police say its not a hate crime

Rito Osorio, a 16-year-old at Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Ind., was beaten up by a classmate last week in a school bathroom as the attacker yelled anti-gay slurs at home. But Sellersburg police refuse to call the attack a hate crime.

The attacker, also 16, was arrested and charged with battery.

Osorio told WHAS Channel 11 that he had never had any confrontations with the boy who attacked him, and when approached him during lunch, tapped him on the shoulder and said “Hey man, we’ve got to talk,” he didn’t think anything of it. Osario followed the other boy into the bathroom where the other boy began punching him and shouting slurs at him as other students watched.

Osario’s nose was broken and he suffered several cuts and bruises. He said the attacker hit him so hard at one point that Osario’s lip ring was jammed into the roof of his mouth, and he will need surgery to have it removed.

But the Sellersburg police chief said it was just a schoolyard fight, not a hate crime, and that the case is closed. But that didn’t satisfy Rito’s mother, Andrea Osario, who said she is afraid her son will be attacked by other students if he returns to school.

Although the WHAS report does not identify Rito Osario as gay, Pam’s House Blend blog said he is openly gay, and that the teen who attacked him said he was angry over rumors that Rito thought he was gay, also.

—  admin