Dean Calvert still clings to his job as the District 3 Blount County commissioner despite an ever-growing cascade of calls for his resignation after he was captured in a recording making a racial slur — using the N-word to describe a local African American contractor — and making multiple misogynistic, derogatory remarks about women.
Many arguments, both in support of Calvert and against him, have been made in the last few weeks. At a recent county commission meeting, a Calvert supporter suggested that the opinions of protesters outside of the county were not welcome. That’s an old refrain that goes back to Reconstruction around these parts.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Indeed, how true, but that idea is much older than King. Let’s just go back to the very beginning of our country. Much of Britain’s initial problems with the American colonies in the beginning had to do with the Massachusetts colony. While it took time, the rest of the colonies finally came around to the idea that the injustice inflicted on Boston affected all the colonies. Granted, it was much more complicated, and certainly not every colonist agreed, but generally speaking, the other twelve colonies came around to the belief that the wrongs Boston suffered at British hands were worth fighting about.
I have no doubt that if most people in Blount County looked across the street and saw a couple of men beating a woman or a child, they’d cross the street and intervene. They would see a wrong and attempt to stop it.
That is the issue now. People in Jefferson County, the Birmingham Water Works Board, and community activists, have looked across the street and seen a wrong. Our neighbors have seen an injustice regarding how Calvert has referred to African-Americans and women. They have decided to intervene, as any decent human being would. As conscientious good neighbors, they have brought attention to social justice and racial equality. Sometimes it takes an outside force to bring focus on one’s own faults. That is not a bad thing.
Calvert and some of his supporters have argued that only voters in his district have a right to speak about his conduct; however, District 3 is not a county unto its own. It is one of four districts, and he is one of four officials who make up the commission. He is a representative of the county and as such, can either bring accolades to the entire county with good behavior or shame to the entire county for bad behavior. While he has done some good in his tenure, his recent behavior has brought disgrace, not only to his district, but to the entire county.
Early on in this controversy, Calvert resigned as president-elect of the Association of County Commissions because, as he said, “I’m not going to drag the state (association) through the situation for some of my bad decisions that I’ve made on my off time.”
Why that same reasoning is not true as a representative of the county escapes reason. Calvert has disgraced his office, and thus disgraced the county. He continues to jeopardize the livelihoods of many of the county’s deputies who rely on extra jobs where they provide security at the BWWB’s Inland Lake reservoir. His comments about how the board is trying to “bully” Blount County are not productive.
Mr. Calvert, I ask that you consider the words of Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural addresses: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
In short, do not continue to try and divide us. Stop saying the BWWB is a “bully.” Those words are important because you have it in your power to not “break our bonds of affection” between the sheriff’s office, Blount County, the African-American community, all minorities in the community, and the BWWB. The livelihood of too many deputies are at stake, as is the reputation of our county. You should find the better angels of your nature and do the right thing by resigning.