Connecticut state Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) votes for a GOP-crafted budget that whacks the University of Connecticut. She then speaks to the UConn College Democrats. Then, she is soon embroiled in a controversy over the use of a racially charged word. Coincidence? Not a chance. Given the fact the college group has suddenly become unavailable to comment further, it’s among the most transparent cases of political retribution seen at the state capital in years.
1. UConn has been on a feeding frenzy on the taxpayers’ dime for decades.
2. The use of a college group to do the dirty work of majority Democrats is pathetic.
3. The attempt to play a “race card” where none exists is outrageous.
The backstory is that Slossberg was one of three senators who broke ranks with majority Democrats and voted to support a Republican-backed budget bill. Enough Dems in the House supported the plan that it passed there too. Gov. Dannel Malloy vetoed the bill. The consensus from majority Democrats all along the way was that, among other things, it whacked UConn to an unacceptable degree.
Fast forward to an appearance by Slossberg before the UConn College Democrats last week. In discussing her work dealing with books that use racial epithets and are still in school libraries, Slossberg apparently didn’t say, “n-word,” she spoke the actual word, which can be found in the actual books.
Slossberg later apologized to the college Democratic group for her choice of words. But that wasn’t enough for her own Democratic Senate leadership who were obviously still smarting from her budget vote.
Democratic Senate President Martin Looney and Majority Leader Bob Duff released a statement saying, “There is no appropriate time, place, or setting for its [the n-word’s] use. We understand that Senator Slossberg regrets her poor judgment in using that word when retelling her history of working to eliminate books containing that word from her local grade-school libraries. That context does not excuse Senator Slossberg’s use of that word, but we hope that this unfortunate incident will lead to a frank discussion with her colleagues in our caucus as well as the community at large.”
Um, some would disagree including, in this case, the chairman of the Bridgeport-area NAACP. George Mintz tells CtPost.com’s Ken Dixon that the use of the N-word, depending on the situation, isn’t always “reprehensible and unjustifiable.” “If I were on a panel and I said something like ‘… these N-people…’ that’s offensive,” Mintz said. “But I said something like: ‘… you want to do away with the N-word,’ well, that’s not offensive. So it depends on the context,” Mintz told Dixon.
There is no doubt in my mind the whole episode was an attempt to embarrass Slossberg—first by the UConn College Democrats and then worse, by the leaders of her caucus. (It’s unclear which stings leadership more—Slossberg’s vote for the Republican budget or having their faux outrage tossed away by an NAACP chair).
I know Gayle Slossberg. I worked with her when I worked on the caucus senior staff. She is obviously not racist and would never use the n-word unless it was in the context of discussing literature that uses it. But even that is insensitive and wrong. She admitted that and apologize.
First, if the UConn College Democrats wants to try to embarrass someone, they should have the guts to stand by their statements. (Reporter Dixon tried to get them to comment further, even leaving a message on the group’s Facebook page where they originally posted their statement, to no avail.) Are they learning the art of the political cheap shot already?
Second, a little less trying to dole out some sort of political punishment on a senator who voted a certain way (and the wrong way in my view) on a bill and a little more energy spent on coming up with a budget that enough legislators can support and the governor can sign, would be good for everyone in Connecticut.