The La Marque City Council was right to call a special meeting Monday to try to get to the bottom of accusations of racism.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas — usually known as CLEAT — is making two claims. First, the group claims there have been incidents of racism by people in public office. It backed that accusation with an audio recording that includes a vile joke about the Ku Klux Klan, told by a man who claims to be a member of a city board.
The second complaint is that this racism among public officials has resulted in the city having racist policies that discriminate against African-Americans. That’s illegal, which is why the organization involved the U.S. attorney in its complaint.
The chief complaint is that the hate speech goes beyond bad behavior in any one individual and goes into making policies that discriminate against African-Americans.
The evidence released by CLEAT and the La Marque Police Department on Friday is of two kinds.
The first consists of a sworn affidavit by Deanna Bethea, an unsuccessful candidate for City Council. The document claims that Councilwoman Connie Trube used racist language in describing library programs — a claim Trube denies. It also claims that Chris Colombo, a member of a city board, used a racial slur in describing a candidate in the runoff for City Council. The Daily News was unable to reach Colombo for comment on Friday.
But, in the complaint against Trube, it’s a case of two people telling conflicting stories.
The audio recordings are more disturbing because they point to an undeniable problem.
One recording preserves the comments of a man who claims to be on a board involved in the zoning policies of the city. His remarks about housing vouchers and his description of himself as “politically incorrect” on the topic of black people thoroughly warrant an investigation.
The remarks might not, as CLEAT alleges, have resulted in the city taking discriminatory policies against African-Americans. But the remarks are vile, despicable and disturbing.
That person has no business being on any public board.
If the council does nothing else Monday night, it ought to find out who this man is and if he does, indeed, serve on a city board.
Then it ought to clean house.