Palmdale mayor responds to ethnic cleansing slur, Section 8 lawsuit

Jim Ledford, Jesse Smith

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford (L); TCAL Board member Jesse Smith (R)

PALMDALE – Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford responded Thursday to a widely reported statement by TCAL Board member Jesse Smith that accused elected officials in Palmdale and Lancaster of making an effort “to do ethnic cleansing.”

“This statement is deplorable and beyond the pale,” said Ledford. “The horribly insensitive use of the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ trivializes the atrocities suffered by peoples here and abroad, and marginalizes the work of those truly interested in promoting equality in our community.”

The Associated Press article, published Tuesday, quoted Smith saying “there is a concerted effort among elected officials in Palmdale and Lancaster to do ethnic cleansing.” Smith’s statement was made in conjunction with a pending federal lawsuit and ongoing Department of Justice investigation into claims of housing law violations by the City of Lancaster and Palmdale.  The Community Action League(TCAL) and the NAACP are plaintiffs in the suit.

“Smith’s comment on behalf of the plaintiffs is equating unsubstantiated allegations of housing violations to genocide,” added Ledford. “This is completely disingenuous, irresponsible, hateful and detrimental to the advancement of civil rights in our community, which we embrace as one of our core values and strengths.”

“I call on the NAACP and the Community Action League to retract and denounce the statement made by Jesse Smith, and immediately issue an apology to the Palmdale City Council and all of its residents,” Ledford said.

“These kinds of ridiculous statements are destroying the fabric of our integrated and tolerant community of which our residents, leaders and elected officials for decades have worked together to create,” Ledford said. “Inclusion has always been my mantra, and I am proud of Palmdale’s diversity.”

The City of Palmdale has not commented on a civil rights lawsuit filed by the Community Action League and the NAACP because the matter is still in litigation.

“However, this recent personal and libelous statement against the members of the Palmdale City Council cannot go unchallenged,” said City Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy. “While the plaintiffs and their attorneys have been bombarding the media with lurid accusations and inflammatory rhetoric, the City of Palmdale continues to stay true to our values of openness, tolerance, inclusiveness and acceptance, while patiently waiting for the judicial system to determine that the accusations against the City of Palmdale are completely without merit.”

Calls to Jesse Smith were not immediately returned Thursday morning.

  9 comments for “Palmdale mayor responds to ethnic cleansing slur, Section 8 lawsuit

  1. Miffed American
    August 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    The man that said ethnic cleansing needs to be cleaned of his responsibilites. He used his postion if you can call it that to insight hate. I’m sick and tired of this behavior and using the race card for everything. How come only blacks and hispanics for the most part get 3000 sq. ft homes and sometimes a pool? I don’t think they are being treated unfairly the tax payers are.

  2. Timothy
    August 26, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I believe what V. Jessie Smith said was correct. Just because Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford hasn’t been as boisterous as Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris doesn’t take away from the fact that he too participated in the shakedown of minorities on Section 8. Jim Ledford is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing and just because he don’t call nobody a N****r don’t mean its not in his heart.

    • S. Parker
      August 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

      So now you can tell what is in someone’s heart just by looking at them? The race card has worn thin people, it’s time to get in touch with reality! I have talked with Jim a couple of times and he is a good guy. I never heard of him using N-word but I can’t the same for many of us. I hear the N-word used everyday from my brothers and sisters!

    • WeNeedtheEducated
      August 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      I wish people would use words they actually understand. Darren Parker, Jesse Smith and the other attention-seeking self-aggrandizers obviously do not have a clue of what “ethnic cleansing” or “racism” means. Like the worn out references to Nazis, racism and “turning back the clock on discrimination” they all need to take high school history over again. There are no efforts to kill off a race or ethnic group anywhere in the US (basic definition of ethnic cleansing for those too lazy to look it up). There are no KKK rallies, cross burnings, lynchings or similar types of classic racial discrimination going on. That’s not to say there isn’t racism – there is – but unless you want to control what is in the hearts and minds of everyone that will always be the case. It is a free country and Darren & Jesse are free to be haters or self-promoters or whatever – just don’t use words you clearly don’t understand.

      • S. Parker
        August 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm

        Finally someone makes sense! Too bad sensible discussions on the real issues facing us minorities in the AV are forever being drowned out by the red-hot rhetoric of these so called “political leaders” of the AV’s black community.

  3. Tameika Brathwaite
    August 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Palmdale is not so much of the problem. I think Palmdale’s mayor and elected officials have made some efforts in recent years to diversify its staff and recognize us minorities in the AV. The same cannot be said for Lancaster and Mayor Parris who is self serving and callous with no regard for anyone pulling in less than 50K a year. His prejudice and arrogance is evident in the dismissive attitude he has for anything that does not conform to his elitist agenda. He has taken Lancaster all the way to the bank and pompously bears him name all over the city on schools, fair grounds, bill boards, etc. I pray for the day when his leadership comes to an end and we can look at elected official who are more about us and less about self.

    • T. Lamont
      August 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      I agree! I think Rex is a bully. He is not responding like the Palmdale mayor is. Instead he is kicking people out of City Council meetings who do not agree with him. The fact that he stepped down from the redevelopment board after purchasing property in a redeveloped area and then appointed someone who works for him in his place is just plain wrong!!!!! Rex Parris needs to spend more time being a mayor for the people instead of fattening his pockets! Instead of complaining that there are no good schools in the AV and then “founding” a private school, why not just invest the time and money to make out public schools better instead?? I’ll tell you why: because Rex is all about Rex!! If Rex has his way, Lancaster will be no better off that the City of Bell!

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