Mike Purzycki Is a Racist

Filed in National by on October 3, 2017

By RE Vanella

I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my own failure in everyday life.

–George Orwell, ‘Why I Write’


I never thought much of Carron Phillips’ work at the News Journal during his tenure as Engagement Editor. I didn’t feel he was engaged. The whole gambit breaks down from there. We didn’t get much from him in the commentary department and actual News Journal editorial board positions on local issues were sporadic and bland.

Phillips did write a very memorable piece of commentary though and credit should be given when due. Last year he wrote a scathing criticism of our new mayor Michael S Purzycki. Phillips charged him with aloof arrogance and condescension. Defenses of the mayor were sharp and aggressive. I got the impression that most readers believed Phillips was out of line. My friends, he wasn’t.

So here’s what happened. My wife and I attended the Forty Acres Civic Association meeting the evening of Wednesday 27 September. I’d guess there were three-dozen people in the banquet room in Kid Shelleen’s. Notable attendees included councilman Bud Freel, State Representative Gerald Brady and a Chris Coons Wilmington staffer Andrew Dinsmore. The meeting was coordinated and run by our neighborhood chairwoman Tracey Schofield. After a brief review of the redevelopment of the shop and property at Delaware Av and Scott St (old Déjà vu shop will be a ladies boutique, FYI) Mayor Purzycki began his remarks.

The mayor proceeded to tout the success of corporate real estate in the city, praise his own decision in tapping a police chief from “up in New York”, complimented the police in general, lauded the fact that “he’s never seen so many black and whites out there” doing what they do, advocated for an increase to police wages, and made clear new taxes will not be raised. The rationale for this last bit was an aversion to scaring people into relocated away from the city. Growing increasingly bored I walked out to use the men’s room.

When I returned Mayor Purzycki was still playing the hits. Then he raised the issue of “the rough neighborhoods”. For me this was a glimmer of hope. I honestly thought that perhaps such a skilled politician could sketch out some vague and circuitous route from Buccini Pollin millions through gentrification into “jobs” and arriving at some opaque theory of success for those suffering so terribly. Against my nature and good judgment I was looking for anything positive. But I think you can sense by now my pending disappointment.

Mayor Purzycki used some construction of “those people” and “over there” at minimum five times. My wife says this is an extremely conservative estimate. I interrupted the meeting with appropriate bluntness. I was finding his comments divisive, worse yet appalling, and said so. Several fellow meeting attendees confronted me. I was “disrespectful” and I should “let him finish”. It was tense. Words were exchanged. I should not have let him finish, but I humored the group and sat. Within sixty seconds Purzycki ran his hull across an iceberg.

This is my recollection and it’s passed muster with my wife. “Those people over there can’t help themselves,” he said. I erupted and stated angrily that I was leaving but I wanted everyone present to “remember what he said!” As I marched out I repeated it. “Remember what he said! Remember what he said!”

As I made my way through a small crowd standing at the door and before I walked back into the bar I turned back toward the mayor. (Brief aside, I saw Mr Freel seated behind Purzycki in my line of sight. He looked exceptionally uncomfortable. Sorry, Bud, but it’s a big highlight for me.) I turned and I yelled, “That’s fucked up… that’s really fucked up!”

Here’s the thing. Mike Purzycki probably bears no ill will toward black people. But he, and most of the affluent white bread set in neighborhood, don’t understand that the personal is irrelevant here. Adopting a biracial or minority child doesn’t exempt you. Being affable doesn’t exempt you. The political, economic and social principles espoused are racist. Relying almost exclusively on corporate real estate and maintaining a tax haven to keep the people “over here” satiated while using the police to keep the people “over there” sequestered is racist. Ignoring this any longer is a cancer on us. If our neighbors are separate from us and pose a problem outside of us, it’s close to the end of this.

Perhaps Purzycki was the posturing politician simply signaling to a particular audience. The audience was the mayor’s people. He lives a five-minute walk from Kid’s.

Does this excuse it? Is this acceptable rhetoric in context? It does not and is not.

I am very sure that the majority of the attendees at that meeting disagree with my take on the mayor’s remarks or with me taking on this issue at all. That’s fair enough. But I stand by my summary of his words and the ideas he conveyed. The positions are heinous and counter-productive. Many people surely believe it’s just fine and maybe will accuse me of hypersensitivity or of being a radical too quick with a personal epithet. It’s not a personal epithet. It’s not personal at all. It’s what it is. I understand it’s harsh to come to terms with unpleasant facts. We’re perpetuating a racist society and we seem petrified in the face of it. It seems far too much time is wasted devising new excuses and apologies and defenses when it could be much better spent elsewhere. This must change.


About the Author ()

Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (26)

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  1. Gregg Truitt says:

    I can’t agree with the views of the author more. The more we divide our society, the smaller we become. I live in a ‘mixed’ neighborhood (Hilltop), where we are a mix of young and old… black, white and Hispanic… renters, businesses and home owners. Our landmarks are a Catholic church and a hospital. We strive to get along and help each other when we can… It doesn’t always work, but the effort is there. I can’t say I’ve seen much effort from this new city administration in my community (not rich or white enough, I reckon), and comments, like those by the mayor, can only divide our city further.

  2. chris says:

    FYI- he already jacked up property taxes in his first budget…so he’d better not be raising them again anytime soon!
    & so much for the great NY police chief- shootings and killings will rank at an all time historical high this year in the history of the city.

  3. Mr Bert Ollus says:

    Mike is not an inspirational speaker, though he does have nice threads.

    This was evident at the post-Charlottesville rally in Rockford Park where the crowd was searching for healing, but at least the mayor wasn’t racist. At Kid Sheleen’s he probably felt he was amongst his base and slipped on his carpet slippers of racial innuendo (“those people”).

    With limited skills, Mike has no chance of inspiring “those people” to help them out of their existence. By painting them as hopeless he is preparing his supporters for failure to do the one thing they elected him to do.

  4. Bane says:

    He is who we thought he was

  5. alby says:

    Gee, it turns out a guy who lives on Red Oak Road isn’t a man of the people? Who would have guessed?

  6. donviti says:

    You’d think the pollack would be doing something for Brown Town or Hedgeville. I guess given those people live over there now, there’s no hope for that side of town either. Strange given how close it is to his boys (BPG) backyard.

    What a piece of shit. Can you imagine what he says in private circles?

    I wish I was there to see how the dog whistle he blew rang your ears and struck you to the core.

  7. He won a fractured primary in the only way that he could. I thought he might be able to reach beyond his base, but it turns out that his mayoralty is Buccini/Pollin and the narrow constituency that elected him.

    He doesn’t even pretend to be the Mayor for the entire city.

  8. alby says:

    He is mayor of the commercial districts. And the art museum district, one supposes.

  9. I will say that this aligns with certain positions Purzycki took during an interview with Larry Mendte recently. To his credit, Mendte called him out on it.
    I will have to dig up the YouTube of the show.

  10. Scuttlebutt302 says:

    Purzycki used similar language when he was running. He knows who his base is (the Markell and now Purzycki “Democrats” in the Highlands) and how to talk to them about what to do about “those people.” Unfortunately he has no more of a clue or plan about what to do to make this City better than the last guy. Most shootings ever already this year.

  11. RE Vanella says:

    I received quite a bit of feedback offline on this as well. The largest theme was similar to the comments here. One email summed it up the consensus succinctly as “wholly unsurprised”.

    I’d like to figure a way to tie the arguments highlighting racism up with political/economic principles and policies and away from this idea that to be “a racist” an individual needs to hold conscious distain for a black people. This is obviously dumb but some of this is my (our) fault.

  12. alby says:

    Because you only just posted it.

    I’ll start:

    I think Strine underestimates the savings on vo-tech because he wants to keep those schools entirely separate, if in one umbrella district instead of three. He should instead consider what works elsewhere — let the kids do their academic work in regular schools, which operate at 2/3rds the per-student cost of vo-techs, and the other half the day in vo-tech training. Attach the kids to regular schools so that their test scores are mixed in with everyone else’s, so that the vo-tech schools aren’t measured against regular student bodies as they are currently.

  13. Street Kid says:

    Mike Putzycki is a Republican. OVER 1200 RETHUGS changed over to Dem to rig the damn primary. The GOP even ran a dummy throwaway candidate to make him look like Democrat and the People swallowed it hook , line and sinker.

    That’s why I voted for Steven Washington.

  14. RE Vanella says:

    @Street Kid. Yep. Well documented truth.

    I left the mayor’s race blank in the general.

  15. alby says:

    Except I think this is the same guy who stumped here for Washington for a year before the election.

  16. RE Vanella says:

    Probably. But the comment is accurate.

    I did purposely add that I didn’t vote the mayor’s race. I protest by withholding my vote entirely rather than voting for a buffoon. But I appreciate the sentiment.

  17. Doc says:

    Vanella, and therein lies the problem, withholding your vote does nothing but allow people like Purzycki, and Trump to become elected. While there may not be a candidate on the ballot that hits all the marks for us, we need to learn how to measure out the pros and cons and vote for the candidate most likely to do the least amount of damage. Until citizens get this right, we will continue to suffer at the hands or the unqualified, and disconnected.

  18. alby says:

    @Doc: In most circumstances your position is valid. But failing to vote in a general election in the city has no practical effect, as the result is always a foregone conclusion.

    There was no candidate on the general election ballot for mayor who would have done less damage. Certainly not someone unknown who has never held public office or accumulated relevant experience elsewhere.

  19. RE Vanella says:

    @Doc I voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election for exactly that reason.

    But as Alby rightly points out, in this specific instance, it was a fait accompli.

    I knew Purzycki would be the next mayor when he Buccini Pollin announced him as their proxy puppet. We tried very hard for Eugene Young and fell just short.

  20. Street Kid says:

    Alby, you don’t know jack. The truth is that Wilmington would be better off if it elected a mayor who cared about the whole city. Any body who didn’t vote has nothing to brag about.

  21. RE Vanella says:

    Everyone is making fair points. Let’s not devolve this one. I don’t want the theme of Purzycki’s racism to get lost.

    We tried like mad to get Eugene Young elected but they don’t assign the office based on effort. Once that was over it was a sign, sealed and delivered result. A candidate was installed by a corporate real estate developer to satiate affluent white people.

  22. chris says:

    Withholding your vote is nothing to be proud of & it accomplishes nothing!

  23. alby says:

    “The truth is that Wilmington would be better off if it elected a mayor who cared about the whole city.”

    Nobody like that was running in the general election. Your man has even fewer credentials for the job than Purzycki does.

    You, my friend, are the one who does not know jack — or anyone else worth knowing, either.

  24. alby says:

    @chris: It doesn’t harm anything, either. The election in Wilmington is the primary, not the general. It would be like not voting in the general election for senator from Alabama. Nobody has to bother counting votes to know the Republican will win.

    Look, if y’all want to pretend that the American electoral system works, go right ahead. But don’t criticize those who dare to state the obvious.

  25. RE Vanella says:

    Purzycki won the general with 82% of the vote. I understand you in principle, but don’t be dense.