Report card on racism fails to make its case

By the Herald editorial staff

This time of year, a lot of folks work very hard to promote personal agendas to our state lawmakers.

Call it spin, call it whatever you want, but when the Legislature is in session scores of interest groups manipulate factsand figures in attempts tomake their causes seem like a top priority.

A recent report by the Northwest Federation of Community Organizers is a case in point.

Using an absurdly narrow interpretation of facts to prove its premise, the group determined that Republicans in the Legislature failed to support racial equality.

In fact, the group gave all of our Mid-Columbia lawmakers a failing grade, based on the lawmakers' votes on 34 bills from the 2009 session.

The foundation claimed those bills dealt with civil rights, institutional racism and economic justice. In some cases, there might be a dollop of truth to the claim.

But in most cases, the attempt to suggest a racial component to these bills strains credibility -- like equating a vote against a state income tax to a vote against racial equality. Huh?

Some of our Mid-Columbia lawmakers received only19 points on a scale of 0-100,while some Democrats scored more than 100 points. How's that possible? There musthave been extra credit. Now that's some creative accounting.

The Northwest Federation of Community Organizers, supported by 20 other organizations and activists, had to work hard to skew the rankings to match its agenda.

While it's usually not a good idea to fire back at voters, Republican lawmakers have earned the right to speak out against the report. Theinformation and the hypothesis it attempts to prove don't equate.

If the group had real evidence or facts of racial bias, it wouldn't have gone to such lengths to try to come up with this preposterous theory.

A Mid-Columbia lawmaker who represents the only two counties in the state where whites aren't the majority was taken to task in the report.

That seems ludicrous on face value, if nothing else. How does someone get elected to represent Adams and Franklin counties while working against the needs of the people living there?

It doesn't happen.

Sen. Mark Schoesler,R-Ritzville, knows his job is to represent his district, regardless of its makeup. People are people, Schoesler said, with similar needs and concerns, like school funding, taxes and paying for college.

The report gave a Sunnyside lawmaker a zero grade on housing issues, completely missing the mark by analyzing a handful of votes instead of the record.

If the group had done its homework, it would have found that Sen. Jim Honeyford has served on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity, helping provide homes to a mostly Hispanic clientele.

If groups like the community organizers want to throw stones at lawmakers, they should at least have the correct targets. Nothing makes a group lose credibility faster than propagating bad information.

"I find the entire report baffling," Honeyford said.

We couldn't agree more.