Dunning “Struggles” to Come Clean

Last week we criticized Bob Dunning and Noreen Mazelis for a lazy and mean-spirited attack on Lamar Heystek.

STRUGGLING WITH LAMAR….writes my friend Noreen: “Per Sunday’s Enterprise (‘Briefly,’ Page A3) Lamar Heystek will be on a panel with three other privileged men to discuss ‘struggle.'” ….wow, nobody knows the trouble he’s seen, overcoming his college education and teaching position at UC Davis to become one of the youngest City Council members in Davis city history…struggle?….Lamar?…..heck, he’s not old enough to have even struggled with a razor….

Adds Noreen, “There appears to be no Jew on this panel. I guess I-House (the “struggle” sponsor) doesn’t think that Judaism has a ‘perception of struggle.'” ….apparently not….

I knew immediately from my knowledge of Councilmember Heystek that he had not come from a place of privilege in his life. However, it was not until I spoke with people who knew of his upbringing that I realized that Heystek had to work his way up from a very poor and impoverished upbringing, having grown up in very poor sections of Oakland and having to work his way through school.

While the act of making these kinds of unfounded and unresearched charges certainly rises to the level of laziness and mean-spiritedness–mistakes do happen. I’ve made my share of mistakes on this blog and I have always tried to be upfront and forthright about those mistakes. That is the way to build credibility and ensure accountability–if to no one else but yourself.

The concerning part about Dunning’s response to these revelations is that he is in complete and utter denial as to his mistake and he has a complete unwillingness to acknowledge that he may have jumped the gun or that his comments may be construed as insensitive and mean. This is concerning because it points to a lack of accountability.

Can we trust anything that Dunning says? It appears that we cannot.

Dunning has basically issued two forms of denial in this case. His first response is:

“I didn’t say he hadn’t suffered adversity.”

This is a false denial. Dunning chose to quote Noreen Mazelis and Dunning chose not to dispute her claim that Heystek was privileged and had not struggled. Moreover, he chose to pile on with his own cynical sarcastic words that “nobody knows the trouble he’s seen.” He both aided and abetted the claim that Heystek was not qualified to speak on struggle.

He second response is that everybody has their struggles.

“I’m sure Lamar has had his struggles. So have I. I said, and I repeat, that he wasn’t old enough to have struggled with a razor. It’s not really an outrageous line. If it didn’t make you laugh, fine, but it wasn’t mean and vicious and below the belt.”

Dunning misses the point twice in this response. Dunning did not write about his own suffering or anyone else’s suffering. He wrote about Heystek’s lack of suffering adversity when he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about Heystek’s background as a child or a young adult. And he mocked Heystek’s background even as he knew nothing about it.

Moreover when he said “it was not really an outrageous line,” he was part-right. By itself the line is not outrageous, but there is context to it and the context is Mazelis’ charge that Heystek is somehow a privileged person who is not qualified to speak about suffering. By piling on, Dunning’s line is as outrageous as Mazelis’ and Dunning’s column becomes a hit piece against Heystek.

The key unaddressed issue by Dunning is why it was improper in the first place for Heystek to speak on the topic of struggle. If we have indeed all struggled–then are we not all qualified to speak on the topic at least to some degree or another? Or is the claim that Heystek has not suffered enough? Dunning leaves that point unaddressed.

Dunning’s attack in the end reminds me of Rush Limbaugh’s attack on Michael J. Fox. Limbaugh spent considerable time arguing against Fox’s position on stem cell research which was completely legitimate, however, the moment he crossed the line and suggested that Fox was faking the severity of his illness to garner sympathy, Limbaugh completely lost control of the message and it ended up backfiring on Limbaugh and the issue whose cause he was taking up.

It is perfectly legitimate for Dunning to attack the policies of elected officials such as Heystek. We may disagree with him and may argue against his point. But when you start attacking a person’s character and a person’s upbringing that raises the stakes considerably. If you try to attack someone’s character at all, which is ill-advised and likely to backfire even if it is true, you had better be darn-sure that you are correct.

Dunning make a huge error in attacking Heystek’s character without checking the facts first. That was a huge mistake in its own right. He has now compounded that mistake by refusing to own up to it.

We urge Dunning to come forward in his next column and issue a public apology to Heystek for the erroneous character attack and we urge Mazelis to do the same in a letter to the editor. Civility requires it and accountability demands it.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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Davis Enterprise

24 comments

  1. Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais. The mouthpieces for the status-quo Davis political Establishment in the Enterprise and on the council resort to personal attack as Heystek has “outclassed” them in principles and intellect. Add some years and political “seasoning” and they recognize that he is a formidable threat that must be politically destroyed now.

  2. Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais. The mouthpieces for the status-quo Davis political Establishment in the Enterprise and on the council resort to personal attack as Heystek has “outclassed” them in principles and intellect. Add some years and political “seasoning” and they recognize that he is a formidable threat that must be politically destroyed now.

  3. Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais. The mouthpieces for the status-quo Davis political Establishment in the Enterprise and on the council resort to personal attack as Heystek has “outclassed” them in principles and intellect. Add some years and political “seasoning” and they recognize that he is a formidable threat that must be politically destroyed now.

  4. Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais. The mouthpieces for the status-quo Davis political Establishment in the Enterprise and on the council resort to personal attack as Heystek has “outclassed” them in principles and intellect. Add some years and political “seasoning” and they recognize that he is a formidable threat that must be politically destroyed now.

  5. …nail right on the head, again, Doug… of course, Dunning’s line about not being old enough to struggle with a razor is a benign if lame attempt at humor. This one liner was never THE ISSUE and Dunning’s attempt to use it to wash the stink off his attack on Lamar Heystek is revealing in itself of his duplicity.

  6. …nail right on the head, again, Doug… of course, Dunning’s line about not being old enough to struggle with a razor is a benign if lame attempt at humor. This one liner was never THE ISSUE and Dunning’s attempt to use it to wash the stink off his attack on Lamar Heystek is revealing in itself of his duplicity.

  7. …nail right on the head, again, Doug… of course, Dunning’s line about not being old enough to struggle with a razor is a benign if lame attempt at humor. This one liner was never THE ISSUE and Dunning’s attempt to use it to wash the stink off his attack on Lamar Heystek is revealing in itself of his duplicity.

  8. …nail right on the head, again, Doug… of course, Dunning’s line about not being old enough to struggle with a razor is a benign if lame attempt at humor. This one liner was never THE ISSUE and Dunning’s attempt to use it to wash the stink off his attack on Lamar Heystek is revealing in itself of his duplicity.

  9. “Dunning did not write about his own suffering or anyone else’s suffering. He wrote about Heystek’s lack of suffering adversity when he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about Heystek’s background as a child or a young adult. And he mocked Heystek’s background even as he knew nothing about it.”

    Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried about or bothered by Noreen’s characterization of him?

    If not, this “controversy” is probably not worth too much.

    In fact, now that I know that Lamar grew up on the mean streets of Oakland (where I was born and raised for my first 18 months), I expect that he has a thick hide and can handle any rough and tumble that comes his way.

    “Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais.”

    Is that meant to be an assault on the “maturity” of the mayor of Davis, Ms. Greenwald?

    I wonder if Lamar would, if forced to be candid, ever make the claim that he is more “politically mature” than his four seniors on the council, now that he’s attended (somewhere around) 10 meetings.

  10. “Dunning did not write about his own suffering or anyone else’s suffering. He wrote about Heystek’s lack of suffering adversity when he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about Heystek’s background as a child or a young adult. And he mocked Heystek’s background even as he knew nothing about it.”

    Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried about or bothered by Noreen’s characterization of him?

    If not, this “controversy” is probably not worth too much.

    In fact, now that I know that Lamar grew up on the mean streets of Oakland (where I was born and raised for my first 18 months), I expect that he has a thick hide and can handle any rough and tumble that comes his way.

    “Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais.”

    Is that meant to be an assault on the “maturity” of the mayor of Davis, Ms. Greenwald?

    I wonder if Lamar would, if forced to be candid, ever make the claim that he is more “politically mature” than his four seniors on the council, now that he’s attended (somewhere around) 10 meetings.

  11. “Dunning did not write about his own suffering or anyone else’s suffering. He wrote about Heystek’s lack of suffering adversity when he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about Heystek’s background as a child or a young adult. And he mocked Heystek’s background even as he knew nothing about it.”

    Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried about or bothered by Noreen’s characterization of him?

    If not, this “controversy” is probably not worth too much.

    In fact, now that I know that Lamar grew up on the mean streets of Oakland (where I was born and raised for my first 18 months), I expect that he has a thick hide and can handle any rough and tumble that comes his way.

    “Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais.”

    Is that meant to be an assault on the “maturity” of the mayor of Davis, Ms. Greenwald?

    I wonder if Lamar would, if forced to be candid, ever make the claim that he is more “politically mature” than his four seniors on the council, now that he’s attended (somewhere around) 10 meetings.

  12. “Dunning did not write about his own suffering or anyone else’s suffering. He wrote about Heystek’s lack of suffering adversity when he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about Heystek’s background as a child or a young adult. And he mocked Heystek’s background even as he knew nothing about it.”

    Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried about or bothered by Noreen’s characterization of him?

    If not, this “controversy” is probably not worth too much.

    In fact, now that I know that Lamar grew up on the mean streets of Oakland (where I was born and raised for my first 18 months), I expect that he has a thick hide and can handle any rough and tumble that comes his way.

    “Lamar Heystek, for all of his youth, is already the most articulate and politically “mature” councilperson that we have today on the dais.”

    Is that meant to be an assault on the “maturity” of the mayor of Davis, Ms. Greenwald?

    I wonder if Lamar would, if forced to be candid, ever make the claim that he is more “politically mature” than his four seniors on the council, now that he’s attended (somewhere around) 10 meetings.

  13. “Is that meant to be an assualt on the maturity of Ms. Greenwald………”

    Mayor Greenwald’s focus to serve the city of Davis and its citizens is an authentic expression of why she is involved in Davis local politics. Davis voters are very discerning and “see” beyond her political foibles, recognizing that they can trust her to protect their community values and interests.

  14. “Is that meant to be an assualt on the maturity of Ms. Greenwald………”

    Mayor Greenwald’s focus to serve the city of Davis and its citizens is an authentic expression of why she is involved in Davis local politics. Davis voters are very discerning and “see” beyond her political foibles, recognizing that they can trust her to protect their community values and interests.

  15. “Is that meant to be an assualt on the maturity of Ms. Greenwald………”

    Mayor Greenwald’s focus to serve the city of Davis and its citizens is an authentic expression of why she is involved in Davis local politics. Davis voters are very discerning and “see” beyond her political foibles, recognizing that they can trust her to protect their community values and interests.

  16. “Is that meant to be an assualt on the maturity of Ms. Greenwald………”

    Mayor Greenwald’s focus to serve the city of Davis and its citizens is an authentic expression of why she is involved in Davis local politics. Davis voters are very discerning and “see” beyond her political foibles, recognizing that they can trust her to protect their community values and interests.

  17. “Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried or bothered………..”

    Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.. A public apology by Dunning is what is required for this affront to
    the Davis principles of fairness and honesty. It is the Enterprise readership that has been subjected to Dunning’s journalistic “laziness” and mean-spiritedness and is entitled to an apology as well as councilman Heystek.

  18. “Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried or bothered………..”

    Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.. A public apology by Dunning is what is required for this affront to
    the Davis principles of fairness and honesty. It is the Enterprise readership that has been subjected to Dunning’s journalistic “laziness” and mean-spiritedness and is entitled to an apology as well as councilman Heystek.

  19. “Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried or bothered………..”

    Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.. A public apology by Dunning is what is required for this affront to
    the Davis principles of fairness and honesty. It is the Enterprise readership that has been subjected to Dunning’s journalistic “laziness” and mean-spiritedness and is entitled to an apology as well as councilman Heystek.

  20. “Is there any reason to believe that Lamar Heystek himself is worried or bothered………..”

    Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.. A public apology by Dunning is what is required for this affront to
    the Davis principles of fairness and honesty. It is the Enterprise readership that has been subjected to Dunning’s journalistic “laziness” and mean-spiritedness and is entitled to an apology as well as councilman Heystek.

  21. “Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.”

    Hmmm…. my lame attempt missed the point? Damn.

    Well, I have a lot of other lame ideas. Maybe one of my other lame ideas will hit the target? If so, please let me know.

  22. “Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.”

    Hmmm…. my lame attempt missed the point? Damn.

    Well, I have a lot of other lame ideas. Maybe one of my other lame ideas will hit the target? If so, please let me know.

  23. “Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.”

    Hmmm…. my lame attempt missed the point? Damn.

    Well, I have a lot of other lame ideas. Maybe one of my other lame ideas will hit the target? If so, please let me know.

  24. “Rifkin’s lame attempt at being Dunning’s apologist misses the point here.”

    Hmmm…. my lame attempt missed the point? Damn.

    Well, I have a lot of other lame ideas. Maybe one of my other lame ideas will hit the target? If so, please let me know.

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