DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The controversial appointment of a founder of the New Black Panthers to a committee meant to find a replacement for the county’s director of homeland security has been put on hold.
After this decision, County Commissioner Clay Jenkins said he planned to dissolve the committee altogether.
But Aaron McCarthy, the appointee in question, looked on quietly as commissioners took his appointment off their docket Tuesday morning. McCarthy, a radio disc jockey also known as Aaron Michaels, was already on the committee as an interim appointment.
And the commissioner who put him there feels it’s much ado about nothing.
“Nah, it’s political. You know it’s political,” said County Commissioner John Wiley Price. “The fact they don’t want to go ahead with the board is fine but he serves until they appoint a successor.”
After leaving the meeting, McCarthy said he wasn’t shock by the decision. But he said criticism is not fair to him or the New Black Panthers.
McCarthy said he has spent the last 12 years overseeing a nonprofit organization that trains individuals for emergencies and disasters.
“The Black Panther party was not a terrorist organization, they were a political organization trying to give information, trying to feed people,” McCarthy said.
Members of the public who signed up to speak during the meeting expressed their concern.
Among those was a candidate for commissioner in this year’s election, Cecile Newberry-Fernandez.
“To not have any problem with the re-appointment of a person who’s been described by the American Civil Rights Commission and the Anti-Defamation League as ‘racist and anti-semitic’ is very illuminating about this county body,” she told the judges.
County resident Linda Butts added, “ Dallas County already has an image of the next Chicago with these types of appointments … and this just makes the image get worse.”
Lawrence Wainer, another resident, also told the judges “to find the best of our peers, not one whose character could cause significant disharmony and discord.”
But Price was unmoved by the petitions, saying the position doesn’t require the person who holds it to make any major decisions in the county.
“It’s not as though Homeland Security has any kind of interest into being able to make any kind of decisions,” he said. “It’s basically emergency preparedness, that’s all Homeland Security is.”
But the issue may be moot if County Judge Clay Jenkins gets his way. Late Tuesday he moved to dissolve the committee altogether, claiming its work is redundant to that of the paid, professional staff.
“I don’t believe we need the committee because we have a committee of full-time professionals who are doing this, he said.
A late afternoon press release said the court would place an item on the next agenda “seeking to suspend appointments to and meetings of the HSAC committee until further notice.”
The release also said the search for a permanent full-time Director of Homeland Security is going well and that the county has received numerous resumes.
Jenkins expects said he expects the position will be filled soon.
Lisa Chambers, Dallas County’s former homeland security director, was fired in October of this year.
Jenkins said he made the decision to oust the former CIA agent over “performance issues.”