Edward Okpa Not Invited to Mayoral Forum at TJ, But Tom Leppert Nabs Speaking Role

Leppert_gap.jpg
Photo by Patrick Michels
Tom Leppert
[Update at 7:34 a.m. Saturday: Okpa has been invited, per a letter Villalba sent to "friends and members" at 10:52 p.m. yesterday. You can read the whole letter after the jump.]

[Update at 5:50 p.m.: We just heard from Kunkle, who says our item was the first he'd heard of Okpa's exclusion from the debate. Kunkle subsequently called Villalba, and while he stopped short of threatening to pull out of the forum, he strongly urged him to give Okpa an invite.

"I believe all candidates should have the opportunity to share their views and be heard," he says. "That's part of the beauty of the process."

Kunkle says Villalba has contacted Natinsky's campaign and plans to speak with Rawlings's people as well to determine if it's OK to add Okpa. ]

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Leppert has been added as a speaker at that mayoral debate Monday at Thomas Jefferson High School, but an organizer says Leppert has been asked to discuss his role as former mayor, not use the forum to promote his Senate candidacy.

"We thought his insight on what makes a good mayor would be helpful and instructive in the dialog that we're gonna have," says Jason Villalba, chair of the Dallas Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. "His presence is not meant to be as a United States Senate campaign event."

Villalba says Leppert has been allotted seven minutes for his speech, after which he'll introduce DISD Trustee Dr. Edwin Flores. Leppert has been instructed to talk about "what it takes to be a good, strong mayor," according to Villalba.

"If he happens to talk about his campaign, then obviously I'm not gonna pull him off the stage," he says. "It's really not intended to be that way, but he's got free reign to say whatever he wants."

Leppert spokesperson Shawn McCoy has not responded to a phone call and email seeking comment.

Villalba says Flores has been told to talk about what the school district needs in a mayor. The debate (scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.), which Robert, Jim and I aim to attend, is sponsored by the RNHA and features three of the four mayoral candidates -- David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings.

So why no Edward Okpa?

"We just felt like with our time constraints that we were going to be unable to accommodate his contribution," Villalba says. "And, in light of the fact that there are a number of these candidate forums where he is participating, we didn't feel like he was being excluded or the people of Dallas weren't getting an opportunity to see what he has to provide."

Update at 7:32 a.m. Saturday: This is the letter Villalba sent out last night:

Friends and Members,

After hearing the call from many members, friends (and certain local media outlets) for Mr. Okpa to attend our Mayoral Candidate Forum on Monday, March 28, the Dallas Chapter of the RNHA will cordially invite Mr. Okpa to attend the event as a full participant in the Forum.

Please note that we in no way intended to offend or exclude viable candidates from the event, but, due to (i) time constraints (we will only go for two hours - not three as reported in the paper), (ii) the fact that several other earlier forums had not included Mr. Okpa, and (iii) the fact that we already have two additional speakers, we did not originally invite him to attend. I have received requests from one of the mayoral candidates and from several members of the RNHA to include Mr. Okpa and therefore, we are happy to oblige.

My sincerest apologies if any of you were offended and I look forward to seeing you on Monday.


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77 comments
BIG-UN
BIG-UN

And the beat goes on! I can't imagine that this group would ever think of omitting a Black canidate for mayor from their forum. Leppert's opinion of a good mayor has no revelance.Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This was a sly attempt to get Leppert some pub in the Mexican community.

Tea Party Gal
Tea Party Gal

Shame on the RHINO's in the GOP and RNHA for excluding Edward Okpa. They have a history of trying to exclude conservative voices and "Tea Party” people in favor of the RHINO candidates. These people meet behind close doors and then come out with their preferred candidate. This is disgraceful and shows how the GOP machine works to exclude true Conservatives. They did something very similar in upstate NY.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

Hispanic rebulicans tickle me. Especially the one's in Dallas... Kind of reminds me of the house slaves. They thought they were all important because they were in the house.... News flash they were still slaves... I mean how can you support a man (Leppert) who wouldn't even give you a street after YOUR people voted for it. And down in Austin those same republican's are trying to take YOUR peoples vote away from you with the Voter ID bill....

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

In an item that will be posted tomorrow, Villalba tells me " As God as My witness I thought Turkeys could fly !"

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

"Kunkle says Villalba has contacted Natinsky's campaign and plans to speak with Rawlings's people as well to determine if it's OK to add Okpa."

That sure makes Natinsky and Rawlings look very bad. Gives impression that the organizer of the event has to answer to one of those towo campaigns.

Does that seem backwards to anyone else?

Church Lady
Church Lady

Mr. Merten,Much obliged for your reporting.Questions-What is DISD's written policy on partisan sponsored political debates in public schools?Are other non-profit/partisan groups qualified to do the same as the RNHA?(in a public school)Is a fee paid to the DISD?

Jrhone5821
Jrhone5821

Hey, Villalba--you lying piece of:" intended to offend or exclude viable candidates from the event" ---yeah, you did. you intended to exclude Okpa....you're just pissed you got caught."...due to time constraints"all the other debates were shorter and had no problem using all 4 candidates."the fact that several other earlier forums had not included Mr. Okpa"Name one. I've been to most of the publicized debates and none excluded Okpa. Just yours."blah, blah, therefore, we are happy to oblige."You mean YOU, you personally, Mr. Villalba, you tried to exclude Okpa, and now you haved been called out for the racist you are and YOU are trying to cover your ass.Mr. Villalba, we know your event is a publicity stunt for Tom Leppert for Senate race. We know that you and DISD trustee Flores are trying to hide that stunt behind the screen of a pretend mayoral debate so that you can get away with using DISD property for the illegal Republican politics of Leppert race. We know it was Natinsky who cannot perform with Okpa at the table because everything Natinsky stands for is anti- African American. We know that Tom Leppert's Senate campaign and Natinsky's mayoral campaign both use the same campaign mgr--Carol Reed, and that she is prioritizing her Leppert Senate campaign.

Linda Ly
Linda Ly

Kinda wish I was still in high school so I could listen to this Leppert speech. A speech about what it takes to be an effective Mayor, delivered by him, would certainly be interesting to hear. He was not only a really good Mayor, but he did it by engaging people across the political and social spectrum and I think that's a great message he can deliver to those kids. If we're going to start solving the problems we've got as a state (and a nation) we're going to need strong leaders like Leppert, who can get the job done.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Educated and Well to do Hispanics, hate Black folk,almost as much as they do the Mexican people who risk their lives coming across the river ,for a better life for their families .The fact that this Villalba man said "there will be other forums where he is participating" code language for do not want him at ours,because he has nothing we want to hear.How the hell can Flores tell what kind of Mayor DISD needs and he can not fix his own dam budget,he's elected to approve.Dallas is getting worse by the freakin day.In my opinion they are stealing DISD blind.

RG Carter
RG Carter

Mr Villalba, your comment, "We just felt like with our time constraints that we were going to be unable to accommodate his contribution," is amazing to me. Chief Kunkle is right. Besides, I know Edward and Ronke Okpa. He is one of the smartest men I know.

I too believe that, when the few choose the democratic dialouge for the citizens in the electoral process, it is not a democracy.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? April fools, right?

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

That picture makes Tom Leppert looks like the Devil,himself.

Update
Update

As of this evening, Okpa has now been invited to participate in the forum.

TS
TS

I know this is a joke. Mexicans are doing this?

Snow bird
Snow bird

Too funny. does this guy Villalba hear himself.the debate is 3hrs long.that's pretty damn longand yet he says

"We just felt like with our time constraints..."

What time constraints?3hrs. is like twice most debate length.

R Chatham
R Chatham

Has anyone read the update insertion at top of article?

Kunkle took action and has demanded the shitty republican mexican group include Okpa or he won't come. Stupid mexican attorney, Jason VIllalba, at Haynes & Boone, who organized this is now checking with Natinsky and Rawlings to see if it's okay with them if Okpa comes. Dumb shit.

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

He lives in far North Dallas...Jason Villalba who has organized this and is including Leppert for political reasons but EXCLUDING the black guy running for mayor. How typical of those who live in north Dallas.

Joanne R
Joanne R

this group that excludes Okpa is an atty with law firm of Haynes and Boonecall him and give him your opinionsor email himyou can google Haynes & Boone dallasand then pull up Villalba on their atty listjason.villalba @ haynesboone.com

Clyons
Clyons

This is funny, we just had a MLK parade, and we are still a city that practices exclusion. When will we grow up. Okpa has every right to be included in these debates, allow the voters to make a wise decision. Don't make it for them.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Leppert and Flores! What real winners those two are (sarcastically)! Both should go back to the private sector rock they crawled out from under. And the exclusion of Okpa! What a bunch of political crap. It should be all the candidates or none!

Guest
Guest

Wow. That's really dumb. While Hispanics are yelling for inclusion, they pull a stunt like this. Thanks for your reporting on this Sam.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

What makes the RNHA think that Leppert has any insight into what makes for a good mayor? Did he go off and study some with all the free time he found himself with after quitting on his only term as mayor?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

"We just felt like with our time constraints that we were going to be unable to accommodate his contribution," Villalba says. "And, in light of the fact that there are a number of these candidate forums where he is participating, we didn't feel like he was being excluded or the people of Dallas weren't getting an opportunity to see what he has to provide."

How do you say JIM CROW in Spanish ?

Joanne R
Joanne R

i still say the mayoral candidates would gain more votes if they shunned this event. I'm calling Rawlings camp. tomorrow and suggest he find something better to do.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

In an item that will be posted tomorrow, Villalba tells me he asked Rawlings and Natinsky because he wanted to see if they were OK with losing some of their time with the mic. Natinsky advocated for the inclusion of Okpa, and Rawlings wasn't reached.

Guest
Guest

Yep. I was thinking the same thing. Why would he have to get their OK? Did he get their okay to exclude him?

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

I asked DISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander that question Friday but haven't heard back. However, DISD has hosted plenty of partisan events throughout the years, so I know it's OK. As for whether there's a fee involved, I'm not entirely sure.

More on this issue tomorrow morning.

Joanne R
Joanne R

I agree. Sam: Inquiring minds want to know!

Can you address how my taxpayer provided school facilities, lights, air conditioning, etc. can be used up by a Republican organization?

Here, I was thinking DISD had some sort of budget crisis going on. Guess not if they can throw money around to help republican special interest groups and give away the product to help Leppert's Senate race.

Where's those tea party people when you need them?????? Stephanie Carter? hello...

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Oh no you didn't! LOL! YOU GO GIRL! Preach on.

Clyons
Clyons

Natinsky doesn't know how to deal with the Southern Sector.

Guest
Guest

Bravo, Joanne. Bravo.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Thank you Mrs.Leppert, thank you. Now go back to baking cookies and waiting for the boys to come home from school. Tom will be home soon, so have his pipe and paper ready when he arrives. Don't forget to talk to him about the Beav.

Joanne R
Joanne R

Linda, you're kidding, right? That was like a supposed to be funny, or a joke? Leppert was the biggest lying, manipulative, meanest asshole I've ever seen as mayor. Hateful beyond words. He used everyone for his own purposes. He robbed our City funds and when he empty the vaults and destroyed the structure, he ran away like the chicken shit he is.

He quit and put the goofball Caraway in charge.

You need to take off your blinding rose colored glasses and take another look. Because, Liar-Liar Leppert is like the poster-child of what the worst possible Mayor could ever be.

If you learn nothing else today, try to learn this:

Leppert--if his lips are moving, he's lying.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Well, No. 1, you don't have to be in high school to attend the debate. It''s open to the public. And, No. 2, Leppert's not speaking to high school kids. He and everyone else will be speaking to a crowd of adults.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

DISD teachers for years have been singing the Canary in the Coal Mine song about Edwin Flores.

He is universally loathed by teachers and most low-income Mexican parents.Arrogance, it seems, is a universally recognized trait and many low-income Hispanics know his type all too well. Many fled here even illegally to escape that type.

Mexico, Edwin's birthplace, accepts the 2-tier system of haves and have-nots.In the US, we don't.We consider everyone a "have" until they choose otherwise.

We don't like the imported vision of getting Hispanic kids literate in Spanish but not English.We don't like the imported vision of Hispanic kids scoring too low on the SAT bc they haven't had enough exposure to English.We don't like the Mexico version of a society with one class consigned to domestic or construction work while the rich are given the chance to become richer.

We don't like lying and technicalities and personal aggrandizement.

Naturally, the oldsters at Haynes and Boone seem to embrace him.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I always thought if you paint his face white, his lips red and his hair green he would look just like the Joker on the old TV show Batman.

Joanne R
Joanne R

I agree---thanks, Sam, for reporting this one.

Cubzter
Cubzter

So a minority Republican group excludes a minority Republican candidate and it's "Jim Crow"??? And, yes, Okpa is a Republican...VERY, VERY, VERY Republican.

Isn't it at least possible that he's being excluded because he has been a miserable failure as a candidate the previous two times he's run for office? Consider this, in his last outing he received less than 1/4 of the votes he won in the previous race (put another way, his support ERODED by 75% from one race to another).

From the Observer: "Okpa, the only minority candidate in the mayor's race thus far, ran unsuccessfully for the gig in 2003 and 2007. He placed third in a field of five in 2003 but received less than 3 percent of the votes with 1,999. Okpa four years later would finish last with only 429 votes among 11 candidates that included the late Jennifer Gale."

I mean, seriously, the man got beat by a DEAD LADY last time.

Paul
Paul

teee heeee heeee. that's the point. The minute the dipshit Villalba indicated he would have to get their okay...he gave away the fact that they were behind it. or, one of them was behind it. The one behind blocking Okpa had to be the candidate that shares the camp. mgr w/ Leppert: Natinsky.

I am not Afr. Amer. but my friends who are tell me it is Natinsky's ratings that go down when he is confronted by Afr. American co-candidate and/or Afr. Amer. audience.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Sam: When the DISD is facing a best case scenario of a $150M shortfall and a $250M worst case shortfall, why is it spending money on providing facilities for this? Is this part of the "New Reality" Hiney went on and on about?

If DFPE wanted to host a similiar rally, would they be offered the same deal as to access to facilities as the RNHA?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Ask him about the teacher at Spruce falling out of the 3rd story window as he tried to open it bc the room was so hot.

Ask why kids and teachers were locked in rooms at Spruce for 2 hours without AC.

Most importantly, pls ask Jon if 3700 Ross and Buckner had their AC on Friday. If so, why didn't the schools get AC also?

Joanne R
Joanne R

just because DISD has done it in the past doesn't mean it's "Okay".

DISD has never been one for letting ethics or the law get in their way of doing things.

Creditcard fraud? Superintendant using funds to furnish her private residence? Staff taking kickbacks from vendors? Human Resources dept providing made up phony social security numbers to the illegals they hired so that they could by pass scruitiny....

need I go on?

Heck, if misplacing $64million didn't bother them, I doubt they much care about too many rules.

Joanne R
Joanne R

Sam,I suspect Linda will not understand your information. --I suspect she's been drinking way too much Kool-Aid.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

DISD Teacher said "Mexico, Edwin's birthplace, accepts the 2-tier system of haves and have-nots. In the US, we don't."

Amen to that Sister (or Brother).

The pathetic thing is that Flores typifies and embraces the model.

And he smirks his way through BoT meetings while doing it.

RG Carter
RG Carter

Cubzter, your obnoxious. really.

Nunya
Nunya

Regardless of his past history, he is STILL a candidate and rightly deserves to be invited.

Maybe take that extra "7 mins" from the old mayor and give it to him.

Not saying this is the case, but maybe you're unaware of the tension between blacks and Mexicans. Mexicans are not fond of blacks.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

I'd guess Okpa's more concerned that he lost to a transgender and homeless woman, which Gale was, rather than someone who died after the election.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

If the DISD refuses to air condition student classrooms during the day, they should require that this RNHA/Flores rally be held in the middle of the day, during 85 degree whether, and not provide them AC.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Thousands of DISD teachers thank you, Joanne, for pointing these facts out.

Why is Dallas allowing DISD to get away with these things?

Why isn't Jason Villalba or Haynes and Boone asking questions about DISD's money management?

Or do 150,000 mostly poor and minority kids not matter to the Dallas Citizens' Council?

Or is Jason Villalba only concerned with people who can do something for him?

Americana dfw
Americana dfw

Villalba thought it was next Friday already. April Fools. Fool.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

You are correct and they road our backs to where they are today. They gain minority status on the Civil rights movement ,that they did not take part in.Hispanics were white on their State ID.and booked into jail as white until after movement.They are White until its entitlement time than ,they become minorities.Spanish people from Spain don't like dark people from Mexico or Spanish/Indian people from New Mexico.Many don't like us because they are from black origin every one wants to deny that black connection. I feel so bad for them ,because as much as they hate it's in them it is what it is. Ha Ha

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