Derek Easterling is the mayor of Kennesaw, Georgia, a fine city of some 30,000 in the northwest section of Cobb County.
Obviously, the guy isn’t in the job for the money. In 2016, under his leadership, the Kennesaw City Council voluntarily eliminated its city-provided medical, dental, vision and life insurance benefits as well as retirement benefits for elected officials. “We’re elected officials — we’re not here for those benefits, we’re here for the city,” Easterling said at the time. Anybody in Congress listening?
I would think, with few exceptions, being mayor of Kennesaw would be a pretty good gig. The economy seems to be humming along. The city has a storied history in connection with the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862 as well as being home to the annual Pigs and Peaches barbecue festival.
Long before the Baptists considered guns in church to be a “sanctity of life” issue and “Thou Shalt Not Kill” to be so yesterday a commandment, a prescient Kennesaw City Council unanimously passed a law requiring heads of households to own at least one firearm with ammunition.
After the ACLU challenged the law in federal court, the city added a clause exempting conscientious objectors from having to own a gun. Also exempted were the mentally-disabled, paupers and those convicted of a felony. I am afraid to ask but I hope the humor-impaired got a pass as well. There are a few of those in Kennesaw, I fear. Just ask the mayor.
You may recall that last October, Mayor Easterling dressed in drag as Christina Aguilera, belting out “Lady Marmalade” at a benefit for Alzheimer’s research before a packed crowd in Atlanta. The event raised more than $250,000. A friend of mine who thinks anything beyond Buckhead is Snuffy Smith territory enthused that the mayor brought the sophisticated house down with his performance. Not everyone in Kennesaw was pleased, however. Some local prune-suckers called the mayor’s show-stopping performance an embarrassment to the city.
Now it has happened again. At a grand opening of a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Kennesaw, Mayor Easterling asked Zoning Administrator Darryl Simmons to come stand next to him and then made a comment about Simmons’ shirt matching a costumed doughnut also on hand for the big event. Simmons, it so happens, is black. And the doughnut? It was a chocolate doughnut, of course. The mayor swears he was referring to Simmons’ shirt, not to the chocolate doughnut.
I have seen the photograph of the Dunkin’ Donuts grand opening with my own eyes and ears — I was not invited to attend the gala occasion. I only do bridge openings — and that is one of the worst imitations of a chocolate doughnut in the history of the universe. If I was Mr. Simmons, I would have been offended at being compared to something that looks like a cross-eyed quilt on steroids, or a bad kidney.
Of course, some prune-suckers got offended and were ready to rain down their politically correct sturm-und-drang on the poor mayor, who immediately offered to attend sensitivity training in case he had offended an employee by comparing him to a cross-eyed quilt or a bad kidney.
According to an article in the MDJ, a city spokeswoman said the city manager’s office and Kennesaw’s human resources director quickly called an emergency meeting with some of the city staff to address the matter and that no complaints have been filed by Simmons or any other employee. Oh, thank You-Know-Who! No need making a Kennesaw Mountain out of a chocolate-covered mole hill.
Personally, I think it is Dunkin’ Donuts that needs sensitivity training. They are the ones who chose to make a chocolate doughnut, not Mayor Easterling, and to not only make it but then to parade it out in public, no less. And whose decision was it to make it cross-eyed? Did the company understand they are mocking strabismus-challenged Americans? The shame of it all.
Maybe next time, someone in the Dunkin’ Donuts PR department will think to trot out an inoffensive vanilla donut instead and we can poke fun at white guys, including cross-eyed white guys. Just watch television advertising. There is always a dopey white guy featured with a persevering wife (or fiance, I get those two mixed up these days) and slightly-embarrassed kids. They and their neighbors, one of whom is usually black and the other Asian, good-naturedly correct his blockhead behavior in 60 seconds and, as a result, we are supposed to want to rent a hotel room, buy insurance or a new car, proving white guys are good for something.
As for Mayor Easterling, I would suggest the next time someone gets their politically correct knickers in a wad in Kennesaw that you quote the lyrics from Lady Marmalade: “Giuchie, Giuchie, ya da da.” Sure, I know it makes no sense but neither does getting offended by a cross-eyed quilt-cum-bad kidney.