Dallas County Commissioners react to outrage over appointment




Posted on January 23, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 23 at 10:57 PM

DALLAS - The Dallas County Commission made a last-minute agenda change concerning a controversial appointment to the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

John Wiley Price nominated a man named Aaron McCarthy, also known as Aaron Michaels, to the council. However the vote to approve the appointee has been postponed.

The nomination infuriated civil rights groups - because McCarthy founded "New Black Panther Party for Self Defense." The Anti-Defamation League says the group is the "largest organized anti-Semitic and racist black militant group in America." The original Black Panthers call the group a "black racist hate group."

Aaron Michaels is best known nationally as the founder of the radical activist organization the New Black Panther Party. He is best known in Dallas for his sometimes violent protests during DISD demonstrations in 1996 and 1997.

He is now back in the public eye as Commissioner Price's appointee to the Dallas County Homeland Security Advisory Committee.

First, he was quietly appointed to the Commission on Sept. 13, 2011. His re-appointment to the Commission was scheduled for Tuesday morning, until word spread, not only to local Tea Party members, but to the Anti-Defamation League in New York.

"It's troubling that the founder of the most well-organized, anti-Semitic organizations in this country is making homeland security decisions," said Oren Segal, Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. "It's not unreasonable for people to have concerns about his role."

Among Dallas County officials, only Commissioner Maurine Dickey appears concerned about Aaron Michaels' credentials.

"I don't know much about his work with the New Black Panthers, I’ll leave that to others, but I wonder about his credentials," Dickey said.

Dallas County initially issued a statement defending Michaels, touting his 7-year track record with Dallas County as a County Emergency Response Team trainer and his 11 years in Emergency Preparedness. But now County Judge Clay Jenkins has pulled Tuesday's scheduled re-appointment of Michaels, based on the interim county Homeland Security Director's recommendation that the advisory committee is not needed.

"It's his belief, and frankly I share some of those concerns after I attended a meeting, that the committee is redundant of other committee meetings that we have to attend," Jenkins said.

Jenkins refused to criticize Michaels' appointment and says the uproar was nothing more than politics.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com