Kenneth Kirby--The Difficulty of Separating Myth From Fact ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kenneth Kirby--The Difficulty of Separating Myth From Fact

Ward Sixer Kenny Kirby grew up in Obery Court, attended local schools and  may very well be just the kind of man needed to serve as alderman from Ward Six.
The ward is the edge of "lower" Eastport and includes some public housing communities along Forest Drive. A tall man reputed to have played pro basketball in Europe, he bases his campaign mainly on issues concerning lower income and public housing residents, but he takes a special interest in the concerns for youth. But what do we know about this man who wants to be alderman?  As stated here numerous times, I have tried to speak with and meet with Kenny Kirby, have invited him to our popular weekly Sip N' Blogs where he could meet with voters and speak on 1430WNAV. He has repeatedly refused or ignored my requests so I gave up. But as readers know, I strive to provide information and promote events for all candidates. Kirby's opponent Greg Stiverson has tried to meet him and appear in public with him and Kirby rebuffed his efforts and responded with rather unfriendly and accusative replies.

There is almost next to nothing about him on his web-site and his literature, which is almost impossible to find, also tells remarkably little about him. Furthermore, as reported here, he is closely allied with notorious Democratic renegade Chuck Weikel who seems to be managing his campaign in an almost Rasputin-like manner. Kirby has only received money from a handful of Democratic activists outside of his ward AND NOT A PENNY FROM INSIDE HIS WARD. His most recent piece of literature, which was apparently mis-addressed through some kind of spreadsheet error (names and addresses were switched), also tells us little about him. Just to take a quick look at that latest literature, Kirby states his goals:

Improve the transit system (Okay. I worked there for eight years and never heard a peep from him about that nor have I come across him ever saying anything about this before. What does he propose to do? Why does he not join us on our upcoming bus tour on Thursday?)

Bring skill building, prevention and second chance programs into our community (Sounds good but how? Has he done things such as this before? What kind of skills can he offer?)

Make the new Rec Center a resource for our youth (Sounds good but we are not even sure how we will pay for this. But should it not be for everyone, not just youth?)

Work with the Education Commission to improve education opportunities for all ( Okay. What has this commission ever done? The schools are county schools!)

Most of these things are community activist issues, but an alderman is empowered to vote on how we manage our city and spend our tax dollars. His issues are all about spending programs and not management, except for the transit system. His four points are remarkable for what they do not say about his intentions--and they all seem to mean spending more money for more social programs for our thin budget. What does Kirby know about financial matters? We'll get to that in the next few days.

It is fair to ask what is his background? Where has he lived? What kind of work has he done? What is his formal education? What are his stands on the issues? In short, what makes him a desirable choice for alderman other than the fact that he is from Annapolis? I believe that his handler, Chuck Weikel, has been advising Kirby not to speak with me or Stiverson, and unfortunately, Kirby listens to Weikel. Is Kirby his own man, or is he beholden to Weikel and his outside-of-Ward-Six Democratic supporters who have funded him?

He put out one campaign piece earlier, but Kirby refused to share any of his literature with me. These were the only background items he listed:

*Kenny has run a summer camp every summer since high school beginning with Tyler Heights Elementary School in 1973. (How could he have done this if he moved around as much as I show later in Georgia, Massachusetts and Connecticut? I have tried to check this out through a variety of sources and while I believe it is true that he did work with a recreational program with the City Department of Recreation and Parks back in the 1970's, I have not been able to confirm from any sources that he ran a camp every summer for the last 36 years. He may have, but I cannot confirm it from HACA, City Rec and Parks, County Rec and Parks, the school system or anyone at Tyler Heights. The former director of the city's Rec and Parks said Kirby did run a summer program back in the 197o's. However, a long-time employee of the school system who has been involved with summer programs at Tyler Heights for nearly forty years could not recall Kirby having worked there.

Kirby was quoted in The Capital as saying he worked at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport. Kirby says he was youth coordinator, executive director and community organizer for the Boston Housing Authority's Franklin Field Community for ten years.  Other records do show Kirby lived in that area, but I spoke with their communications office and they had no records about Kirby and said I should contact Franklin Field. Franklin Field said I should contact BHA. The manager specifically said they get moved around a lot and there were no long-term employees who would have remembered an employee--even the director from the 1990's. However, there apparently is no executive director position currently there but there is a manager position. Another person at the Franklin Field community would not provide any information. 

Why would Kirby mention this but not write about it? Why write about having been a member of a club for a year but say nothing about having been the director of a housing community for seven years? Perhaps Kirby will be willing to provide the details. Of course, if he had been working there, how could he have run summer youth programs here at the same time? And then he also said recently that he is a "community ambassador" with Annapolis High School. A receptionist at the school told me she had not seen him at school this year but that he had been in that position last year. I am trying to confirm details with the school board's human resources department)

*Past President of the Afro American Club at York College of Pennsylvania (That's a good thing of course, but he never graduated, although he received 122 of 124 required credits and majored in history. He last attended in 1978 so listing having been president of a club in college over 34 years ago is hardly worthy of mentioning but it would be of interest to know why he did not complete those last two credits. According to his friend Craig Purcell, Kirby graduated from Annapolis High School in 1973. Kirby was born in 1954. Of course plenty of people belong to or even were presidents of clubs-but what did he do in that capacity? Anyhow, it was 30 years ago, so does it matter? Kirby seems to think it does matter.)

*Recreation Assistant with the Annapolis Housing Authority. He has taken a leave of absence to run for public office (Sounds good, but is this the same thing as running this summer camp at Tyler Hts just described differently? The director of recreation with HACA told me Kirby is not working there and is not on leave. Alderwoman Stankivic of the Sixth Ward wrote to me that HACA confirmed he is not working there. Repeated attempts to further confirm at HACA yielded no information)

*1993 member of the Concerned Black Males of Annapolis for Annapolis High School (Again-this sounds like a good thing, but it was 16 years ago, and he was a member of an organization...for a year. Lots of people are members of organizations. Is there something special or noteworthy about this from 16 years ago? Perhaps Kirby will tell us)

(Above is one of the few pieces of campaign information I could find on Kirby (other than a negative attack postcard about his opponent which I chronicled in The Capital on October 21), a portion of which is described here. Click on the image to see a large version of the campaign brochure. Despite nearly all of it being empty political rhetoric, it does allow the candidate to describe four accomplishments in his life as discussed above. Thanks to Craig "Pure Zeal" Purcell for posting this so I could finally see it! I could not find it anywhere else despite asking Mr. Kirby for it.)

Where does that leave Kirby? He got all but two credits to graduate from college. One can only assume that the man who grew up in the nation's oldest public housing complex got some sort of aid or assistance to attend college, unless he worked his way through school as did his opponent Greg Stiverson. He probably ran a summer youth camp at Tyler Heights, but probably not for every summer since 1973 as he claims. Again, we don't know for sure but if he lived in Atlanta and Boston, how could he have done this? He may very well be a community ambassador with Annapolis High (a temporary and hourly job that apparently entails helping school children outside of school) but is he one now? And if he is on leave from HACA, how come they say he is not employed with them? Could he have worked for Tyler Heights, HACA and Annapolis High School at the same time? Perhaps Kirby will share that information with us.

As mentioned, so far Kirby has received no financial support from any Ward Six voter, but he has received substantial backing from Democratic activists and office holders. As mentioned, he is also closely associated with notorious Democratic activist, former Moyer contractor and confidante and now ADCC member Charles "Chuck" Weikel. Weikel, in turn is closely associated with former Annapolitan Craig Purcell, who along with Weikel, operate a questionable blog  which uses most of its space to attack fellow Democrats and just about anyone who does not toe their own private, party line. When they are not busily engaged in character assassination, they are supporting Kenneth Kirby, and they both have contributed money, and in the case of Weikel, in-kind services to Kirby. On one of his "Bill Charles" interviews, they have interviewed Kirby including one where at the end, Kirby made some kind of comment about yours truly using the word "racist" in some context. Weikel's voice was heard warning him not to say anything else. Weikel and Purcell removed that portion after having unwittingly posted it for a day or two.

Kirby ran for Alderman in Ward Six in 1993 and was soundly defeated by Republican Wayne Turner. In the same election, Craig Purcell, then living in Ward One, lost by an almost two-to-one margin against John Hammond, also a Republican. Hammond and just about everyone else in Ward One, except for Weikel, continue to receive the brunt of Purcell's vitriol.

Questions and more questions but few answers and Kirby's unwillingness to meet me, his opponent or appear in public with him (although relented and appeared reluctantly only in the last week or two) make his situation all the more compelling. More to come on the mysterious Mr. Kirby and his travels in Boston, Atlanta, Connecticut and elsewhere in the next few days.

POST SCRIPT: I just received confirmation/clarification about Kirby's supposed employment with HACA. He is not on a leave of absence as he stated in his literature. He does not work for HACA at this time. He has worked for HACA, although not this past summer of 2009. He has been a temporary, summer-time employee. Employees in those positions normally earn between $8 and $12 per hour according to Lynn Happel,  HACA's director of human resources.  Also, I finally did confirm that Kirby indeed has been a community ambassador with Annapolis Senior High School. He worked there the last two years but the team has not been put together this year. For him to say that it is his current job is correct, but it is not a full-time or year-round job.

LISTEN TO CP Publisher Paul Foer on 1430WNAV at 8:15 every weekday morning.
READ CP Publisher Paul Foer's "The Ninth Ward" every Wednesday in The Capital
JOIN US EACH THURSDAY 8-9 am for our Sip N' Blogs normally at ZU Coffee, 934 Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis, Maryland, in the Giant Shopping Center. Oct. 15--Josh Cohen, Oct 22--Chris Fox (at Sly Fox Pub)
Oct 29--Dave Cordle. Stop by on your way to work for your morning latte and meet other local activists. Zu now has a drive-through window!


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