There's only one thing for certain about City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's speech to ex-offenders at a city recreation center Saturday -- he no longer wants to talk about the "plantation mentality."
In the speech, Johnson seemed to strongly inject race into his bid for a second term in the 2nd District Council seat, according to a video posted on Philadelinquency, a web site run by Christopher Sawyer, a Republican running for Sheriff.
The shaky 46-second video focuses mostly on the floor of the Myers Recreation Center as Johnson speaks at the event organized by The International Institute for Advanced Instruction's Gateway to Re-Entry. Johnson can be seen in the video at one point and can be heard the entire time, though the audio is at times garbled..
Johnson can be heard referring to "a little petty threat" from someone to "spend a million dollars."
That's an apparent reference to Johnson's recent claim that John Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, threatened during the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade to spend $1 million to defeat Johnson in the May 19 Democratic primary election.
Johnson goes on to say: "But yeah, that's the threat. A million dollars. Plantation mentality. White man tells you, you can't run for office. We're going to take you out."
Johnson is African-American. His Democratic opponent, real estate developer Ori Feibush is white, as is Dougherty.
Johnson on Monday declined to be interviewed about his comments and his campaign refused to answer detailed questions. Instead, campaign spokesman Mark Nevins offered this via email: "Whatever there is to be said about this has been said and we don't have anything else to add."
Dougherty responded to Johnson's comments with this: "It's sad and unfortunate that the councilman thinks like that. I'm going to include him in my prayers tonight."
Tracey Fisher, CEO of Gateway to Re-Entry, on Monday insisted that Johnson never used the phrase "plantation mentality" but repeatedly declined to say what he heard Johnson say.
"That's just politics, people slinging what they do," Fisher said. "Nobody got time for that."