Certainly, I would like to extend my sympathies to the family of Frank Melton. Though I only met Ellen one time, I know how much he cared for her and their children. We talked regularly, though less so in the last year. The last time I talked with him was the night before the “hung jury” verdict when he called just to chat.
For all of his non-conventional ideas and actions and willingness to see them through to the end, no one who really knew him doubted that his heart was in the right place. Politically, legally and socially, it’s why he got as much slack as he did. That doesn’t excuse his self-admitted bad decisions, but I think it does explain the public’s “love him/hate him” to the extreme attitude towards him.
As Ronnie Agnew talked about in his column this afternoon, Frank was regularly in touch with the side of society that those who don’t have to touch don’t want to. Not only was he in touch with it, but he genuinely understood it. In fact, he probably understood it better than the life that he had the means to ultimately live. He was an unbelievable communicator and just oozed empathy for others.
The most lasting impression of Frank was election night in 2005 in the ballroom of the Clarion hotel. I remember Stephanie Parker-Weaver and Wirt Yerger hugging each other. Those who know both know what an unlikely embrace that was. Even for just a moment, all the BS got put aside. For just a fleeting few hours, we all got a glimpse of what it’s supposed to be like. Reality quickly set in and many folks who were threatened by even the possibility of that change quickly bared their knives to stab the beast. He ultimately made some very poor decisions about the people he surrounded himself with and listened to the most, and he was certainly complicit in his own political demise. However, that night and the spirit of what happened there, for those who partook, is what I’ll remember about Frank the most.
Though he politically disappointed a lot of folks and exercised some critically bad judgement in some obvious places, I think he inadvertently taught Jackson a real lesson. A savior will not come. No one person’s gonna make it all better. Business people (elephants and donkeys, black and white) working for the betterment of themselves and their community are going to have to hop in and pull the load regardless of the fecklessness of City Hall and everyone associated with City Government. In other words, we’re going to have to be committed to make it better regardless of the occupants of City Hall. That’s the challenge I think that’s left. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anyone willing or able to articulate that.
Frank was a friend. I think when you tally up the good and the bad, on balance, he left the world better than he found it. He’ll be missed.