A righteous rebuttal: I am writing to respond to Jason Nedley's misleading and malicious article ["Slave to His Past," April 5] questioning my capacity to serve as head of the Black Contractors Employers Association. Your readers should understand that the attempted assassination of my character will not thwart my efforts to demand a level playing field when it comes to minority participation in public and quasi-public construction contracts. For too many years black contractors and black construction workers have been left out or permitted only to play subservient roles to dominant, white-owned and/or -controlled contractors.
Let me state that I am not without a past, nor do I claim to be perfect. However, I challenge Mr. Nedley's use of the words "repeatedly accused" in characterizing my claimed failure to pay subcontractors, unions, and creditors. To be correct, there were some disputes back in the early and mid-1990s, but virtually every experienced contractor -- black or white, including those mentioned in the article -- has been involved in disputes with claimed creditors.
For example, Higley Company has been named a defendant in some 25 lawsuits, and Eslich Wrecking was named in 9. Does this mean that these companies were also "repeatedly accused" of shortcomings?
Admittedly, N.K. Edwards Construction Company encountered disputes with subcontractors, creditors, and unions. N.K. Edwards Construction Company also successfully completed several substantial projects without dispute. I would suggest that my overall life and business experiences qualify me to carry the banner of the BCEA.
Regarding Vince Stephens -- a "subsequent lawsuit" asserted or alleged is a convenient way to mask the truth. As with the lawsuit involving Eslich Wrecking, Mr. Nedley's irresponsible reporting failed to mention that no judgment was entered against me, nor did I contribute to a settlement.
What is clear is that certain people in positions of power wish to maintain the status quo. The efforts of the BCEA have threatened to disrupt this gravy train of preferential awarding of contracts. Certain white contractors and unions dominate the landscape to the exclusion of the black contractors. Where is the equity in that?
Finally, Mr. Nedley accuses me of suffering from what he calls a "persecution complex." What does a white journalist mean when he uses such a term in an effort to characterize the actions of a person seeking to effect equality?
Black Contractors Employers Association
Does not compute: It is not often that I get upset enough to send a letter to the editor. However, this article has left me frustrated. For me, a member of the Black Contractors Employers Association, all of this so-called information does not add up. I do realize that the article says "accused." However, in all fairness to Mr. Edwards, you should give both sides to a story.
When reading a newspaper, I want to read fact, not accusations. I would like to see you complete an article based on fact or issue this man an apology.
When Tragedy Strikes
Public interest offends private grief: Steve Spade ["The Wrong Crowd," April 12] was my best friend. I believe that you had no right to print this article. I believe that your reporter had no right to go to the Spade household. This is a very unprofessional article.
You also should not have taken the picture of Ryan Brookman, as the family wished not to have their photos taken. Please be expecting to hear from my lawyer about a slander lawsuit in the near future.
I believe that this magazine is a joke and am very disappointed with the author of this article.
Dennis Chickens Out
How to lay an egg with voters: For the second campaign in a row, Congressman Dennis Kucinich ducked out of the City Club candidates' forum, depriving area voters of the only opportunity to make a side-by-side comparison of the candidates seeking their votes on May 2 [First Punch, April 19].
Kucinich canceled at the last minute a long-standing commitment to debate his Democratic primary opponent, Barbara Anne Ferris, at a scheduled candidates' forum. The congressman blamed an inadvertent scheduling conflict. He claimed that he was hosting two important summits at his Lakewood office on that day and, unfortunately, the meetings could not be rescheduled.
In the 2004 election, Kucinich skipped another City Club forum, leaving his two challengers -- Ed Herman and Barbara Anne Ferris -- to debate each other. Kucinich's excuse was that he wasn't making any appearances outside his district. Funny, because only two weeks prior to that debate, he addressed a Bellingham, Washington peace group.
I might understand the lack of reporting and/or criticism of Kucinich's "invisible man" campaign strategy if he were an effective, powerful representative in Washington, like, say, retired Rep. Louis Stokes or senatorial candidate Sherrod Brown, but unfortunately for us, he's neither.
Lawrence J. McDonald