Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

ALAS, POOR SPITZER! HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLING?



March 10, 2008

I didn’t make it to the court today in the Sean Bell case. I had an early morning hospital visit. Since it was near 1pm when I left the hospital, I decided to catch up on office work and resume court appearance the next day. I talked to Anthony, Mr. Bell’s constant assistant, via telephone. He said the crime scene investigator was still on the stand. The defense attorneys were trying to discredit his story, saying he had botched the job.

As I was watching CNN Television, there flashed across the screen breaking news. Governor Elliott Spitzer was accused of being part of a prostitution ring. To say it was shocking news, would be the understatement of the Century. Governor Spitzer, who had led the crusade against fraud, corruption, yes even prostitution, was now being accused of the very thing he so publicly fought against. Yes, Mr. Right was now being accused of being Mr. Wrong. I could not tear myself away from the television.
Later Mr. Spitzer held a news conference. With his devastated wife at his side, he admitted he had violated the confidence and trust of his family and the American people. He had even disappointed himself. He wasn’t specific, and he didn’t answer questions. According to reports that followed, Mr. Spitzer had arranged to meet and did meet a prostitute at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The prostitution ring named the Emperor Club, VIP, called him Client #9. If the above is true, Spitzer might have committed more than a moral violation. He might have broken the law.

The reaction to Mr. Spitzer’s admission was swift, vengeful and even gleeful in some quarters. There were few supporters. After all, this man boasted of his campaign against corruption. He called himself a ‘steamroller.” The press and his admirers bought into his moral campaign. He was nicknamed the “Sheriff of Wall Street.” Time Magazine called him the “Crusader of the Year.” He was called “Mr. Moral Man.” There was even talk in some places that he could be the first Jewish president. Now, his critics and people he helped to convict were jumping all over him.

Black people, in particular Mr. Kermit Eady, will never forget how Mr. Spitzer, then New York State Attorney General, took over the Black United Fund (BUF) and gave the leadership to others. BUF was, and is to my knowledge, the only Black employee check off organization in New York. It is a program where employees identify a charity they wish to support, give consent for their money to be directed to that charity and their employer is bound to comply with the request.

I was a founding member of BUF and served as member of the Board of Directors till the end. I had several telephone calls from Mr. Spitzer during those times. He said his office had found improprieties in how the leadership had conducted the business of the organization. He said he did not want a public exposure nor did he want to pursue the matter with possible criminal charges. If staff and Board of Directors would resign, he would (in fact had all ready) pick a new Board of Directors. First I resisted. Eventually, I relented.

While I was on the Board of Directors, I had not lived up to my responsibilities. I knew little about the organization’s operation. In fact, I was seldom notified of any Board of Director’s meetings, or if there were meetings at all. I had scant information regarding the operation of the organization. So, not knowing what was going on and not having the time or energy to resist, (I had other more pressing priorities) I agreed to resign.

My criticism of Mr. Spitzer was his inconsistency. I was a member of another organization, The Association of Brooklyn Clergy for Community Development (ABCCD) for about five years. I had been elected chairperson. I brought the organization from a $30,000 budget, small storefront office, a scope of service that entailed reference programs, to a million dollar budget, a suite of offices, programs which consisted of building and/or participating in building 500 units of new and renovated houses, a viable AIDS program and other services.

After my resignation as chairperson, I continued as a member of the Board of Directors till I no longer received notices of the meetings. When I inquired, I was told I was no longer a member of the Board of Directors. I began to hear from reliable sources of improprieties and mismanagement of ABCCD. Reluctantly, I consulted with Mr. Spitzer regarding my concerns. I felt I owed it to the people who had funded and supported the organization to get to the truth. If there were no wrongs, great! The organization should be encouraged to continue on. If on the other hand there were wrongs, then the organization needed to be overhauled. It was too valuable to dissipate or be destroyed by mismanagement and even worst.

I met with Mr. Spitzer’s staff several times at his direction. It became clear to me they had no interest in pursuing my concerns. And, it became clear to me that Mr. Spitzer was driven by ulterior motives in his capture and appointment of BUF. He demonstrated to me a striking undeniable inconsistency. Some people might use stronger language to describe him.

But even after the above consideration, I refuse to join the condemners. I believe in, and try to follow, the biblical teaching, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” “Be careful how you judge for ye shall be judged by the judgment you render.” There is a saying attributed to Evangelist Dwight L Moody, who, pointing to a drunk and said, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” The Bible teaches, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And again, “Oh God, if thus should mark iniquity, who could stand.” No one knows what one will do in the future. This is why those who profess to be saved, converted, redeemed or born again will readily admit, it is only by the grace of God through faith that they are what they are. Saints are simply forgiven sinners. The lesson from the fall of Mr. Spitzer is try to be right, do right, pursue right, but be merciful and forgiving.

In the aftermath of his admission, a press conference was held on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, where Mr. Spitzer resigned as governor of New York State. On Monday, March 17, 2008, at his request, a Black man, voted lieutenant governor, named David Patterson, according to New York State law became the governor of New York State. Officially, he was governor when Spitzer resigned.
I’ve known David and his father, Basil, for many years. He, David, is smart, in fact smarter than smart; clear and sharp thinking. He has a balanced approach to politics. He is tough with incredible tenacity. He knows how to negotiate personality systems. He is adept at getting things done. He respects all people, but he is a true son of Africa.

This is a strange political season. One Black man, legally blind, via stunning circumstances has become governor of one of the largest states in the United States of America. Another Black man, with an unusual background and a strange name is a serious contender for the Democratic Party’s Nominee for President of the USA. And, at this point, some polls have him defeating Senator John McClain for President, if elections were held now. For those of us who are religious, this calls to mind the words of a poet named William Cowper, “God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, he plants his footsteps upon the sea and rides upon the storm…!

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures, predatory lending and/or sub prime lending.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page www.holnj.org.

Attend the Demonstration against Genocide in Darfur, Sudan on Friday, April 4, 2008. Assemble 12 noon at the Sudanese Mission. We will walk to the Isaiah Wall and from there to the Chinese Embassy to begin a rally at 1pm. The Chinese Embassy is located at 350 E. 35th Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenues.

For further information contact Brother Omar Wilks at (718) 596-1991 or (718) 797-2184.