NAACP Alleges Bias; African American Chamber Says Audit “Maligns” Contractor
Jul 11, 2013
By Ken A. Epstein
The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce is saying that City Auditor Courtney Ruby’s recent report “maligns” the reputation of Turner Group Construction, a local contracting firm that Ruby accused two city council members of trying to favor.
In a separate letter, the Oakland branch of the NAACP accused the auditor of producing a biased report that is a “character assassination” of the two council members, Larry Reid and Desley Brooks.
In an April 1 letter to Ruby, the African American Chamber says the auditor’s report claims “ that the actions of two council members ‘appear’ to have favored the Turner Group” and also alleges that the company has “conducted itself unethically or committed some illegalities regarding the Oakland Army Base” development project.
“Without any clear and convincing evidence of wrongdoing by the Turner Group, the report unfairly implies that they have been less than legal in their city contracting activities. To be sure, such implication of wronging maligns their reputation,” according to the letter signed by Wil Hardee, president and CEO of the African American Chamber.
“Such implication … negatively impacts not only their ability to do business with Oakland but also other entities as well,” the letter said.
The letters also says“ Fairness dictates that some formal repudiation of this unfair implication is warranted.”
Turner Group is a member of the African American Chamber.
The Oakland Branch of the NAACP also sent a letter to Ruby dated April 5 and signed by George Holland, branch president.
“The bell has been rung, and the damage has been done,” said the NAACP letter. “The audit was extremely biased…(and) you concluded that these two council members violated the law.
“They were found guilty by you, and you even suggest the punishment,” Holland wrote in the letter. “Simply stated, it is a racist attack and a character assassination,” the letter said, which requested a meeting with Ruby to express the NAACP’s concerns.
Meanwhile, the Sutton Law Firm on behalf of Turner Construction has demanded a retraction of statements concerning the firm made in the audit. “We believe that your office’s work on the audit report falls short of Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGA Standards), as the report contains statements which are incomplete, inaccurate and biased,” the attorney’s 14-page letter said.
“The audit report implies that Turner engaged in unethical conduct , when in fact Turner was simply reacting, ethically and legally, to the highly unusual decision of city staff to improperly sole source contracts to a politically influential, out-of-town company,” the letter said.
“We insist that you confirm whether you will make the initially requested retractions and corrections by no later than Monday, April 15,” according to the letter on behalf of Turner Group.