When we were working with the African-American communities in South Dallas, a Civil Rights activist told us to be wary of the bogus leaders that greet you “hand out, palm up.”
In a July 4th column, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist John Archibald writes:
[Two Balch & Bingham partners and a Drummond executive] are charged with paying a black lawmaker to convince black people in poor and unhealthy north Birmingham areas to resist federal efforts to clean the damn place up.
It was an effort, testimony has confirmed, in which Drummond coal company, and other companies that could have been forced to pay for the cleanup, tried to head it off at the pass by paying lawyers for Balch & Bingham, who hired Rep. Oliver Robinson to “get our facts out,” as Drummond CEO Mike Tracy put it.
But there was more….
A man paid for community engagement [by the Oliver Robinson Foundation]- $1,500 to $2,000 a month in 2015 and 2016, according to exhibits filed in court – was none other than Hezekiah Jackson, president of the Birmingham chapter of the NAACP. He was paid to promote the “facts” of the potentially responsible polluters who were fighting against taking responsibility for high levels of poisons – lead and arsenic and more – in a community not far from his own.
Because he was trusted. Like Robinson. The whole reason Drummond CEO Tracy couldn’t go into the neighborhood and preach his own gospel was that Balch lawyers warned him nobody would believe him.
They needed a black representative. They got the head of the NAACP too. For an amount, Robinson testified in trial Tuesday, that reached $4,000 a month. Jackson said Tuesday he could not comment, that he had been advised by counsel not to speak on the issue.
Think about how many other leading African-American politicians and leaders in recent years have sold out for 30 pieces of silver. (Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford is just one of many.)
And now, a modern day maneuver, the crooks try to hide behind Non-Disclosure Agreements and attorney-client privilege.
“Hand out, palm up, NDA signed, Mr. Esquire.”