Harry Alford

By Harry C. Alford
NNPA Columnist

In my travels I have met many outstanding warriors. The late Arthur A. Fletcher and Parren J. Mitchell have cultivated the nation’s landscape in terms of economic empowerment. There has been no greater fighter than the late Rev. Louis Coleman in Louisville. The late Earl White had San Francisco changing for the better with every step he made. Lumon Ross in Buffalo is still going strong and taking no jive from the gate keepers and opponents of economical equity. You won’t find a stronger warrior than Arnold Baker in New Orleans.  The same can be said for Larry Ivory who has earned respect from all elected officials in Illinois – from the governor on down to precinct officials regardless of political persuasion.  There is no one who can possibly mess with Dorothy Leavell in Chicago and get away with it. These greats and legions of others give us hope for the future and a better world for our children.

Recently, we were informed of another warrior living in St. Paul, Minn.  Pastor Fredrick Newell is of that same ilk.  He has led a fight to change the discrimination against people of color and all of the exploitation it entails in this twin city.  The data proves that St. Paul discriminates against people of color and its insistence on feeding an “Industrial Poverty Complex” within its city limits is remnant of Jim Crow. They won’t own up to their vile treatment of Blacks. They insist on a race neutral program called the “Vender Outreach Program” instead of affirmative action.  It is a failure and per the Civil Rights Act, Section 3 of the HUD Act and decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court the city must change.  They refuse but Pastor Newell is well on his way to make them change.

He is merging proper disparity studies (showing negative impact on Blacks), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act complaints and Section 3 of the HUD Act into a rolling assault against those who refuse to stop their discriminating ways.  Section 3 requires that recipients of HUD funding (cities, counties, state, public housing authorities, etc.) must set aside 10 percent of all construction contracts to Section 3 Businesses.  Also, 3 percent of all other contracts to Section 3 businesses and 30 percent of all new jobs generated from that funding to be Section 3 residents.  Any person living under the poverty level or living in public housing is a Section 3 resident.

St. Paul’s problem is that they have refused to enforce Section 3, ignored recommendations from disparity studies and have denied all decent opportunities for the Section 3 community.  Pastor Newell made a very clever strategic move.  He has incorporated the Whistle Blowers Program and the False Claims Act into his advocacy.  These tools brought legal action into the “arena.”

Federal authorities concluded:

“To qualify for HUD grant funds, the City was required to certify each year that it was in compliance with Section 3. The City then made claims for payment, drawing down its federal grant funds. Distribution of funds by HUD to the City was based on the City’s certifications. Each time the City asked HUD for money, it impliedly certified its compliance with Section 3. At best, the City’s failure to take any steps towards compliance while continually telling federal courts, HUD and others that it was in compliance with Section 3 represents a reckless disregard for the truth. We believe its certifications of Section 3 compliance to obtain HUD funds were actually more than reckless and that the City had actual knowledge that they were false.

Thus, as of November 22, 2011, HUD, the Civil Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota all strongly supported intervention in Fredrick Newell’s case, believing it was worthy of federal assistance. There was no documentation that it was a marginal case or a close call.”

Using these two tools, Pastor Newell has proved his case. St. Paul should be paying the Section 3 community more than $200 million in damages.  Our Justice Department is running games on the matter of damages but they cannot dispute that Pastor Newell’s claim has merit.  I want you all to read the Official Congressional Staff Report on this matter.  It will show you that the Justice Department participated in a betrayal.  It be found here: http://ow.ly/nW57X .

This report proves Pastor Newell’s claim and condemns Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez betrayal.  For this dastardly deed, President Obama has appointed Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor.  Perez avoided the rule of law and got a major promotion for it – go figure.

We are joining forces with Pastor Newell and will show Black chamber chapters how to emulate the above wherever it is needed.  Fredrick Newell is a bona fide hero.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.  Website: www.nationalbcc.org.  Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.