[Marxism] Honor for Tarnished Clippers Owner Turns Spotlight on N.A.A.C.P. Branch

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 1 13:35:44 MDT 2014


NY Times, May 1 2014
Honor for Tarnished Clippers Owner Turns Spotlight on N.A.A.C.P. Branch
By TANZINA VEGA

When the racist words of Donald Sterling spilled out in a recording last 
week, the incident not only caused the N.B.A. to ban Mr. Sterling for 
life, it also drew attention to the N.A.A.C.P.'s small Los Angeles 
branch, which had been planning to honor Mr. Sterling with a lifetime 
achievement award this month.

Officials from the NAACP California state conference are now reviewing 
why the branch was planning to give one of its highest awards to Mr. 
Sterling, who has been accused of racially offensive comments and 
discriminating against blacks and Hispanics before, a person familiar 
with the review said.

At the center of that investigation is the man that many people familiar 
with the N.A.A.C.P. say spearheaded the effort to honor Mr. Sterling, 
Leon Jenkins, the branch president. Under Mr. Jenkins’s leadership, the 
group gave Mr. Sterling a similar award in 2009. On Monday Mr. Jenkins 
announced that the organization had rescinded its award to Mr. Sterling, 
the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, whose foundations have given the 
Los Angeles group at least $45,000 since 2007, records show.

Mr. Jenkins, who became a judge in a district court of Detroit in 1983, 
was removed from the bench in 1991 and then disbarred in Michigan in 
1994 for accepting bribes to dismiss traffic citations, misstating his 
address to lower his insurance premiums, soliciting a person to commit 
perjury and other ethical violations, according to court records in 
Michigan.

After a federal investigation led to an indictment, Mr. Jenkins was 
acquitted of charges including mail fraud, extortion and bribery. But 
the Supreme Court of Michigan, which oversaw Mr. Jenkins’s work, 
conducted its own investigation and concluded that from 1984 to 1987 Mr. 
Jenkins “systematically and routinely sold his office and his public 
trust.” The high court removed him from the bench and he was 
subsequently disbarred in the state.

Mr. Jenkins moved to California but was prevented from practicing law in 
the state in 2001 because of his problems in Michigan. The bar 
association has twice rejected his applications for reinstatement, most 
recently last year, on the grounds that he “failed to establish his 
rehabilitation from his past misconduct or that he presently possesses 
the necessary moral qualifications for reinstatement.”

The bar association, in an opinion published last month, praised Mr. 
Jenkins’s “impressive record of involvement in community service,” 
primarily with the N.A.A.C.P., noting his success in raising $2 million 
to host the organization’s national convention in Los Angeles in 2011. 
But it declined to reinstate him, saying that he had failed to disclose 
a $660,000 debt, had misrepresented himself twice on rental applications 
and had not disclosed a $25,000 loan from a friend, Leland Spencer, who 
was also described by the bar association as Mr. Jenkins’s employer.

Mr. Spencer, a restaurant owner in the Los Angeles area, was also 
scheduled to receive a humanitarian award from the Los Angeles branch of 
the N.A.A.C.P. at the group’s May 15 dinner. According to the bar 
association, Mr. Jenkins never repaid Mr. Leland’s $25,000 loan. One of 
Mr. Leland’s restaurants, the Warehouse, also paid Mr. Jenkins $14,575 
in 2007, the document shows.

The branch president job is unpaid, N.A.A.C.P. officials said.

When questioned by a reporter outside his office in a Culver City 
shopping mall on Wednesday, Mr. Jenkins said, “I’d talk to you if I 
could, but I’ve been told not to.”

The sign above the door of Mr. Jenkins’s office said “Career Center” and 
inside computers were available for people to search for jobs and update 
their résumés.

In an interview Tuesday, Derek Turner, a spokesman for the national 
N.A.A.C.P., described the local branches as “stand-alone organizations 
that do the work that we shape nationally.” But Mr. Turner has declined 
since to respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment about Mr. 
Jenkins, whose legal problems have been reported by news organizations 
in Michigan and California.

One of 52 branches in California – 11 in the greater Los Angeles area 
alone – the Los Angeles branch has for some time operated in the shadow 
of the Beverly Hills-Hollywood branch. Mr. Jenkins became president in 
2009. A review of its website shows no listings for programs, other than 
the May 15 dinner, and the only staff person or volunteer named is Mr. 
Jenkins.

Though independent of the national organization, the local branches send 
a portion of their fund-raising and membership dollars to the national 
office, including 25 percent of the funds raised by the annual Freedom 
Fund dinners, where Mr. Sterling was to be honored, an N.A.A.C.P. 
official said. The Los Angeles branch does not release its annual budget 
to the public.

Among the others to be honored at the Los Angeles branch’s dinner at the 
Millennium Biltmore Hotel are Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and the 
Rev. Al Sharpton. An aide to Mr. Garcetti said on Thursday that he 
intended to attend the dinner. But Mr. Sharpton said in an interview 
that he was undecided on whether to attend.

“I was not told and would not have accepted the award had I known 
Sterling was on the program,” Mr. Sharpton said. “I do not know what 
basis a local chapter or a national chapter would have to give him an 
award twice.”

He added, “We all make mistakes, but to make a mistake twice I think is 
a legitimate inquiry.”





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