As recently reported, Democratic Party operative and retired firefighter Bruce Conner has been accused of being the source of a letter authored by five Syracuse ministers representing predominantly African American congregations. Sent to the Post-Standard’s digital product Syracuse.com, the letter is supportive of Mayor Stephanie Miner’s stance against COR Development receiving tax breaks for their Inner Harbor project.
The problem is the aforementioned African-American Pastors have denied signing the letter. After investigations by the District Attorney’s Office and the Post-Standard, Mr. Conner has been identified as the possible source of the letter. Rev. Nebraski Carter and the Rev. Rickey R. Montgomery Sr. have filed affidavits in this case. Read: Misdemeanor accusation against Bruce Conner
It’s no secret that Conner, a supporter of Mayor Miner received a contract delivering lost luggage from Hancock Airport not long after Miner’s election.
As a result of the accusation that the letter was not sent by those ascribed to it, District Attorney, William Fitzpatrick has charged Bruce Conner with a 2nd degree misdemeanor, “Criminal Impersonation” for sending the letter in the name of the ministers. Criminal Impersonation means to, “Impersonate another by communication by internet website or electronic means with intent to obtain a benefit or injure or defraud another.”
Rev. Nebraski Carter of Living Waters COGIC has stated that he had no prior knowledge of the letter or its contents.
Unfolding like the re-booted Star Wars franchise, the battle between Syracuse and Onondaga County has come at a time when area residents are being asked to consider consolidating with the county.
This action movie has all of the elements; waring development agencies, mysterious letter of questionable authorship, African-American ministers caught in the middle.
An unspoken element of this story is the role played by the daily newspaper; prior to publication they failed to confirm the letters source. The Post-Standard failed to verify information. Information which required confirmation due to the gravity of the accusations contained in the missive.
Print publications will call or email an individual or organization in an effort to determine the letters origin, to make sure it’s authentic. Publications especially print, used to ask for identifying information; name, address, etc. and they would not print anything other than the senders’ name. If this procedure were followed, we would not be hearing about “the letter”. It would have been identified as a political operatives attempt at media manipulation. Those Pastors mentioned represent five of ninety-five churches that exist in the African- American community.
Reverends’, Nebraski Carter, Roosevelt Baums, Rickey Montgomery, Thomas Jay, and Kenneth Reed were listed as signatories of the letter. Of the five, only Rev. Kenneth Reed has stated that he received a copy of the letter. According to published reports, none of the pastors wrote the letter. The following is the text of the letter allegedly sent by Bruce Conner.
The letter published December 21st 2015 – The Post-Standard
Five Syracuse pastors fault COR’s Inner Harbor project
To the Editor:
We are writing in response to COR Development’s recent full page advertisement placed in The Post-Standard. In their letter, the developers state that they have always had the best interests of the community in mind. If that were the case, why have they sought out over $44 million in taxpayer dollars to enrich their company without committing to providing jobs for the poorest residents of our city?
Syracuse has seen progress in the last 5 years: neighborhoods have improved, economic development has accelerated, and our graduation rates have begun to increase. But we are still home to the highest rates of concentrated poverty among minorities in the nation. We still have many young men and women unable to escape tragic, generational poverty because there are not jobs available in their community. These are people who want not only jobs but the dignity of work to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
The redevelopment of the Inner Harbor had the power to transform our community: to build a new neighborhood on the rubble of yesterday’s industry. It squandered its potential to build hope by bringing Syracusans out of poverty. By seeking out tax benefits from OCIDA, COR made the conscious choice to put profits over people. They have chosen money over morality; handouts over humanity. Worst of all, they have lost the respect and trust of so many in our community. Where they had the power to do such good, they cowered to political pressure and self-interest.
Job training for Syracuse residents must be part of the deal whenever a developer receives public benefits of this magnitude. It is not sufficient to say, as one OCIDA member declared, “job training programs exist.” We need to ensure these programs are directly connected to the project so that men and women who are trained can be guaranteed a job on the project once they complete their training.
A trickle-down, “rising tide lifts all boats” approach will not work for our community. We will only solve the crisis of poverty that the city of Syracuse faces when we are able to provide real jobs—right here, right now—for our neighbors. It is shameful that over $75 million of taxpayer dollars has gone to a project that will not provide for the public who subsidized it. COR has claimed they have hired “nearly 20” workers from the city thus far—less than 7 percent of their workforce so far. It is our hope that the missed opportunity of this project can be a lesson to leaders in the future on what must be our community priorities.
Rev. Nebraski Carter
Rev. Roosevelt Baums
Rev. Kenneth Reed
Rev. Rickey Montgomery
Rev. Thomas Jay