PHILADELPHIA - On Thursday, August 5, 2010, the Forum for a Better Pennsylvania, an African-American leadership group, whose membership is comprised of professionals, private-sector and not-for-profit executives and business owners from across the Commonwealth, sent a formal letter to IBEW Local 98 leader John Dougherty, here, requesting an apology, within a one-week timeframe, for the “gratuitous personal attacks” made by him against Ahmeenah Young, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and a Forum member.
In letters to elected officials, media outlets and ultimately to Young, herself, on July 21 and July 23, Dougherty had claimed that the Convention Center was engaged in a “secretive, union-busting agenda;” that Young was one of a series of “inexperienced political appointee(s) attempting to lead the Center – with little success;” and that she lacked convention industry management experience.
In emphasizing Ms. Young’s 20 + years of convention and hospitality industry experience, the Forum, in its letter to Dougherty, said: “Your utterly baseless assertion, that Ms. Young has a ‘lack of managerial experience in the convention industry,’ was poorly researched and pathetically inaccurate… Mr. Dougherty, we all know that there has been a long history of antipathy and disrespect on the part of many in the construction industry toward African-American men and women, who have merely wanted to earn an unimpeded living. You, yourself, as you are also well aware, have been frequently accused of complicity in such behavior.”
The Forum’s letter also provided significant detail with regard to how well union workers have been treated â during construction and ongoing maintenance â at the Convention Center, on Ahmeenah Young’s watch and prior to her promotion to CEO.
“With all of that as background,” the letter continued, “we want you to understand just how indignant and outraged we are when we hear that you have, once again, unfairly targeted an accomplished African-American worker, businessowner or executive, and that you have inappropriately questioned their professional competence.”
The letter, signed by Forum conveners, Robert Archie, partner, Duane Morris; Robert Bogle, publisher, The Philadelphia Tribune;A. Bruce Crawley, president, Millennium3Management; and Donn Scott, executive vice president, Wachovia Bank, a Wells Fargo Company, requested that Dougherty make a public apology to Ms. Young by August 12, 2010.
While the Forum has yet to hear from Dougherty, the organization has received correspondence from numerous local public and private business executives and leaders, in support of Ms. Young and the letter sent to Dougherty.
In a correspondence to the organization, Frank DiCicco, councilman, 1st District, City of Philadelphia, remarked, “Thank you for setting the record straight. It’s been a long time coming.”
In another letter, Christine Duffy, president and CEO, Maritz Travel Company, said she wanted to comment on the situation “representing the voice of the customer:” “It is very disturbing to hear that those who will benefit by the jobs created as a result of the transformation that has occurred under her leadership are not supporting her. This kind of behavior is exactly why Philadelphia needs a strong leader like Ahmeenah who has been willing to stand up and do what is right and not settle for the status quo.”
E. Steven Collins, broadcaster and manager, Radio-One, said, “Ahmeenah is one of the most experienced and professional executive administrators in the nation. She has proved, time and time again, her commitment to all is fair and balanced.”
The Forum’s conveners say that they, and the region’s African-American community, will take a lack of response by Dougherty “very seriously.”
About the Forum for a Better Pennsylvania
The Forum is an affiliation of politically engaged business, civic, professional and religious leaders from across Pennsylvania, who are committed to increasing the quality of social and economic participation by African Americans across the Commonwealth. The ultimate mission of the group is to improve key, economic, educational and social indicators for Pennsylvania, as a whole.