Ministers Say Demonstrations Will Continue
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ About two dozen black ministers representing some of the city’s largest churches have stepped up their criticism of City Manager Philip Hawkey for firing a black Community Development Department official.
The ministers said Sunday they would file a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to suspend the city’s share of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds. The suit also would draw attention to the ″unjust″ way blacks have been treated by the city, they said.
″We are unified as never before,″ the Rev. Floyd Rose, pastor of the Family Baptist Church, told about 350 people during a rally at the St. Paul Baptist Church.
He said civil rights leaders do not condone mismanagement, but that Bernard ″Pete″ Culp, former renewal operations commissioner, was not given a hearing to explain the problems in his department.
Hawkey fired Culp on Friday, claiming he was responsible for many of the housing program’s deficiencies. Another black who was director of the Community Development Department was demoted, to special assistant.
The Rev. Robert Culp, Bernard Culp’s brother, told supporters the ministers’ lawyers would seek a preliminary injunction to shut down the city’s Community Development Department. The shutdown would allow their lawyers to investigate how the city’s has spent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds since 1979.
″We have been saying the problems are larger than the issue of community development. It goes into serious questions about the way federal funds intended for minorites have been spent since 1979,″ said the Rev. Ronald Barnett, one of 13 civil rights leaders arrested last week after refusing to leave Council chambers in protest of the suspensions.
Barnett said the present city administration has ″turned a deaf ear when it comes to hiring and promoting minorities.″
Mayor Donna Owens said Sunday she was concerned about the response to the firing by Toledo’s black community, and said she would try to set up a meeting with the black ministers this week.
A preliminary report released by the city Friday concentrated on problems in the Community Development Department’s home ownership program, which receives the bulk of its money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The report contends there were irregularities in grants awarded to at least 50 people. It also said grants were awarded to people who live outside the city, and that the city lent $29,000 to a man so he could buy a home from Culp’s son, William.
A yearlong investigation of the city’s housing programs by HUD revealed deficiencies that included double-billing for some improvements and failure of houses to meet city codes after being rehabilitated.