In a letter to the Hattiesburg American, Councilman Kim Bradley addressed a previous letter to the editor titled, “A cry for liberty and injustice in Hattiesburg.” The author of that letter, Samuel Earl Wilson, considered Hattiesburg “paradise” and asserted that the recent convictions of Charles Bolton, Linda Bolton, and Kenneth Fairley could, “tarnish the city’s reputation.” Wilson also asserted that the trio are only going to prison because they are prominent members of the community. Wilson called for the three convicts to be set free. Bolton and his wife have yet to report to prison.
Bradley, the former president of the City wrote a response to that letter, and asked an interesting question;
“Where is the outrage that taxpayers, all taxpayers, were defrauded?”
A similar question could be asked of Kim Bradley, who for years pushed a completely unnecessary wastewater project called Groundworx. If put into service, Groundworx would have cost residents $120 to $140 million dollars in upfront capital cost, with total cost including principal and interest coming close to $600 million dollars over 30 years. The city council spent many millions of dollars pursuing this unnecessary pork barrel project, which would have enriched both family members of council members Kim Bradley and Councilwoman Mary Dryden, as well as major supporters of the Mayor and Council members. According to divorce documents dated 2008, Dryden’s son-in-law had a personal and financial interest in Tatum Timber, which was to receive $18 million over 30 years in lease payments for the use of their timberland for irrigation.
A question can also be asked of Bradley et al.
Where is the outrage that taxpayers, all taxpayers spent many millions of dollars pursuing a completely unnecessary 30 year $600 million dollar UNCONSTITUTIONAL agreement with Groundworx, when it ultimately would have bankrupted the city while it enriched relatives and supporters of council members and the Mayor?
At one point, Bradley waited for Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado to leave town in order to call a special meeting with the intentions of raising citizen’s sewer rates in order to to help guaranty funding for the Groundworx company. The contract signed by the council and Mayor was later ruled unconstitutional by Judge Ronald Doleac, after local area resident, Tom Blanton, intervened and won the constitutional argument.
Where is the outrage that Kim Bradley led our council to sign an unconstitutional contract, in order to help fund a private corporation’s unnecessary project, on the backs of poor residents higher sewer rates?
Bradley’s letter to the editor is below. Click on the title to link to the Hattiesburg American.
Kim Bradley, Special to the American
This newspaper recently published a letter to the editor titled “A cry for liberty and justice in Hattiesburg.” The letter writer considers Hattiesburg paradise, but says the convictions and prison sentences of the Rev. Kenneth Fairley and Charles and Linda Bolton could tarnish the city’s name and reputation.
Paradise, it seems, may be lost.
The letter writer, Mr. Samuel Earl Wilson, claims injustice. His message is that these three citizens went to prison “over money and the federal government” because they are prominent members of the black community. He calls for them to be set free.
His letter includes quotes from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and stories of discrimination from the Hattiesburg of his youth, but then closes with this remark: “Well, time and the world changed and black Americans are given thanks, respect, honor and dignity. Let’s not retrogress.”
That point exactly is why Mr. Wilson’s letter was profoundly disappointing to me. As a native of Hattiesburg, a City Council member and business owner, I cannot help but feel that this type of message poisons the entire community. Mr. Wilson clearly is a well-educated man. With great respect, I ask that he consider again the quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. that he shared with us.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
I agree. Fairley and Charles and Linda Bolton were found guilty in federal court based on irrefutable evidence. It would be injustice, then, if they had been found innocent; setting them free, or allowing them to escape accountability for their actions, would be a threat to justice everywhere. Bad choices inevitably bring consequences. That’s life, and that’s fair. If you or I choose to do wrong, the odds are very good that sooner or later we will have to face people who matter — family members, employers, law enforcement, the courts — and account for our actions. In the end, we must answer to ourselves, and we must answer to God.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Fairley and the Boltons committed crimes and hid them for years under cover of darkness. Light showed all of us how they did it and how much they gained.
Where is the outrage that taxpayers, all taxpayers, were defrauded? How can these convictions, in cases conducted meticulously by the federal government, simply be dismissed as racism?
How is leveling a charge of racism not an act of divisiveness, even hate, toward this community?
With respect to these particular cases, Mr. Wilson’s cry for liberty and justice in Hattiesburg is baseless. The dictionary defines liberty as freedom from governmental restraint or interference in engaging in the pursuits or conduct of one’s choice, to the extent that they are lawful and not harmful to others. Justice is defined as the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals. The truth is that Rev. Fairley, Charles and Linda Bolton, and we citizens all have seen a textbook example of liberty and justice put into action here in Hattiesburg.
Of course we are saddened when we learn of these types of corruption cases. Unfortunately, headlines worldwide reveal every day that good people are capable of making terrible mistakes and errors in judgment. However, we can be grateful for the knowledge that the federal government conducts a thorough examination of records and witnesses and that we can trust in the results.
In closing, I would like to offer one final quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
These words are powerful, and I offer them in the hope that we can move forward for the good of all of our citizens and to make this city truly our paradise here on earth.
Kim Bradley represents Ward 1 on Hattiesburg City Council.