Fayetteville’s dishonored City Councilman Tyrone Williams, along with coconspirator T.J. Jenkins, president and founder of the marketing firm The Wrijen Company, have Booker T. Washington, the late former Fayetteville Cumberland County Commissioner Thomas Bacote and business executive Floyd Shorter all spinning in their graves with disgust and disappointment. Williams and Jenkins are supposedly business and civic leaders of the black community.
Together, they conspired to extort $15,000 from PCH LLC, the development firm heading the $65 million Prince Charles renovation project, by contending there was a problem with the property title, which Williams could make go away for mere 15 grand. It’s both appalling and criminal.
They both are also guilty of using and abusing one of Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s oldest and most honorable and dignified business organizations, the Fayetteville Business and Professional League. The FB&PL is one of the most prestigious and influential organizations in Cumberland County, serving African-American minority business owners and professionals. For over a half a century this distinguished organization has worked diligently in the interests of local minorities by mentoring young people and stressing the importance of education and training. The organization supports entrepreneurism and new business development while encouraging civic and governmental engagement.
Under previous leadership, the League was the catalyst in minority business development and creation. It utilized workshops, networking, partnerships and joint venture programs to take advantage of business opportunities throughout Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the state. Thomas Bacote was one of those leaders. He loved and served the league, spending decades advocating for it.
He introduced the FB&PL to me in the late 90s when I started Up & Coming Weekly. He eventually sponsored my membership into the organization. I was its first white “minority” member. Several years later, the organization recognized Up & Coming Weekly as FB&PL’s Business of the Year. After Bacote’s death, Wilson Lacy, Cumberland County Schools executive director of operations, took the leadership position and shepherded the organization for 17 years.
More recently, the league’s leadership was organized by my dear friend, Floyd Shorter, who died after a brief illness in 2016. Floyd was an amazing man known for his gentlemanly demeanor, sense of humor and perpetual smile. He learned much from Lacy and became a “tour de force” in civic leadership, championing small businesses by mentoring and encouraging black and minority-owned businesses right up to his death. He taught at Fayetteville State University’s School of Business. He lectured. He sat on numerous boards and committees, including serving the Chamber of Commerce, Economic and Business Development and the Crown Coliseum. But, what he really enjoyed was his leadership role with the League. Under Shorter’s leadership, the League grew in both membership and stature. When he was at the helm, the ship sailed smoothly. However, upon his death, the organization struggled – until Jenkins stepped in under the pretense of bringing stability, relevance and leadership to the organization. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be the near perfect example of someone doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.
Jenkins owns a marketing and advertising agency. He is described on LinkedIn as a multicultural expert, consultant, social leader, marketing and advertising maven and “All around good guy.”
After Jenkins took over the leadership of the FB&PL, he and Williams, who had only been a councilman for District 2 a few weeks, approached Jordan Jones of PCH, LLC about the $15,000 pay-to-play scheme they concocted. Jones recorded the entire conversation, turned it over to law enforcement immediately and released it to the media last Friday.
So, this begs the question: When was this scheme hatched? Was it in September, 2017, when Jenkins, as president of the FB&PL, met with Barton Malow, general contractor for the Astros Baseball Stadium, and PCH LLC officials were invited to present contract opportunities to League minority businesses? Was it at this meeting that they concluded Jones and PCH, LLC would be easy marks? Or, could it have been at one of the League’s Community Impact Forums, where it advocates for business and economic development, civic responsibility, civic involvement, ethnic pride and education?
I applaud Jones for his actions, as I do Fayetteville Attorney Karen McDonald for her protective and proactive actions on behalf of our city. I’m confident it will be resolved properly and in a timely manner.
Williams must resign. He is not our kind of people and cannot represent District 2 or any part of our community. The same goes for Jenkins. He must resign from the Fayetteville Business and Professional League for the League to continue its mission and traditions of advancing the successful development of minority businesses while elevating and directing smart, savvy, hardworking, honest and ethical minorities to positions of influence.
This is for the betterment of our community and for future generations. We must start judging people, especially candidates, by their character, integrity and intelligence – not by the color of their skin.
Leaders lead. Leaders make mistakes. But, they make honest mistakes.
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
Editor’s note: In the March 28 issue of Up & Coming Weekly, it was incorrectly reported that Evolution Ink tattoo artist Earl Noble had won season 6 of SpikeTV’s “Ink Master.” Noble had the honor of competing in season 6 but did not win. This statement acknowledges that Noble was not aware of or responsible for the error.
Photo: Tyrone Williams