- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Crossing the line

Accountability is an important concept in our society and in business relationships — but when does the media, when holding a business accountable for its past actions, cross the line?

I suggest that The Washington Times in its reporting on my company, C&F Construction, has done so, most recently on May 24 in its Page One story titled “Banned paver wins city contract.”

Although the facts were correct, the omission of other facts portrayed an unfair view to the public. Every time your newspaper writes an article about C&F Construction, you include the information about our conviction. We paid for our misdeeds: a restitution fee, suspension and debarments. Additionally, C&F lost more than 11 projects totaling millions of dollars in lost business.

During the administrative process, as chief executive of C&F Construction, I acknowledged that what I had done was wrong and promised never to do it again. As a company, we implemented safeguards so that my employees and I will comply with both the rule and the spirit of the laws.

When the media convicts us over and over again, this not only hurts me as the company’s chief executive; it hurts my family, my employees and their families. It is unfair to say that we committed certain acts without adding that we paid the price and highlighting the processes we put in place to avoid making the same mistakes again.

I understand that the effect on our business, including possible loss of business that eventually could be fatal to us, is not your concern. However, closing C&F was not the sentence imposed on us by either the courts or the D.C. Debarment and Suspension Panel. We paid our penalty. Yes, we should be held to heightened scrutiny, but do so thoroughly and fairly, not with quick hits in the press.

We, of course, are not the first to have committed corporate misdeeds. Some of America’s largest companies have had criminalactionsbrought against them. Everyday mention of General Electric, Lockheed Martin or Halliburton does not, at every reference, include their convictions. Small businesses such as C&F Construction do not have the deep pockets of those corporate giants but should be treated just as fairly.

We have paid the price for our misdeeds and would welcome measured scrutiny, not the casual and callous references you have made in the past. The next time you write a story on how C&F Construction won a contract to repair one of the District’s potholed streets or repair a water line, think about the impact of your words, however brief. The power of the pen is great; use it fairly.

FLORENTINO GREGORIO

Washington

Darkest Europe

Though I agree that “• nly a morally strong Europe can once again revive its economy and take more responsibility on the international stage,” I want to explain why Europe is “constantly blaming the United States for anything that goes wrong in the world.” (“A Godless continent?” Op-Ed, June 15).

European socialists and ex-communists want to build up Europe in opposition to the United States and actually turn the European Union into a worldwide Socialist Union.

I remind everyone of the socialist-communist pact, possibly more than 100 years ago, against capitalism. The socialists, with many communists on board, have retaken the challenge of world domination, and the United States, being the biggest obstacle in the way, is therefore blamed for everything. It is part of a global strategy modeled on the old communist revolutions but played at world organizations such as the United Nations.

Here at home, for example, the American casualties in Iraq are given front-page coverage, while the 70 people murdered every day are hidden in the inside pages. The fact that 2,000 murders in a town have not been investigated in the past few years is just ignored.

That way, whole populations are brainwashed in anti-Americanism while their own governments rob them blind.

Socialist governments in Europe are openly anti-God and repeatedly have attacked Christianity in policy and in practice. That is why, among Christians in Africa, we talk of darkest Europe.

PAUL SABINO

Benoni, South Africa

Stem-cell scruples

Concerning the article “Kerry, Nobel winners slam Bush on science” (Nation, yesterday), I am disturbed by Sen. John Kerry’s vow to lift the ban on federal financing of new stem-cell lines.

Genetic science has great potential for either serving or degrading humanity. Its proper use requires moral reflection and the establishment of moral limits.

There are many uses of genetic engineering, such as “somatic cell” therapy, that are morally acceptable. In this instance, a genetically determined malfunction in a particular kind of human body cell is corrected using genetically altered cells. The goal is to serve human life and human dignity.

“Germ-line” therapy performed on early human embryos is more problematic because it alters the basic genetic constitution of the person and all of his or her future offspring. This type of therapy requires using reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization to produce embryos in the laboratory, where they can be observed and manipulated. Here, a relationship of domination of researchers over their embryonic subjects exists that not only opens the door to new threats against life, but is contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.

Genetic screening used for the deliberate destruction of human embryos can never be justified because here we are dealing with murder.

All governments have a moral obligation to protect human life in all phases of its existence from conception to natural death.

PAUL KOKOSKI

Hamilton, Ontario

South African perils

Monday’s front-page special report, “Violence besets rural South Africa,” was informative. I recall the years before apartheid when South Africa and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) were front-page news every day. However, since South Africa’s change of government in 1994, there is very little reporting on conditions there. After reading your report, it becomes apparent that words in the South African government have different meanings from elsewhere in the world.

According to your report, crime there and in neighboring Zimbabwe, along with “land reform,” involves the displacement of white families from their homes and farms; the beating, stabbing and murder of whites, including women and children; and the stripping of basic human rights — including the right to own property, the right to work, the right to live in your own home, the right to raise a family and the right to equal justice.

Isn’t this genocide?

If a person cannot read between the lines to see the truth of what is going on in South Africa, examine the words of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe; his public statement is clear enough. Mr. Mugabe said, “Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy. They think because they are white, they have a divine right to our resources. Not here. Never again” (“In a bid to keep power, Mugabe again assails white ‘enemy,’ ” World, Dec. 15, 2000).

Good people of all races should work urgently to put an end to crime and “land reform” in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

MICHAEL LAMPIRIS

Gaithersburg

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