Rev. C. J. Matthews Tax Issue Reignites Controversy With Call and Post and Plain Dealer Over Aunt Jemima Cartoon Of Sen. Turner

Submitted by JournalistKathy... on Sun, 09/18/2011 - 04:51.

 The Rev. Dr. C.J. Matthews

 

U.S. District Attorney Steve Dettlebach

From the Metro Desk of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)


The Rev. Dr. Charles "C.J." Matthews, senior pastor at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Cleveland, has been charged with failing to pay $90 thousand in IRS income taxes collected by the mega church between Oct. 2005 and Jan. 2007 on the wages of church employees, and Black leaders for the most part are remaining mum over it. And U.S. District Attorney Steve Dettlebach, who brought the charges, is said to have befriended and hung out with the popular pastor who has led the church for 23 years and is a respected Civil Rights leader, only to have turned on him later, sources say.


Also president of the United Pastors in Mission, greater Cleveland's most powerful venue of Black clergy, Matthews, 60, was urged by group members not to step down, but told them at a recent meeting that he is being charged and that "I will be okay if I have to go away."

 

Prosecutors say Matthews, who was not indicted but charged as an information because of his cooperation with federal prosecutors, allegedly used the collected tax monies that he allegedly did not hand over to the IRS for personal expenses, an allegation elevated because he and his wife  own a home worth more than $500 thousand in Solon, a Cleveland suburb. And it does not help that Mt. Sinai, with a congregation of 4,000 at one time, sits at 75th St. and Woodland Ave. across from King Kennedy Estates Housing Projects in the heart of the ghetto, though it is not unusual for prominent Black preachers of major metropolitan cities to live flamboyant lifestyles.

 

Matthews has friends, and enemies too, angering the leadership team at the Call and Post Newspaper, Cleveland's Black press, after he and the Rev Dr. Marvin McMickle, senior pastor at Cleveland's prominent Antioch Baptist Church, publicly challenged an editorial cartoon that depicts State Sen Nina Turner (D-25), a Cleveland Democrat, as an Aunt Jemima.

The dispute with Turner and Call and Post officials, namely associate publisher and editor Connie Harper and general counsel George Forbes, who is also the long time president of the Cleveland NAACP, began brewing after the lawmaker, as the only prominent Black politician in the county, joined Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason and the Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper in pushing Issue 6, a government reform measure that Cuyahoga County voters overwhelmingly approved in 2009.

The newly adopted county reform measure replaced the previously elected county sheriff, auditor, recorder, clerk of courts, coroner, engineer and three-member board of commissioners with an elected 11-member County Council and elected county executive, now Ed FitzGerald, the former mayor of Lakewood, Oh., and a former FBI agent. Black leaders have said that Mason crafted Issue 6 with an all White team of county movers and shakers and that the county executive has too much power, and that the Mason posse gerrymandered the 11 county districts to the detriment of the Black community because only one council seat is guaranteed to be won by a Black, though four Blacks were ultimately elected with C. Ellen Connally, a retired Cleveland Municipal Court judge, subsequently elected as council president by her peers.

“They gave all the power to one White man. They gerrymandered the districts and Nina Turner was the only Black they consulted,” State Rep. Barbra Boyd (D-11) told The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com at the time the controversy was at its hottest moment and following FitzGerald's election last year. And Forbes took on Mason prior to the adoption of Issue 6 saying he could not show how Blacks would benefit with Mason saying that Issue 6 is needed because of public corruption by some of the ousted elected officials and accusing the local NAACP president of being "disingenuous."

 
And the Plain Dealer did little to quash the situation, running articles and editorials that called for the community to boycott the Call and Post over the Turner fiasco, with some Black leaders saying that it was the hypocritical Plain Dealer itself that led the way in stereotypical cartoons against Blacks, Black women in particular.
 
Since Matthews' tax troubles were made public this week the Plain Dealer at its online venue of Cleveland.com reiterated the Aunt Jemima controversy in an article about Matthews, reigniting the fight between Ohio's largest newspaper and the state's Black press, with distributions in Columbus and Cincinnati, in addition to Cleveland, though Call and Post officials refused then and still now to honor the request by Matthews and the United Pastors in Mission to apologize to Turner. That article at Cleveland.com, however, has since been taken down.
 
Whether greater Cleveland Black political leaders and clergy, Turner and Cleveland Call and Post officials will put any differences aside for the betterment of the Black community on the Turner fallout remains to be seen.

Matthews, who has dined with presidents and other prominent movers and shakers, has a long list of community service also as a member of the the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the National Baptist Convention U.S.A Inc, chairman of Cleveland NAACP's Black Leadership Commission on Aids and board member of the local chapter of the United Way, among other activities. He is expected to plead guilty to the charges and faces prison, but some Blacks say that while he should pay the monies owed, he should not be incarcerated because he has been unfairly targeted.

 
"When the feds get the 10 White judges that former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo referenced when he testified at the public corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Judge Steven Terry earlier this year then we can revisit the issue and for now we want Rev. Matthews set free," said a greater Cleveland Black politician on condition of anonymity.
 
Matthews and his wife have four adult children and three grandchildren.
 
Journalist and Community Activist Kathy Wray Coleman can be reached at 216-932-3114 and ktcoleman8 [at] aol [dot] com
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