A Texas Tech group is calling for Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson to apologize for comments he made about Lubbock Power and Light CEO Dr. Gary Zheng.
In an open letter sent to the mayor on Thursday, the TTU Chinese Faculty and Staff Association says Robertson continues to portray Zheng as dishonest. They say that's despite the Ashcroft Law Group's report that found no evidence of wrong-doing.
They go on to suggest race has played a role in the mayor's comments.
In response, Robertson says he's troubled the association would attempt to make this a racial issue. He says the only mention of race has been made by the association.
The mayor says the real issue is powering Lubbock in the future, and it has nothing to do with anybody's ethnic background, only the ability to perform job duties.
Zheng also sent us a statement. It reads in part that he appreciates anyone's support, but he says it's important for everyone to know he did not have any part in organizing or encouraging the letter.
OPEN LETTER TO LUBBOCK MAYOR GLEN ROBERTSON
April 24, 2014
As members of the TTU Chinese Faculty and Staff Association and the Chinese and Chinese American communities in Lubbock, we have been deeply troubled by the series of events revolving around Dr. Gary Zheng, Lubbock Power & Light's CEO and Director, since October 2013. Dr. Zheng was first insinuated by you as being involved in corrupt and criminal activities on October 17, 2013, and continued to be portrayed as being dishonest and deserving demotion on March 16, 2014, even though not a shred of evidence has been found against Dr. Zheng in the Ashcroft Law Group's "The Investigative Report for Lubbock Power & Light" released on March 13, 2014. At this point, we want to know why you have continued to smear Dr. Zheng.
We were first stunned by the news report on your allegation that "people could lose jobs" and "they could go jail" on October 17, 2013. As we were waiting for the result of the legal investigation, we were bombarded by innuendos, speculations reported as facts, and misleading comments represented as official investigation. On March 16, 2014, you made another public statement: "They could have fired him in October and I think they should have." It dawned on us that you first assumed Dr. Zheng to be guilty and then started fishing for evidence. As no evidence can be found, you just want to have Dr. Zheng fired on the basis of your own allegations.
Dr. Zheng's ordeal reminds us of the McCarthyist style of witch-hunt against Dr. Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Lee was first slanted by the New York Times and other media as a Chinese spy, then subjected to various interrogations by the Department of Energy, and finally jailed in solitary confinement for 278 days. On September 13, 2000, federal judge James Parker not only publicly apologized to Dr. Lee for the way this case began and was handled but also drew a lesson for the executive branch of the government: "They did not embarrass me alone. They have embarrassed our entire nation and each of us who is a citizen of it." Even though Dr. Lee reached a settlement with the federal government and the five news organizations for $1.65 million in 2006, the damage done to him, to his family, and to all Chinese and Chinese American communities across the country can never be fully measured by the monetary compensation. We hope that Dr. Zheng's experience will not become our local version of the Wen Ho Lee case.
Chinese came to North America in as early as the 1830s. Chinese workers not only helped build the transcontinental railroad in the United States in the late nineteenth century but also helped create the technological miracles in the Silicon Valley in the late twentieth century. Despite Chinese American contribution to the prosperity and diversity of the United States, they were socially, culturally, and institutionally discriminated against in history, particularly during the Chinese Exclusion Era from 1882 to1943. Today, it is against the law to discriminate any individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin, but implicit racism against Chinese is still rampant in our culture and society. Dr. Zheng has now been victimized twice by racial prejudices while working at Lubbock Power & Light; he was first referred to as "a Chinaman" at City Council meetings back in 2003.
In 2012, Congress officially apologized to the Chinese and Chinese American communities in the United States for the damages done under the Chinese Exclusion Act. We demand that you publicly acknowledge the conclusion of the Ashcroft Law Group's "The Investigative Report for Lubbock Power & Light," which clears Dr. Zheng of any wrongdoing, and apologize to him, his family, and our Chinese and Chinese American community in Lubbock. Respectfully,
Daan Liang, President of TTU Chinese Faculty and Staff Association
Qing Cao, Qin Chen, Yong Chen, Xinzhong Chen, Zhen Cong, Zhaoyang Fan, Qing Feng, Weimin Gao, Jiawei Gong, Miao He, Juyang Huang, Qing Hui, Hongxing Jiang, William Lan, Changzhi Li, Guigen Li, Jing Li, Kunyu Li, Wei Li, Xu Li, Jingyu Lin, Zhangxi Lin, Hongchao Liu, Yunjuan Luo, Yanzhang Ma, Beixin Ni, Jenny Qiu, Beibei Ren, James Sheng, Jian Sheng, Huazhong Shi, Yuan Shu, Huaxin Song, Lianfa Song, Yiyuan Tang, Alex Wang, Dong Wang, Shiren Wang, Shu Wang, Zhixin Xie, Wenwei Xu, James Yang, Le Yang, Linda Yin, Jessica Yuan, Hong Zhang, Hong-Chao Zhang, Kai Zhang, Weiwu Zhang, Yan Zhang, Yuanlin Zhang, Weiping Zhao, Jianjun Zheng, Huijun Zhu, Xiaotong Zhu, Yu Zhuang, Delong Zuo (Alphabetical list by last name)
RESPONSE FROM MAYOR:
I received your letter concerning Gary Zheng. I will not comment on Gary's employment or the controversy surrounding him during the last five or six years. Although I am an ex-officio member of the electric utility board, I am not a voting member. The City of Lubbock Charter is clear that the EUB has the sole authority over the employment of the CEO of our electric utility department. As a member of the EUB, a current ex-officio member and in my role as Mayor, I certainly due have opinions on the action the board should have taken. I will continue to act in my capacity as Mayor and as a board member and attempt to do what I think is in the best interest of all Lubbock citizens.
I am very troubled that you would attempt to make this a racial issue. The only mention of race in this entire issue has been made by you and your association. Your attempt to divert attention from the real issues facing Lubbock and our electrical department by making racist comments and allegations is counterproductive to finding solutions to serious problems we face as a growing and vibrant city. Instead of answering your demand, I would instead simply ask that you refrain from attempting to make this a racial issue in what appears to be preparation for future litigation.
This issue is much bigger than Gary or myself, it is about the future of our great city's electrical generation and distribution. It has nothing to do with anybody's ethnic background, only the ability to perform job duties. These questions can only be answered by the EUB, and I hope you will join me in an attempt to take personalities and racial allegations out of the equation.
I did reply to all in this email, but I deleted Council Members and EUB members in order to not violate state open meetings laws.
Glen C. Robertson
STATEMENT FROM ZHENG:
"My sole focus is working with the Electric Utility Board, my staff at LP&L, the Mayor and City Council of Lubbock and all interested stakeholders in this community to tackle the very real challenges before us. I am appreciative of anyone's support but it is important for everyone to know that I did not have any part in organizing or encouraging the letter distributed by TTU Chinese Faculty and Chinese American community of Lubbock."
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