Not only does the 1990’s eraÂ hate speechÂ of Muhammed Akil, chief of staff to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, raise eyebrows, but his business enterprise, which dates back to his radical days, and a non-profit with a revoked 501(c)(3) status, raise serious questions that remain unanswered.
By Michael Shurin/Hudson County View
On Friday, October 5, 2014, Hudson County View received an anonymous envelope containing early-to-mid 1990â€™s press clippings of Muhammed Akil.
Two articles, one previewing a lecture, and another covering it, detail Muhammed Akil, of Lost Link Enterprises, spewing a homophobic slur multiple times, including one directed at Jesus Christ, while labeling the pope the â€œanti-Christâ€ and â€œarch-devel,â€ and declaring that â€œall white people have a little Hitler in them.â€
Also included in the envelope was a 2013 article from The Lima News, profiling Muhammed Akil, the son of Henry Luster and Starr Luster. The article also mentions Akilâ€™s age, 43 at the time, as a graduate of Lima High School and Bowling Green State University.
According to a 1992 article in The Lima News, Muhammad Luster, a recent graduate of Lima High School, and black cultural leader at Bowling Green State University, speaking in regards to race riots sparked by the acquittal of police officers involved in the beating of Rodney King, said:
â€œYou see those fires go up in Los Angels and Lima, according to the newspaper, and across the nation, itâ€™s a beautiful thing,â€
â€œNow they see weâ€™re not talking about turning the other cheek. Weâ€™re talking about an eye for an eye, a head for a head, and a life for a life.â€
According to Ron Hagaman, assistant to the mayor of Lima, Ohio, quoted in a study from Teaching Tolerance, a Project of The Southern Poverty Law Center, there was â€œviolence in the airâ€ in Lima after the infamous Rodney King verdict.
Not only do radical quotes from Akilâ€™s past raise questions, but so does a business under his name him from the time, Lost Link Enterprises (LLE).
According to a 2001 article published by Earl G. Graves Publishing – “In 1993, Muhammed Akil founded Lost Link Enterprises (www.lostlink.com), a lecture management agency whose market is more than 5,500 colleges and universities and that counts such renowned speakers as Tony Brown, Tavis Smiley, Dick Gregory, Ivan Van Sertima, Sister Souljah, and Sonia Sanchez among its clients. Last year, Lost Link’s revenues reached almost $400,000.”
According to a document obtained by Hudson County View – Lost Link Enterprises INC is located at the address 19 Wayne St. Suite 300 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Chamber of Commerceâ€™s website says Lost Link Enterprises Inc. is located at the address 293 Grove St in Jersey City, New Jersey.
According to companyandreview.com, LLE is also listed at 293 Grove with an industry title of Management Consulting Services Business Services.
The city did not confirm if Muhammed Akil, who serves as Fulop’s chief of staff, is the same Muhammed Akil who owns LLE based in Jersey City.
In addition, there was no confirmation on whether or not LLE counts firms and/or individuals receiving contracts and/or doing business with the City of Jersey City among its clients, and if LLE employs municipal employees of the City of Jersey City or non-profits associated with the city.
The final issue deals with a non-profit founded by Akil, More Than A Race (MTR).
According to a donor list obtained by Hudson County View, contributors to the non-profit changed drastically from 2012 to 2013Â (2013 More Than A Race Donors – minimum donation $1,000.00).
As well, MTR falsely promoted itself as a non-profit 501(c)(3) in thank you letters to its donors which were dated three months after the revocation of the 501(c)(3) status, and more than a week after the IRS publicly posted.
Donors to MTR raising the most eyebrows include Senate Place, LLC, CME Associates, and DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP.
Senate Place, LLC, which according to NewJerseyBids.com owns 25 Senate Place, received a tax abatement from the City of Jersey City, donated $1,000.00 to MTR.
According to the Hudson Reporter, the first vote to approve was postponed because of public outcry against the project and developer.
CME Associates, an engineering firm, donated $3,770.00 to MTR. According to the Jersey Journal, CME has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts from the Jersey City MUA.
DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP, a law firm that represented Spectra Energy, which built a gas pipeline that goes through Jersey City, donated $7,540.00 to MTR. According to the same Jersey Journal article, the firm has also received lucrative contracts from the Jersey City MUA.
As a candidate for mayor, then-Councilman Fulop returned campaign funds from the firm and its employees because of Spectraâ€™s status as a client.
According to sources, MTR did not host a trip for 2014. A template fundraising letter obtained by Hudson County View shows MTR Executive Director Richard Moon attempting to solicit funds through the Jersey City Youth Foundation.
Documents filed by MTR attempting to regain 501(c)(3) status show that John Thieroff, who served shortly as Deputy Mayor of Jersey City for Fulop, and is a commissioner on the Jersey City MUA Board, is a trustee of MTR.
Gerald Balmir, Jr., who won the June Democratic Primary for District 3 Hudson County Freeholder with Akil as his campaign manager, is the Chairman of the Jersey City MUA Board.
Balmir is also a leader in his union, LIUNA, and an open supporter of the Spectra gas pipeline.
Marie Tauro, former Vice President of the Jersey City Tea Party Alliance, and close political associate of Mayor Fulop, is also a commissioner on the board.
Akil deferred comment to City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill, who, along with Fulop, did not return calls or emails seeking comment from Hudson County View.