Is the news so slim these days
that you have to take shots at the Laborers' International Union
of North America (LIUNA) and Arthur A. Coia twice in six days?
We barely get time to correct
the errors of Arnold Beichman ("And he keeps the Ferraris,"
Commentary, Feb. 2), when you repeat them, and get even more wrong
in your editorial ("Another convict for Clinton," Feb.
Well, as many times as you
get the record wrong - and we stopped counting a long time ago
- we will try to correct it. So here it goes, for the umpteenth
and hopefully last time:
* A 1996 congressional inquiry
concluded that there was no "sweetheart deal" for the
LIUNA, and your paper reported that. You've raised the issue and
we've refuted it, attempting to set the record straight over and
over. Isn't this enough, already?
* Mr. Coia's salary as general
president was $250,000 a year, and no matter how many times you
misreport it, it won't be higher. That salary was voted on by
1996 LIUNA convention delegates, and is provided to the position
of general president (not specifically to Mr. Coia) by the LIUNA
constitution. Our board did not increase the salary for Mr. Coia
by 34 percent, or even 1 percent. What are you folks smokin' over
there at The Times, anyway?
* As general president emeritus,
Mr. Coia receives the difference between the pension he earned
with 42 years of service to our union, and the former salary he
earned as general president. You keep misreporting this, and the
amount of his compensation, over and over again. But that doesn't
make it true.
* Mr. Coia was the subject
of multiple investigations, grand juries hearings and depositions
for the past five years. The Department of Justice was relentless
in examining every facet of his life. How anyone can even suggest
that the Justice Department kindly gave him a "parting gift"
simply boggles the mind and stretches the imagination.
* Mr. Coia never slept in the
Lincoln Bedroom, never flew on Air Force One, never played golf
with the president and has not spoken to him in more than a year.
He was a strong supporter of the Clinton administration because
of its stand on issues affecting working families. It is a ludicrous
and erroneous assumption that their relationship constitutes a
close personal friendship.
The Washington Times plays fast and loose with the facts whenever it suits your purposes. Well, at LIUNA, we think enough is enough, and yes, that is our final answer.
LINDA L. FISHER
Director of public affairs
Laborers' International Union
of North America