Moore gives fiery speech

Published 1:55 am Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Rev. David Moore speaks Friday during the Beaufort County NAACP’s annual banquet in Washington. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

The Rev. David Moore warned his Washington audience that his remarks might be controversial.

He didn’t disappoint.

In a speech to the Beaufort County NAACP’s 30th-annual Freedom Fund Banquet, Moore, a former Beaufort County commissioner, let loose on everyone from President Barack Obama to the Beaufort County commissioners and the Washington Daily News.

Moore faulted the president for not doing enough to help the black community.

“I’ve been a little disturbed with Brother Barack,” said Moore, pastor of Metropolitan AME Zion Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Moore added he’s proud of Obama, but criticized the president because “he has loudly proclaimed that he does not have a black agenda.”

“And I don’t see us at the table like I thought we would, like I thought we should,” Moore continued, adding, “As many folks as we’ve got without jobs somebody ought to say something.”

He said black people are so enthralled with Obama “we’re giving him a pass, we’re giving him a free ride, and that’s just not right.”

“I don’t just need a black president,” Moore said. “I need somebody who’s going to do something.”

Moore pointed out Obama nominated a Latina person, Sonia Sotomayor, for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Moore also expressed his disapproval with conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who is black.

“We still don’t have a black on the Supreme Court,” he said. “Now, I know you all are thinking, ‘Yes, we do.’ No, we don’t.”

Next, Moore took aim at the Beaufort County commissioners for obtaining financing for a $4.8 million move to, as he saw it, “bail out the hospital.”

He was referring to the commissioners’ decision to seek $4.8 million to buy buildings owned by Beaufort Regional Health System.

Moore indicated the commissioners should have considered giving money to Agape Community Health Clinic.

Public records list Moore as chief executive officer of Metropolitan Community Health Services, the nonprofit parent of Agape Community Health Clinic and Agape Dental Clinic.

From December 2008 through December 2009, Beaufort County government granted Metropolitan $279,000 to help get the dental clinic up and running.

On Friday night, Moore suggested that contribution didn’t go far enough toward helping Metropolitan provide medical help to low-income people.

He made clear his conviction the commissioners should have approached him about the clinics’ financial needs.

“Not one of them had the guts to say, ‘Rev. Moore, do you need anything at that clinic that’s serving the black folk,’” he said.

He also took on a March Daily News article in which he said he was talked about “like a dog.”

Moore said Agape has served more than 1,000 patients and leveraged the money it has gotten into $1 million worth of services.

He added Metropolitan has never had “a finding” č an accounting problem č in a government audit.

“I wish that my commissioners would understand that this thing is bigger than me,” he said.

Near the conclusion of his speech, Moore said one thing slavery taught black people is how to trust in God.

“No matter what you say about me, my God is bigger than you are,” he said.

More than half of the approximately 165 audience members gave Moore a standing ovation, while other members of the audience remained seated.

Among those standing to applaud was Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson, a self-described conservative Republican.

“I respect Hood Richardson because I know he’s going to fight me,” Moore had said, adding that Richardson shouldn’t fight him on every issue just because he’s a Republican.

In a post-banquet interview, Moore was asked why Metropolitan had to undergo staffing changes at the dental clinic when the nonprofit has been able to take in millions in grant funding over the years.

Federal records show that in 2008 Metropolitan reported $892,899 in contributions and grants with total revenue of more than $1.29 million.

In December 2010, Moore told the Daily News the dental clinic would be expanded thanks to a $900,000 Facilities Improvement Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Early this year, Moore confirmed to local media the clinic was having to scale back on staff, but denied rumors the clinic was on the verge of being shut down.

“My dental costs were just too high, so I had to reconfigure,” Moore said in March. “What we’ll do is we’ll go with the dentist and dental assistant, and then we’ll contract with a dental hygienist, and they’ll come in once a week and do the cleaning of teeth.”

On Friday, Moore said he couldn’t keep the full dental staff on because of high-salary issues.

“That’s why I cut the staff,” he said.

He asserted the clinic’s good works hadn’t received enough attention in the Daily News.

“The $279,000 was wisely spent,” he said, referring to the county’s grant.

Jerry Langley, chairman of the Beaufort County commissioners, was in attendance at Friday’s banquet.

“He’s entitled to his opinion,” Langley said of Moore. “I can say this much about being a county commissioner: Yes, I’m a black commissioner, but I still have a fiduciary responsibility. You just can’t take tax money and give it away.”

Langley said the county shouldn’t give Metropolitan any additional money.

“There are other causes in the black community that don’t even ask for that kind of money,” he said, pointing out the commissioners decided last week to cut county funding for the Washington Community Care Coalition and the Food Bank of the Albemarle, among others.

The WCCC and the food bank help provide food for needy people.

“We couldn’t even keep them funded,” Langley said.

Speaking of the $279,000 for Agape, Langley commented, “He said that’s all he (Moore) needed for one time. … We’re not giving him any more. He can forget it.”

Commissioner Ed Booth, also in attendance Friday, concurred with Langley.

“We’ve done the best we could for the people of Beaufort County,” Booth said. “Anything else he wants let him come up before the county commissioners and ask for it like anybody else. We do not do backroom deals.”