By Haddon Libby

While most people are focused on the racist views and plantation mentality of Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, there are other disturbing societal statements embedded within the story.

For Sterling, he has lived in a segregated society for much of his life. When looking at country clubs where the affluent play golf and socialize, people who are Jewish were not welcomed at some clubs that were frequented by other non-Jewish caucasians. We can look around our desert and see the remnants of this at numerous country clubs. While this segregation may no longer be actively in effect, older members are quite familiar with the exclusivity of their clubs and the unwritten exclusion of people who are not like them.

Sterling’s relationship with V. Stiviano aka Vanessa Perez born Maria Perez shows another side of the affluent that few talk about. Quite often successful men have women like Stiviano in their life. Given high profiles and a need for discretion, these men often buy or rent expensive condos so that they can have alone time with their confidantes. Sometimes these arrangements include sex while other times they do not. The overriding objective of many of these affluent men is to have a safe place where they can escape daily demands and relax on their terms.


I was once told by a prominent philanthropist who often engaged in questionable business dealings that philanthropy “buys you the element of doubt.” While it should not be a surprise, philanthropy is not always done for altruistic reasons.

The second humanitarian award that the NAACP was going to bestow on Donald Sterling this month is a classic example of this and another seedy part of society. When Sterling was in trouble for treating African, Latin and Korean Americans unfairly in the renting of his apartments, Leon Jenkins, the Los Angeles Chapter Leader of the NAACP was more than comfortable helping Sterling to buy plausible deniability on the charges brought up by the US Justice Department as well as his long-time employee, Elgin Baylor.

Looking at Leon Jenkins, he was a judge in Detroit who in 1988 was indicted on bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and racketeering charges. Disbarred in Michigan and California, Jenkins has repeatedly sought reinstatement to practice law. Upon his denied reinstatement request last month, the bar questioned if he has the “moral fitness to resume the practice of law.”

Leon Jenkins is not unique. There are many people running non-profit organizations with questionable or seedy pasts. Like the rest of the country, we have our own examples of this in the Coachella Valley.

Others who are to be honored at that May 15th NAACP dinner include “civil rights giant” Wal-Mart and the “Reverend” Al Sharpton, a preacher who has never actually run a church. Sharpton also has a long questionable history including associations with Mafia leaders, massive voter fraud and other corrupt and morally questionable activities.

Donald Sterling was an attorney by training. He used this training to wear out those who sued him. This points out another not too secret fact about the United States in 2014 – money buys you the ability to outlast others in lawsuits. The average person does not have the financial resources or time needed to fight the affluent. While Donald Sterling may have been found “not guilty” in a court of law, we all now know that he is anything but innocent.

The moral of the Donald Sterling story is no surprise. Many leaders in business, politics and philanthropy are not who you think they are. If we see this on a national or regional level, you can be sure that it is happening right here in our own backyard.