Langford's decision comes on the heels of a Birmingham News report yesterday that implicated his previous foundation, Computer Help for Kids, in misuse of public dollars. As Birmingham Weekly reported last year, Computer Help for Kids has been the subject a federal criminal investigation as well as a civil suit between John Katopodis and HealthSouth.
Read the full text of the email below.
On Behalf of the Honorable Mayor Larry P. Langford
Dear Friends and Community Partners:
In light of all the negative publicity surrounding my efforts to establish a legitimate board of volunteers necessary for the management and dissemination of computers for Birmingham's children, I want to sincerely apologize for any hardship endured by you and your wonderful institutions these last few weeks.
It was never my intention to disparage the personal reputations of you as outstanding citizens in this community nor the institutions you represent. Therefore, I respectfully request that each of you withdraw your names from the board established to manage the computer program. I will allow members of the City Council to appoint the board so that we can move forward in providing our children with computers in hopes of closing the digital divide and providing technology to our most precious resources, our children.
Never again will I ask anyone, much less persons of your high integrity and intentions, to volunteer their services to our community.
Mayor Larry Langford
via Deborah Vance, Chief of Staff
The email follows another that Katopodis sent to some councilors, BEI board members and others. In that email, he says that starring in porn is not as bad as being a reporter for the Birmingham News. Read that email below.
The appropriate place to answer the unproven allegations in today's Birmingham News is in court next month when my longstanding lawsuit against Healthsouth finally comes to trial. Suffice it to say that if the facts and the law were on the side of Healthsouth, they would not resort to the sleazy tactics they have used, including leaking depositions not filed in court to the News and involving the IRS.
The motivations of Healthsouth are clear, but the timing in all this can only be construed as an attempt to derail one of the Mayor's best initiatives, the OLPC laptop program. It is a very tenuous nexus between what I may or may not have done at Computer Help and the Council of Cooperating Governments eight years ago and a program in which I will have no role, other than initial organization and negotiation, now complete. I can assure you that Mayor Langford had no involvement whatsoever in the management of the computer charity which refurbished and gave away over 6000 computers to disadvantaged groups and individuals. Again we will address all of this in court, albeit not relevant to the central issue in our case.
I do, however, feel compelled to address the most salacious allegation involving the employment of a "pornographic" star. Although Mr. Donais did legitimate work for the charities, among other things maintaining our website, he was never paid with taxpayer funds. And in fact, his background compared favorably to that of others we hired under the federal work release program where we were a certified employer.
These individuals worked at our warehouse and in administrative roles and our intent was to help them get another chance at a productive life, putting their past behind them. Hopefully, none of them have gone on to be investigative reporters at the Birmingham News whose ethics and tactics make staring in a porn movie look almost saintly.
Dr. John Katopodis