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Min. Rodney: Reported political endorsement not true

Yawu Miller | 10/28/2009, 9:23 a.m.

It made a great headline when a group of 20 black ministers endorsed Mayor Thomas Menino in his bid for re-election.

A photograph in the October 11 Boston Herald showed a group of ministers standing behind Menino, but did not list the ministers who made the endorsements.

It wasn’t until his name appeared on a list in a Banner advertisement endorsing the Mayor that Minister Rodney Muhammad realized he was being counted as one of the 20.

“They lied and said I endorsed him,” an angry Muhammad said in a phone call to the Banner. “No one contacted me to ask if I would endorse him. If they had, I would have said ‘No.’”

Muhammad, who has been raging against Menino on his local access cable program for the last few weeks, said he refused to have his photo taken with the mayor.

Muhammad has been critical of the mayor over his record of not placing blacks in leadership positions in his administration and in the Police Department.

Currently there are just two African Americans heading departments in his administration: Carolyn Johnson, who heads the school department and Larry Mays, who is chief of Human Services. There are no Latinos or Asians.

“There’s no diversity in City Hall leadership,” Muhammad said. “The people who are making decisions are not black or Latino. And that’s a serious problem.”

Menino campaign spokesman Nick Martin said the Oct. 10 endorsement meeting, which was held at the Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury, was clearly billed as a group endorsement of Menino.

“It was very clear that this was an endorsement for the mayor,” he said.

But Imam Taalib Mahdee, who heads up Masjid Al-Qur’an, said he was not told his attendance at a meeting of ministers and the mayor would constitute an endorsement.

“Nobody asked me directly if I would endorse the mayor,” he said, adding that he never makes endorsements.

“I encourage people to vote, but I never let people know who I’m giving my support to.”

Nation of Islam Minister Don Muhammad, whose name also appeared in the endorsement, said he does not make endorsements. He stressed that Rodney Muhammad is speaking for himself, and not as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Don Muhammad said he is working to heal the rift between Menino and the black police officers.

“It’s my opinion that the two sides can come together,” he said. “I think it’s very possible.”