Since the early 1970s, from April through October, the Major Taylor Cycling Club of NY/NJ (formerly L&M Cycling Club) was a regular fixture at Newark Penn Station on Sunday mornings. Sisters Lucille and Mildred Smith of Brooklyn, New York founded this premier cycling club of color out of a need for people of color to gather and ride their bikes in a welcoming, fun loving environment. Nothing serious, no politics, no B@!!$#!%. With the blessings of the remaining sisters The Major Taylor Cycling Club of NY/ NJ name was adopted in June of 2003 and became an associated member of the Major Taylor Association of Worcester, Massachusetts later that month.
Like many organizations, the growth and popularity of the Major Taylor Cycling Club NY/ NJ bred ill will on more than one occasion. First in Brooklyn and now in NJ. Remember how Jesse Jackson turned on then presidential hopeful Barack Obama during a recording of a live television talk show with a colleague? The famous, "Cut his nuts off" line uttered by Jesse Jackson to his talk show colleague recorded on his mic unbeknownst to him. Why would Jesse feel that way? Because he was not the chosen man of color to be electable to the highest office in the land? Jealousy? One man of color looking to take another man of color down. Does that sound familiar? The media jumped on it and played it all over the airwaves. Jesse's own son distanced himself as far from his father as he possibly could. The corruption here is consistent with that of politics. Irvington’s City Council President John Sowell (low level politician) of Team Irvington and Newark Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (an attorney in Roseland, New Jersey and a low level politician) are at the forefront. The two were not alone in their quest for control of the cycling club. Demetrice Miles and James McCarther, close friends of John Sowell and Grace Spencer, have also proven to be in collusion throughout the process.
In a meeting called by John Sowell on December 28, 2008, between club members and two existing executive board members, John Sowell and his friends felt we should begin to hold elections, start committees, attach a blog to the website and such (Now, I know for a fact they would have used the blog as a tool to criticize everything we proposed and as a tool to spread their own propaganda anonymously). A board member brought up an issue he was adamantly against and that was the notion of incorporating the club. It was clearly stated to this board member by more than one individual in attendance they were no longer pursuing any type of incorporation. But, the writing was already on the wall and the board knew they had to act in order to protect the club as it is, “A laid back group of people who get together to ride on Sunday”. Who needs to deal with the IRS?
January 7, 2009, a board member sent an email to John Sowell, his cohorts and those who attended the December 28th meeting stating they are free to leave the club and begin one to their own liking under a different name/ title. On January 21, 2009 all monies collected by James McCarther for annual dues and given to Robert Lara at the December 28, 2008 meeting were returned in order to bring closure to the situation and amicably part ways. But we could tell something was afoot. Unbeknownst to the club’s board members, John Sowell nor his followers felt they needed to honor their words and instead, John Sowell, a former Treasurer with the club, decided without the knowledge or consent of its present board members to create a business entity named “Major Taylor Cycling Club of NY/ NJ, a New Jersey Non- Profit Corporation” on January 8, 2009. The incorporation was confirmed by a high ranking member of the Association and a link sent to me so that I can see it for myself. The foursome was very well aware the club name did not belong to them, but that did not seem to matter. Their need to pilfer control of an established name far outweighed any sense of decency toward people they have spent countless hours with during previous cycling seasons. As I was told, John Sowell wanted the marquis and it did not matter how underhanded he had to be in order to get it.
The board members were only made aware of this action from a source that attended another meeting called/ held by John Sowell and his co- conspirators on January 25, 2009, (18 days after they were sent the email advising them it would be better if they left and started a club to their liking under a different name). Actions were taken immediately by the board members to have this New Jersey Non- Profit Corporation’s name changed so as not to incur any legal or financial issues in the future. Former club President- Robert Lara, VP- Freddie Thomas and Herman Greene of Major Taylor Cycling Club of NY/ NJ enlisted the services of Attorney David Bursik of Wayne, New Jersey in order to pursue an infringement case against John Sowell, L. Grace Spencer, Demetrice Miles and James McCarther. A document attained by David Bursik confirmed Council President John Sowell did indeed create the entity with L. Grace Spencer, Demetrice Miles and James McCarther named as Trustees.
February 10, 2009, David Bursik sent a letter on the board’s behalf via certified mail to John Sowell and his three Trustees asking this group to cease and desist with this infringing activity. There were no responses from John Sowell or his co-conspirators (Trustees). David Bursik then advised us how expensive this case will be to pursue. Is it worth it? Would you pursue a case such as this one against a corrupt group because of the principle? In this economy who can afford that? So, what is the next best thing for the present board to do? Expose their actions to the public. The people/ voters can conclude what type of character their elected representatives really possess. Honest and ethical or corrupt and dishonorable. If folks still followed them, good riddance. They were then so emboldened as to mail out their 2009 literature and club schedules bearing the name “Major Taylor Cycling Club of NY- NJ” on the envelope and schedule to people on our database! We have been given originals from members that received them!
April 21, 2009, L Grace Spencer decides to contact the boards former Attorney David Bursik in order to request the removal of his Cease & Desist letter from the clubs website (majortaylornynj.com/ Case vs. John Sowell tab) or at least to redact the letter. She was not calling to proclaim her innocence in any way or the inaccuracy of the charges leveled against her and the other three named in the dispute ( I guess they are proud of their actions), but to request personal/ private information such as home addresses be removed and to say the board posted that letter on the site with malicious intent. She makes that claim because as she put it in her letter to our attorney, “considering that your clients are aware that the name Major Taylor Cycling New York New Jersey is not being used by me or any of the individuals who are named in your letter suggests that the reason for publishing the letter may have been malicious in nature”. In the meantime someone is watching them as they removed our club name from their blog that very same afternoon as I am speaking with David Bursik and replaced it with their present name in an effort to cover their tracks. Remember what L Grace Spencer wrote when she contacted our attorney, "considering that your clients are aware that the name Major Taylor Cycling New York New Jersey is not being used by me or any of the individuals who are named in your letter suggests that the reason for publishing the letter may have been malicious in nature”. So, we complied and replaced her private address with that of her very public government address, which is for public view on the local government website. But, aren't politicians public figures? Just Google her name. In the meantime, on April 18, 2009 (just three days prior to her contacting our former attorney and calling us malicious) members of her club were in Newark’s Branchbrook Park handing out 2009 ride schedules titled, “Major Taylor Cycling Club NY- NJ”. Someone gave us a copy of that schedule as well and confirmed where they received it.
L Grace Spencer’s title with John Sowell’s club is VP of Rides. Her duties include originating this ride calendar. Is L Grace Spencer not aware of the title they are using on the calendar she is responsible for? The calendar her club members were handing out? Remember what she wrote when she contacted our attorney, "considering that your clients are aware that the name Major Taylor Cycling New York New Jersey is not being used by me or any of the individuals who are named in your letter suggests that the reason for publishing the letter may have been malicious in nature”. Would that be considered a lie on her part? Her calling us malicious liars? Would a NJ attorney/ politician willingly be less than truthful with another attorney/ citizen? The facts speak for themselves!
May 28, 2009, The harassment by L Grace Spencer of our former attorney David Bursik continued when he advised us he was again contacted by her and asked to have the letter removed. He shook in his boots and turned on us. Threatened to report me to the Major Taylor Association. It was a good laugh because I responded to his lame ass threat and lack of follow up on the matter ( Since David never looked at all of the evidence we e-mailed to him days before showing who was actually lying) and visibly cc'd our long time contact at the MT Association. Just so he can see I was not worried about that lame ass threat. If he would have bothered to look at the evidence when he received it, he would have had all the ammo he needed to cut her up on the phone. I was more disappointed in his lack of "cojones". Lawyers, you just can't trust 'em. We had a good laugh as it was so comical. The evidence against them was all over the place on the internet and print and given to us by people who attended the meetings as well as received mailings and handouts and we had it all documented. Yet she figured she could just call us liars and everyone would believe the princess. We removed the letter and replaced it with this accurate timeline of events with names. She doesn't have a lawyer to harass now and she is not trying to contact any one of us with any complaints.
PS: We watched with amusement the conversation on their first blog that caused them to shut it down. Someone had the audacity to complain about being left out on the road by the club that touted their mantra to "Never leave a rider behind". Well, that did not last long as I knew they would not baby sit anyone. Then they tried to throw us in on that one as well in an effort to deflect attention away from themselves by saying how much better off they are to be in a club where they can vote in the hierarchy, pay their dues... and then get left ass out on the road : ). What more can you ask for?! Political promises those must have been, so no one should have taken those seriously... But then two ladies in particular (Kim and Grace) proceeded to post comments back and forth on that same blog about not letting the comments/ complaints stay up for public view. WTF? Everyone could see you communicating back and forth on the blog and discussing the cover up ladies. You just posted your intentions! Duh. They can't allow complaints that expose their true character to be viewed by the public I guess. If you are discussing that on- line, you have pretty much proven that your blog was nothing more than a tool for propaganda and self promotion ( as we knew it would be), not for their membership to express any type of concerns or dissatisfaction. But, when someone in their club dared to hit them with honest criticism... take that damn blog down!!! Too late. As the saying goes, "Be careful of the holes you dig for others as you may fall into one of them yourself"
April 2, 2014, Received an interesting phone call today from a member who no longer lives in the states! He reported that the good ol' group of folk's from NJ decided to lift (cut & paste) a picture from our website that included Lucille & Mildred ( the namesakes of the L&M Cycling Club, from which we came) and add it to their website. Not surprising as the original four still lack in taste and originality. And then they lifted this as well from our New Hope Ride flyer.
"In 1992 the New Hope Ride was renamed "Raoul Alphonso Memorial Ride". Raoul Alphonso was a cyclist with the L&M Tourers but was killed when someone tried to steal his bike. The New Hope Ride was the last ride Raoul made with L&M Tourers before his life was so needlessly taken"
Way to go. Continued laziness and additional plagiarism... I'm not surprised. How can Major Taylor, NJ's website claim “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED” when you cut & paste a picture from our website and add it to your site and plagiarize copy from our New Hope Ride flyer without asking?
April 9, 2014, Myself and another club member received an email from our former Treasurer and general petty politician John Sowell today. Was instantly warned that it contained a virus and deleted it. He can’t defend his actions as he has earned very little respect among his cycling peers, so he does whatever he can to try and retaliate. So petty Sowell. So, when will they vote you in as club president? I remember hearing early on by your own cohorts that it will never happen. McGreevey, Corzine, Sharp James and Christie. You’re in great company as a NJ politician. You fit right in.
April 13 2014, We're met in Penn Station this morning by NJ folk's. Their contingent always complained how they hate to start rides after 8:30am and our ride was scheduled to start from there at 9:30am, so they obviously had something up their sleeves. So here comes James McCarther who begins to suggest to Herman Greene how we should all get back together and have one big happy schedule because it is obviously our fault there are three area clubs now. Not their need to try and steal a club name that caused legal action, our former Treasurer John Sowell who brazenly registered a non profit with our club name without our knowledge ( A ranking Major Taylor Association member pointed that out to me and sent me the link) and then John stole and used our mailing list for his club activities (that is illegal), Grace clearly lying to our attorney (We have her letter to our attorney as proof) and they even tried to steal our history and club colors for their own use. We have saved it all! Just in case you need a refresher make your way right back up to the top of this post and read why there are three clubs. But, James seems to have developed a case of practical amnesia about everything- the meetings held and all of the other events. James even said he does not remember anything about the final meeting we attended where he said John could not make it because he was out of town, but then as the meeting ended John walked into the room?! WTF is up with that? John was in another room listening the whole time, but would not attend? We're not interested in riding with you all, we're not looking for attention, nor do we have your celebrity mindset. Save that for your personal "Look at me" posts. "We're legendary" you once wrote about yourselves. Really? As a ranking club member said after this latest encounter with James, "If you are willing to lie to me, you will also steal from me". And you people continue to do both with smiles on your faces and then try and greet us with b@(($#!t and a handshake whenever possible. "Some Black folk's just can't get along", they used to say about me. They really meant, "Some Black folk's will not go along with our BS, so let's try and make it seem as if it is the fault of the MT NY/ NJ leadership" I don't think so...
For board members Freddie Thomas and Herman Greene, the Major Taylor Cycling Club of NY/NJ is a cherished cycling institution left in their charge by Lucille and Mildred of L&M. They were there from the very beginning (1973).
John Sowell and his counterparts’ ill morality far outweigh their illegal actions. I call it Black on Black crime, as all these brotha's would have never tried any crap like this at 5BBC or NYCC.
If there is anything in this description of events that is inaccurate, any of the four people named in this dispute can feel free to write and dispute the facts. We would of course publish both sides as to not hide anything. New Jersey politicians are widely viewed as some of the most corrupt in the land. And many people familiar with the situation were not surprised at all by their actions. “What makes you think your lawyers and politicians would be any different... because they are members of the club?” We just chuckled, shrugged and shook our heads. Lawyers and Politicians...
NEVER GIVE UP TO NO ONE
Major Taylor Cycling Club NY/NJ,Major Taylor NY, formerly L&M Tourers, is an affiliated member of the Major Taylor Association.