Builders Fire Back at O'Reilly for His Disparaging Remarks
When Bill O'Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor, made some outrageously disparaging remarks in his Sept. 21 broadcast about “corruption in the home building industry” in the Katrina rebuilding effort, he immediately drew the ire of NAHB President Dave Wilson, who wrote to him to set the record straight. Wilson then called on NAHB members to do the same.
The following is a sample of what they had to say:
I Am a Home Builder and I Am Not Corrupt
I am an infill developer who builds affordable housing in distressed neighborhoods for low- and moderate-income families.
I revitalize neighborhoods, rescuing families from substandard housing. I am a mortgage lender, insuring that our families are protected from predatory lenders and their devastating products. I am the incoming president of the Greater Columbus Homebuilders Association, representing some 450 member companies.
I am a home builder and I am not corrupt.
Your interview with Donald Trump in which you stated that “corruption in the home building industry is huge” was inaccurate, inflammatory and an excellent example of bad journalism.
Home builders built this great nation. We employ millions and contribute billions to the gross national product. We are leaders in our churches and communities, and we are generous in our philanthropy.
Most of us are small businesses, many are multi-generational, and we are proud of our products.
Are there bad builders in the industry? Yes, of course, just as there are bad journalists. To carve out an entire industry as corrupt and in need of FBI oversight to rebuild New Orleans was wrong.
As is often the case, it will be the construction industry that pulls our country out of this crisis. When that happens, I expect a heartfelt apology from you.
Cathleen J. Williams, president & CEO
I Challenge You to Back Up Your Words About Contractor Corruption
Dear Mr. O'Reilly:
As a longtime viewer of your program, I am greatly dismayed by your diatribe against home builders as being corrupt. Your rant that FBI officials should investigate home builders in the area is astonishing for its level of ignorance about building in general and market forces specifically. You must be watching too many movies.
Corrupt or bumbling contractors may fit with predictable comedic TV and movie scripts, but this doesn't bear any resemblance to reality. Your assertion on national TV is biased, irresponsbile and insulting to millions of hardworking Americans who take pride in creating beautiful homes that are the bedrock of our nation's family life.
Where's your proof of corruption? Can you name one state attorney general's office investigating widespread corruption? Is the Department of Justice forming a task force to take on carpenters on the take? Has there been a host of new national or regional laws passed to address this menace that is undermining our nation? Where is this corruption you were yelling about?
Home building is the most competitive industry in the United States today, not to mention the one engine keeping our economy afloat. Ever noticed how there's no "Big Three" in home building as there is in automobile manufacturing? That's because the industry is so competitive on a regional and neighborhood level that few nationwide companies can compete in multiple markets and survive — let alone prosper.
Every trade that has a hand in building a home is determined by bid, which means to the lowest bidder goes the job. Then city or county building inspectors closely watch every aspect of that home's construction to determine that the home meets stringent building codes. These inspections are required by lenders before the banks disperse money to the tradespeople to get paid for their work. This process happens again and again with dozens of trades — framers, electricians, plumbers and concrete contractors to name but a few. What's more, this is difficult, dangerous work often conducted under less than ideal conditions.
Do contractors need to make a profit to stay in business? Heck yeah. But where is the corruption?
Of course, from time to time there are misunderstandings between clients and contractors that can end up in civil court — I'm sure you can relate to this kind of "misunderstanding" after the dust up you had with your female associate producer. Thank God for that hefty checking account, huh?
And from time to time, unscrupulous contractors do bilk clients out of their hard-earned money. But rarely do these contractors last. Word spreads and spreads fast in the construction community. Shady characters are driven out of business, plain and simple.
I challenge you to back up your words about contractor corruption — or issue an apology on national TV!
I might add that this industry is solidly conservative and you may have just endangered a large market share of viewers.
Charles Bevier, editor
Building Systems Magazine
Instead of Disparaging Us, Strap on a Toolbelt and Help
During your recent interview of Donald Trump, your characterization of the hard working men and women who house this nation's citizens goes beyond one's comprehension.
Your comments show a blatant lack of knowledge about the home building process and the contributions made by honest business people in the community who are the backbone of this nation's economy and society.
Among the hardest hit victims of the Hurricane Katrina are many of our fellow members of the 220,000-strong National Association of Home Builders. They, too, must put their lives and businesses back in place before they can move on to reconstruct their neighbors' and friends' homes.
At the very least you owe a complete apology to this industry. I would rather see you put on your tool belt and work alongside our builders and cause something positive to happen as opposed to your feeble attempt to disparage honest and hardworking citizens of this great land.
Kendall L. Buck, CAE
Executive Vice President
Home Builders & Remodelers Association of New Hampshire
You, Sir, Owe Us an Apology
Your comments regarding the housing industry were uninformed and biased. You risk your credibility when you fail to use the buffer God gave you — that space between your brain and your mouth.
You may want to review this builder's efforts to help the victims of Katrina (see photo below). You, sir, owe us an apology.
Larry Kemick, president
Kemick and several associates flew, at their own expense, several Cesnas loaded with relief supplies from Florida to hurricane victims in need in Mississippi and Louisiana.
What O'Reilly Said: To find out what O'Reilly said and how you can join Wilson in firing back, click here.
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