We were surprised to hear Thursday that the Four Seasons Houston has sued the NAACP for allegedly stiffing the hotel out of nearly $100,000 its members racked up for a banquet last July (including interest).
In support of its claim, the hotel provided a printout of an e-mail exchange between the parties showing that the hotel tried at least as early as October to collect on the bill.
The Four Season's Ginger Jones e-mailed NAACP Controller James Williams on October 10, providing an invoice and bank transfer information. The total due was $96,718.13, according to the e-mail.
Jones e-mailed Williams a week later, stating, "We were hoping to [hear] back from you on Monday, but we did not....We would really appreciate some communication from some one regarding this invoice. If there is a concern with the invoice, we would like to get it resolved."
Williams responded that day by stating, "The Finance Department has yet to receive approval to pay this invoice."
Jones followed up on November 7, asking Williams, "Has the invoice gone through some approval processes as of yet?"
Then another Four Seasons representative, Albert Ramirez, chimed in with, "James, [a]t this point, if I do not hear from you today we will proceed with legal action to collect the outstanding invoice, with late fees" and legal expenses.
Apparently, there were no subsequent e-mails.
We must say, Hair Balls can sort of understand the hotel's frustration in not hearing back from Williams, because we had the same problem today. We'd hate to bring it up, in case Williams has some sort of disability that makes typing excruciatingly painful, or if for some reason he can only type with his toes, so it takes longer for him to respond, but he never replied to our e-mail this morning.
When we followed up with a phone call, all he told us was that we needed to talk to the communications department. We didn't understand why, since, as the recipient of these e-mails, and since he's the controller, he couldn't have just cleared things up lickety-split, but such are things. He did say, though, that there was "inaccuracy" in the Chronicle's story. Either that, or he said, "I'm in an Acura, you see," because that's where the conversation ended, and maybe he was driving into a tunnel.
We left a message with the NAACP's communications office, and we have commenced to holding our breath.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.