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Unlike the local leaders interviewed for Stephanie Mencimer’s article (“Blind Spot in a Business Suit,” 11/19), I have known Max Salas both before and since he moved to Washington five years ago. Despite several inaccuracies and misleading conclusions, most of the facts of the story are essentially true. Unfortunately, Mencimer presented still-pending legal issues from Salas’ former businesses in a one-sided, sometimes misleading way. However, in Mencimer’s efforts to concentrate on Salas’ past transgressions, she missed an opportunity to explore how a businessman known for sharp practices elsewhere can return from the depths to become a true asset to our community.
Positively, the article concludes that Salas’ commitment to the D.C. community over the past five years has been substantial, effective, and well-motivated. There was not a single reference or quote from a local with anything negative or suspicious to say about Max’s conduct or intentions since he arrived here. He has been an outstanding member of the ABC Board, Rotarian of the Year, and a guiding figure for Latino businessmen, working hard for the “little people.” Salas doesn’t talk about his day job with government officials and the political candidates he supports. Mencimer tries to spin this behavior negatively, while in reality it just confirms that his participation in the political arena is not for personal gain.
Imagine what Washington would be like if everyone here who has done something seriously wrong in the past tried to make up for it the way Salas has. I hope the fallout from your article does not discourage other talented individuals who have made mistakes from choosing the path of redemption through voluntary, unpaid community service. Most of all, I hope that your expose doesn’t discourage Salas from continuing with his diligent efforts with the Recreation Wish List Committee, the Rotary, the Chambers of Commerce, the Latino Community, the Democratic Party, and so on. We need him.