Then it came time to address Wednesday's incredibly inventive texts, most of which were between Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick.
The exchange that Rataj chose to focus on was one from February 18th 2004 between Ferguson and the former Detroit mayor. Prosecution had used it yesterday, along with several other texts, to arftfully illustrate behind the scenes scrambling to rig water contracts for Ferguson.
Ferguson to Kilpatrick: "Hate to bother you, but you need to hear this. Pratap people stopped negotiation with my people and is trying to give water main job to one of the other contractors." "Pratap people" referred to DLZ, the prime contractors for water contracts under umbrella contract CM 2012.
Kilpatrick to Ferguson: "WHAT?"
Ferguson to Kilpatrick: "Is just what you said before when we are not a part of the decision making, we get fu$#ed no matter how the process started. You still in the office."
Stating that his client was a proud black man who used "street language", Rataj then asked the witness if "my people" couldn't be Willie McCormick, the only other African-American contractor who had not been awarded a contract under CM 2012 at that point.
The increasingly exasperated witness conceded that "it's not a fact but it is a possibility".
To which Rataj retorted "So it's a fact that it's a possibility!"
Rataj went on to ask her if the "we" mentioned later in the exchange couldn't mean black people or even the black race as a whole. "I don't know," answered a visibly irritated Paszkiewicz.
US Attorney Mark Chutkow shot down that whole theory when he pointed out that Ferguson didn't say "our people" to Kilpatrick, another African-American man, but rather "my people."
Jim Thomas, lawyer for the former mayor, also jumped on the whole word interpretation bandwagon. In another text exchange from Ferbruary 18th 2004, this time a 3-way that included former Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller, Ferguson had texted Miller "I him with the boss."
The witness replied affirmatively when asked by Thomas is she took this to mean that Ferguson was with Kilpatrick. Thomas then used a Cyrano de Bergerac analogy to tell the EPA agent that she had incorrectly filled in the blanks on what was being said. Not only that, said Thomas, but it was impossible they were together as the text was sent at 1:28PM and Kilpatrick had a meeting at Gompers Elementary school between 1:30 and 2:30PM that day.
Earlier on the day, Victor Mercado's lawyer Martin Crandall had used his cross-examination of the witness to illustrate that his client was a thoroughly professional individual whose work garnered glowing reviews and who was not in the inner mayoral circle, Kilpatrick's "Kitchen Cabinet."
Chutkow used his redirect of the witness shatter any impressions the jury might have had of Ferguson as an empowerer of fellow minority business owners.
The US attorney asked Paszkiewicz if in her investigation of Ferguson she had uncovered evidence of him actually hurting minority businesses. Yes she replied.
And amongst the minority business owners the government contends suffered because of preferential treatment given to Ferguson is one Tom Hardiman of A & H Contractors.
"Ten million. Five million." That was the refrain that jurors heard over and over today from Tom Hardiman, President of A & H Contractors, who testified that he lost two lucrative contracts totaling $15 million when he failed to give Bobby Ferguson his requested cut on the deal. It was a costly mistake that Hardiman would not make again.
Hardiman testified that in 2003 Ferguson came to his house to discuss a bid proposal his then company Lakeshore Engineering Services had made for a $10 million Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) contract to rehabilitate sewers and outfalls. Ferguson told Hardiman that he should be cut in for 25% of contract 1361 for being "a black guy." When Hardiman told Ferguson they already had their team in place for the contract, Ferguson replied "It still has to go across the mayor's desk."
After consulting with business partner Avinash Rachmale, Hardiman came back to Ferguson and offered him 10 to 12% instead of 25%. To which Ferguson is said to have responded "Ok. We'll see."
Hardiman said he began to worry about the $10 million contract and an additional $5 million water contract they had bid on when things failed to procede in typical fashion. Hardiman said he made repeated inquiries as the what was going on with the contracts and was told only that they were "just sitting on Victor Mercado's desk."
The witness even approached Kwame Kilpatrick's mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, whom he had met in the mid-1980s when she was a state representative. Hardiman recalled her telling him "My son said 'I love you. I handle city business and you handle the government business. Let me handle city business.'"
Hardiman went so far as to enlist the services of Bernard Kilpatrick's Maestro Associates to check into the status of the two contracts. Despite paying Maestro Associates $2,500 in consulting services, Bernard never did tell Hardiman what had happened to them.
Lakeshore Engineering ultimately learned that they had lost both contracts. The $10 million contract ended up with Inland Waters. Bobby Ferguson was on their team.
After that, Hardiman felt he had no option but to turn to Ferguson.