posted by Peter Rossi
Look! Up in the sky! It's a can of soup. It's a pigeon. No. It's the Hyde Park Herald (December 5th edition) to the rescue. The Herald pulled a fast one with an unverified (of course) lead story that there is the possibility of a 2.5 million commercial loan to "bailout" the Co-Op. Those news hounds at the Herald beat a confession out of the Co-Op Board President that there had always been a commercial loan on the table.
I am sorry to let reality intrude on this pipe dream, but there are at least three catches:
By now, even the Herald editors must realize that no one really believes anything that the paper tosses out to stir up the pot. So the story goes on to spin the favorite conspiracy web. Here the villain is that sinister organization, the University of Chicago. An "aggressive and well-coordinated effort to convince Hyde Parkers to shut the Co-Op down" is afoot.
How do we know that the University is behind these fliers circulating around the neighborhood? The source, Hyde Park Co-Op manager Bruce Brandfon, says it is "likely that the University bankrolled this effort." The Herald fails to cite any actual evidence that the University is behind any of the recent efforts to persuade Co-Op members to vote for option A. It's bad enough to splash rumors on the front page but when the source of the rumor has a direct interest keep the Co-Op around so he can get paid for a few more months, you do want to scream.
The first to start pointing fingers at our fair University was James Withrow (who is employed by the University). Mr. Withrow accused the University of stuffing the "fact sheet" that was sent with the ballots down the throats of the Co-Op board. Mr. Withrow has since apologized for his error in his own private blog. So like many NIMBY conspiracy theories it has acquired a life of its own divorced from reality. In a recent email, prominent NIMBY Jay Mulberry aped the University theory stating without a shred of proof, "Option A is represented by a PR machine, financed by the University and supported by workers from Alderman Preckwinkle's office."
But what of it? If it is true that the University is lobbying Hyde Parkers to shutter the Co-Op, why aren't we all shouting-- Go Maroons!
It is hard to understand why the University comes out such a villain on the Co-Op. They have been most patient (some say financially irresponsible) in allowing the Co-Op to have a free line of credit for 1.2 million. They have offered to pay more than 5 million to bring a real grocery store into our neighborhood. The university competes on an national level for students and faculty. On this issue, the neighborhood and University interests are perfectly aligned. If the University wants to pay a subsidy to obtain a better quality grocery store than we would get otherwise, let them spend their money.
Our friends in the Herald editorial suite are mystified by the University. In their editorial, they wonder out loud why the University is so determined to bring a quality store to our neighborhood. Are the Herald editors too tightly wrapped in the NIMBY flag to see the obvious or are they too beholden to the Co-Op ad revenue and worried that Dominicks will not advertise in a tiny paper with an aging and shrinking readership?