Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Report From the Final Co-Op Board Meeting


posted by Richard Gill


My wife and I attended the Dec, 17 Co-Op Board meeting. About 75 people attended, and I estimate at least 25 percent of those were employees.

By my watch, the meeting ran three (3) hours and 18 minutes, broken down as follows: 2 hours, 48 minutes of discussion from the audience; 25 minutes in executive session; 5 minutes of open session, during which the Board voted.

Media were there - Tribune, Channel 7, Herald, maybe others. They stayed for the whole meeting.

Based on audience misbehavior at the meeting, I want to commend: the entire Board for valor in the line of fire; James Withrow for unhesitating adherence to the election results and doing, with a heavy heart, what he thought was right; Jay Mulberry (not a Board member) for openly stating his favorable assessment of the vote-counting process, though the voting results clearly disappointed him; and Board president Jim Poueymirou for extreme courage under fire, patience and restraint in the face of insults and abuse, and clarity in his explanations. Similar praise for Alderman Preckwinkle, who was there and spoke about the realities and was peppered with audience abuse for her efforts.

The final Board vote was 7-to-1 in favor of Option 'A', with Director Mueller casting the lone dissenting vote. Director Stanek was absent.

I won't try to chronicle the whole meeting (you had to be there). Here are just some of the highlights.

Several shouted charges of collusion, corruption, being on-the-take, leveled at the University, the Board, Certified, Alderman Preckwinkle. Most - but not all - of this came from employees and a few "activists". This then was followed by cheering and feel-good yelling. Interruptions by employees got so bad that Bruce Brandfon, the store's general manager, had to try to get them to exercise some civility.

There was much audience speech-making among themselves, much rehashing of history and many words about matters beyond the Board's control.

There were audience attempts to belittle and discredit the election.

Sue Walker, of the Herald, announced that Bruce Sagan would pledge a half-million dollars - which the Board explained more than once was too little, too late.

After a number of audience charges that the Board had not involved enough people, James Withrow asked them where they had been all the years that nobody was volunteering for committee work.

Many in the audience demonstrated either a total misunderstanding of economics, bankruptcy and the law, or willful denial of all of the above. Many made wishful remarks about what if they had more time, what if they could ask for this or that; a lot of what-ifs, which more than one Board member explained, more than once, doesn't pay the bills.

Several in the audience made statements about how the Co-Op had been a community center, a democratic institution, etc. As has been previously observed, the sentimentality went far beyond anything that would be felt for a store. It was more like the Co-Op had been Hyde Park's Mother Ship, and it was now imploding.

There was also much negative talk about Treasure Island and Certified.

Jo Reizner and Susan Campbell, of the U of C, attended the meeting and stayed throughout. They were asked to speak. Ms. Campbell briefly and clearly (amid interruptions) stated the University's position.

Near the end of the audience session, someone suggested that the Board had to vote against Option A because of the general anti-Option A sentiment in the audience. Someone shouted something like, "How come nobody here is speaking for Option A; they didn't even come to the meeting." At that point, I felt I had to say something. I raised my hand and was called upon to speak. First, I stated my name, said I voted for Option A and hoped the Board would do the same. Next I said that people who charged bribe-taking and corruption should be ashamed of themselves for making such unsubstantiated accusations. An employee tried to interrupt me, but I yelled back and wasn't interrupted again. I then said that over 5000 votes had been validated. I said further that there were just a few dozen people in the room who could not claim to be representative of the Co-Op's membership.

When the Board came out of executive session, Mr. Poueymirou said that they had called the University and asked if a time extension might be possible. He said the answer had been 'no.' He said this meant the Board still had only Options A and B from which to choose. The Board then voted for Option A, and the meeting was adjourned.

39 comments:

Famac said...

Great Post - possibly the best yet.

I'm unclear what you meant here:

"I said further that there were just a few dozen people in the room who could not claim to be representative of the Co-Op's membership."

Peter Rossi said...

Dick-

I am very sorry that you had to endure abuse and the pain of listening to irrational people to bring us this report.

This is what has struck me at meetings regarding the Point. The utter lack of civility. People shouting and making outrageous accusations.

There is no reason to personally insult people.

The university is doing the neighborhood a multi-million dollar favor here. Why aren't folks proud to live in a neighborhood with one of the great universities of the world?

Three cheers for:
the board members including James Withrow
Alderman Preckwinkle
the U of C reps

I hope this redoubled our resolve to using polling or survey methods to take the pulse of the community and not succumb to NIMBY thugs.

bornatreese said...

I've read news reports on the vote already. Thanks for being at the meeting. I'm sorry it slipped my mind because I had definitely planned to go.

The news reports (Tribune), as is typical, quote a long-time older member about the greatness of the Co-op. This makes it seem that this was "young vs. old", which it definitely was not. What some (reporters and long-time members) don't seem to realize is that there are many older long-time or long-ago Co-op members who have long since left the neighborhood. They shop at Garden Fresh in Wheeling or Northbrook, Whole Foods in Oak Park or Evanston, Jewel/Dominicks all over the place.... I imagine that if they were to venture back to Hyde Park for a visit, they would be amazed at what their friends from long ago who stayed here have put up with all these years.

bornatreese said...

No other news reports can possibly top what tomorrow's Herald has done to distort the events. I couldn't resist peeking at the Herald's website. The article, headlined "Co-op board rejects member pleas" is beyond unbelievable.

Famac said...

Wow- that Herald article is mind blowing. You really have to wonder what the Herald is so worried about to warrant this overt posturing.

Is he worried about an independent party auditing the Co-Ops financials?

I can't explain it any other way.

If the Co-Op has any assets left, the most valuable is the Herald. They suck big time, but they get that flier in the box every week.

The new grocer should be solicitous, so why this posturing????

Peter Rossi said...

in the Herald story, Jay Mulberry is quoted as saying it would be a "crime not to consider option B"

this doesn't jibe with our post.

hmmm, I wonder who got it right!

Richard Gill said...

famac -

You're right - my wording in that statement can be read two ways. It should be: "I said further that there were just a few dozen people in the room, and that they could not claim to be representative of the Co-op's membership."

They were acting as though only the people in that room, at that time, mattered at all.

Peter Rossi said...

bornatreese is so right. The Herald has gone so far away of anything sensible, they really run the danger of going the same way as the Co-Op.

EdJ said...

I wonder if the Herald will stand by its principles and not accept advertising from the new Dominicks or Treasure Island, or if it will be pragmatic and choose to accept advertising dollars.

In one of its issues, the Herald editors wrote that the Co-op was a true democracy. I thought that in a democracy, you respect the final outcome of the vote -- not call on board to follow the will of the mob that shows up at a meeting to try to overturn the will of the voters. And let's face it, if non-member residents of Hyde Park had a chance to vote, the percentage voting for Proposal A would have been significantly higher.

I wonder if Bruce Sagan will use th $500,000 he offerred to bailout the Co-op to start a new Co-op. The amount is just high enough to sound like helpful money, but just low enough to not help -- and the offer just late enough to not make a difference. As Co-op General Manager Bruce Brandfon said about the university: "So much about caring about the community."

EdJ said...

Let's take my last post further. If the Herald feels so strongly about the Co-op, will they refuse the university's payment of any debts the Co-op has with the Herald?

Famac said...

If I were the University, I would not renew the Herald's lease. The December 19 edition -- available online at www.hpherald.com (please don't buy a copy) -- is yellow journalism at its finest.

Go to page 4 for yet another editorial about the Co-Op -- this one a flat out insulting rant against the University.

The University should have a very simple response to this: "we don't need your rent -- get the hell out. Oh and by the way, we aren't honoring the Co-Ops debt to the Herald."

chicago pop said...

Anyone notice the absence of a byline on this week's front-page story with its outrageously slanted headline? Could this be the handiwork of Bruce Sagan, who until now seemed content to confine his wackiness -- we suspect -- to the unsigned editorials in the op-ed section?

Some hilarious comments over at the always-biting The Editor's Blog mocking our Hyde Park's own William Randolph Hearst wannabe:

I think Sagan was drunk and crying into his typewriter when he turned it in, and everyone else in the office was too afraid to even point out that in English, one traditionally follows questions with question marks...

Oh, as point of clarification - i meant the non-copy edited, byline-free piece on page 4, not the front page...

chicago pop said...

The meeting described here by Richard Gill is a perfect example of the kind of Bolshevik-style pressure tactics that often pass for community engagement. The Board should listen to a bunch of loud-mouths in a small room, instead of respecting, I don't know, a democratic consultation of the membership. Something Sagan's paper clearly has a firm grasp on.

Famac said...

The idea that they called the University to ask for more time is making me pretty mad. They had already come out in favor of A, then the vote varified what shareholders wanted.

Why was more time needed?

This is why the Co-Op should close - they were still trying to go around the majority of their shareholders wishes until the bitter end.

EdJ said...

I don't think them calling the university is such a big deal. It was making sure that all bases were covered. There is no way that the university was going to say that they could have more time. This way the board could say that they went down every available avenue.

I am still chuckling over Jay Mulberry's comment that all Proposal B had was a website, a few hundred name mailing list and a small e-mail list. What was that last edition of the Evergreen? I think that went to every single member and it arrived early in the voting. I didn't get any fliers in the mail from Hungry 4change until after the vote was completed and the calls came in the weekend before the vote. The poor caller, who probably makes less than the Co-op employees, had been cursed out by several people during her calls. So much for caring for people who are just trying to make a living.

chicago pop said...

What was that last edition of the Evergreen?

A comic masterpiece, that's what. One that probably did more to bolster Option A than anything else besides, well, besides the Co-Op itself.

I think if Leon Shernoff and Jay Mulberry put together their Option B paraphernelia, they could put on a pretty good skit for Off-Off Campus.

chicago pop said...

What's the difference between Charles Foster Kane (yellow journalism mogul), and Bruce Sagan (owner of the Herald)?

Charles Foster Kane can swing an election.

Bruce Sagan can't.

Famac said...

It would be interesting to see what ad rate the Herald was collecting from the Co-Op.

You have to wonder why a guy would get so worked up over a grocery store being replaced. Like I said earlier, the Herald has great distribution in Hyde Park -- they are sure to get advertising from Dominicks.

So I guess there must be something different about Dominicks that Sagan was worried about -- perhaps they wouldn't agree to the rate he was charging the Co-Op.

I don't buy the lofty ideals of the Co-Op arguement for two seconds so can someone else offer any different rationale?

Boy would I love to audit that Co-Op to see where the money was going. Something smells more rotten than the meat counter.

chicago pop said...

Worth checking out: at Gaper's Block, classic conspiracy theory that gives the University (but not the voting Co-Op membership) credit for the Co-Op's demise. As I've said before, if there really was a conspiracy, I'm miffed we weren't invited. Maybe it's because so many people hated the Co-Op that no conspiracy was needed? But that doesn't quite fit the 60's template used here.

For the relief of sweet reason, see the latest post at The Editor's Blog, which treats Jay Mulberry's recent behavior kindly, but absolutely slams the Herald, suggesting this equally fair and poised headline for this week's front-page story: “Community likely to get cheap groceries by February”.

Thank you to the Editors Blog for pointing out that 4-color glossy fliers have magical powers to sway elections. "It was those glossy, colored brochures that did it!! Without them, the Co-Op would definitely be alive."

Richard Gill said...

A few follow-up comments:

1. When I saw Chicago Pop's December 17 post about the evening's forthcoming "community theater performance," I thought he was really overstating it. Boy, was I wrong.

2. In retrospect, my original post did not communicate how aggressive and intimidating the disruptive audience tactics came across. I think it may have been their objective to break up the meeting and prevent a vote from being taken. If so, they came close to succeeding. Mr. Poueyrimou and the Board did the right thing by soldiering on through it all.

3. When it was announced that the University had said 'no' to a time extension, there was an audible groan from the audience. I wanted to jump in the air and yell "YIPPEEE!" but I thought it would be bad form.

LPB said...

I love how the Herald even got the board vote wrong in print -- "eight to one to end the 75 year-old cooperative institution's life."

Ummm, the vote was actually 7 to 1, as reported by Richard Gill on this blog, the Tribune, the Sun-Times, and Crain's Chicago Business. I guess the operative word there is "reported." Since the Herald does such little "reporting," it's not necessary to hire any fact-checkers or fact-checking journalists.

Christopher said...

What is motivating Sagan's response in the Herald could well be the prospect of little or no ad revenue from the Coop's successor. I predict that if Dominicks replaces the Coop, there will be no ads in the Herald.

Dominicks is a division of Safeway. In other cities like Phoenix and Washington DC, Safeway does not advertise in the smaller local papers. Their media buys are in television and the dominant metropolitan newspaper. In the Dc area, they advertise in the Washington Post which features a glossy insert every Wednesday. Don't look to see those inserts in the local weekly papers of Bowie, Bethesda, or Silver Spring.

I suspect that Sagan understood this and also deep down knew that the Coop was a lost cause. If he thought that Plan B would work, his $500K would have been pledged at the start of the ballot not after the vote. A $500K pledge would have generated lots of interest and support because it signaled that a successful businessman was willing to bet on the Coop's future. Instead we have a cynical gesture that positions Sagan as the noble crusader in a lost cause but doesn't actually cost him any money.

chicago pop said...

Bruce Sagan seems to be an enormous tautology.

The crazy $500,000 loan to the Co-Op would be in effect, a loan to himself, to keep the ad revenue coming from a supermarket subsidized by others, while preserving the book value of his little enterprise (which he could drop at any time, as he has with many other local papers).

Not only that, but if the mysterious front-page article without a byline was written by Sagan, then in effect he interviewed himself and wrote his own headline (which may be why he couldn't use a byline).

That's a lot of self-involvement.

Famac said...

I think it very interesting how the standard players in most Hyde Park controversies were missing here.

Many players in the Save the Point travesty showed up for the Doctor's Hospital Hiatt -- I just got a flier last week about substandard wages. But where were these folks when existing jobs were threatened?

That's how bad the Co-Op was -- people that stand up for rocks, empty lots and easy parking couldn't care less.

Peter said...

famac has a good good.

the demi-gods of NIMBYism wrote off the Co-Op as too far gone and they ran scared of a popular vote.

If there was a popular vote on putting a modern hotel at DH, there would be overwhelming support for it but we should see.

If most people in the community knew that what the save the pointers really advocate is DO NOTHING, there might a a change there.

Democracy is dangerous to the health of local actvists who think they know what is best for their neighbors without even consulting them!

p

Hallie said...

I was at the meeting too, and like Richard I entered supporting Option A and understanding that the only really possible outcome to the meeting would be the closing of the co-op. I also definitely want to second his commendation of Jim Poueymirou, James Winthrow, and Jay Mulberry who handled difficult positions and a rough meeting with impressive grace.

But while Option B may be pretty much impossible to rationally defend, in the spirit of "refraining from personal insults" I'd take object with the characterization of Option B supporters as "comical" or "NIMBY thugs." Most people at that meeting are facing the closing of the co-op as the likely loss of their job, as a blow to an ideal, or as the end of a community institution that had for decades been much more than a grocery store to them. Those may be inevitable losses, but the economic realities don't mean that we can't cut co-op loyalists some slack for really being upset right now.

Just as the Herald should accept the defeat with dignity and refrain from printing openly biased and factually incorrect information, those who are happy to see the co-op go should celebrate with a little sympathy.

Famac said...

I agree that it is sad that people lose their jobs, Hallie.

But its also sad that shareholders had to have employees at a meeting like this. They have jobs at the Co-Op, they are largely not owners.

Having them attend and malign the University is also cruel.

Afterall, its been the University that has floated the Co-Op by letting rent go unpaid, which directly translated into the Co-Op meeting its payroll far longer than it may have otherwise.

They should be thanking the University for a year of employment they might otherwise not have had.

Its also unforgivable that supporters of Option B would suggest employees attend this meeting since the results of a democratic process had already made the wishes of shareholders clear.

Basically, the B-Prop folks were engaging in a form of terrorism that deserves no sympathy.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Hallie said, "Most people at that meeting are facing the closing of the co-op as the likely loss of their job, as a blow to an ideal, or as the end of a community institution that had for decades been much more than a grocery store to them."

I'm generally a sympathetic person, but I can argue against each of these points. (1) I do believe that Co-Op employees will get to interview for jobs at the new store. I agree they face uncertainty during hard economic times, but on a bigger scale, the economic security of the entire neighborhood (and other businesses) will increase because of this change. (2) There's no blow to an ideal, because the Co-Op was NOT a cooperative. Real cooperatives are surviving all over the country. (3) The decades that the Co-Op was "more than an institution" to customers ended 20 years ago. All that was left was a once-a-year booksale, for Cripes sake.

Honestly, it's this peculiar Hyde Park tenacity of seeing things the way they were decades ago as the way they are now that leads to obstructionism in this neighborhood. It's what leads people to think that an empty lot they've looked at for years must be better than any alternative, and is worth shouting about. It's what leads them to think it's better to leave the gnarled, treacherous Point as it is, without even considering the sensible alternative (an alternative that will actually improve their access and enjoyment) that the community groups and the City hammered out together.

Hallie said...

Several people who spoke explicitly introduced themselves as both shareholders and members. But I would suggest that even those who are not shareholders would be interested in attending without any prompting from "B-Prop terrorists"--they had to know, after all, that their jobs were in jeopardy whichever outcome won.

I don't think that "cruelty" was really what was operating here. Most people didn't seem realize that Campbell and Reizner were in the room until after many of the sharpest words had been exchanged. The offensive speakers (employees and shareholders alike) mostly struck me as sad and angry, not malicious.

Poueymirou and the rest of the board took much of the worst abuse. Even so they seemed to understand the importance of the the meeting--despite its practical irrelevance--as an opportunity to give those shareholders most upset by the closing of the co-op one last opportunity to come to terms with its death.

I know that workers would have been worse off under option B, and I know that the co-op had to close. But is a little sympathy for employees, shareholders, and other community members hurt by this outcome too much to ask?

Peter Rossi said...

Hallie-

I was not present at this meeting. However, I have been present at meetings in our community where people who merely had a different point of view were quite literally shouted down.

I have been at meetings where very hard working folks from the Park District (mostly young desingers and managers) were called liars and cheats and "on-the-take."

I have been at meetings where the personal appearance of speakers of the opposite point of view was mocked.

I was the object myself of a campaign by the "Community Task Force" on the Point to get me fired from the University. Letters were sent to my dean and the President saying that I abused my position by daring to speak out against the NIMBY point of view.

The Herald routinely misquotes those whose points of view are different from the heavy-handed editorial policy.

I called them "thugs." I think this is not an accurate term. Certainly, these are many who believe the "ends justify the means" and do not operate in a honorable fashion.

Hurling unsubstantiated accusations as Richard Gill has reported is in the same vein.

What would you call these people?

To hold a point of view in Hyde Park should not subject you to personal attacks. This is anti-thetical to the whole idea of a community.

chicago pop said...

I think Richard Gill's remarks basically make the discriminations that are important here.

James Poueymirou, James Withrow, and Jay Mulberry are all praised for their restraint, and their commitment to respecting the vote.

The illiberal and antidemocratic sentiments of others were deservedly pointed out, and need no defense.

Fershlugginer said...

Peter wrote:

"The demi-gods of NIMBYism wrote off the Co-Op as too far gone and they ran scared of a popular vote."

Do you include Jack Spicer as one of the demi-gods? If so, I've got a story for you.

When I moved to Hyde Park in April of 2001 I joined Jack's buying club, which enabled me--and anyone-- to order groceries at the wholesale price directly from Blooming Prairie, the then-supplier to Whole Foods. Jack collated our disparate orders and placed them as one single order with Blooming Prairie. He received the resultant 18-wheeler at dawn or earlier in every kind of weather, from rainy to subzero to boiling, at his one-car garage, where he unloaded the tons of groceries and sorted and itemized them and helped everyone to pack their share into the back of their car or backpack and be on their way. When I couldn't be there at the appointed time he stored my food in his own fridge or freezer or else reloaded it into his truck and delivered it to me. Because he paid Blooming Prairie in advance for these aggregate orders—which totaled thousands of dollars—I simply paid him with one check—or, as occasionally happened, later, when I was more able.

He did this for anyone who asked and he did so month after month for years. I'd say it was a ton of work but it was more than one ton. It was tons--literally tons. And it was unpaid. The question is, Why? Once I asked him.

He said, "Because I hate the Co-op."

End of story. Here's the moral: You might consider spending less time talking among yourselves and more time talking to your so-called enemies. You and Jack have far more in common than you might think. Certainly more than one would think after weeks of reading this blog.

Don't get me wrong. I agree with the premise of this blog. I'm not trying to be a scold or a bearer of wuvey-duvey, wet's-all-get-awong sentiment. I'm not saying you shouldn't make fun of people and never be snarky. Sometimes it's necessary to be mean. But try to be a little less mean-spirited overall, especially when you don't know what you're talking about--or, in this case, insinuating. Nobody has done more than Jack to fight that brontosaurus of a Coop. As much, but not more.

Consider a dialogue. That's all I'm saying.

Yes, Jack's too hung up on that most essentially suburban (and therefore infuriating) entitlement, parking. (Although I noticed he recently employed the euphemism, "congestion.") Yes, he and/or his troops blew a good compromise at the Point. Yes, a minority of hopelessly naive lefties always try to hijack every tempest in Hyde Park's teapot. But so do the hopelessly naive right-wingers. God knows this campus has enough Ayn Raynd wannabes nursing their petty indignations. I know because you've got some of them commenting right here--and this forum is moderated.

Don't let ideology blind you to the possibility of dialogue and common sense, meaning common ground. That's why Marxists and Libertarians annoy me in equal measure. They're so similar in that they're both so hopelessly straight-jacketed to one simplistic, fundamentalist ideology, and thus crusade, that ultimately they're both sides of the same extremist coin. I've often said that they deserve each other, that they both ought to be locked up and stuck in the same cell, or stuck in the same gray, decaying, isolated neighborhood, where they can squabble all they want as the real world turns and crumbles around them---hey, wait a minute.

Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.

Peter Rossi said...

fershlunger-

thank you for your story.

You are right, I really don't know what Jack's stand on the Co-Op is. I have not critized Jack about the Co-Op. I have taken him to task on his anti-development and "do nothing" approach to the Point.

I know he has opposed every new development in this community in the last 10 years:
St. Stephens
McMobil
Repairing the Point - including restoring the landscaping
Doctor's Hospital

What I find intolerable is the notion that some people have that they speak for the "community" when no one has elected them.

I also have no respect for people who try to deceive others via systematic misinformation. For example, Jack has for years told anyone who will listen that the City wants to "pave over the Point" or "demolish" the Point. This is wrong and he knows it.

This really has nothing to do with Marxism and Libertarianism. It has to do with how one conducts oneself honorably. I am offended by those who cynically seek to manipulate others, whatever part of the political spectrum they hail from.

There is a terrible arrogance which says -- I want to drown your view point out by whatever means necessary because I fundamentally feel that my opinions are more important the others.

Sorry for the length of this comment.

I hope you understand a bit better where I come from.

I think you will agree that the posts on HPP have not been some sort of knee-jerk Libertarian viewpoint. But if there are things in my posts that you find tiresome please let me know!

Hallie said...

At risk of subjecting myself to accusations of "wuvey-duvey, wet's-all-get-awong sentiment," I'd just like to again echo fershlugginer's call for more dialogue.

Roasting individuals in a blog is not too much less disrespectful then shouting them down at meetings. Both are certainly counterproductive.

The people you call NIMBY's often share your calls for improved retail opportunities, etc. in Hyde Park. If you were willing to sit down respectfully with people instead of constantly putting them on the defensive, maybe they could understand why other changes are necessary to create the improvements they're looking for.

I'm not defending disrespect at meetings, personal smear campaigns or the Herald's distortions. I'm just questioning whether viewing progress in Hyde Park as an "us vs. them" war for development is the most constructive way to improve our neighborhood.

Peter Rossi said...

ferslunger-

I am not a fan of Ann Raynd. Mark Twain is my personal hero.

chicago pop said...

A few thoughts on some of the thoughtful comments today:

On dialogue -- we have one going right here, thanks for stopping by. It's multitudinous and seems to draw people who felt that whatever dialogue existed before, they weren't a part of it. There seem to be more of them every day. Perhaps the dialogue elsewhere was the one that was narrow?

On roasting chickens, large and small -- satire is an ancient political custom, highly correlated with political freedom, and one that tends to flourish in areas that for some reason have been deprived of levity . You can find examples of it in Newsweek or the Colbert Report; we've simply imported it to Hyde Park, home of Leopold and Loeb and the atomic bomb. The fact that is has ruffled some feathers is the best indication that it is much needed. Especially in a neighborhood where leading opinion is frequently based on inconsistent logic, unsubstantiated claims, self-interest, or pure insanity.

After all, if there weren't so much to cook -- and so many mouths to feed -- we wouldn't be so busy.

Happy holidays!

Otto said...

Mark Twain is my personal hero.

And indeed, "This cloth is called khaki."

Peter Rossi said...

otto-

yep, we captured and tried them under rule 3030

Hallie-

there is a difference between making fun of a person's position, exposing the absurd logic or logical inconsistencies and their sanctimonious point of view and making fun of the person.

The funniest thing about our local "activists" is what comes out of their mouths.

But you are right, they are a decidedly humorless bunch.

I hope you stay aboard for the discussion of ideas.

Our neighborhood is dying and not moving forward. This is due is no small measure to obstructionists who block progress. So there is a two pronged attack:
1. don't let them get away with mis-representation and logical inconsistencies
2. let people know there are many in our community who want change and want retail and residential development.

thanks again for taking the time to give us your thoughts. I take what you say very seriously and I will keep it in mind as we continue on this blog.

Peter Rossi said...

Otto-

Since you are a fan of "to a person sitting in the darkness" please try "United States of Lyncherdom"

Here is my favorite Mark Twain story (this has absolutely nothing to do with this blog).

IN the late 19th century, there was (believe it or not) a black student at Yale Law School. This poor fellow had to work odd jobs and was having a tough time of it. Mark Twain learned of this fellow and sent a check for the entire Yale School tuition to the dean with the proviso that he remain anonymous.

This man graduated Yale and set up shop in Baltimore, Md and worked on some of the early lawsuits against residential discrimination in the 1930s. His law firm hired a promising young lawyer named Thurgood Marshall.

But I digress, if Mark Twain posted his dark, satirical essays on a blog today, he would be classed as a mean-spirited crackpot.