Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hyde Parkers Suckle Federal Ag Subsidy Teat

17 comments:

kbsb said...

I have to admit, a little context would be nice here. Although, my initial reaction is, "WTF!", did you give Mr. Morsbach a call and ask him to explain? I'd like to see a letter to the Hyde Park Herald explaining why we are subsidizing Hyde Park's greatest "farmer". Does this relate to a plot at the community garden site Mr. Morsbach is not planting? There was an empty plot next to our own last year.

chicago pop said...

This post is BYOC (Bring Your Own Context).

Mattie said...

First, I'd like to divulge that I work at the Medici. Second, I'd like to acknowledge that it is abundantly clear that some of HPP's frequent bloggers have a strong dislike for Hans Morsbach. Third, I'd like to make a request to the readers of this blog. When you consider the Medici, consider the 110 Medici staff members whose livelihoods depend upon the success of the Medici. Don't allow your opinion of Mr. Morsbach to affect your support for the Med's staff. When you buy that cup of coffee, it goes towards an employee's rent, not into Hans' pocket. That pizza you ordered for delivery helps one of the staff pay off a student loan. Employees at the Medici are contributing members of the Hyde Park community. Hyde Parkers, come to the Medici. All 110 of us would love to see you. We pride ourselves on being part of this neighborhood and on serving the Hyde Park community.

Greg said...

Why is Morsbach collecting AG subsidies for commodity crops in Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.? He must own some property there. More than likely he leases the land out to farmers who do the actual planting and farm work.

Seems like I watched a documentary or a news report about this once. It's fairly common (and highly controversial). Some guy who lives in Manhattan owns various parcels of farmland and collects hundreds of thousands in AG subsidies on it every year but most if not all of the land was just sitting there unused. Would be nice to find out if Morsbach's land was actually being farmed or if it's a bogus collection.

ScottM said...

Excellent research.

My problem with these subsidies is that they strongly go against his message of supporting "fair trade" goods. If there were mostly conservation subsidies in this mix it would be a very different story.

(& for Mattie) I feel for you, but I (& I suspect many others) do not believe for a second Hans is running the Med on a non-profit basis.

Of course at the end of the day its his business how he spends (and makes) his money.

IHeartLenoxLohr said...

With pre-apologies to the Medici staff because I do boycott HM's businesses... All I can say to this info is "wow." I want to believe there is some logical explanation because such egregious abuse of the system would be unforgiveable. I have certainly never heard of Medici featuring menu items grown on HM's farms. Also, though there is a chance of people with the same names, some of those top names live in Vista homes. I just wonder if somehow the dept of ag was "supporting" pet garden projects?!? Wait! Maybe we can win their support for Point repair if we plant corn and soy beans there instead.

Richard Gill said...

With reference to Mattie's comment (and pardon my moralizing here), but if a community is adversely affected by a business owner's actions, his employees' jobs cannot be used as a shield against the consequences of those actions. Along with others, I have stopped patronizing Medici and anything under the same ownership.

LPB said...

It seems like Morsbach's only directional compass is driven by a magnetic field of self interest. He's been on the side of gentrification and development in Normal where it benefits his restaurant. He's been an obstacle that keeps out new food/drink venues in Hyde Park because that's good for his hospitality gig in Chicago.

Thus, it's absolutely not surprising (but still galling) that he's skimming off USDA farm subsidies. This is consistent with his MO. Unfortunately, there's little I can do to keep some slice of my taxes from going to him.

As for the Medici workers who depend on that business, I'm not particularly sympathetic based on my own experiences with the poor service at the Medici Bakery. One worker who shall remain nameless yelled at me when she was the one who made a mistake with my order. When I brought this to the attention of her supervisor and Morsbach himself, neither did anything to (as far as I could tell) to rectify the situation. Instead, they defended the worker. And I never received any apology from the worker.

So, to make this crystal clear, I boycott the Medici for two reasons. First, I do not like Morsbach's actions that have shut down potential improvements for the Hyde Park neighborhood. Second, I find the service at the Medici Bakery, on its own merits, to be poor.

David Farley said...

I'm only boycotting the Medici in Normal. I've never been to Normal, so this is easy.

Ambrose said...

I'm sort of curious why the Dean of Social Sciences at U of C (Mark Hansen) gets a subsidy! He is from Kansas so maybe his family owns farmland.

Helma said...

Agriculture subsidies - ouch. But then, I suppose that if you own farmland, you play the game.
Seems a bit of an overreaction to boycott Medici. I like that the bakery is there because I like that there are some non-Aramark options within walking distance from campus.. I wish the Medici employees all the best. Service there seems on a par with many places in Hyde Park. Don't know Morsbach. Seems a busy guy:-) Thankfully Z&H will add another attraction, add employment, and make the strip less of an oligopoly. I'm looking forward to seeing it open.

chicago pop said...

Boycotting the Medici is only an overreaction if you think that the Save the Point and Drs Hospital fiascos were perfectly acceptable outcomes of local politics and feel that the major movers behind each of those debacles should hold no accountability.

Richard Gill said...

Chicago Pop is correct in his comment about reasons for boycotting Medici. The boycott has been on for more than a year. It has nothing to do with the agricultural subsidies.

Greg said...

I'm not even actively boycotting Medici myself, I just think they're really overrated. Just about everything they have there can be had better elsewhere (in Hyde Park even).

chicago pop said...

Yeah, ^ what Greg said.

Marc Monaghan said...

To the Medici employee.

All this talk about boycotting the Medici is largely self-serving and sanctimonious. As far as I can tell no one, including any one associated with this blog, is attempting a real boycott - you know signs and petitions, etc. - and the Med, despite the protestations of HPP commentators, seems to be making money hand-over-fist. So the only real consequences of these protestations are a group of people getting a kick out of going public with their grievances and, apparently, some concern you have about your and your fellow worker's livelihoods.
I think your tips are safe.

chicago pop said...

Mr. Monaghan, employing enviable powers of poetical alliteration, feels himself in a position to reassure Medici employees as to the robust health of their business without any apparent knowledge of the finances of the Medici.

The argument in support of this clairvoyance is
that 1) this "talk" of a boycott can't have any possible effect because it's not "real," i.e., conforms to the pre-established notion he has of how consumers most effectively influence a merchant, 2) because it it not "real/authentic" it cannot possibly be effective or a source of worry to the merchant
in question.

So don't worry, the argument goes, I'm telling you that you're doing fine!

The vigor of this rejection of "boycott talk" is misdirected in
any case. HPP has extensively documented the self-serving and sanctimonious activities and statements of one of Hyde Park's leading merchants, the individual who is the subject of this post, Hans Morsbach. The only direct encouragement the blog has made of anything beginning to resemble a Medici boycott has been the labelling of this and previous posts under the website rubric "Great Medici Boycott". Almost a joke, this tagging has contributed to some considerable neighborhood discussion.

The "boycott talk," which Mr. Monaghan disdains as fake and -- don't worry, also ineffective -- is thus largely a spontaneous response among Hyde Parkers making their own determinations and drawing their own conclusions as to whether Hans Morsbach deserves their consumer dollars. Mr. Monaghan makes no mention of any of the many reasons someone might decide to personally "boycott" the Medici.

Individuals deciding on their own initiative where and how to spend their money, based in some small part on factual information they obtain on a blog.

How very sanctimonious and self-serving!