Monday, February 06, 2006

The Truth, the Whole, and the Modified Truth

This post on Saturday was lost in the Blogspot problem period. It is being reposted today.

For those who continue to read the Chestnut Hill Local, even under the new editorial oversight policy as per the May 2004 By Law changes, an example of the actual application of that policy might be eye-opening.

I submitted my first comments to the Local on the issues debated since the departure of the editor and news writer to my column “Off Center” by Jim Foster for publication in the issue that would be printed on February 2, 2006.

I explained to the editor in covering comments that I had spent the last three months interviewing Board Members, employees, CHCA members and interested parties in order to gain insight to all perspectives before I commented. I also attended two Board Meetings, one Executive Committee Meeting and the special meeting held in the Library to discuss the crucial issues in open forum.

My comments under the heading THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING. . . . . did make it to print under my usual byline. - - - - or at least I thought they did.

After reading the print version in the Local I immediately knew some key sentences were missing, including the ones in particular that proved unequivocally the major point I made in the comments, and one I wanted the community, CHCA members, and Board Members to consider in the days ahead. I have printed below the two paragraphs that included the redacted sentences and those words in italics that were deleted:

*****************************

Although reported in the Local of May 6, 2004, few noticed that revisions of the By-Laws included the creation of a Publisher’s Committee to replace the Management Committee that had responsibility for the newspaper - - a rose by any other name. However, the major significant change in ARTICLE VI COMMITTEES, B. STANDING COMMITTEES, 5a of the By-Laws was the elimination of one sentence: The committee has no jurisdiction over the editorial policy or the content of the paper, other than advertising.” It could not have been more clear that oversight was to replace journalistic freedom. Additional language in this revision placed editorial oversight under committee supervision. “Not even the Operations Manager (I meant vice president) of the CHCA was aware of this change as was made clear in the Executive Committee meeting I attended two weeks ago. When questioned by a Board Member in that meeting, he denied such a change was made, only to reverse himself moments later as he read the changed language aloud to the assembled membership.

Called for 7:00 at the Chestnut Hill Hospital, the meeting was to be centered around a presentation by the new management as expansion and construction plans and to include discussion and presentations from PenDot officials as to plans for modified traffic and highway changes in the area. In addition, community members were present to make their points on issues of individual concern. In a process right out of an alternative form of government, the Board adjourned to a locked separate room with “protection” from the Philadelphia Police Department, and further restrictions from hospital security guards who had instructions to allow no one, member or not, to enter the room. This “Executive Session” lasted for three hours as a team of hospital senior executives, highway planners, residents and the press waited it out with no information or explanation. We later learn that the sole purpose of this three hour priority session was to put a Board Member on trial and remove him for crimes of the written and spoken word. I think some very recognizable folks may be living in a parallel universe.
********************************
I repeat, ALL OF THE ABOVE SENTENCES IN ITALICS WERE REMOVED BY THE EDITOR, even though one sentence is left hanging. With the exception of the last sentence, which was my opinion, the rest of that language represented description of first hand experience and ones that were witnessed by no less than 20-25 at the Executive Committee and a much larger number at the Board Meeting.

The statement by the Operations Vice President confirms, in an undeniable manner, the major point I was trying to make in the commentary that most of those who participate in the CHCA do not even know what they voted for and how much damage those changes can do when as few as one person can modify what has been said, done, and delete at will data that might make all the difference in what a community would learn has happened or is about to happen. Make no mistake, as I said later in my piece, this is grass roots First Amendment, pure and simple.

The editor claims these deletions were only her doing and for “space reasons”. Sure!

Whatever your previous point of view regarding the direction of the CHCA and the newspaper, this should give everyone pause as to where you go from here. If you believe in the free exchange of information and ideas with open debate in structured setting, you had it in the CHCA with the Local as an arms-length information source. If you prefer a few power brokers to run a top-down monopoly on your community decisions, with the ability to silence or modify debate at will, leave things the way they are. However, you should change the name of the newspaper to “PRAVDA ON GERMANTOWN AVENUE”

Jim Foster

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the community expect a correction in what remains of the Local? Is this the last appearance of Jim Foster in the Local? Will he be banished along with Lawrence Walsh?

Maxine and Caroline, people are watching.

A Very Disturbed Chestnut Hill Resident

Tue Feb 07, 08:47:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what about simply starting an online weekly newspaper to serve the area and include a healthy area for online discussions / forums for debate?

Tue Feb 07, 01:56:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Germantown Cruiser said...

A true, heartfelt apology in the Local? Make me laugh, please. The newsletter isn't allowed to recognize its errors. It might cause the board to reflect on its faults. And that would never do.

I hear the online newspaper has been through a discussion phase and is moving forward. The need, obviously, is there, given how the CHCA board has decided that is can judge and sentence those it deems not in concert with its plans (to wit, the Walsh fiasco perpetrated by Pammy W and "friends"). Another example of their version of "free speech."

Tue Feb 07, 04:42:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading with a smile Pamela Water's CHCA campaign profile. She described herself as having been raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Visions of Nightingale-Bamford danced through my head until I came to the details of her education: Hunter College, a branch of City College of New York -- a community college. Hardly the usual stomping ground for residents of such a rarified zip code. I remember thinking -- social climber, harmless social climber. Ah, if only she had concentrated her formidable energies on Springside School, which has seen her ilk come and go over the years, and left our beloved newspaper and community association alone.

Wed Feb 08, 11:43:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Just Another Nappy Head said...

Are alternative Viewpoints allowed on this blog? I've got inside buzz on goings on here, but the "good stuff" -- as juicy as much of it is -- does not discriminate in showing how big of fools, idiots and liars some people on both sides of this issue are.

Wed Feb 08, 05:33:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Germantown Cruiser said...

Would that "juicy stuff" include the list of items on the indictment of Walsh and a reference about the fools that put it together?

And when does your blogsite come to view, other than as a profile?

Wed Feb 08, 06:01:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest that the possessor of "juicy stuff" read former Philadelphia Inquirer managing editor Bill Stroud's posting on this site, paticularly point 5: "Remember that the truth seldom lies halfway between opposing points of view."

However outrageous the behavior has been -- on both sides -- does not justify what the current President and her cohorts have done to the Local, the Community Association and, in the end, to Chestnut Hill.

Wed Feb 08, 06:57:00 PM EST  

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