Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If This Is Speaking Softly...

The sounds of silence, or at least speaking softly, have taken on a new twist with the Maxinistas (er, Actionist) first campaign ad in the 2006 CHCA board election.

It begins:
"Please read it to yourself very very quietly. There, isn’t that better? We figure you’ve heard enough shouting for a while. We think that maybe you’d like to hear some ideas for the future instead."

Oh, so true. The screed Terrorists & Parasites... which they offered in late fall was enough shouting to last us all a lifetime. And as a futurist piece, it ranks alongside "1984" and "Fahrenheit 451."

"The problem with shouting is that nobody really hears anything anybody says, and it takes way too much energy. We want to use that energy to solve the problems that face us as a community."

Solving problems is a good idea, but the Actionites have a strange way of proceeding (See Hole in the Wall Gang) when it comes to following the rules. See, no need to shout. Close the doors to the public and clap slowly, repeating the phrase, "There's no one like us, there's no one like us."

They do have Action Steps, a good idea, especially if your group has been in power for several years and every fundraising effort, from the Holiday House Tour to Community Fund donations, has been dismal in achieving results. When things look bleak, repackage yourselves as the "reformers" and promise your own X-Step Program.

So, here they go with Action Step #1, which suggests that someone
"conduct a membership-wide survey on the Local. Ask our members what they believe the newspaper should be—the scope of its coverage, the tone of its commentary. Ask them what should be added, subtracted, and/or expanded. Ask them just what kind of role they want the Association to play in our community life. We hope the results of such a survey will act as resource and reference for both the editor and the board in their decision-making processes."

People?!? Actionites?!? You tried newspaper management on for size in the fall and winter, causing the Local editor to resign, the associate editor to follow suit, a lead writer to walk and the staff given orders not to talk with certain people on pain of dismissal. And now you want a survey so you can come up with a plan to run the newspaper? What happened to the cries that the Local should be run as a business? Polling and surveys? Oh, that's right. It's the silence thing. Let others make decisions, keep silent on your real plans and then issue edicts with a "they're speaking loudly" when the community questions what the board is doing. New Local editor Lea Stanley must be very pleased to hear that surveys will be used in lieu of newspaper experience in determining editorial direction.

As for the role the CHCA might play in the community's life, elections are held to select decision makers, to find people with ideas, to place in office people who will work to implement a platform and policy. Being silent means no policy. Using a survey means no ideas. Of course, it's easier to blame survey results than take responsibility when things don't go as planned.

But the telling point is Action Step # 10. You know you're in Philadelphia when a "Pay to Play" plank appears in the Actionist platform.
"Require every board member to contribute to the Fund. The amount isn’t important -- five dollars is enough. Five hundred would be nice too. We can’t expect support from our membership if we aren’t willing to give ourselves. All members of our slate have contributed to the current Fund Drive."

Contributions to the fund are needed, but do you suppose people are voting with their wallets?

It's the mindset of this group that is truly frightening: Require people to contribute. Require people to be nice. Require people to stay silent and follow orders.

In a recent comment under "Maxinista: Bodysnatchers," the writer makes mention that "Sanjiv Jain's missive to all loyal Maxinistas, urging them to boycott the town meeting held Monday at the Library, is the perfect example of the ruling clique's contempt for open dialogue and real communal participation. If it can't set the rules, it won't play."

"The clique is also ridden with fear at this point, advocating 'action over words,' a notion expressed by Mussolini's blackshirts, and by the Milice in Paris, French proto-fascists, in the run-up to World War II. Of course, most of these people weren't alive then, never read history, and so know nothing except real estate and stock market quotes. Donald Trump uber alles."

The author of the post is correct to a point. To add to that, rewriting history and saying it's all in the past and we must move forward is moral cowardice. We cannot build a strong community when those who want to lead do not have a plan. And we cannot have leaders who believe surveys and mandated donations are effective policy tools.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unitam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant.

Editor's Note, interjecting ourselves into our visitor's thread: Translated, the above means "May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy."

We see no false logic, but understand it to be better than the false witnessing we've seen from the current board majority.

Tue Mar 28, 07:57:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would be nice to see from opponents of the blog would be rational, specific replies to issues raised. Not idiotic "nyah-nyah" poems, and general condemnation. Could it be the Exec. Committee and its shadow-planner, Graham, have no real positions? Expect expedient manipulation?

Wed Mar 29, 09:42:00 AM EST  

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