Friday, July 27, 2007

The Gang of 16 ...

Oversight Committee? CHCA don't need no oversight committee.

Thus, by a 16-14 vote, the Chestnut Hill Community Association dissolved the committee deemed responsible for looking into the financial knot that is the association's own Abu G department. This happened on the evening of July 26.

"We don't need no steenkin' independent audit," an on-the-scene observer quotes Buffy as saying. "It's sooooo unseemly and low class. We must have civility."


Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Feldman Report ...

While awaiting Ed Feldman's treatise on the most recent conflict between fact and fantasy (see the letters in the July 26, 2007, Chestnut Hill Local), we offer this background letter for your examination. Ed has promised us additional commentary. When it comes, we'll post it. Things won't be the same on the Hill when Ed moves to the Left Coast.

Dear Mr. Feldman,

This letter is sent to provide you with notice of the Executive Committee's concern with your offensive and entirely inappropriate conduct at our meeting on Thursday July 12 and to inform you that such conduct is unacceptable at any Community Association meeting and that the continuance of such conduct will result in action to ban you from Community Association meetings in the future.

For the-record, at the Executive Committee meeting on July 12,2007 you continually interrupted the meeting without being recognized and proceeded to conduct an entirely inappropriate cross-examination of a community member present at the meeting. Further, and even more unacceptable, when you were asked to stop, you called the Executive Committee members "Motherf_ckers" and made entirely inappropriate remarks about that same community member's spouse along with raising the possibility of physical confrontation.

The Community Association is an important forum for community members to present varying, even opposing points of view. However, to allow the Association to function, those present must abide by rules of order and decorum. It is never appropriate to personally disparage or attack any person present regardless of how outraged you are by their answer or their conduct. Derogatory personal comments, curse words, and even the notion of violence will not be tolerated.

You are welcome, as are other community members, to make your point of view heard, but only if you abide by the rules of conduct that are expected of every other community member attending such meetings. As has already been stated, your continued failure to abide by the simple rules of order under which such meetings are conducted, will result in action to ban you from attending all future meetings.

Dina Hitchcock
Vice President/Operations

Cc: Lou Aiello
Jane Becker
Ed Berg
Moss Disston
Tom Fleming
Jeremy Heep
Jane Piotrowski


Monday, July 16, 2007

Paradise Lost or Gained?

This is a redraft of my OP-ED Paracise Lost or Regained dated 7/12/07. I believe this draftto be clearer than the original. L.P.W.

Received July 18 at 10:39 A.M.

The necessity for an independent audit of the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s and the Chestnut Hill Fund’s recent financial records is required if the quality of life in the Chestnut Hill area is to be maintained.

The future planning needed to maintain and improve the physical, social and administrative circumstances in the community (as a whole) requires a clear and factual understanding of what happened in the past few years.

At the outset it is of prime importance for everyone to recognize that it would be counter productive to the community’s best interests were such an audit undertaken to indict or criticize any individual’s actions, beliefs, style or character.

Broadly speaking, its apparent that every human, past or present, acts or acted in what she/he considered, at the time of their decisions, to be in their best personal self-interests. Since individual circumstances vary in the extreme, judgments by one individual concerning others must necessarily be subjective, since the judge is unaware of the objectives of the judged. Such judgments can never be objective. This is a common circumstance between and among all of us and the basis of most social and physical violence.

Based on such insights, the original 1948 by-laws of the Association were redrafted in their entirety and approved at a public meeting of several hundred Chestnut Hillers by an essentially unanimous vote. This meeting was convened at the Water Tower Recreation Center in December, 1959. The history of today’s organization evolved from this action at that meeting. Unfortunately, the language of the revised by-laws was unclear as to the intended structure and role of the new organization. Accordingly there immediately developed two fundamentally divergent opinions as to the objectives intended by this By-Laws Committee.

One view, representing basically business interests, held that a hierarchical corporate structure would achieve efficiently and cheaply the best self-interests of that group.

The opposing view, that of the overwhelming majority of those who supported the By- Laws Committee, focused on improving the quality of life in the Chestnut Hill area. This group recognized that Philadelphia City Hall’s policies were, in many cases, contrary to the best interests of Chestnut Hill, as viewed from the community’s perspective.

This group believed the community’s best interests would be served by local democratically determined and implemented public policies. For example Article III of those newly amended by-laws, allowed people living in nearby Mt. Airy, Roxborough and Springfield Township to participate as equals in the affairs of Philadelphia’s postal zone 19118. These amendments came to be known as a quasi-governmental experiment; organized under the I.R.S. defined 501 c3 corporation intended to operate independently of, but whenever possible, in cooperation with City Hall: a “do-it-yourself”, or fundamentally conservative organization, if you will - conservative, in that its purpose was to conserve and improve the quality of life enjoyed by all living in or near postal zone 19118.

Had the language in these amendments utilized “public vocabulary” as contrasted to the “corporate vocabulary”, most of the conflict involving both the LOCAL and the Association that has occurred over the years would have been avoided.

The current by-laws have been so distorted that a detailed discussion of this subject is inappropriate to this op-ed.

As examples, had the original amendments used “public vocabulary” in describing the role and function of the principal elected officer of the Association, his/her title would have been “Community Mayor” as contrasted to the “corporate vocabulary” title i.e., “President”. The “corporate vocabulary” described the elected administrative body as a “Board of Directors” had “public vocabulary been used it would have been known as the “Community Council”, Were these simple changes made today, the role and function of the Association would be clearly understood by everyone and future conflict would be minimized.

Accordingly, based on Chestnut Hill’s sixty year history, together with our national experience over the past several years, it is important for everyone living within the areas indicated, to decide if they wish to support an experimental quasi-governmental organization designed to determine and implement local public policy in cooperation with the city or, conversely, whether the majority of those living in these areas will support a corporate structure concerned solely with its own private, internal self-interests. The future of Chestnut Hill is in your hands.

Lloyd P. Wells


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Intimidation by TV...

Stan M has left a new comment on your post "The Enemies of Reading":

It's nearly 14 months since this entry was posted, but I feel the need
to weigh in, since I was subjected to the same intimidation by TV this
morning, as we waited for my wife's appointment at the pain management
clinic. (Talk about irony...)

Ten years ago, we were called to the
hospital E.R. in the small hours of morning, after being notified that
my ailing father-in-law had been transported there from his nursing
home bed. It was to be his last night on earth. We waited several hours
to be allowed to see him, in an otherwise empty waiting room that was
being blasted by the "Psychic Friends Network" broadcast, in which the
on-duty psychics were telling callers about all the marvelous things
that were about to happen to them. It puzzled me that not a single
person had called and been informed of an unanticipated death, illness
or other bad event.

After I could stand no more, I walked into "the
back," found the Old Man in his cubicle, and we exchanged a few words.
Had I not taken matters into my own hands thus, he would have expired
without a goodbye from his daughter and son-in-law, while this awful
blather was assaulting us.

Posted by Stan M to Chestnut Hill Notebook.

Friday, July 06, 2007

ACES Hosts Celebration on July 7

ACES, a museum dedicated to honoring Black and Minority Veterans, will host a Stars and Stripes Celebration: Saturday, July 7, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the museum at its historical location at Price Street and Germantown Avenue in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Invited guest include: direct bloodline Ancestor of Harriett Tubman (cousin) & Family of Dorothy Dandridge (sister & niece), International Shihan John McClary, Negro League All Stars, Puppet Petting Zoo of Connecticut & Elmo.

This is a FREE event for the public, taking place on the unit block of Price Street, directly adjacent to Germantown Avenue (1 block north of Chelten Avenue). There is a Health Initiative Focus for the day including Blood Pressure Screenings, Obesity Reduction & HIV Prevention, and implementing on the same premises an Educational Enhancement Center. The day will also include Live Veteran Testimonies, Puppets with History Shows (Joe Louis, Harriett Tubman), Jump the Broom Ceremony, Re-enactment Harriett Tubman.

ACES will sponsor an Educational Enhancement and Violence Prevention Camp, which will run from July 10 through August 28. It will also host a 1940s dinner and dance party on September 29 to celebrate the fall program.

For more information contact ACES Museum at 215-842-1075.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

When It Becomes Necessary...

There is no honor in the U.S. President this July 4th.

Why? Read this Self Evident Truths . . . And A Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice as well as this: He has abdicated.

But the most telling indictment is this:

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment: You ceased to be the President of the United States

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on what is, in everything but name, George Bush’s pardon of Scooter Libby.

“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

That — on this eve of the 4th of July — is the essence of this democracy, in seventeen words.

And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The man who said those seventeen words — improbably enough — was the actor John Wayne.

And Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them, when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.

“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier. But there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in Wayne’s voice.

The crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that we have survived, even though for nearly two centuries now, our Commander-in-Chief has also served, simultaneously, as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others.

We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may “prosper” as a nation, not that we may “achieve”, not that we may “lead the world” — but merely that we may “function.”

But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne is an implicit trust — a sacred trust:That the president for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.

Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president, and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and far earlier than most. And in circumstances more tragic and threatening.

And we did that with which history tasked us.

We enveloped “our” President in 2001.

And those who did not believe he should have been elected — indeed, those who did not believe he had been elected — willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and sharpened it to a razor-sharp point, and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete…

Did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice…

Did so despite what James Madison –at the Constitutional Convention — said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president…

Did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder:

To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish — the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental compact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens — the ones who did not cast votes for you.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President… of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party.

And this is too important a time, sir, to have a Commander-in-Chief who puts party over nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics.

The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing — or a permanent Democratic majority — is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove.

And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government.

But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain… into a massive oil spill.

The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment.

The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and “quaint.”

The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws.

The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.

And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor…

When just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable “fairness” of government is rejected by an impartial judge…

When just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice…

This President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but instead to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of you becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.

When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Mr. Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously:

“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people.”

President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.

It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party’s headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

But in one night, Nixon transformed it.

Watergate — instantaneously — became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law. Of insisting — in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood — that he was the law.

Not the Constitution.

Not the Congress.

Not the Courts.

Just him.

Just - Mr. Bush - as you did, yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy… these are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.

But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush — and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal — the average citizen understands that, sir.

It’s the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one — and it stinks. And they know it.

Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency.

And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.

It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history.

Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush.

And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney.

You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday.

Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters.

Which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is irrelevant.

But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant.

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them — or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them — we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time — and our leaders in Congress, of both parties — must now live up to those standards which echo through our history:

Pressure, negotiate, impeach — get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.

And for you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task.

You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed.

Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone — anyone – about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

Good night, and good luck.


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