Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Shadow War: Blue Dog Edition

On February 4, 2009, Chestnut Hill Community Association directors Mark Keintz and Bob Rossman delivered a new ultimatum from a CHCA board faction in the form of a "final warning" to Chestnut Hill Local editor Pete Mazzaccaro. This despite losing a 14-12 vote - in secret only days earlier - to summarily fire him for doing his job.

Even though two of the cabal that seeks to control the Local have resigned since the vote, even though the entire set of actions is in direct violation of the CHCA by-laws and, finally, without any sort of mandate, let alone a plurality of support by the true owners of the Local - the members of the community association - this group insists on forging ahead, determined to silence the one organization deliberately created as a watchdog for the community against the very sort of machinations being executed by a select group of the current board.

Preceding this were a series of exchanges among board members, notable in their not addressing problems but looking to lay the blame on staff of the Local for the troubles created by the clumsy interventions of certain board members.

A telling comment came from Walter Sullivan, Philadelphia Democratic Party honcho and newly-minted board member. Sullivan said in an e-mail to selected parties:
"I do not challenge their right to say on their blog what they feel. But those feelings and attitudes among our employees need give us deep concern. Yes, we have a problem with the attitudes of our employees. For example, just read the Alloway/Joel Hoffman/Lombardi Northwest Notebook blog at: [Ed Note: You're there. Don't go looking for it.] Yes, we must find ways to address and ameliorate those concerns. I do not believe that the Bylaws are the vehicle for doing that."
Apparently not, when the executive committee plays by Calvinball rules. It's far easier to meet in secret and plan to pick off those who provide oversight on an individual basis

After a short interval, interrupted by said departures of board directors Learned and Hickey (both expressing legal liability concerns and unaware of the failure of the 'just following orders' defense), Keintz and Rossman carried out their mission like good soldiers.

But we digress. It is this foray into revisionist history (or false memory) that allows Sullivan to offer the stunning excuses to justify the process he endorses. In the missive, he writes:
At the January 22 Bylaws Committee meeting, someone said that the employees felt that they were oppressed. Yes, I then stated that while at least some and perhaps all of them may feel that they are oppressed, they are not oppressed, and that to my certain knowledge one Board member and one former Board member, if not others, had for several years been stirring up among them that feeling of oppression, alienation, and resentment. That dated back at least to the events of late 2005-2006 involving Jim Sturdivant's resignation. It was unfortunate that Jim resigned, for it would have been far better had he brought his concerns to the Board which I know would have vindicated his editorial control. The three people (all employees who naturally enough saw his proposed editorial before publication) and who then counseled him to revise it may have or have not erred, but as co-employees their recommendations scarcely comprised an infringement of editorial control. There was a suspicion that Maxine as President was somehow behind this. Were that true, that would have been such an intolerable infringement. She insisted that she was not, and I have no reason to disbelieve her. That at least, if not before, was where this feeling of oppression, alienation, and resentment among some or all of the employees began."
This comes from some who started his epistle with "Nobody in CHCA but a fool could not be a Friend of the Local, the publication of which is among the most important of our functions if not arguably the most important. As to myself, a lifelong left liberal and supporter of labor (i.e., employees), that goes without saying."

This is a friend of Labor? This is someone who, when contending with labor issues in his own domain, apparently resorts to the old muscle tactics of 19th century industrialists. This man sits as a member of a Democratic Party committee? Can you say Blue Dog? There are surely some Progressives who could better represent working interests. As Democrats, we need to consider our options. Walter Sullivan is no longer an option for the Democratic Party.

Scott Alloway
Registered Democrat

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Blogger Consiglieri said...

I love reading Walter "Nowhere Man" Sullivan's sermons. He says nothing. He stands for nothing. He could just be seen as a nuisance, but he's dangerous. Look back on his body of work. His role in the Special Board meeting at the library in November, 2005, his authorship of that
pseudo legal document invoking "fiscal responsibility"
in January 2006, his hysterical defense of the indefensible Sanjiv Jain - the eyes glaze over.

Sat Feb 14, 09:35:00 AM EST  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

I agree with Consiglieri's remarks and I'm also puzzled by Marie Lachat's criticism of those board members she calls "rats". Some board members, who have consciences, exposed conduct by 12 board members who don't care about fairness or their bylaws. Their attempt to oust the editor is clearly about policy which can never be discussed and hidden by executive session. Their actions have not complied with CHCA bylaws.

Marie Lachat contends that my outrage is based on hearsay. If she and other like-minded board members would do us the courtesy of discussing policy in the open like they are required to do, then her concern for hearsay wouldn't be relevant. Lachat didn't say my outrage was based on anything factually incorrect because facts are not hearsay. I think some board members are too dishonest to admit that they are simply doing the Chestnut Hill Business Association's bidding, a group who believes that honest reporting to Local readers is not in their best interests. They have not made an even slightly convincing case for that opinion.

When the board or executive committee discusses policy in executive session as it clearly has done, all members with integrity must leave and any votes taken are not valid. Read the damn rules people. It seems President Vardakis feels he is above all rules. Was there a published notice of the executive session? I'm still looking.

Mon Feb 16, 07:19:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comment In Response To Consiglieri

I can't tell who Consiglieri is or what he is driving at other than that he mocks the way I speak which is his privilege. I never authored a document invoking "fiscal responsibility." I never "defended" Mr. Jain let alone hysterically. I did, at the 11/05 Special Board Meeting at the Library, state what Mr. Alloway quotes accurately from my recent e-mail to the Bylaws Committee; i.e., that I deeply regretted that Jim Sturdivant had resigned as Editor, that if he had brought his concemsto the Board I would have supported him and that I believe that the overwhelming majority would have supported him. He was a competent Editor. We have had just too much turnover. Consiglieri says that I say nothing. He is wrong. When I speak, substantively. He says I stand for nothing. I have for 56 years fought innumerable battles as a liberal activist both within the Democratic Party and for progressive causes. Can he say the same?

Walt Sullivan

Thu Feb 19, 02:11:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An error in transmission appears to have resulted in the failure of this post to appear when it was written earlier this week. The Sullivans hand-delivered a copy so it may be posted. – SRA

Response from Walter Sullivan

Because the principal part of Mr. Alloway's posting refers to me personally, and adversely, and above all to matters going far beyond just CHCA controversies, I am obliged to respond. You own this blog. I don't. Yet I trust that in essential fairness you will publish this response in full as is, without simultaneous comment. If Mr. Alloway or anyone else chooses then to comment on this response, that is their right.

Mr. Alloway does not know me or my life's work; nor do I know him except through some of what he has written. I have been a lifelong liberal activist both within electoral politics within the Democratic Party and in causes, working actively in every campaign both in Primary and General Elections since I was 14 in the fIrst Adlai Stevenson campaign (approximately 110 election cycles). Whenever there was a viable liberal candidacy, there I stood. As a Ward Leader 1968-76 in the all white row home stauncWy pro Rizzo 35th Ward, I opposed Frank Rizzo for Mayor both times, to my peril. In 1971, when I had no money, Rizzo and henchmen over months applied unrelenting pressure which ultimately prevailed upon the private law fIrm where I worked to let me go. I will not trouble your readers here with a recitation of all the candidates and causes which I have supported so actively over so many years, but if any wish to know I stand ready to furnish that information.

I have been a lifelong labor guy, supporting always the cause of labor, sometimes even professionally; and I still am.

Mr. Alloway would appear to infer that even though all that be true, which it is, I have neglected to apply those determinedly pro-labor principles to the affairs of the CHCA, specifIcally when it comes to the employees of the Local. He cites no basis for that other than an e-mail from me to the Bylaws Committee which he quotes accurately although out of order. Please re-read my words which he has quoted, apart from his inferences and comments. What I wrote there was accurate to the best of my knowledge and sound, and I stand by it. Please note my statement, "I do not challenge their right to say on their blog what they feel. But those feelings and attitudes among our employees need give us deep concern. Yes, we have a problem with the attitudes of our employees. For example, just re-read the ... blog. Yes, we must find ways to address and ameliorate those concerns." [Emphasis furnished.] Is it not perfectly clear upon re-reading my words that I was saying that I agreed that some of the employees appeared to be experiencing feelings of oppression, alienation and resentment; that to the extent that that were true we the CHCA had a problem; and that yes we the CHCA must find ways to address and ameliorate those concerns? Now, really, what could possibly be more pro labor than that statement?

I am not on the Executive Committee, nor was I on the Board until after the January meeting, weeks after the controversy concerning Mr. Pack. I do not know all the facts and have not heard the discussion concerning the personnel or management matters of the Local. My mind is certainly open, and most defInitely open to the interests and feelings of the employees. In this respect, I remain as I have always been genuinely prolabor. I have sometimes agreed with actions of the Executive Committee and the Board, and sometimes not, which is exactly what I as a "newly minted" Director should do.

What possible logic supports Mr. Alloway's statements that I am someone who "apparently resorts to the old muscle tactics of 19th century industrialists," that I am a Blue Dog Democrat (Is it not clear after a lifetime of fIghting for liberal candidates and causes of which I presume he did not know that I am exactly the opposite?), that I am not a progressive committed to and capable of representing working interests, and that I am no longer an option for the Democratic Party and that Democrats need to consider other options? Nothing that I have ever said, written or done supports such inferences.

Walter J. Sullivan
Lifelong Liberal Democratic Activist And Friend of Labor Since Long Before Mr. Alloway Was Born, And Still And Always.

Thu Feb 19, 02:22:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Walter, You have an opportunity to help here, don't fail. I reject your ongoing pretense that Sturdivant wasn't tossed out by certain board members and their "Local Management Committee". You could have helped Mr. Sturdivant but you didn't. You have an opportunity to help this time around. Will you? Or do you believe that Vardakis, Hitchcock and company are doing nothing wrong? I know you don't you have all the facts and, at least from this source, you are apparently trying to accumulate some, I hope.

If you feel the CHCA has a problem with the "feelings" that are expressed here why not get proactive and assist in changing those feelings? Not once in your responses to Consigliere or Alloway did you admit to any of the facts that are expressed here or in the Local. Mr. Alloway has been fair to you. You now have an opportunity to reward him, Chestnut Hill and the Local by showing leadership and integrity. Don't cite history. Help fix this "new" deliberate attack on the Local editor and staff. Don't wait until it is too late. Tell us what you are going to do to help.

Thu Feb 19, 03:47:00 PM EST  

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