Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Howling

"Shoot me if I ever go to another CHCA meeting!" I told my wife. This was last Thursday, after the opening of the Fall/Winter Board Follies for 2009--10, held, strangely, at St. Paul's instead of in the Library.

I hadn't gone for awhile, but I'd heard Hitchcock and her goons were tightening the noose on the Local further by nominating Mark Keintz and Rob Remus to the Budget and Finance Committee. These guys made up the Ad Hoc Committee (along with Hitchcock) from last year, that pushed for Jimmy Pack's firing; pushed for Pete Mazzaccaro's firing; cut Sonia Leounes's ad sales commissions in half, and after Keintz had abruptly resigned as Treasurer, installed David Mansfield to replace him.

Mansfield, a fiscal conservative who swept in with the Positively Chestnut Hill gang last Spring, is a partner to out-of-his-depth associate publisher Larry Hochberger, in radically altering fiscal mechanics at the CHCA. They've decided to cut $200,000 out of the Local's budget, and to facilitate the bleeding, got Keintzy to shove off. Now they've brought him back by appointing him to Budget and Finance, along with Remus, whom they've similarly rewarded for being a good soldier by paying him $3500 for not suing them last winter -- though his attorney hadn't moved to do so! And, I guess, for hanging in through all the sturm und drang.

Anyway, when I got to the Library, where most meetings happen, it was dark. A bunch of people were milling around, slapping at mosquitos and cursing in the moist weather.

"Didja see [Walter] Sullivan?" demanded one guy I didn't recognize. "He forgot to notify the Library Manager that we were coming, so she locked up and went home!"

"Yeah", said his friend. "So then Foghorn wanted to hold the meeting right there on the steps!"

"Thinking all the time!" said the first guy.

Finally somebody said he had a key to St. Paul's, so we hump over there. And the Board began its usual obfuscations. Hours of sliding around on zoning matters left over from the 8/27 meeting, followed by stalling on former President Ron Recko's questions on why Mansfield, Hochberger and Hitchcock seemed so set on forcing the Local to pay rent for its office space, and repay a loan from the Trustees the Local incurred in 2006, during Recko's presidency, for a three-month printing bill that was in arrears.

"How was it that Jean Hemphill 'forgave' $180,000 for Maxine Dornemann [during her administration, 2005-6] , but nothing can be done for the paper during these tough times?" Recko wondered.

At which point a weird howling began from one side of St. Paul's . It was Christine Sullivan, Walter's wife, who despite the humidity, seemed strangely furry and werewolfian: "OOooohhh!" she howled, dragging it out and pointing a long finger at Recko. "I haven't forgotten yoouuuh! We'll get to youuuh !! But FIRST I wanna know what's going on with Mr. Hochberger, here! It's put-up or shut-up time for yoouuhh, buddy! What happened to all your grand pllaaanns and proomisses?? OoohWOOooh!"

Recko tried to get things back on track, but was overwhelmed by Mrs. Sullivan's Whhoooing! He bolted for the door. Former president Tolis Vardakis, who'd been trying to interrupt Recko's line of questioning on debt relief, yelling "Point of order!", now turned to Mrs. Sullivan, but was howled down, too. "RRrrWhooor!!" she snarled, adding some pointed sharps to her flats, that sounded really dangerous. People started rushing the exits . . . I'd seen the battles over Lombardi, Sturdivant and Mishak, I remember the Walsh surgery unpleasantness, the 2008 election thefts . . . but this lycanthropy seemed beyond the pale . . . I headed for my Chevy, too.

"Never again!" I told my long-suffering wife, after I'd locked the door.

"At least next time, go armed," she said dryly.

-- Charlie Partana

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