Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hate mail

I give you a comment to me, copied to others from Molly McCluer--resident of Salemtown since 2010 and president of the neighborhood association for the past five months--which ended a long, parsing diatribe against an email I originally addressed to a developer (who then forwarded to her):

McCluer & Mayor on SNNA website
your chronic adversarial approach to any and every issue you can conjure up is harming Salemtown, and has led to the almost complete disintegration of [Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association] by the end of 2011. You are using the community to entertain yourself at others’ significant expense; you need to stop it, and do a lot of full-time soul-searching , rather than combing old emails and trolling anyplace you can find, to trigger the arguments you crave.  You are hurting Salemtown, and you need to stop it now.

This is not the first time I have received hate mail because I blogged something someone did not agree with, but it was the first time someone has accused me of dividing an association to which I have devoted so much time, energy, and money. If I were going to destroy it why would invest so much of myself in it? If I were going to bring down Salemtown Neighbors why not impugn it, attack it publicly on a regular basis in the past 18 months? I have a blog, after all.

As one who has served in various leadership positions in SNNA for years, I can testify that there were many reasons why 2011 was a down year for the association, and the actions of one person had little to do with that. If I blogged something toxic about the organization in 2011 I do not recall it. And I do not believe I pointed any fingers on this blog for SNNA setbacks. Rushing to scapegoat another individual for association problems makes no sense to me.

However, I was not going to blog on Ms. McCluer's personal attack until I found out that I was added to the business agenda of the last neighborhood association meeting at the last minute (the agenda emailed to the membership beforehand did not have me on it). Because of a previous commitment to my daughter I could not attend the meeting, but others who were there told me that Ms. McCluer brought me up unexpectedly and commented on me in ways that made them uncomfortable.

Then I received the meeting minutes from the SNNA secretary, in which Ms. McCluer's personal issues with me became a part of the permanent record of the association:

Molly addressed the group re: Mike Byrd’s blog that had negatively referred to Mike Kenner, developer of 5th & Coffee. The blog suggested that there was deception on Mike Kenner’s part to build LEED certified homes in order to obtain a variance to move forward with the development.
  • Mike Kenner [principal with Kenner McLean Development who lives in Sylvan Heights], developer of 5th & Coffee property asked to address the group. He apologized for any misunderstanding but he made it clear that he never discussed building LEED certified homes in Salemtown. He builds “green”, Energy Star homes. LEED is too costly for the Salemtown neighborhood. He prides himself on being neighborhood friendly.
  • A SNNA member commented that anyone’s personal blog does not represent or speak for SNNA.

I responded in no uncertain terms to the secretary that I never claimed to speak for anyone else on the blog and that I believe that this is the first time in the organization's 8-year history (much of which I have promoted in 7 years of blogging) that a member's questions about a developer have been written negatively into the SNNA minutes, which are supposed to record association business. There were no motions on me passed or approved, in fact, members present that night tell me that they openly questioned the negative comments about me (their feedback was not recorded into the minutes).

Needless to say, I am less-than-satisfied by all of this baseless spanking by an association officer on behalf of a developer. If she were not president, this would be going down a whole different way. She would have written her hate mail and it would have ended there. Unfortunately, the personal animosity continues as SNNA business.

The kicker for me: I voted for her at last year's SNNA elections. No good deed goes unpunished.


  1. This reminds me of a couple quotes:

    "Don't pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel."

    "[Neighborhood] politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

    You didn't mention if Ms. McClure has ever spoken to you about the opinions expressed in her email. I think it's an important point. She has somewhat of a right to fly off the handle, act like a jackass, and forever document her poor people skills - if she has tried to communicate her concerns privately in the past.


  2. I was not engaged privately or face-to-face about this.

    In her hate mail, Ms. McClure said that Mike Kenner had been corresponding with her about whether to answer my question regarding LEED vs. Energy Star and that she "advised" him to ignore it because I was "baiting" him. Until then, neither Kenner nor McClure divulged that they were corresponding on how to respond to a question that I thought was as straightforward and honest as could be.

    The May blog post I ended up writing was different than the one I would have written if Mr. Kenner had simply responded that he never mentioned LEED (a point still disputed by Freddie O'Connell's interpretation).

    I have to say that I am not impressed that an association president and a developer are coordinating responses to this SNNA member on the downlow. I am even less impressed by the SNNA Executive Committee, which had to have consented to the agenda of the last meeting; and yet, without notifying me that I was going to be a subject of discussion. I am steadily losing confidence in SNNA leadership.

  3. I don't know any of the players involved except you, but I would say, the exec committee may have seen the new agenda at the same time you did. In small organizations [as you know] these things often happen in squirrelly ways.

    Sorry this happened to you. Just seeing what you've said, it sounds like you have a legit question -- and perhaps it has a simple answer, but too bad you didn't get that courtesy. :(

  4. Thanks, Laura. I bow to your extensive experience with neighborhood communication in a livelier part of the city.

    All: I incorrectly spelled Molly McCluer's name in the original post. The misspellings have been corrected.

    Brian: Your misspelling is my misspelling. Sorry.

  5. Sounds like your association president is beginning or has already crossed over to the dark side and is getting cushy with developers. She is not the first, nor will she be the last.

    Some people when put in leadership positions forget that they should be serving the neighborhood, and have not been given the power to control it. Her email is unprofessional at best. Sounds like Karl Dean and his buddies may have gotten to her. He has a way of trying to make people think they are important if they just do what he and his developer friends tell them to do. It is no different than many council members past and present.

    It is obvious that your president has not been involved nor does she understand the actual happenings of local politics in this town. What is printed in the local press or what is stated by many of our elected officials is simply not true. Your blog is the only place to find the truth in most cases. I am sorry that your president doesn't see that. Nashvillians look to your blog and to Salemtown for leadership. Speaking the truth doesn't make you adversarial unless you are on the side of untrue.

    Keep writing the truth Mike and express your personal opinion. In case your association president has forgotten, many have bled and died to give you and every other American citizen the right to do so.

    PS- Sounds like your group might consider the need to look for a new president. Karl will probably appoint her to a Metro board or commission soon anyway.