Thursday, May 02, 2013

Hate mail, part II

While perusing some public email records on the proposed Salemtown conservation overlay, I found a specifically unfavorable reference to me by former neighborhood association president, Molly McCluer, in a February 2013 message to Metro Council:

Since Mike Byrd has publicly complained about the lack of process, I feel it is fair to point out that he has had even more access than most, yet consistently failed to take advantage of any of these opportunities: he started the year on the SNNA Board but quit at the Feb. 2012 meeting, did not attend any further monthly meetings, attended 2 Metro public meetings but did not raise objections; did not join the NextDoor neighborhood website; and affirmatively refused to respond to the overlay opinion survey.

Well, I am honored to be considered deserving of a retort on this question in correspondence with elected officials. But all I had been doing until last February was expressing my opinion on a blog. I would think that Ms. McCluer, who had lobbied for the overlay from a position of power as SNNA head for a solid year, could have ignored me on the legislation, unless there were flaws in the proposal which were being exposed.

Nonetheless, Ms. McCluer spread some specious fabrications about me, which I have had to dispel even with some neighbors who asked about them. In the spirit of the idea that there are at least two sides to every story, and given that this story is about me, I have a different interpretation of what happened last year. Some of it is more about her than me.

I took a position on the executive committee in 2012 assuming things would go as they had the several other times I served in similar leadership positions. From our first meeting with Ms. McCluer as president, I quickly learned that things would be drastically different. She proposed a lot of extreme, unsanctioned changes for SNNA: stripping the by-laws down, extending the presidency and vice presidency to 2-year terms, cutting down the number of membership mtgs and relying exclusively on the executive committee, bringing in a horticulturalist to redesign all of the streetscape landscaping approved in an earlier block grant process, among other things. She got resistance from some of us on the committee, and then the membership (and the Metro Police community officer to an extent) shot down her plan to cut back the number of business meetings.

Ms. McCluer made it harder for members of the EC like me to have input and influence. When I volunteered to help write a survey she declined, saying that she wanted me to focus exclusively on being a Treasurer. But then she practically ordered me to reconvene the SNNA by-laws committee, (which had finished its work years ago) to approve the changes that she announced at the first EC meeting. She set EC meetings on days and times I could not meet without regard to my point that I was unavailable because of family commitments. That was the last straw. I resigned my EC position in February and announced it to the membership in a letter.

After the drama I did decide to take a short break from the association that I had served consistently and loyally since its founding in 2005 in order to spend more time with my family. As spring wound down a neighbor told me that Ms. McCluer attacked me in a membership meeting for blogging my personal opinions about a development. The SNNA secretary sent out minutes from the meeting with the negative spin. My active involvement in SNNA for 2012 ended there. I decided I would not leave myself open to future ambushes via the executive committee.

The only other point in Ms. McCluer's harangue to the council that deserves my attention is her point that I did not respond to the inappropriate survey. I did respond, and my responses appear under my name for anyone to read. That survey ended up having negligible impact on council action on the overlay. And it should have had no influence. It was slanted and ill-advised.

In 2013, things are different. There is a new president. The association voted to strike Ms. McCluer's attack on me from the May 2012 minutes. There are discussions about a neutral survey being written to gauge Salemtown opinions accurately. I have withdrawn my opposition to the overlay after some changes to the bill and a series of open community meetings. I am once again a dues-paying, participating member of SNNA. But I'm sure if they really wanted to, someone could spout some more one-sided fabrications about me in 2013, too. Hopefully, they continue to do so on the public record.

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