September 2, 2008

Inbox — Sept. 3, 2008

Letters to the Editor

SPINNING MADDER

In the Aug. 27 Inbox letter “Spinning Mad,” Julianne M. Thomas told the story of how she opened her car door and hit a biker. I am that biker. A few things need to be made clear regarding this incident. 

This happened on Ash Street in Germantown, which is a narrow road only big enough for one car to drive down at a time. If two cars happen to meet on this road, one car must pull over into a parking spot so the other can pass. 

I was riding my bike down Ash Street where the edge of a car would be, approximately two to three feet away from the parked cars. Suddenly, no more than a foot in front of me, a car door was thrown wide open. In the letter, she says she “had no way of knowing anyone was coming.” I take this to mean that she has removed all of the mirrors from her vehicle. The tip of my handlebar hit her door, which was enough to knock me off balance. If a car had been driving down the street, her car door would have been removed. I hit the ground pretty hard and continued to roll a time or two. Luckily, I had just gone to the grocery and had a roll of paper towels in my backpack to help break my fall. 

Thomas goes on to explain that she was immediately sympathetic because I was “obviously injured.” This is a flat-out lie. I was trying to stand up and “obviously injured” when she said, “You bikers need to learn what you’re doing.” I was so surprised at her lack of compassion, I said something to the extent of, “You stupid bitch, you need to share the road.” 

Thomas needs to remember that bikers are around, and not everyone can afford to drive a car everywhere. Just because you don’t hear the sound of an engine coming down the street doesn’t mean someone is not there. 

Daniel Lee, Louisville

 

AND MEANWHILE …

Unless you were on retreat in the Yukon all summer or were boycotting magazines over the ink corporations’ treatment of their workers, you know that Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression activist Gracie Lewis was involved in an altercation with the 13-year-old son of labor and civil rights organizer Attica Scott.

E-mails, the blog SOULution (LEO Weekly staff writer Phillip Bailey’s blog — ed.), as well as LEO Weekly have reported in fine detail on the incident during the Arts and Activism Summer Institute at the Alliance headquarters on West Broadway.

For the record, Lewis apologized in writing for the confrontation and for leaving a harshly worded (Scott called it “threatening”) phone message with Scott afterward.

If all one knows about recent progressive initiatives is this matter, one could conclude that all activism has screeched to a stop, stymied by personality squabbles and indiscrete acts. Such an opinion would be less common if media, which anoint themselves “alternative” or “progressive,” had covered something enlightening Aug. 9 about 20 blocks from where the Lewis-Scott nastiness started.

The Truth Commission, an event organized by Women in Transition, which advocates for the poor, heard personal testimonials at St. Augustine Catholic Church from people giving evidence of the unjust nature of a force that makes the confrontation at the Summer Institute look like the insignificant mite it was.

The accused at this event was not someone, but poverty.

In LEO’s defense, its website indicated the magazine covered a similar event two years ago. Still, it would have served the readership well to have told them of the Aug. 9 program, which included spoken-word poetry with piercing lyrics, such as: You spend a billion dollars a day on war / but you can’t feed your poor.

In poetry and prose, people from throughout Louisville told of choosing between buying their child’s medicine or keeping their heat on, of being jailed for non-payment of child support because their wages are too low and of watching medical bills pile up, causing more harm than the medicine did good. Some talked of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of household members.

No, it was not a surprise that when the “trial” ended, the commission found poverty guilty, but several members also praised the resiliency of those who had testified and prodded Kentucky to move forward from its status as last or nearly last in health, women in government and employment rates.

The afternoon was certainly more a matter of vital public interest than a couple of moments of indiscretion inflated by the alternative media. It also served to remind us that personal differences should not prevent us from confronting the real adversary.

George Morrison, New Albany

 

BULLIES BE GONE

As someone who had a 17-year career end by a boss with bully tendencies, I read the recent LEO Weekly articles on U of L’s Robert Felner and Metro government’s Kimberly Bunton with interest. I received my master’s degree from Felner’s department (well before his arrival, though one of my favorite ex-professors was one of his casualties), and I am currently an employee of Louisville Metro Government.

It seems that this kind of behavior toward subordinates is all too often accepted in the workplace today, despite many organizations’ efforts to create “non-hostile” work environments through diversity training. As long as a manager’s deeds don’t end up putting their employer on the front page or generate adverse publicity or a federal investigation, then “it’s all good,” as they say.

Unfortunately, the organization often loses many good employees who are valuable resources, and, ultimately, that organization’s credibility is damaged within the community, even if it’s not front-page news. Meanwhile, the bully walks away without any consequences, only to turn up as someone else’s headache. 

In my case, I was shocked that upper-level management seemed to ignore all the warning signs and even seemed quite willing to enable the perpetrator. Sadly, those you quoted in your two articles seem to indicate this is also the norm, for no one paid any attention to or seemed interested in their experiences with these individuals in question. 

Perhaps the one hope we have of holding these bullies accountable is that in a small or well-connected community, the word about their reputation eventually gets around, especially in this age of the Internet and Facebook. Let’s hope that more of those in the decision-making positions will listen to that information and make wiser choices that protect both their employees and the reputations of their own organizations.

Mike Zanone, Louisville

 

MCCAIN DRAIN

Republicans are so envious they don’t have a presidential candidate who has charisma. They like to portray Barack Obama as an “empty suit,” celebrity and rock star. Paris Hilton, in responding to a John McCain campaign ad with a spoof ad of her own, made the McCain campaign look foolish for having put her and Britney Spears in their negative TV ad. Who could possibly be influenced by the GOP’s weak attempt to discredit Obama by comparing or associating him with Hilton and Spears?

Obama has a brilliant mind and a social conscience. He is filled with youthful energy and a progressive vision for the future. McCain is living in the past. Obama will close the deal once voters see the stark contrast between the two candidates in the upcoming presidential debates.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr., Louisville