Toboggan tussle began
for no reason
I'm all for watchdogs and activists,
but what has transpired on our
city's East Side regarding the
so-called "tearing down"
of a sledding hill has been despicable,
and for no reason whatsoever.
See, you never open your mouth
until you know what the shot is,
until you've absorbed all of the
facts. Being an activist and a
watchdog requires patience and
reason. Without those two qualities,
really, all you're doing is bitching.
You're background noise, a blabbermouth,
Case in point: Nan Rinner, a
squeaky wheel who has bulldozed
a handful of ass-kissing city
council members into actually
considering not taking up the
First Tee Program on its offer
to enhance Grandview Golf Course.
Never mind that the program itself
would benefit hundreds of kids
every summer, that the improvements
would be, for the most part, free
of charge, or that the city might
get back in black if it tweaks
the course a bit, Rinner heard
that the hill might be altered
somewhat and she went on the attack.
What was she attacking? Well,
she doesn't exactly know, as plans
had not been released when she
blew her stack. All she knows
is that she doesn't want them
to "touch the hill."
But what if "touching the
hill" made the hill better?
What if it made the ride longer,
steeper? What if it meant the
kids sledding down the hill wouldn't
have to crash into tires and a
chain link fence at the bottom?
According to architects, who folks
like Rinner haven't bothered to
listen to, the hill will be "enhanced"
and "better." Does that
matter? Or does it matter that
East-Side kids might get to participate
in a world-class program that
might not otherwise be made available
to them? Of course not. You lash
out so that city leaders - well
known for avoiding any and all
slippery slopes - know you mean
Forget the fact that you can't
be for something unless that something
stands against something else,
and you can't be against something
that does not exist, the proposal
for what First Tee envisioned
hadn't even been made when the
daggers came out, when folks like
Rinner showed their fangs.
"If they cut down our hill,
then let them cut Waveland's down,
too," East-Side dentist Richard
Fuller told The Des Moines Register
in an article whose headline read:
"East-siders cry foul at
plans to level hill" - regardless
of the fact that no such plan
had even been introduced. And
despite butchering the credibility
of a once-proud family-owned newspaper,
it also kills the credibility
of Fuller, as well. See, he doesn't
even know what he's mad at so
he lashes out at another part
of the community. How old is he,
10? Comments like that and like
those of Rinner give activists,
true activists, a bad name.
Why? Because despite what some
reporters want you to believe,
First Tee isn't against the East
Side; it's for the East Side.
This is about building up a community,
not tearing it down. Perhaps the
First Tee program's initial plan
will be something to be upset
about. Perhaps it won't work and
will need to be adjusted. Perhaps
First Tee will be told to take
a hike. But shouldn't people see
the plan first before attacking
it? And shouldn't headlines like
"Fight to save D.M. sledding
hill gains speed" be held
until the hill itself is actually
known to be at risk? Responsible,
reasonable people would say, "yes."
True activists fight for the
livelihood of their children,
and they fight hard for it - whether
that means the preservation of
a sledding hill, a youth golf
program or a way to have both.
True city leaders aren't so anxious
to give every squeaky wheel that
rolls through the door ample amounts
of grease until there is something
to really squeak about. And true
newspapers, ones that strive to
make the communities in which
they publish better places (sliding
readership and profits going to
Washington D.C. or not), do not
"enhance" the news to
make it sexier, or pit people
against one another to stretch
a story out.
There are, quite obviously,
some things worth fighting for.
But don't knuckle up until there
is actually something to swing
at. And don't ever swing unless
there's an honest-to-God fight
to be had.
I applaud Nan Rinner for gathering
up 1,000 signatures, for busting
her hump to bring her corner of
the world together and for making
her first ever pilgrimage to City
Hall so that her voice could be
heard. But what is contemptible
is her blatantly looking a gift
horse in the mouth - one that
could make the quality of life
better for the side of town that
she proclaims to love so much
without even knowing what the
end result would be. Truth be
told, that type of behavior makes
her nothing more than a nasty
old gasbag who enjoys the sound
of her own voice and a brawl.
And that is not activism. That's
just being a pain in the ass.
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