Email to Kate Bramson, 3-13-2001 Restrained Objectivity
I don't know how long you lasted at the meeting last night but I left after midnight. It was apparent when the Board finally had a chance to talk that some Board members blame you for what they consider public misperception. I know they've been under tremendous stress. Facing 800 people for five hours of public tongue lashing is not a pleasant thing to endure. It hasn't gotten to me yet though. I'm having a ball.
I think you've done a pretty good job outlining our plan and its origins. If you visit my website under "Crises" you will find my retelling of the infamous Sunday meeting. That was the one where we locked the doors of the CAB for our Board retreat because no janitorial staff was there to monitor the building. My entry is not very kind to Laura Condon.
Its funny, but after last night's grilling I'm feeling an uncharacteristic sense of fraternity with Laura and the other Board members. I suppose its a little like the camaraderie that exists among men under fire. I'm told there's no loyalty quite like it.
I have to say that your article today was very objective. I noted, however, that you did not quote Mr. Jackson and his police report comparing the Piedmont and Lincoln neighborhoods. The whole city might have been up in arms at the implication that schools in some of our neighborhoods are dangerous places. If you'd gone farther and explained how wildly the room cheered Mr. Jackson, it would have left the impression that the people of East Duluth are bigots. In fact, there was not any mention of this in your story though it could easily have been deduced from things some people said. You didn't even quote the few brave souls in the queue of speakers who gently remonstrated with the audience to make just that point.
Perhaps your most generous act as a reporter was to air brush the extensively quoted comments of the Reverend Philemon Sevastiades. I thought, as I listened to him, how intoxicating it must be to whip a large emotional crowd into a frenzy with eloquent, if ignorant, words of ridicule. Certainly he won the honors for the understatement of the night when he said that his words might not sound Christian. Since you didn't put that in your story I guess I'll have to put it in my web chronicle of "long range planning" highlights.
All the best,
PS I still hope we can get together for coffee sometime