danniewriter

Confessions of a reluctant protestor

Note: The author is a resident of the El Conquistador condo community in Louisville, Ky. Her views are her own and do not represent anyone else at El Conquistador, Casa Granada, or Planet Earth.

There are several reasons I’ve never been much of a “joiner” when it comes to causes, no matter how worthy.

I tend to get too emotionally invested, which often interferes with good judgment. On many issues, I clearly see both sides. And, rather than considering the rightness/wrongness of an issue, I often ask myself how likely will a vocal opposition result in a positive change? Outrage for the sake of outrage, to me, is wasted energy. I dislike the sound of my own voice. I prefer to express my opinions at the ballot box or perhaps by writing a check.

When something hits close to home, naturally I take notice, but even then I try to be circumspect. Is this something to be fought, or something to be accepted?

Every once in a while, however, I run across something so clearly in opposition to respect and common sense that the outrage, and the organized opposition, comes quite easily.

The proposed Hikes Point SpeedWash at 3000 Breckenridge Lane in Louisville is a case in point.

It’s a sweet deal for a small group of people. Reportedly, it’s worth about $1.5 million for the current owner of the property. And, with an average daily traffic volume of more than 31,000 vehicles, it’s about low-hanging fruit for SpeedWash. The business model here touts bargain basement prices; exterior washes start at only $3/car, and self-serve vacuums are free. The only way SpeedWash makes a profit is to process as many cars as possible in the 12-13 hours it is open, seven days a week.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for people making money. Also, it would inject a few more low-paying jobs into the local economy. However, the list of pros is pretty short compared to the cons in store for hundreds of people profoundly affected by the project.

Full disclosure: I have a dog in this fight. I live at the El Conquistador Condominiums. If this car wash goes in, I’ll be looking at it out my front windows. The value of my financial investment will plummet.

But, unlike many of my older neighbors, I have options. I can sell out, cut my losses, and move elsewhere to lick my wounds. For many residents, the condos are the last homes they will ever have. For many, they invested a lifetime’s worth of savings and pensions into purchasing a home they thought would be a safe and pleasant place to live out their years. For many, they spend most of their time each day within the walls of their condos, making those homes incredibly important to their quality of life.

I daresay none of the residents moved in dreaming of the day that a high-volume car wash would be built across the parking lot, adding traffic, grit, heat, and unfathomable noise to their everyday lives.

This is very much a David and Goliath story. Many of my neighbors are ill, or so advanced in age, they don’t have much fight left in them. I’ve heard them express great concern even while struggling to sign their name to a petition. As I write this, my eyes well with tears. It’s just not fair, especially to them. Where is the protection for our elderly that our society claims to prize?

I’ve tried to get the attention of local media, and senior citizens advocacy agencies, but so far, few people outside Hikes Point, and the two condo communities, are aware of the project and its implications.

Maybe you can help us. First, I encourage you to read the petition, and the press release about a valid-but-still-Hail-Mary legal battle El Conquistador has undertaken. Here’s a layman’s explanation of the “adverse possession” question.

Get the facts and decide if you think it’s a battle worth undertaking, even if you don’t have a dog in the fight. If you do, help us by reaching out to:

If you are still reading at this point, thank you! That’s a win right there.

Dannah K. “Dannie” Prather lives in Louisville and is a freelance writer and part-time dog walker (Rover.com).

 

 

 

Adverse Possession Adversity

Note: The author is a resident of the El Conquistador condo community in Louisville, Ky. Her views are her own and do not represent anyone else at El Conquistador, Casa Granada, or Planet Earth.

The lawsuit filed last month by El Conquistador Condos against Bayside Properties, LLC makes a claim of “adverse possession” of a portion of the 1.43-acre parcel at 3000 Breckenridge Lane.

Often, the concept of adverse possession is shorthanded as “squatters’ rights.” This writer’s non-legal, and pedestrian explanation follows: If an individual or group maintains a piece of property for several years without complaint from the actual owner of the land, the argument could be made that the land legally belongs to the individual or group.

Many years ago, El Conquistador leased the building and property at 3000 Breckenridge Lane as a clubhouse and swimming pool, but the developer eventually sold the land, and over the years, the building was rented out as offices for various professional services such as attorneys, dentists, chiropractors, etc. Other than no longer having a clubhouse and swimming pool, nothing much changed for El Conquistador residents.

It is only now that residents are learning that the boundaries of the parcel drawn up so many years ago include a much bigger chunk than they likely imagined.

For decades, residents of El Conquistador have paid for the maintenance and improvement of the strip of property that constitutes the border of the condo community and the office building. With the complete knowledge and tacit approval of owners past and present, ECC has resurfaced the thoroughfare, installed speed bumps, striped parking spaces, and landscaped the parcel.

Now, Bayside wants to sell the whole enchilada to a high-volume car wash likely capable of processing more than a dozen cars each hour, and open for 12-13 hours daily and seven days a week. The location is smack dab between El Conquistador, and another senior living community, Casa Granada.

Lost in that enchilada will be several parking spaces and landscaping for El Conquistador, expanding the thoroughfare of El Conquistador Place to within seven feet of one of four entrances to ECC’s Building Two. Yes, seven feet. There are basketball players taller than that. In the photo below from Bayside’s website, Building Two runs parallel to Breckenridge Lane. The structure with the star is the proposed location of the car wash’s office. For reference, the parking lot across Breckenridge Lane in the upper righthand corner is in front of the McMahan Plaza Kroger. At bottom right is one of Casa Granada’s buildings.

Whether El Conquistador’s attorney succeeds in court, is the question of the community’s maintenance of the property really a question at all? The photo under the headline at top, and the images shared below reveal clearly how ECC is using the property, and how well it has been maintained. In marked contrast is the almost complete lack of maintenance by Bayside of 3000 Breckenridge Lane, which has created an eyesore for condo residents for many years.

A former ECC board member said the condo contacted Bayside to invite the realtor to piggyback on the annual resurfacing project in order to save time, money, and inconvenience to all involved. Bayside declined, and opted to continue doing essentially nothing to maintain what it considers the portion of the property for which it is responsible.

It’s pretty obvious where ECC’s care ends and Bayside’s begins:

Here’s a visitor handicapped parking spot that Bayside alleges to maintain:

Bonus eyesores for ECC residents include a stand-alone carport, three junk vehicles complete with towering weeds and flat tires, and a boat that definitely has seen better days.

Some will argue that Bayside and previous owners have been benevolent for all these years, allowing ECC to use the property for parking and landscaping. It’s a fair point until you figure that, with all the money ECC has spent, residents likely have paid for the property itself a few times over.

Another argument is that Bayside’s lack of maintenance of 3000 Breckenridge Lane is a point in favor of selling, but that argument falls as flat as the tires on the boat trailer. If polled, residents likely would opt to live with the junk cars and weeds compared to a noisy car wash that will divert a portion of the 30,000 cars that travel Hikes Point daily onto a thoroughfare that was never designed to handle such numbers.

The lawsuit is in the hands of ECC’s board, and now, Jefferson Circuit Court, but residents are hoping to generate support for their cause with these efforts:

  • An online petition that explains the issues in more detail.
  • A Facebook page (Hikes Point Wipe Out the Wash) to share facts and encourage others to share to their Facebook pages in order to build awareness.
  • We’re also on Twitter as @wipeoutwash, and are using the hashtag #wipeoutthewash.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Dannah K. “Dannie” Prather lives in Louisville and is a freelance writer and part-time dog walker (Rover.com)

 

Hikes Point Wipe Out the Wash

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOUISVILLE — A senior condo community has filed suit against a commercial realtor to reclaim property in a move residents hope will prevent the construction of a high-volume car wash in busy Hikes Point.

El Conquistador Condominium Association, Inc., filed suit in Jefferson Circuit Court Nov. 7 against Bayside Properties LLC of Louisville citing condo residents’ decades-long maintenance of a portion of the 1.43-acre parcel at 3000 Breckenridge Lane that Bayside wants to sell to SpeedWash Car Wash.

Casa Granada, another mostly-senior condo community, is located on the other side of the property in question.

Without a favorable ruling in the suit, some El Conquistador residents will find the driveway of the car wash about seven feet from their door. (See the photo above which highlights the boundaries of the parcel in red.) Additionally, several parking spaces and landscaping will be lost if the development proceeds.

Some El Conquistador residents have undertaken a petition to raise awareness of what they say is a safety, and quality-of-life, issue.

According to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet records, the average daily traffic rate for the area across the street from the McMahan Plaza Kroger, and many other businesses, is more than 31,000 vehicles. Diverting even a small percentage of that traffic onto El Conquistador Place is likely to make driving and parking more difficult for residents, increase the noise level exponentially, and could possibly interfere with first responders’ access to the condos.

Get more information on our Facebook page and also read the petition online.

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Contact Dannah Prather at 502-432-8725 or email hikespointwipeoutthewash@gmail.com

(Photo from Bayside Properties LLC website)

‘Truthful hyperbole’ is why PR gets a bad rep

Side profile shocked man with long nose. Liar concept

On inauguration day, I listened to the remarks from the 45th president of the United States on the radio. The next day, I read and watched coverage of the millions of people around the world, overwhelmingly in the U.S., who marched in opposition to his election. Since then, my iPhone hasn’t stopped pinging with news alerts relative to executive orders, cabinet confirmations, opposition speeches and the like. The New York Times is churning out so many opinion pieces conveying outrage, I’m wondering if they are even in the reporting business any more.

And it’s only day three.

All in all, I feel like the inner circle of fictional Broadway star Margo Channing when she uttered the most famous line in “All About Eve.”

Chief among the outrage, at least for the last 36 hours, is the reference to “alternative facts” by the Trump White House when estimating the size of the inauguration crowd. This is in line with Trump’s modus operandi (outlined in one of his books) that his ghostwriter termed “truthful hyperbole.”

Now, “hyperbole” is defined as “obvious and intentional exaggeration” and “an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally.” For example: “to wait an eternity.”

So, by definition, hyperbole is not truthful (factual).

Therefore, if an individual or group presents “alternative facts” using “truthful hyperbole” as an acceptable standard, chances are they are lying through their collective teeth.

Viewing the term in its strictest definition, “alternative facts” could mean facts provided by a reliable source that simply isn’t as well known as the source used most often and by the most people. For example: Consumer Reports historically has a great reputation for its reviews and reports, but does that mean articles from Reviewed.com are unreliable? Not necessarily. But make no mistake, “alternative facts” as easily debunked as those posited by the White House regarding the inauguration attendance are fabrication.

Public relations and marketing often get a bad rep, I think, because, quite frankly, there are dishonest practitioners out there. Trump, with his non-existent “truthful hyperbole” is an example. But some of the bad reputation is unfair because

  • putting the best foot forward
  • leading with the positive rather than the negative, and
  • taking time to work on messaging in advance

often are mischaracterized as outright fabrication. The term “spin doctor” is pretty much synonymous with “snake oil salesman,” unless the latter happens to refer to selling a product that keeps your reptiles soft and scale-free.

Although January is nearly through, maybe a resolution is in order for anyone out there promoting, selling, inspiring, informing, and otherwise communicating … which, by the way, is everyone, isn’t it? … to make sure our content passes the smell test. Is it based on

  • internal research of my business and non-profit
  • statistics, other facts and opinions of reputable, and cited, sources
  • fairness and contextualization (am I comparing apples to apples or applies to garden hoses?)

In coming weeks, I’ll explore these three points in more detail, especially on how to discern a reputable source from “fake news.”

Questions? Do you need assistance in your public relations or marketing endeavors? Give me a call. I’d love to hear from you. Initial consultations are free of charge.

 

 

Krakauer case could help break college wall of silence

krakauer

There’s an important case being heard at the Montana Supreme Court today. Journalist/author Jon Krakauer’s efforts could help break a wall of silence at those college campuses where rape often is treated as a public relations issue instead of a criminal issue. The author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and other excellent investigative non-fiction books, explored the issue in his 2015 offering, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.

(Photo licensed through Creative Commons by Devon Christopher Adams, 2009, Dobson High School, Mesa, Arizona)

They make us seem small

pinnacle2

Earlier today, I shared a link to a story from Bloomberg Business about Bit Source, a startup in Pikeville, Ky., that is giving some out-of-work coal miners training and employment as computer coders.

For me, the timing of this positive, hopeful story couldn’t be better, because there is another “startup” that really has me down. It’s the TV show “Outsiders” that recently premiered on a station I don’t want to promote by identifying.

I did enough research, and watched enough of the first episode, to equip myself to condemn it.

The show’s creators are quick to say that the “Farrell” family (named without irony, despite the spelling) and its heritage are fictitious, however, they took the trouble to identify the setting as the eastern Kentucky portion of Appalachia. The cherry on top is that the clan makes its way in the world, in part, by producing and selling moonshine.

They are dirty, illiterate, superstitious, ignorant, in-bred outlaws who periodically emerge from the hills to drive their ATVs through the stores of the local town, stealing whatever they need or want.

Just writing about it makes me feel dumber.

To me, the final indignity is that the show is filmed in Pennsylvania. Eastern Kentuckians get hammered by loathsome stereotypes without the slightest financial benefit even to one local economy.

It’s true, the mountains make us seem small, but trash like “Outsiders” makes us seem smaller in a different, and degrading, way.

Consider, instead, Jim Ratliff, one of the former miners mentioned in the Bloomberg story. To be trained by Bit Source, Ratliff had to pass a series of tests and assessments. He didn’t just pass; he aced them. Ratliff  “credits in part to his years of calculating particle velocities and explosion densities at his old gig.”

(I wonder how many people associated with that TV show could calculate a particle velocity even if it came up and bit them on the nose.)

One more thing.

I am not a supporter of big government; I’m a supporter of smart government. The Bit Source story is an example of what can happen when the public and private sectors work together. The U.S. Labor Department provided a grant so future coders could have an income while they trained.

Additionally, none of this would be possible without Internet connectivity, a scarce commodity in the region. Kentucky Wired is a private-public partnership to expand Internet availability in the commonwealth, beginning with Appalachia. The initiative has run into funding problems, so I encourage Kentuckians to stay up to date on Kentucky Wired, and to be ready to contact your legislator to support this vital effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of two minds (at least!) about RFRA

Abigail_Adams

Abigail Adams wrote: “I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.”

If that’s so, I must be a freaking genius.

As I have read, watched and listened to the uproar over Indiana’s first pass at a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, my thoughts and feelings are sensitive to people at each pole of the argument.

My overwhelming emotion is disgust, however, at some of the laziest, alarmist, lowest-common-denominator reporting that I think I’ve ever had the misfortune to consume. True, some of the most ignorant, offensive vitriol comes from citizen “journalists,” but it is many of the people who actually get paid to do this work (I cannot bear to refer to them as “professionals”) who are the greatest offenders.

I do not know how many times I have read this week: “Indiana Law Permits Discrimination Against Homosexuals.”

Wrong.

Additionally, I have read: “IN’s RFRA Same As Longstanding Federal Statute.”

Equally false.

It’s gratifying to see many knowledgeable parties enter the debris field created by the initial disaster. Note to so-called reporters: These are the people you should have interviewed before you wrote your initial stories.

Mrs. Adams’ husband once stated: “Facts are stubborn things.” Here are a few:

Passed in 1993, the federal RFRA states that the government cannot impose laws/regulations that “substantially burden” an individual’s freedom of religious expression.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal RFRA overstepped, prohibiting states to regulate their lands for religious purposes. That decision has led to several states passing their own versions of RFRA in order to toss out the bath water but keep the baby.

Law professor Josh Blackman writes that, as signed March 26, Indiana’s law has broadened the federal statute to include corporations as well as individuals. It has changed that key phrase to “likely to be substantially burdened.” Additionally, it states that religious freedom can be a defense in judicial/administrative proceedings even if the government is not a party.

The elephant in the room is one of the hottest buttons in America’s culture today: gay rights. Among other arguments, people of bad and good faith alike have said for a while that granting equal protections to LGBT individuals sets a precedent of protecting conduct rather than personhood.

All these state RFRAs aren’t popping up just to protect Native Americans’ sacred lands and peyote ceremonies. There’s no doubt that cases with gay plaintiffs and Christian defendants are coming that will test the laws that have broadened the scope of the federal RFRA.

Tested. That is a very important word, and is vital to clarify the incorrect assumptions of Indiana’s law. Return to Josh Blackman’s blog:

The “point was totally lost in the Indiana debate–that RFRA does not provide immunity. It only allows a defendant to raise a defense, which a finder of fact must consider, like any other defense. RFRA is *not* a blank check to discriminate.”

Because I live in the real world and not some pie-in-the-sky utopia, I realize there will be people of ill will who will attempt to hide their hate behind RFRA. But, it would be great if some of the equally vitriolic in the LGBT/gay-rights community considered this observation from what they might consider an unlikely source, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Andrew Walker writes:

“There is no good reason for any business, let’s say a hamburger stand for example, to deny a gay man or a gay couple the right to patronize the establishment. Let’s be clear: If there’s evidence of this — of a business owner denying someone service based on his being and not his conduct — the owner of said business should be held liable.”

But, he adds:

“To require a wedding vendor to service a same-sex wedding is not eliminating discrimination against the gay couple. It’s coercing the wedding vendor. Think of an alternative situation where a gay baker is required to bake dessert cakes for a pro-marriage rally sponsored by a conservative group. Surely we should acknowledge that a person should not be required to provide a good or service for an event premised on views that the baker finds objectionable. Do you really want to live in a country where supposedly free businesses are required to use their goods and services against their will?”

This ain’t an oil change, folks. Graphic artists, bakers, florists, photographers and other creative types sit down face to face with their customers to discuss vision, likes and dislikes. Imagine a pro-life leader coming to a pro-choice graphic artist asking for a poster or t-shirt design that includes an image of a human fetus?

For years, many local municipalities have had anti-discrimination laws that include their LGBT citizens. There’s no doubt that more states will pass their own laws, just as Illinois did six years after their own RFRA got the green light. If those laws are well written and head off the haters, count me relieved.

But there will be other cases.

It is through the messy, time-consuming—and yes, often ugly—process of the courts and the legislatures that America will reach the other side of this contentious, emotional debate.

Christians will be forced to put their motives under the microscope. “Am I being called to take a stand and engage in civil disobedience? Or am I simply unwilling to be respectful of someone with whose lifestyle I disagree?”

The shoe fits well on the other foot, too. “Do I really want to persuade someone of my convictions or simply condemn them for theirs?”

What would Abigail think? I’ve no idea. But from what I know of her, she seemed pretty practical, if ahead of her time. If she were aware of this debate, then it stands to reason she would also be aware of the Civil War. I’d like to think she’d say, “If we made it through that and survived as a nation, we can handle this, too.”

That is, if the headlines don’t kill us first.

Image: “Abigail Adams” by Benjamin Blythe. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Case could impact more than churches

gavel

This is a fascinating case well covered, as usual, by Christianity Today. It is a coup that the US Supreme Court heard arguments:

“Few cases make it through the costly and time-intensive litigation process to arrive before the Supreme Court. This makes Reed’s case unusual. But the fact that the plaintiff represents such a small religious group is not, said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Larger churches and religious organizations often have political clout that smaller ones do not.

“‘It’s not an accident that it’s [smaller] groups running afoul of the political system,’ Rassbach said. ‘In this situation, there’s no political cost to just shutting down the signs. That’s when you want the First Amendment to come in and protect the little guy.’”

What do you think?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/januaryfebruary/signs-of-belief-church-marketing-supreme-court-gilbert-adf.html