Monday, March 21, 2016

I'm Done

I don't know how things are in other places, but the neighborhood association here in the Wedge is a magnet for the unhinged; people who see vast conspiracies and corporate villains behind every Healy mansion. I'm not saying this describes the attitude of all participants, or even most. It's just far higher than what you see in the general population. I had assumed a city department called "Neighborhood and Community Relations" would also be familiar with this dynamic, and be careful not to encourage residents with overactive imaginations. I was wrong.

Last November, I was told by LHENA's President, Leslie Foreman, that NCR objected to a line from my Twitter bio. It was hard to believe a city department was policing my tweets. It was mostly hilarious and a little bit sad, but could it really be true?

In December, I contacted NCR to ask about the Twitter bio complaint. NCR denied raising the issue with LHENA. The NCR staffer assigned to LHENA went even further, telling me, "I do not look at your Twitter feed." I didn't know who to believe. It was an impenetrable riddle: this is far too dumb for anyone to lie about, yet they can't both be telling the truth.

This discrepancy is what prompted my data request for NCR emails. If my innocuous Twitter bio had become an issue, there must be some wild NCR conversations happening about me. So I was not at all surprised to find a large number of silly complaints in the emails I requested. But it was surprising to find that NCR was encouraging and validating neighborhood crackpots, disparaging me, and suggesting that I might be using my Board position to make money or otherwise improperly benefit myself. At no point did this NCR staff person ask me any of the speculative questions she was asking others about me.

This conversation from last May about whether I should be expelled from LHENA—including the brainstorming in search of a justification—happened on the day after I became a board member (NCR was nudging LHENA in the direction of censure. What had I done? Who knows!).

You might recall the time last July when someone from LHENA threatened my girlfriend. That was the moment the crazy talk stopped being funny. It was this same staffer from NCR who—after I notified her of the threat—replied by saying, basically that I should keep my tweets under control.

You know that thing that happens on Twitter where a person who doesn't follow you will browse (or hate-read) your timeline, they accidentally 'like' an old tweet, then immediately unlike—but you get email notifications so you still know that it happened? NCR does that. Policing my tweets at 10 pm on Super Bowl Sunday; NCR works hard to keep neighborhoods safe. And I haven't tweeted a single dangerous thing from the @johneapolis account in many, many months. So that's really digging deep into the archive for material.

Doesn't look at my feed.

Two weeks ago, I raised my concerns about NCR to various city officials. I have asked NCR Director David Rubedor for an acknowledgment that what happened was wrong, and an assurance that it wouldn't happen again. He has been dismissive, accusing me of taking things out of context, and saying the person he supervises acted in an appropriately "neutral" manner.

Last week, it was reported at a LHENA Board meeting that my complaint has displeased the NCR staffer responsible, and she might choose not to work with LHENA in the future. LHENA voted to support her, without any discussion of the details, or a defense of what she'd done. I took that personally—as an interference with what I see partly as an essential defense of myself and my family. In this environment, in this context, with these people, it's not a joke to have a city department fanning the flames.

So I felt compelled, one last time, to say I disagree. LHENA and NCR might support this stuff. But I can't anymore, so I'm done.