Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Open Letter to Councilman Henry from Tom Kiefaber at The Senator

The Senator's listserv just sent the following open letter to Bill Henry, which I'll paste in after my own comment.

From my personal perspective, if Bill Henry wants to show his good faith with regard to The Senator, he could make sure the city stops spraying massive amounts of water all over The Senator's roof and marquee from their temporary pipes along Rosebank Avenue FOR THE SECOND TIME IN ABOUT A MONTH. I took video of this today, which I'll probably put up on YouTube at some point.

Coincidentally, the water started spraying all over the marquee soon after Bill Henry had his little chat on the phone with Tom Kiefaber that is described in the open letter, but I suppose it's just my own paranoia to think the two might possibly be connected. Just to be clear, I'm going to point out that Tom K actually laughed at me when I suggested to him that the two might be connected, so it's definitely only me that thinks so.

UPDATE: Gayle at The Senator called the city and someone came out and said they couldn't fix it because it was contracted out, but noted that it was the second time it had happened in the same place. Somebody put a large orange plastic object used for diverting traffic on it, which does have the effect of at least keeping the water from spraying up in the air. When I arrived at the theatre a few minutes ago, a guy in an orange vest was at least working in the general vicinity. Now Gayle just reported it's shut off.

Well, enough about the mysterious spraying water. Here's the open letter from The Senator's listserv:

July 6, 2009

Dear Councilman Henry:

I was hoping that your call today was for the purpose of discussing the alarming upcoming city auction of The Senator Theatre and the BDC's misguided Russian roulette approach to the theatre's uncertain future.

While I understand your concern over the marquee message currently displayed at The Senator, our assertion that you have declined to date to address the murky situation in an open and transparent manner is the truth. If it hurts to see the truth displayed on The Senator's marquee, then do something about it beyond simply ordering it to be removed.

Your stance of avoidance in refusing to agree to meet at The Senator with your constituents and other concerned citizens is unacceptable. Running out the clock and ducking the issue at this juncture is a dangerous and irresponsible course of action. It's not how you represented yourself to the community to obtain office.

We sincerely feel that your representation of your constituents regarding The Senator Theatre and its uncertain future has been abysmal to date. Aligning with the BDC and The Mayor's Office and overtly shilling for their potentially disastrous, disingenuous approach, rather than responding to community and constituent concerns over this matter, does not reflect your avowed platform and values when you requested our support.

In response to your specific request, The Senator's marquee once prominently displayed "ELECT BILL HENRY", in the largest font possible. We agreed to display that message to all concerned in good faith, based on your words and promises to the voters and to us. Your subsequent actions however, have proven otherwise. What counts with us is your actions and not your words, and as a result we have come to regret our past support of your candidacy.

Ducking the last pivotal town hall meeting over The Senator Theatre crisis called by Senator Joan Conway, while choosing to take calls from the town meeting perched on a barstool at Zen West, did not go unnoticed. Neither did your celebration with the Mayor's office insiders and BDC representatives at Zen West immediately following the town meeting you were too busy to attend.

I note this behavior because from our perspective it's indicative of the cavalier manner that you have been conducting yourself throughout this crisis regarding The Senator Theatre and its perilous future.

Enough is enough.

As a result, we will not acquiesce to your demands to remove the critical message on our marquee, which from our perspective reflects a growing understanding of your allegiance to others and not to the community. It tells it like it is.

It is also unfortunate that you still refuse to meet with the community at The Senator Theatre, despite our standing offer to schedule a timely gathering with your constituents, based around your busy schedule.

Please also note that our refusal to remove the message displaying your name from our marquee does not justify hanging up abruptly. It's counter productive to an expeditious resolution of the critical issues at hand.

Emotions aside, we look forward to working with you and representatives from the city to explore timely alternatives to the city's auction, alternatives that will avert the unacceptable risks the auction represents. Your leadership is sorely needed to help fulfill the mandate formed in the past two years among our extended North Baltimore communities to ensure that The Senator makes the critical transition to not-for-profit ownership.

Not-for-profit ownership of The Senator is the community's mandate that has been achieved in scores of other communities nationwide to preserve, protect and enhance the uses of their beloved historic theatres. It's a mandate that can and should take place at The Senator Theatre.

The "cliffhanger" situation at The Senator Theatre can still have a happy ending, and we encourage you to meet with the community and recognize the wisdom of this approach before it's too late.


Tom Kiefaber

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