LTE: Opinions Based on Facts Are Far More Useful

In a community that so often operates on rumors, I think it is useful to have opinions based on fact. Unfortunately, such is not the case with Bunny’s opinion piece last week. Given that I was there when he was gathering information he could have asked for facts instead of basing his opinion on false assumptions.

Regarding the situation at “the cougar house” Bunny states “Neighbors could have extended a hand of assistance with some resources from your pocket, like some sweat and elbow grease…lack of compassion is sickening…Hopefully, after the home is repaired she can get a hand in keeping things in order instead of a boot in the butt.”

At least three years ago, I personally gave her a long list of referrals. Ken Richardson personally boarded up the house from the elements because it had been vacant between her ex-husband leaving and her purchasing it from him. We had a community organizer that would have helped, there was an offer to purchase and others tried to help. She chose to blame others like Westside Housing, the neighborhood and the city for causing her problems with the house (Yes, the same city that just came to her rescue!).

Most residents have their hands full with their own personal rehabs, work and families so we don’t have the luxury of time or money to take on someone else’s house that a resident chose to buy from her ex-husband, knowing it was gutted and had been hit by scrappers. I’m curious—what financial resources and elbow grease did Bunny, a Scarritt resident, offer for this or any other project in the neighborhood for at least the last eight years?

And as to “getting help keeping things in order,” I suggest that Bunny start looking for those resources or help her get it listed for sale or help her find a good paying job because I don’t know of any resources or residents that are going to pay her taxes or utilities or rebuild the interior to a livable condition to avoid the same situation. If I did, I would be using them myself instead of paying my own way through life.

The neighborhood is filled with hard-working, struggling people that we can’t get enough resources for, but those residents follow up on our recommendations and referrals and don’t blame others for their situation. Personally, I think that is where the city’s limited resources would be better spent. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been to the city leadership for help with projects that would benefit well-deserving residents who need a hand-up. Sometimes I am successful and other times I am ignored.

And another fact to know before playing the “poor widow” card against the big, bad neighborhood is that the homeowner who knowingly bought an abandoned, stripped out, gutted house apparently with no income to pay for its repair, is NOT a widow. She is a long-ago divorced woman whose ex-husband died of emphysema a couple of months ago. That makes for less drama but it is fact.

Opinion based on FACT: The neighbors did not lack compassion. We are realists who did what we could do and decided that the house, even though sadly part of our historic fabric, needed to be torn down before it fell on her, her dog and unsuspecting passersby. We wish the city and Bunny success in their endeavors to save her and the house, but we are moving on to continue to help residents in situations that never get an inch of column space.


Leslie Caplan

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