Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Un-Americanism and Neighborhood Politics, Part II

Yes, I'm in the Journal Star this morning.

The more I thought about it, the MADDER I got about it. Yes, he came on my property and insulted me, but whatever, some people are jerks. But the thought of him going out of his way to ruin someone's life on unfounded accusations, rumor, and innuendo -- I just got more and more angry about it.

So I decided I was going to the liquor commission meeting. If he was going to make these accusations, then he was going to have to do it on the public record while looking me in the eye. He may not want "my kind" in this neighborhood, but I'm going to stand up to "his kind." I don't roll over for bullies, and I don't roll over for emotional rhetoric with no substance under it. In fact, that's the kind of thing that just makes me madder and madder.

I was a little nervous, because I wasn't sure if I was going to end up a neighborhood outcast for the rest of my life, but I felt that this was something I needed to stand up on, regardless of the consequences. I felt like it would be wrong of me, as a lawyer sworn to uphold the laws of this state and this country, to let this kind of injustice go unchallenged. So I went.

The angry petitioneer was not there.

I spoke my piece into the record anyway. As I noted when I spoke, I can't really speak to the traffic situation, and as we have no children, I absolutely defer to the worries of those who do have children. The neighbors who came to speak against the permit had cogent arguments, and I have no quarrel with them. They disavowed my angry petitioneer, and said he was a loose cannon. Unfortunately, he had gathered three of the six pages of signatures -- but the neighbors were sure they could regather those three pages in a fair and honest way. I think they can, too.

The liquor commission reccomended 5 to 0 against the petition to sell "packaged goods" (that's liquor at the store that's all closed up, not liquor at a restaurant that you're served), but they strongly stated that they abhored this sort of racism and their reccommendation had to do with roads and community character and such.

After the meeting, my husband and I spoke with the neighbors (one of whom recognized me as "You're the eyebrows! You were on the news!). First off, before anything else, they APOLOGIZED to us for the action of this crazy man they had nothing to do with. How classy was that? They were very kind, and warm, and cordial to us, just another example of why I love Peoria and Peorians. They presented their arguments to us, and I have to say that I reluctantly agree with them. I was indifferent to the liquor license before, and I like the Ethic Foods market so I don't want to see it struggle economically, and I know liquor would help; but I think my neighbors had some really good points. And I think they're probably right.

As for the other characters in this little neighborhood drama:

The store manager at Ethnic Foods has been in the US for 33 years, and left the Middle East to get away from that kind of fundamentalism that breeds terrorism. He got a little choked up when talking about how he feels about the freedom and opportunity of America.

The owner of the property, Carlos Salem, is actually the manager over at Men's Wearhouse (off War Memorial, near Target), where we'd met him once before when my husband bought a couple suits! We didn't know that before we walked into the hearing - Peoria is SUCH a small world. I have only the nicest, nicest things to say about Carlos Salem and you should all go buy suits from him because he is an utter encyclopedia of men's clothing knowledge (down to getting the right fit for your shoes -- my husband LOVES his now) and does a helluva tailoring job. He's also just one of those people who's fun to talk to.

The angry petitioneer has not been back, and we are considering our options as to legal protections. Other neighbors suggested he may have some problems, so we're evaluating the best course of action to ensure he won't be back to harass us, but we don't particularly want to destroy HIS life either, or start a Hatfield-McCoy fued in the neighborhood.

And my next-door neighbor (the one with the clematis) left a package in my door this morning that I found when I went out to get the paper: a tea cup, a couple of pretty candles, and a note telling me to "sit back, light a candle, and have a cup of tea" and some kind words to the effect that she likes me regardless of the petitioneer.

Which brings us back to the main theme of this whole horrible experience: Peorians absolutely ROCK. We had one bad egg go off on us, and EVERYONE ELSE, whether they agreed or disagreed with us, has been absolutely wonderful, kind, warm, and neighborly. And SANE. Sanity's such a rare quality in public discourse today. It was a surprising and refreshing experience.


LF said...

You go, Koi!

Eyebrows McGee said...

I'm eyebrows, not fishies. :)

Steve [com W] said...

fishies witrh eyebrows?

Peggy said...

I was thinking more like, "You go girl!"