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Guilt by Association

To the Editor:

I read your article “New Kid on the Block” [Newsfront, Nov. 26] and am troubled by the fact that the tone of the article suggests a controversy between the old and new organization leaders but provides absolutely no evidence of such a controversy. You refer to a brief comment (“so they are going to push out the old neighborhood association”) made by Mr. Mair to suggest some controversy. I hardly view that comment, without more, as justifying the tone of the article.

You thereafter put words in the mouth of Mr. Williams when you parenthetically insert Mr. Mair’s name into a comment made by Mr. Williams about “work done in the past.” If Mr. Williams did not refer to Mr. Mair when making the comment I find it ill advised for you to inject the name in as an effort to support the general controversial tone of the article. Finally you say that Mr. Mair contradicted himself when he was asked about the “new organization” and said “the more neighborhood associations the better, diversity is a good thing . . .” To juxtapose that comment with Mr. Mair’s initial and very brief reaction to the news of the formation of a new organization and call it a contradiction is a stretch.

I do not live in Arbor Hill and do not know any of the gentlemen referred to in the article. But, I think it is unfair to them and the communities they serve to attempt to create a division without any evidentiary support. If there are supporting facts then report them. If there are none then resist the unfounded conclusions.

Walter Ramos

Travis Durfee’s reply:

The tone of the article resulted from my perception of the events as they were presented to me after speaking with a number of parties involved. Yacob Williams had not spoken to Aaron Mair about his desire to form a new neighborhood association, despite the fact that Mair’s group, Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Association, had served as the umbrella neighborhood group for more than 20 years. Williams wasn’t looking to form another intra- neighborhood association in Arbor Hill, like the Ten Broeck Triangle Preservation League or Sheridan Hollow Neighborhood Association, but an all-encompassing Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association. Mair, at first, expressed dissatisfaction with this announcement, and since Williams later told me had no intention of speaking with or joining Mair in his efforts, I wondered, will theirs be a combative relationship? Why wouldn’t these two groups work together for the betterment of their community? Neighborhood residents shared these concerns, namely Barbara Smith, who was quoted as such in the story.

After interviewing both Mair and Williams, each said that they were not looking to step on the other’s toes and wanted for Arbor Hill’s betterment following different paths, sentiments I tried to convey in my story.

As for your other concern, it is a common practice in journalistic writing to insert parenthesis and a more precise word or phrase into a quote when the speaker’s original wording is ambiguous. In this case, Mr. Williams said, “I don’t want to be critical of his work,” referring to Mair’s. I inserted “Mair’s” merely for clarification.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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