Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Column 141 – The “Good Name” of Red, White, and Tahoe Blue

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,

Is the immediate jewel of their souls:

Who steals my purse, steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;

'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:

But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him

And makes me poor indeed.

Shakespeare, Othello, Act III, Scene iii


If you have not been involved in a public way in community activities here in Incline Village/Crystal Bay, you may not know this, but it is a sure way to have "the immediate jewel of your soul" called into question, if not downright stolen. In my thirteen-plus years in our community I have been something of an activist – I've been involved in Independent Incline, the erstwhile Incline Ice Foundation, Citizens Advocating Responsible Driving (CARD), the Santa Claus Foundation, Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC), and We the People, as well as running for the IVGID Board. I give you that long list all that so that you know that what I'm talking about isn't confined to one issue or area.


In almost all of these endeavors I, and others involved, have been subject to personal attacks on our motives, our characters, and our integrity. In no case that I can remember have any of these attacks been based on facts, and in most cases they have been vague and unspecific. Those of us who have been working on Independent Incline, for example, were accused (anonymously) of being a "special interest" group. When I called an elected official to account for what seemed to me to be ethics violations (the State Ethics Board found insufficient grounds, but the complaint had enough basis for them to consider it) I was accused of being a "sore loser" in the election, though I had nothing to gain in that (or any) regard by filing the complaint.


Now Red, White, and Tahoe Blue, an organization of people who have raised thousands of dollars for local charities and provided matchless entertainment for the Independence Day holiday for the past two years, and its Chair, Bill Horn, have come in for our share of the attacks. (Full disclosure: I am a founding member of the RWTB Board and its Secretary and Entertainment Co-Chair).


If you've ever been around children, you know that, to a four-year old with a hammer there is nothing that doesn't look like it needs pounding. Similarly, to the small group of Crystal Bay residents who are intent on gaining beach access, there is no community activity that doesn't look like an attempt to exclude them. As near as I've been able to tell, this group consists of maybe as few as three individuals who delight in posturing and pronouncing, ostensibly on behalf of the 400 or so residents of Crystal Bay, though I know quite a few who disclaim their efforts. Nonetheless, these individuals seem to be determined, if they can't get beach access, to destroy the value of this asset for those who do have it. They claim it's a civil rights issue, but judging by their actions, I'm very glad they weren't involved in the Civil Rights Movement or instead of desegregation and equal rights, we'd all be being discriminated against equally.


Whether you like Bill Horn or not, whether you think he's a good IVGID General Manager or not, whether you agree with his judgment or not, if you know the man at all you know that his integrity and ethics are second to no one. Bill has volunteered his time to the Parasol Foundation CARD, RWTB, and other organizations in the community over and above his job at IVGID and is scrupulous about not doing volunteer activities on IVGID's nickel unless the Board directs him to. To question his chairmanship of RWTB is an egregious slur on a good man.


Similarly, the Board of RWTB are all volunteers who gain nothing but satisfaction and an opportunity to serve our community from their participation. Last year Board members, at their own expense and initiative, provided beach passes for RWTB events so that no one was excluded or, as our CB friends would have it, "discriminated against." RWTB is struggling this year as are all our local non-profits. Donations are slow and scarce, and the Board is striving to provide a celebration, even if it is not up to the level of the past two years. To call Bill and the Board discriminatory or anything but generous and community-minded is outrageous and apologies are owed, though not likely to be given.


And don't bother writing in to call this column self-serving because I'm on the RWTB Board. I'm among the smallest contributors of my time and energy and am writing because I stand in awe of what Bill Horn, Tom Bruno, Tom Masterson, Greg McKay, Kathie Maxwell, Terrie Drago, Bea Epstein, Gerry Eick, Allen Ferris, Jim Smith, and Stu Yount do for this community.

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