Friday, July 15, 2011
Bonanza Column 244 - Ave et Vale
I began writing this column in September of 2004 – this particular column is number 244 and will be the last, at least for a while.
After writing about TRPA critically during the Juan Palma years, hopefully during the John Singlaub regime, and enthusiastically as I’ve watched Joanne Marchetta engage with reinventing the Agency, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is. Several weeks ago Joanne approached me and asked if I’d take the job of Chief Operating Officer and partner with her in transforming TRPA along the lines that, at about the same time, were being demanded by Nevada SB 271. I agreed to do so on a half-time basis so that I didn’t have to bail on my other clients and began work at TRPA on July 1.
I’ve been in the business of organizational transformation since before the discipline had a name, starting with pioneering work at IBM, moving through other companies in a variety of industries. I’ve been a contract executive before, but not with the organizational redesign portfolio, and after thirty years of working with organizational leaders at arms’ length as a consultant, the opportunity to actually get in and work inside organizational change was just too good to pass up.
Unfortunately, now that I’m on the TRPA payroll, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to continue to write a political column – even if I did, I couldn’t write about TRPA, and that wouldn’t be fair to the paper or to its readers, so with surprisingly mixed emotions, I’m going to discontinue this column and hope the Bonanza will find someone else willing to represent the Progressive view on a weekly basis.
I know there will be those who are glad, even gleeful to see my departure from print, and even a few who will be sorry. I know from letters and blog responses that I’ve really annoyed a lot of Conservatives, and that has been more than half the fun for me – the rest has been satisfaction when other Progressives told me how much they appreciated my speaking their views, and there have even been a number of thoughtful folks who have told me they didn’t agree with me, but I made them think – no writer could ask for more.
I’ve never subscribed to the definition of an intelligent person as “someone who agrees with me.” (Given the number of times I’ve been called dumb, stupid, and a moron in response to my columns, there are those around here who do subscribe to that definition.) I can’t fathom most of what Conservatives think or believe, but I don’t disrespect them for thinking it (except for the far Right fringe, but then again I feel the same about the far Left fringe). I believe that one of the key things that makes America great is our diversity – of opinion, of culture, or religion, all of it – and I originally took on this column to be sure that there was more than one voice in the Bonanza. I think I’ve done that and I hope it won’t end with my stepping down.
I consider Freedom of Speech the cornerstone of all the other freedoms we have – without free speech and a free press, if the other freedoms were abridged, there would be no way to make that known or to act against it. It’s no accident that the recent democracy movements began with acts of speech, or that repressive regimes focus on making sure people don’t have the freedom to speak. For that reason, writing this column has been a privilege, and opportunity, and a gift.
By the same token, there would be no point in speaking if no one was listening, so I want to take the opportunity to say thank you – to friends, to foes, and to innocent bystanders. Your reading made my writing possible and, not incidentally, fun.
In that first column in 2004 I quoted JFK’s definition of a Liberal. I think it’s fitting that I close with that in this last column:
A "Liberal" [is] someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
And don’t worry – I’ll be around, and you’ll hear from me. Y’all take care now…