Rebuttal Letter to the Editor by Alzada Forbes

Dear Editor:

I wish to make a few points about yesterday's [March 30, 1997] lead story concerning the citizens' group, Friends of Davis.

First, the headline was misleading, as was the subhead. The head read: "Anti-Borders Tactics Questioned." The story, in fact, showed no one in disagreement concerning the course of Friends of Davis. No tactics are being taken that anyone in the story challenged. In the initial meeting of the group which lasted three hours, we brainstormed the full gamut of actions for the group. One approach, discussed for a few minutes, was directed at Mark Friedman. The group rejected that tactic. The Mayor was quoted as opposing that approach. So did those attending the meeting of Friends of Davis. Who's questioning what? In the article, both the Mayor and the Friends of Davis concur that not shopping at Borders is a legitimate means of protest. Once again, there's agreement.

The subhead stated: "Bookstore opponents say they plan to personalize the issue." Where do they say that? Naming the developer as the developer is hardly personalizing. One searches the story in vain for evidence to support the subhead.

Second, as I was not contacted for this story, I also would like to address the presentation of two paricular situations I was involved in that appeared in the story. First, the article refers to me coming before the Council to advocate the Council's rezoning Aggie Village, indicating I was "leading the effort." More accurate (by a lot) would have been to say "she led off comments" or "she represented booksellers and others in saying." To date, it has fallen to me as my role in our group of local booksellers and our supporters to be one of two spokespersons before the Council; others in our group have maintained our web site; still others have been the prime spokespeople for area newspapers and television stations. We represent each other in different contexts. It's a division of responsibility to accomplish the same goal. Other speakers that night came as individuals, not as a group.

Also, I want to address the article's reference to The Avid Reader's February newsletter in which I wrote about the possible coming of Borders to Davis, indicating that the newsletter "denounced" the Borders proposal. "Denounce" is a strong verb, and I believe, not accurate. The letter provided information on the Borders situation from my perspective and offered courses of action (signing our petition, calling key decisionmakers, writing letters) that customers--many of whom had asked how they might help--could take if they so chose. I will be glad to offer copies of that newsletter so that they might judge the tone.

Third, there are two quotes from the developer of Aggie Village, Mr Friedman, that I found of interest. On his project, he comments, "I want it to be judged by its merits, not slander." Who's slandering? There is no evidence of slander presented in the article. And the project is being judged by its merits. It ignores the findings of the city's retail study; it goes against the Mayor's position paper of 1994 in which she states "if retail is to be expanded, it should be complementary with the downtown and not competitive." Its anchor tenant does not complement the businesses of the downtown in either size or use. Serious retail needs Davis has and the desire to locate them in the downtown go unmet by this project. That's not slander, that's the truth.

Finally, to quote one more time from yesterday's article from Mr. Friedman himself: "The thing that's troubling is that it's not possible to articulate a vision for the community that's different from what the rabble wants without being accused of being evil, greedy, or corrupt," he said.

The rabble? Thirty-five hundred (and counting) bookbuyers, coffeeshop patrons, newsstand folk, record purchasers, not to mention professors, administrators, community leaders, writers (many nationally and internationally recognized), businesspeople, professionals, parents, public school teachers, and students, in short, a cross-section of Davis itself. We live here. It's our community. And, yes, we do have a different vision for it. And, believe it or not, we think our community and our community alone should determine its shape and future.

So, in summary, the heads were inaccurate, misrepresenting the positions of the Friends of Davis. My advocating for local, independent retail was presented as more aggressive than it, in fact, was. And Mark Friedman was shown one more time to have concern that he could not impose his "vision" on the Davis community at will, offering us at the same time one more glimpse into his view of who we are and us one more look into who he is.

This was a disturbing story. But not in the way it was intended.

Alzada Forbes
Owner, The Avid Reader

If you would like a copy of the Enterprise article, please contact The Friends of Davis.

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