Wednesday, June 21, 1995
To Jack Taylor - during the Dvorak/ AIDS Clinic controversy
As co-President of the SPNA I have volunteered to intermediate the discussions between SPNA/DAHA and BIMC regarding their contribution of $5,000 towards the Dvorak statue Fund - not because I need this controversy in my life but in the interests of SPNA, to keep its constituents as harmonious as they can be.
The original BIMC verbal offer was made to me, following my (badly mangled, page two was lost) article in T&V, with Frank Lopez voluntarily stating that BIMC wants to be low-profile about the donation. I asked him to wait, while I discuss the offer with you.
While I was on vacation and you were polling the parties involved, Frank sent the check and a covering letter to me, with copies to Carol and the chair of CB#6. The check was lost, and he re-drew and re-sent it to me. I have it.
I have expressed my disappontment with this rushed approach, but Frank probably has orders to follow. I have also conveyed to him your request for a letter from BIMC agreeing to treat this donation as anonymous, and stating that they will not publicize the donation in any way, shape or form is requested. This is the specific caveat that you stated was requested by seven of the eight committee members who voted to accept to BIMC donation. Please note that this was not stated as brutally as it appears in print.
Frank found that writing such a letter would be demeaning to BIMC. He reiterated his original statement about wanting to keep low profile, and reminded me that no donor advertizes his donations, such actions are commonly viewed as bad form, and the recipients normally do the praising of the donor; that advising the CB#6 about the donation is not not publicizing it; that the donation will have yo be listed in the BIMC annual statement; that this will be the extent of BIMC announcements.
I have advised him that this may well result in a rejection of the donation, and asked that no announcements about such a rejection be made; that any "washing of dirty linen in public" is bound to hurt not only SPNA/DAHA but also the BIMC image.
That was noted by Frank, who has no interest in publicizing such an outcome. However, the word may get out, no matter how hard we all try not to let that happen. There's CB#6, there's BIMC management, with whose knowledge if not orders Frank made the donation.
In my personal experience BIMC have been difficult neighbors: in the 1970s when my wife was CB#6 chair of the Health and Hospitals Committee, they put up a low 17th St bridge against the Board's request; in 1990 I was part of the effort to hold back their hazardous waste plant that would have spread dioxin. However, in this case I trust Frank's promise, particularly because advertizing the donation would be self-serving bad form. I also think that rejecting the donation would put both SPNA and DAHA in a bad light, as narrow-minded, and not public-spirited. It might also curtail public donations from people who might not appreciate the depth of pain suffered by those who cannot forget the events of the demolition of the Dvorak house, and would see us as ungenerous grudge bearers.
I should like everyone to read Prof. Miroslav Turek's elegant and compassionate analysis, which I have read several times. The loss and hurt is his and his recently much humiliated brave nation's; I cannot claim an equal share. But I should like to add that as the Jews felt the Holocaust, so have the Czechs felt, in a smaller scheme, the death of the Dvorak House. Yet, the Jews have accepted the Germans' compensation to the living, not as blood money to buy forgiveness but to save the lives of the survivors. Accepting BIMC's money would not buy the Czech Nation's good will; it would in a similar fashion help in making our great neighbor's Antonin Dvorak's memory survive, specifically in this neighborhood.
Please let me know if you might want to pass these sentiments to the affected members of the committee of 15.