Some of us might remember Burt Reynold’s blunt “$50– my ass!” rejection of a too-low offer for canoe shuttle service in the 1973 film Deliverance. That about sums up my impression of magazine reporter Tom Healy’s assessment following the recent public meeting called by the Veterans Administration at the Indiana War Memorial.
On January 23rd, the VA’s National Cemetery Administration convened a public meeting to formally present its new proposed site, and its Draft Environmental Assessment, for its planned columbaria at Crown Hill. It comes after nearly a year and a half of intense controversy over its initial plan to clear 15 acres of woods while an open site exists to the immediate east.
Tom Healy attended the meeting to gather material for his bi-monthly Midtown Indy magazine which is a private publication, funded apparently by advertising revenues. Like the junk mail and political propaganda, it’s mailed to every household in the so-called midtown area of Indianapolis whether the occupants want it or not. That’s about 20,000 households and businesses.
As Healy was leaving the auditorium, I asked him if he had gathered interesting material to report following the VA’s presentation in which it discussed its new preferred site and received comments from about a dozen interested citizens. His terse reply: “Not much to report, boring stuff, but whatever I decide to write will be well disseminated”.
I wouldn’t have expected anything better than his sarcastic “kiss-off” response. Healy has consistently reported the Crown Hill woods preservation effort with an astonishing bias and hostility, and clearly taking the side of the vested interests including Crown Hill Cemetery and the Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. organization which supported the VA’s destructive initial plan. I’ve been consistently astonished by Healy’s glaring bias, hypocrisy and yellow journalism in the Crown Hill controversy, but then I remember that his Indy Midtown magazine is his private commercial publication and does not profess to be bound by any ethical standards of professional journalism.
Memo to Midtown Indy magazine– Here’s the real story about the meeting, ripe to report:
The citizen-led Alliance of Crown Hill Neighbors, with many partners and supporters, and with the help of selected elected officials, saved an urban forest from destruction despite overwhelming odds. The VA reconsidered and did an about-face, selecting the obvious adjacent site which we had recommended from the start. The VA’s public meeting was accordingly collegial and free from citizen upset and outrage as contrasted with the previous meeting in that same auditorium when the VA heard an earful from concerned and irate citizens. Also, the commenting citizens offered valuable input on site design regarding hydrology, perimeter screening, and apparent excess of hardscape. The public comment period runs to February 12th.