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[As published by David Berman, 12-10-2010]
Readers: Now that the Henderson Mayor and members of the City Council–some of whom have communicated with me on the subject-have received and discussed the letter sent to them regarding Rana Goodman, I am acting on the suggestion of several friends who recommended publication of the letter.
As any reasonable person will see, the letter is moderate in tone, factually accurate, does not seek Ms. Goodman’s removal from her position on a City advisory commission, and is definitely not a petition.
The Mayor and each City Councilor received their own copies of the letter. Unlike the actions of those who operate in secrecy or operate in the shadows, I believe this document deserves to be shared. Please understand that as the letter points out, it is not a freedom-of-speech issue, but rather a matter of what is appropriate behavior for a person appointed to a City advisory commission which is supposed to speak for the interests of all Henderson senior citizens.
One of the decisions I did make in conjunction with sending of the letter was to not provide it to a number of local media outlets as originally intended.
November 30, 2010
Dear Mayor and Councilors:
The undersigned signatories are all residents of Sun City Anthem (SCA), and the purpose of this letter is to express our concerns over what we believe to be unacceptable behavior by fellow SCA resident Rana Goodman, an appointed member of the Henderson Senior Citizens Advisory Commission.
Ms. Goodman owns and publishes one of several online blogs/forums that serve our SCA community. Her blog is titled Anthem Today, and its Internet address is www.anthemtoday.com. As the owner and publisher of this communication channel, Ms. Goodman holds ultimate responsibility for the content posted on her publication, including the authority to remove or delete offensive or inappropriate material.
In a community such as ours, with 7,144 homes and about 13,000 residents, it is inevitable that differences of opinion will arise over the policies and decisions of our elected HOA leaders. Most of our residents are fully capable of expressing their differences in a respectful, responsible manner, and they demonstrate this capability when they have strong opinions to share with our elected leaders and their fellow residents.
As is their right, Ms. Goodman and the vast majority of those posting to her blog are quite vigorous in opposing SCA management and operational decisions. This is an ongoing expression of their collective freedom of speech, and they are breaking no laws in doing so.
But Ms. Goodman has recently allowed articles to be posted on her blog which are so extreme as to anger a wide segment of SCA, especially those of the Jewish faith but also many of other faiths. Specifically: She permitted an article to be published which, in expressing disagreement over the temporary suspension of our SCA community website message board until a method of moderating the messages can be devised, compared our Board of Directors' action to the murder of millions by Adolf Hitler in The Holocaust. The article was illustrated with a cartoon showing Nazi soldiers beating Jews in the street and two photographs of concentration-camp prisoners.
Several residents who lost family members in The Holocaust were among those who were outraged by the article.
After a firestorm of protests ensued, with Ms. Goodman refusing to remove the offending article, the writer of the article removed the images and instead changed the slant of his writing to compare our Board's actions to McCarthyism, illustrating the revised article with several images from the McCarthy era.
Ms. Goodman did not write the offending articles, but she has, on a continuing basis, tolerated these types of written attacks which diminish the level of discourse in our community and refer to community leaders and residents who disagree with her viewpoints on many issues in the most vile and near-defamatory terms.
You might ask why we are putting our names on this letter to you (reverse side). It is not a petition, and we are not asking that Ms. Goodman be removed from her volunteer position on the Senior Citizens Advisory Commission. Rather, we want to put ourselves on record as believing that as a member of a body that is supposed to be sensitive to the issues and concerns of Henderson's senior citizens, her tolerance of such divisive behavior is not sending the right message about what our wonderful city and its dedicated volunteers and elected leaders stand for.