Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who let the clods out?

Garry Gernandt and Jason Smith brought their "Save Rosenblatt" dial-a-mob to Omaha's Westside High on Monday night, showing the rest of the city that what might pass for "democracy" in South O is cut from the same cloth that gets 15-year-olds sent home for three days at your average secondary school.

BUT THEN AGAIN, out here in Not South O, democracy ideally is a little more nuanced than the lynch-mob tactics by "activists" who think screaming constitutes a rebuttal, rudeness fosters debate and that keeping an old stadium that can't offer the NCAA what it wants will keep the College World Series here forever.

Ideally. Because last night, somebody gave Gernandt's Campaign for Boorish Dignity a map to my neighborhood, and all hell broke loose.

Of course, a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald was there
to document a case study in why America is a republic and not a direct democracy:
During an hourlong question-and-answer period that was interrupted several times by jeers and shouting, residents questioned everything from the financing plan for the proposed $140 million stadium to whether the NCAA would move the College World Series to another city.

Some of the exchanges were more heated than at the previous forums, with attendees interrupting to chant for a vote on the stadium.

Omahan Gary Tevis told Fahey he is worried that the stadium is an unnecessary cost when the city is already facing an expensive overhaul of its sewer system and the debt for the Qwest Center Omaha.

"There is no way that the city is ever going to be able to afford this," Tevis said. "There's more holes in this plan than Swiss cheese."

Omahan Ryan Chappelear told Fahey that he should lose his job over his handling of the stadium issue.

Westside High freshman Troy Green asked why the city was pushing for a new stadium now.

"Why don't you take five years and save up for the new stadium?" Green asked to a round of applause.

Jack Diesing, president of College World Series of Omaha Inc., responded that the city has a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to keep the CWS here, and it has to take it.

"It's not called the road to Rosenblatt, it's called the road to Omaha," said Diesing, who earlier warned that Omaha has a real chance of losing the CWS if the city doesn't move forward with a new stadium.

While many people at the forum loudly opposed the stadium, the plan had supporters. Some were shouted down when they praised Fahey and the baseball stadium oversight committee, while others simply clapped to show support.
SO FAR, the city's stadium study committee -- the body that studied the options, ran the numbers and hired the consultants -- has reams of data supporting its conclusion that a new downtown stadium is the way to go to make the National Collegiate Athletic Association happy and keep the CWS in Omaha for decades to come. And, so far, the Campaign for Boorish Dignity has no studies, no data, no specifics and no clue.

What it does have is a bunch of disruptive boobs and yahoos skilled at shouting down those who are trying to cite studies, share data, give specifics and make a cogent argument.

This is supposed to be persuasive. Well, perhaps that is persuasion in a community where economic development is sending your teen-age daughter out to the curb -- in a bikini -- the third week of June with a sign that says "Park Hear -- $20 CHEEP!"

BUT I GUESS that Omaha -- after
H.L. Mencken's "booboisie" costs it the CWS and the $41 million a year it generates for the city -- will just have to get by on its regular tourist trade. You know, all those millions of people who flock here for the mountains, the sea breezes, the waters and the favorable climate year round.

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