But the other good thing about this moderation option is that some really great comments on older articles do get made, and I get to read them. Otherwise they'd just go out onto the site where they could easily be missed. As an example, the PUSD articles continue to attract comments, and some of them are quite thoughtful and heartfelt. Readers who followed those conversations a few weeks back might want to go there and check out some of the newer posts. They're among the best made.
And I was pleasantly surprised on New Year's Eve to find a post stuck in moderation from Michelle Zack. Michelle, as I hope you know, recently published a book of some local historical importance called Southern California Story: Seeking the Better Life in Sierra Madre. And, errant fool that I am, I praised this book quite effusively. Something that doesn't come naturally to this typer and, believe me, the pain was intense.
Now I took some heat for this as well, and from people whose umbrage I had not experienced before. Which is fine, if I was a sensitive - or sensible - soul I would not be doing this night after night. It does keep me out of the local taverns and home in the evening, however. Which is a good thing.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Ms. Zack's book is that it contains absolutely no reference to the Measure V election. Measure V was without a doubt the single most defining event of the last decade in Sierra Madre, and some of those commenting found its absence to be inexcusable. Others suggested that Ms. Zack might have some sort of agenda, or that this was possibly caused by an investor mandate. Kind of like what we've seen lately with The Mountain Views News.
Now I will say that I too was disappointed by Measure V's absence in this book. One because I'd have hoped my supporting role in that effort might have gotten me a mention there. Nobody passed out flyers with more panache than I did. And let's face it, if it wasn't for Measure V and all that went along with it, I wouldn't be carrying on with this blog. The Measure V imbroglio awoke me from a lifelong delusional political slumber and I became a believer in the ongoing fight to save some important things. That being a way of life, this town, and the sense of place it has given me. Trust me, I never felt that way when I was living in New Jersey.
But all that said, there is a big message contained in Michelle's book, one that I found to be quite exciting and gratifying. She has written one of the most stirring and credible defenses for preserving our way of life in the small foothill cities of the San Gabriel Valley that I've ever read. And she also explicitly denounces invasive overdevelopment as being the enemy of these things. Which is why I do not believe this history book is in any way propaganda for redevelopers as some have suggested. Nor do I think for one second that when John Buchanan gratuitously waved this book around at a recent City Council meeting it was because he'd actually read it. My take is that he assumed it must be important because of its size.
This book elegantly makes the case for Sierra Madre's preservation. And in 2010 that is not only the defining issue we are fighting for, but will also be the cause that will defeat its enemies and send them packing this April.
Anyway, here is what Michelle Zack writes in her defense:
For the record, I would like it to be known that as the author I had complete independence in my scholarship and in all editorial decisions regarding Southern California Story: Seeking the Better Life in Sierra Madre. I would not have agreed to write a history under any other circumstances - and this was set in writing in my contract. To its credit, the Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society fully honored my independence as an author, and in no instance suggested what should and should not be included. It was my own judgement (and the approach taken by most credible historians), not to engage in current political discussion other than in broad strokes, which I did when I wrote that arguments over preservation are at the core of what SM is as a community. To do otherwise would be to write something other than a history, because time and distance are needed for historical perspective. I hope that the many discussions about different views of SM's development over time contained in the book are helpful to those today working through what this city wants to be for its many various camps of citizens. This is hard, and very important work; if successful, no camp will be completely happy.
The rest of Michelle Zack's comments here on The Tattler can be found with the original article.