Lennie recently bought the building for $3,000. Considering the state of the structure, somebody should have PAID LENNIE to take that old derelict off their hands. At the very least, it might be argued Lennie paid $2,999 too much, since it appears the seller was quite willing to unload this turkey at a nominal sum. In any case...
...tonight Lennie made his case in front of the WHO, which is chaired by Al McFarlane. Members of the community, including myself, had an opportunity to ask questions after Lennie's presentation.
So Lennie said some stuff about plans to put an "entrepreneurship program" at the site, and claimed the store would sell no tobacco products when it was up and running. He said a bunch of things about hope, about vision, about a community believing in itself. He said things that would sound pretty good if it wasn't all coming from Lennie Chism, who (the record will reflect) can't even deal with the blight at his building at 1901 Glenwood Ave. N.
McFarlane opened the floor to questions and comments. I got a crack at Lennie and asked him (as I'd asked hours earlier on the sidewalk in front of 1901 Glenwood) how he was going to pull off a project this massive and challenging, when he couldn't even prevent foreclosure at 1901 Glenwood Ave., his corporate headquarters where he still (miraculously) resides, post-foreclosure.
(I have an unconfirmed claim that Lennie managed to purchase the building after foreclosure. This claim is not only unconfirmed but appears to contradict what is being said by Lennie, that he has "possession" of the building and confirming the foreclosure, and that he has a "good relationship" with his bank. All the same, for the record, this unverified claim is "out there" like reports of alien abduction are "out there.")
In response to my question, Lennie said a bunch of stuff about how he has a "network of great people" who will assist him, and (like he had grandly compared himself to Louis Pasteur earlier in the afternoon) alluded to Henry Ford not giving up when people said things couldn't be done. Lennie said he doesn't "do brick and mortar," so he will get somebody to help with THAT. He also doesn't "do housing"...or "do food." For that kind of stuff, he would look to somebody else, as well.
"So what DO you do?" I asked, but the Chair cut off THAT line of questioning.
A mix of supporters and detractors spoke. The crowd appeared evenly divided between a loud, demonstrative "pro-Lennie" faction and a tight-lipped group of "anti-Uncle Bill's" residents who were opposed to Lennie's (mad, doomed) scheme. One woman got up and spoke of bullet holes in her house because of all the problems associated with the old Uncle Bill's. She demanded to know the name of the vendor Lennie was planning to use for this organic food store plan. Lennie refused to disclose the name of the vendor but assured the woman she'd be "extremely pleased."
And, I might add, you can take the word of Lennie Chism to the bank, and the bank will let you stay in your building after foreclosure.
Al "I Am The Community" Flowers rose to speak, urging people to believe in Lennie and not be negative. He then proceeded to criticize this blog (without naming the blog) for coverage of the Annshalike Hamilton murder, still unsolved, specifically for writing "stuff about her family."
City Council Member Don Samuels spoke last, pointing out it was the community which initiated the closure of Uncle Bill's with a loud, overwhelming voice. Getting the place re-zoned and re-opened was, he said, "so unlikely." He didn't see Lennie's plan as workable and pointed out Lennie had "such a small investment of risk." (By which Samuels appeared to mean the mere $3k Lennie had put into acquiring the building)
Lennie rose to speak and rebut Samuels' points before the Council Member was finished, and Chairman McFarlane told Lennie to allow Samuels to finish. Samuels finished in grand style, saying, "there's nothing about your past relationship with the city that gives me confidence" and Samuels pointed out Lennie had been unable to deal with the problem of blight at his own building at 1901 Glenwood Ave. N. This produced a visceral response from some in the audience, who said talking about Lennie's (crappy) building at 1901 Glenwood was a "personal attack."
Chair McFarlane took a suggestion to refer this matter to committee and then he only had to face the minor problem of there being no committees. Committees were in the process of being formed, to put things too simply. (I've heard some scattered accounts about how the old Economic Development Committee split off from WHO and became its own group, and how committees were eliminated at WHO, but I am still trying to obtain a detailed account of what, exactly, has taken place)
McFarlane then proceeded to pick who would be on the committee, based on the raised hands of volunteers. Apparently five people were picked (still need to confirm this) and included Jackie Cherryhomes and Kenya McKnight. It was my perception that the committee was stacked with "pro-Lennie" forces, with the exception of Cherryhomes.
A good time was had by all, and Al Flowers managed to get through a crowded room of people without accusing anybody of stepping on his precious widdle toes-ies.
ADDENDUM: The particular question being referred to committee was whether to support Lennie. Also, a woman representing NRRC and another woman representing Northpoint stood and spoke favorably about Chism's plan.