Yesterday I had coffee (well, more on that later) with a top organizer for Chicago’s astroturf branch of Stand for Children. He had asked to meet in response to my blog about SFC’s recent telephone blitz in Chicago’s West and South sides. My post questioned the stated purpose of the calls, which they claimed were to “listen to and help parents.”
I wasn’t sure what his agenda would be. Maybe he would try to spread some rich SFC public relations fertilizer. Maybe he was on a fishing expedition to see if he could get me to talk about our anti-corporate reform strategies.
I was pretty sure, though, that he would start out with an attempt at the classic organizer “one-on-one” in which the organizer tries to build a relationship with a potential group member by asking personal questions.
That wasn’t going to go anywhere.
I cut to the chase and asked what his agenda was. I was pretty surprised at what he said.
He said it was to find out what happened to PURE and what were the “lessons learned.” He stated that he had “heard all about PURE” from a reporter, and he had looked at our filed reports on line and knew all about our finances. “Oh, yes, I know that PURE used to have hundreds of thousands of dollars and that has all gone away.”
I was completely dumbfounded. Seriously? He thought I would share information about PURE with an organization whose agenda PURE was so opposed to?
Not to mention the fact that we have been very upfront about our organizational struggles, from the lovely story Ben Joravsky wrote in 2008 when Chicago foundations first began to slam their doors in our face due to our opposition to Mayor Daley’s school actions, to our recent fundraising appeal letter. It’s no secret that we are operating on a shoestring.
It’s also no secret that PURE is still powerful. In fact, when I later talked to the reporter that he named as his source for this “inside info” about PURE, I learned that he had been asking why the media regularly turns to PURE for parents’ perspectives on education.
Anyway, back to the coffee.
He said, “So, you refuse to share information?”
I said that there was no way I would give any information about PURE to someone I considered a sell-out who worked for such a sleazy organization.
He responded that this was a personal attack. I said, yeah, I know.
He tried to wield another organizer schtick, that there are “no permanent friends or permanent enemies.”
That’s about the point at which I decided that there was no point in continuing the conversation and I left. Please know that I paid for my own coffee – didn’t want anything bought with dirty SFC money, yucchhh.
Unfortunately, I must report that my grand gesture fell a little short when I realized half a block away that I had left my coat with my car keys in the pocket on my chair! I’ve never mastered the grand gesture….