Let the revolution begin. US Bank and the City of Salem need to be fought -- intensely, for as long as it takes to restore virtue to a city that is giving away its soul to big business and clueless bureaucrats.
A few hours ago somebody sent me this photo of US Bank killing one of the remaining two trees in front of the State Street building today.
This is how those two trees looked not long ago. They got a temporary chain saw reprieve because of migrating birds nesting in their branches.
There was no good reason to remove any of the five trees. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch. I know this because I'm in possession of a thick stack of documents I got from the City of Salem after filing a public records request.
For which I was charged $350.
Because Peter Fernandez, the Public Works Director who gave Ryan Allbritton (US Bank regional president) the go-ahead to kill the trees, didn't consider that it was in the public interest for citizens to know how and why the City of Salem approved removing five beautiful, healthy trees from downtown Salem's historic district -- even though the City's Shade Tree Advisory Committee said three times, "prune, don't remove."
Well, Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Allbritton, you're about to find out what happens when a member of the public is outraged about his or her interests being stomped on.
You've pushed me over an edge that I hoped I'd be able to stay on the other side off.
Numerous times I've told you, "US Bank and the City of Salem can salvage some good will by letting the last two trees stay; since there was no good reason to kill the first three trees, there is even less of no good reason to remove the remaining two."
But you obviously don't care about good will, doing the right thing, compromising, or engaging in a reasonable discussion with ordinary citizens.
You two feel like the support of big businesses, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and a conservative-leaning majority on the City Council give you the right to do whatever the hell you feel like doing -- public interest and facts be damned.
OK. You've made your choice. You want a war, you've got a war.
For sure, with me. I'm an Army of One.
But so is everyone else; you guys might be surprised by how powerful all these Armies of One are when added up -- especially given the power of social networking and other Internet weapons these days.
When I picked up my public records request about the US Bank tree removal decision, I was given more than I asked for. Thank you for that, City of Salem. US Bank and City of Salem officials, I know what you've done, and why you did it. And I'm going to tell the world.
If this sounds ominous and threatening, great! That's exactly how I want to sound.
Killing those last two trees crossed an emotional line for me. I'm not going to try to describe why, mostly because I don't really know why.
I don't need a why to justify how I feel. "Why's" only are necessary when giant corporations like US Bank and big government agencies like the City of Salem take actions that affect the public interest.
That's what is lacking here: good reasons. I have them; US Bank and the City of Salem don't. So I and the other people who are so upset with the US Bank tree killings, along with other unjustified actions by City officals, are the Good Guys in this drama.
You know what? The Good Guys usually win.
Not easily. Not until after fighting a lot of battles. But in the end. Because truth almost always wins out. It's that powerful. What I'm going to do is learn and speak the truth.
As loudly, as often, as widespread, as engergetically as I can.
US Bank, I promised you this in several emails. Cut down the last two trees, and this story goes national. No more holding back. I'm going to do my best to let every current and potential US Bank customer in the world know that US Bancorp doesn't give a crap about beautiful healthy trees or baby birds.
Let's see who wins this P.R. battle: a giant multi-national bank with vast staff, money, and other resources, or a solitary senior citizen blogger who is outraged about what US Bank and the City of Salem have done to those five Japanese Zelkova trees.
I bet on me.
Another person just sent me this photo of the new and unimproved look of US Bank. I moved to Salem in 1977. My daughter was five. She grew up with those Zelkova trees. I've loved seeing them every time I drove past the bank. Now they're all gone.
Scroll down to the previous post on this blog. Read a marvelous poem by Mary Oliver. It's called "Extending the Airport Runway."
It could be called "Cutting Down the US Bank Trees." Or "Building a Third Bridge." Or "Installing Parking Meters in Downtown Salem." Read it, City and US Bank officials. Oliver wrote it for you, people who don't see what they should be seeing, because their vision is blocked by political shenanigans, money-making schemes, and a lust for power.
My goal is to make today, June 23, 2013, the beginning of the end of a City That Doesn't Care About The Right Things.
Respect for the truth
Public involvement (genuine variety, not "thank you for your testimony" variety)
I'll end this post as I began it.
Let the revolution begin.