Friday, October 23, 2009

Not Everyone's a Fan

Yesterday we expressed our thanks to the Village Voice for its recognition of our work-and that of this blog-on behalf of small business, But not everyone is a fan, and the Atlantic Yards blog responded to the award with the following riposte: "WTF? Can't the Voice look beyond his SAT words--words the press should know--and consider the contradictions: NYC Lobbyist Search shows (click on graphic to enlarge) Lipsky working for Willets Point United and Tuck-It-Away, which are fighting eminent domain in Willets Point and West Harlem, respectively, while working for the Atlantic Yards Development Company and Forest City Ratner, which are hoping to gain from eminent domain in Prospect Heights."

Our good friend Norman Oder is upset because the Voice didn't go into a greater in-depth evaluation of our record? What the AY foes fail to realize, is that their fight over the Ratner project is not the sine qua non of deciding whether someone deserves either credit or opprobrium-and, if it's more in-depth analysis that they're looking for, well, there simply isn't enough room to detail all that we've done for small businesses over the past 28 years.

And we've done this work when no other lobbyists would even stoop so low-busy as they are with trading up. This is, however, no critique of my colleagues, since we have no problem taking on clients both large and small; it is simply a statement of fact, and an effort to set the record straight. So while the opponents of AY lawyer on, we can point to dozens of large scale developments that we have stymied over the three decade span of our work. Now that's an asterisk that couldn't be fit into the small Voice tribute.

And speaking of fans, our blog post on DOH hypocrisy that was reprinted in the NY Post last week generated some interesting reader responses. Here's T Cahill's: "I like Richard Lipsky's logic ("Healthy-Eating Hypocrites," PostOpin- ion, Oct. 15). It's true that the McDonald's coupon giveaway is only symptomatic. All it does is reinforce bad behavior. If you treat people like adults, there's the chance they will begin to respect themselves and start to act like adults. If you treat them like children, you are always going to get childlike behavior. Educate them, help them think for themselves, and everybody wins. Then you can start handing out broccoli coupons."

Other folks aren't as optimistic; and Brian Daniels disagrees with our assessment that you should treat people as adults-feeling it just won't work: "I agree that our current nanny-state approach is overbearing, but Lipsky's argument for educating people and treating them as functional adults is weak. Last Sunday, at the movies, a woman who was clean and well-dressed sat in my row. She was smart enough to come to the half-price show and was there on time. To use Lipsky's term, she appeared to be functional. However, she was 75 to 100 pounds overweight, and as soon as she sat down, she ate two hot dogs and a large soda. What kind of education does Lipsky think she needs? If she is a functional adult who can think and act for herself, why is she doing what she is doing? What will a broccoli lesson do for her behavior?"

The moral of all this? You can't worry about what some people might say-and the arm chair critics who haven't done anything but carp are legion-and you have to try to do what you think is right. Just don't emulate Anita Dunn and use Mao as a role model for individual conscience.