Readers, zoning and the greatest Bush-basher

by Ogi Overman

Just when you fall into the trap of thinking you’re writing in a vacuum, in comes some validation, some affirmation that, no, you’re not living in a world alone, that people actually do read these things. You’d think I’d know that by now, but apparently I’m just a tad slow.

Not only that, but I have a character failing of not thanking people promptly, which coupled with another flaw of procrastination, sometimes means they don’t get thanked at all. So, this week I’d like to deviate from the Bush bash I had planned ‘— I mean, it’s not like another scandal, blunder, or act of gross hypocrisy, duplicity and/or arrogance won’t give me plenty of fodder for next week ‘— and give a tip o’ the hat to some folks who not only read my ramblings but took the time to respond.

This blanket apology, as it were, is prompted by a couple of letters to the editor in last week’s edition of this, easily the finest free weekly in the Triad. (I say that based on 22 years of editing and contributing to free weeklies in the Triad.) One was from Kent Tager, who, as owner of The Hub Ltd., was one of the regular advertisers in the first freebie I ever edited, The Sports Page. Kent, it turns out, has been going through the same rezoning battles and the resultant condos in his backyard for six years that my wife and I have been enduring for two (with no end in sight). His letter should be required reading for anyone who denies that developers own Our Town, or who thinks that their own neighborhood is safe from encroachment.

While sympathetic to our plight, Kent predicts that the Greensboro City Council will overturn the Zoning Commission’s decision to deny the developer’s request to throw up a Walgreen’s and a bank (let’s call it Mark & Frank’s Fidelity Bank in honor of the lawyer and the developer). He’s probably right, based on past precedent, but if they beat us it won’t be because we didn’t put up a helluva fight. Tune in channel 13 May 2 and 16 for the fireworks.

Another letter was not directed at me but did reference me in passing. John Davis, owner of Mack and Mack clothing designers in downtown Greensboro, made an impassioned and eloquent plea ‘— one of a seemingly weekly litany of similar appeals from the YES! readership ‘— to deep-six that neo-Nazi hottie to my (far) right. In it he stated that my ‘“liberalism is thoughtful and self-effacing,’” which is a compliment I’ll gladly take. I must admit, though, that I’m better at the ‘“self-effacing’” part than the ‘“thoughtful’” part, but I’ll keep working on it. And, in a related development, read on, John; I’ll save the best for last.

Last week I had lunch with Keith Brown, whom I’d belatedly made contact with through my blog. Keith, a Greensboro native living in High Point, is also in a running battle with developers (his nemesis is Blue Ridge Companies), and he gave me some advice that may help keep our neighborhood out of commercialism’s broad swath. I’ll try to explain it fully in my blog, but, briefly, it’s called a Protest Petition that, if recognized, mandates a three-fourths, rather than a simple, majority to approve any zoning changes. It is in effect in High Point but not in Greensboro. Any lawyers out there want to do a little pro bono work and take on the good ol’ boy network?

Next, I owe a profound apology to Signe Waller, who wrote me a touching and gracious letter when I was editing the Greater Greensboro Observer that I never

even responded to. Signe is the widow of Dr. James Waller, who was murdered in the infamous Nov. 3 Klan-Nazi massacre, and is a soft-spoken heroine to all of us on the progressive end of the political spectrum. Please accept my deepest apology, Signe.

Without doubt, there are countless others who, over the years, I’ve slighted by my silence. Somehow, in the grand scheme of things, I’ll try to make amends, either personally or by simply trying to treat my fellows with dignity and respect and hope that’s enough.

Now, let’s all pay homage to the News & Record for listening to Springsteen and taking ‘“one step forward, two steps back.’” I do like their new design and applaud them for resubscribing to the New York Times syndicate, but it came at the expense of dropping my favorite columnist, Molly Ivins, who had the goods on Bush back when he was just a shrub. But rather than bash the local gazette, allow me to announce (drum roll, please) that beginning this week, Molly will be found on the pages of YES! Weekly. Yep, the finest free weekly in the Triad just got a lot finer.

As for that other, uh, columnist, let me just say that John Davis’s and others’ comments have not fallen on deaf ears.

Ogi can be reached at, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on ‘“The Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on ‘“Triad Today’” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN48. His blog is