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To tell the truth

A former editor of the Chicago Tribune has a neighborhood newspaper mad at her for withholding information.

You’d think Ann Marie Lipinski, who became Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago last September, would have learned something from her first assignment, which was to smooth things over after Alderman Pat Dowell discovered that the University was secretly buying up tracts of land on West Garfield Boulevard.

On August 13, Lipinski met with Gabriel Piemonte, editor of the Hyde Park Herald [and Herald general manager Sue Walker].  He asked “five different ways” for information on the demolition of Harper Court (which we discussed here last year).  Lipinski was not forthcoming.

The next day the bulldozers appeared and began demolishing the building housing the Dixie Kitchen (the restaurant recently made famous by Barack Obama on WTTW’s “Check Please”).

The demolition seems gratuitous, in that no developer has been chosen and the restaurant in the building next door has a lease that runs several more years, which (along with a lousy economy) would seem to make redevelopment anything but imminent.

The refusal to inform the Herald seems gratuitous too, especially since the Thursday meeting was a week away from the paper’s Wednesday publication date.

When the Herald complained in an editorial on August 26, Lipinski wrote back that the demolition schedule had been presented at the Hyde Park TIF Council’s June meeting, “a public gathering typically covered by the Herald.” She went on to emphasize “the very public nature of the Harper Court development.”

A editor’s note following the letter pointed out that the TIF council hadn’t met in June.

Piemonte says the reporter who covers the council remembered no mention of Harper Court demolition.  They searched the minutes — no record of any mention in May or July meetings.

So it would seem a refusal to inform is followed by an explanation that involves outright misinformation.  It’s probably better to tell the truth in the first place.

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Category: Hyde Park, media

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