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To the editor:
Ben Joravsky’s May 28 “Hey Preservationists: Quit Puckering and Get Pissed!” poses the ancient question confronting all activists: when do you fight and when do you deal? Among other things, Ben thinks Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois fights with Mayor Daley and his administra-tion too little and deals too much.
Fair enough, he’s entitled to his opinion.
But as a former LPCI board member, I suggest another look at the dichotomy posed in the article.
Fighting–politically and legally–takes resources that LPCI, like all not-for-profits, has in short supply. As Ben himself points out, most adversaries, typically real estate developers or the city, have considerably more money for attorneys and battles than does LPCI. If it starts down that road, LPCI must resign itself to hemorrhaging cash for an uncertain outcome. It should come as no surprise that such a course tends to diminish LPCI’s–or any such group’s–capability to do its job.
It is fun to protest by calling opponents names. Unfortunately for the fun loving, it rarely does much good.
LPCI’s task is always to allocate its scarce resources among competing ends. That it chooses to negotiate as it does shows it is committed to getting as much preservation as possible for its donors’ support. Such results build on themselves and make possible achievements such as saving Farnsworth House and creating the leading preservation-easement program in the country. Though I enjoy a good dustup as much as anyone, I think Ben should acknowledge that LPCI’s board is acting in good faith with donor funds. That is a far more important standard than Ben’s–or anyone else’s–preferences.
Former LPCI director