Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Valley Club Mess II

My print column on the Valley Swim Club race controversy is up.

Given all the negative publicity the story has generated, I was surprised that club president John Duesler actually called me back.

A couple of things that didn't make the column.

Duesler told me that on the day the campers from Creative Steps arrived, he sat them all down told them there were three rules.

1. No running.
2. No one in the deep end without passing a swim test first.
3. Have fun.

The biggest problem that day, he said, had little to do with the negative reaction to the kids by any of the members but the fact that so few of the campers knew how to swim.

That left virtually 60 kids in the shallow end of the pool. That's dangerous. Kids can drown in the shallow end of a pool just as easily as in deeper water.

The same situation occured with another camp, with even fewer kids (25). That camp's director recognized the safety issue herself. She agreed with Duesler that Valley couldn't safely accommodate her kids. is reporting today that the costs of the lawsuits brought against the community club could easily bankrupt it. It only has a little over $200,000 in assets.

Duesler is willing to accept his responsibility for the terrible mess he helped to create.
He admits mistakes, big ones, from not properly informing club members what to expect when campers arrived to misjudging the number of kids (especially the non-swimmers) the facility could handle. His failure to find a solution to the problem that was agreeable to Creative Steps before unilaterally cancelling the agreement between the camp and the club was perhaps his biggest mistake.

What's obviously killing Duesler are the accusations that he, a big Obama supporter, community peace activist and stay-at-home dad, is a racist. Almost as bad, maybe worse, is by his clumsy handling of the matter his friends and neighbors at the club are also being publicly labeled "racists" and "bigots."

Duesler says he is perfectly willing to resign as president of the club if that will satisfy the club's critics. It won't. The smell of blood and money is in the air. There is also the self-righteous thrill to be had in lambasting the club for all its presumed racism. Not to mention the jerks who anonymously blame the children for not knowing how to behave at a public pool because they're black. There is no evidence these kids did anything wrong or behaved badly during their 90 minutes at the club.

It's a sorry situation and it is being exploited and made worse by self-serving lawyers, politicians and the media.

What a shame. But too few people are feeling any for their parts in all this. John Duesler does. Which makes him a better man than most.


Anonymous Bob said...

Gil - Great column. Thanks for the additional insight. I hope this can be resolved outside of the courts, but I'm afraid thats not going to happen.

July 15, 2009 at 1:20 PM 
Anonymous Bob said...

Gil - Did Duesler make the statement that this would change the complexion of the pool? If so, he should be sued for stupidity.

July 16, 2009 at 9:15 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Yes, he not only made the statement. He wrote it down.

But being stupid is generally not an actionable offense.

He said it was just a stupid and unfortunate choice of words. If there was any more to it than that, he's not saying.

July 16, 2009 at 9:34 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come there are certain groups out there who are just waiting for something like this to happen so that they can champion there cause. It use to be if you owned a business or a home you could chose who could or could not enter.
Since political correctness you are even afraid to speak anymore. Keep in mind if you make an ethnic slur today that it is worse in the opinion of some, than the taking God's name in vain. There is no commandment that I know of refereeing to enthic slurs. What ever happened to the land of the free? Force was never the answer but that is exactly what is being applied in this case.

July 16, 2009 at 11:29 AM 
Anonymous jake said...

Maybe as an Obama supporter, Duesler suffers from the same communication disease as our celebrity Commander-in-Chief ... telepromptus interruptus.

July 16, 2009 at 12:05 PM 
Anonymous Bob said...

Gil - I dont remember seeing the complexion statement in your column or in your blog. Was it left out of your story on purpose, or did you just miss it? Maybe Duesler has more explaining to do.

July 16, 2009 at 6:36 PM 
Anonymous Bob said...

Gil - Was there a reason you didnt include the complexion comment in your column?

July 20, 2009 at 11:26 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...


Actually, Duesler called it a "poor choice of words." and that sounds right.

A lot of people are jumping on the "complexion" line, wanting to read more into it than, I think, is there.

There is another possibility.

In any club of any size there are usually divisions. One minority faction might have really resented the number of black kids who were invited to swim at the pool.
It's possible that Duesler, being a good liberal, may have been trying to stick it to this faction, or perceived faction, when he said what he said.

But after talking to him, I believe him when he says it was just a stupid choice of words.

July 20, 2009 at 4:23 PM 
Anonymous Bob said...

Gil - The complexion comment is probably the most important statement in this story, and you neglected to mention it in your column. I heard about it on NPR and read about it in the Smirconich column. I can't believe you dropped the ball on this.

July 20, 2009 at 9:56 PM 
Anonymous m0nk said...

I for one do not believe white people will ever get over the trauma that black people are so violent.

July 21, 2009 at 6:37 AM 
Anonymous Bob said...

Monk - The Civil War, WWI, WWII, Nam, Iraq 1, Iraq 2, Bosnia? I honestly don't think blacks have cornered the market on violence.

July 21, 2009 at 1:13 PM 
Anonymous m0nk said...

BOB........The white man did not invent war he just perfected it just ask colin powell

July 21, 2009 at 2:58 PM 
Anonymous m0nk said...

BOB....the white man did not invent war but did perfect it... just GENERAL COLIN POWELL

July 21, 2009 at 3:04 PM 
Anonymous m0nk said...

Bob....i think you should ask general colin powell about all those wars not me.

July 21, 2009 at 3:10 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob.........I guess you forgot who supervised in at least 3 of those wars ......... General Colin Powell.I can assure you he would not participate in the murder and mayhem of the black community in philadelphia

July 21, 2009 at 3:23 PM 
Blogger m0nk said...

Bob....I know General Colin Powell would disagree with that argument that blacks cannot conduct a war.The fear factor of black people is know set in the mindset of white people since the fact of the murder rate of blacks far exceeds any other race.

July 21, 2009 at 3:49 PM 
Anonymous Bob said...

Monk. OK. I get it. Colin Powell was responsible for the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Nam, Korea. Etc etc Etc.
I'm enlightened.

July 21, 2009 at 11:03 PM 

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