The Valley Club Mess II
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.
Philly.com 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.