John's Open Letters Vol. 1 #17
December 27, 2001
Dear Sirs and Ladies,
With all that has happened in 2001, "Sept. 11", Anthrax, War in Afghanistan and who knows what else, we could use a Happy and Healthy New Year. I gave up on being "prosperous" long ago. Being warm and comfortable is good enough for us. Helping those in need is at the top of our list.
We all know what can happen when you do not have the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Afghanistan is a good example.
Contrary to what Mr. Coon wrote in his President's Message "that these Freedoms are the most abused", they are also the most respected and revered. Take them away and you have dictatorship and tyranny. Afghanistan is a case in point where they had no free press, radio, TV, open expression and education for all. This was to the extreme and I will not give up my right of free expression in my letters. I will continue my Open letters to those who wish them so the truth can be known to all. And I think you will find more than ever. Mr. Coon should know better than most of us after spending thirty-three months in a P.O.W. camp where he had "no freedoms".
In reference to his recent comments about "Yelling Fire in a crowded theater" I would like to allude to the e-mail covering what Mr. Coon said that was passed on by Mr. Pratt. His implication that I would do that was covered by me briefly in my "Item Fourteen" letter, 2nd paragraph. I must admit I did yell "Fire" twice when I realized the danger of what was happening. First, I was at a buddy's house when I heard a familiar sound coming from a bedroom. Upon opening the door I found the curtains, a shade and wall paper on fire. Less than three feet away was his sister sleeping after working nights. I yelled "Fire". The window was partially open and while my buddy and I carried water in pots and pans a neighbor was hooking up a hose. Someone called the Fire Department but we had the fire out before they arrived. My buddy's sister ran into the bathroom and put on a robe. She did not get burned and the house was saved. The fire damaged the wall and window area. The bed was wet but we put out the fire before it reached it.
The next time I was riding in a truck when we pulled up to a rural gas station. It was an old truck with the battery under the seat, plus the gas tank. The attendant bumped the seat and the wires in it arced on the battery terminals setting the gasoline soaked excelsior on fire. It jumped to the gas nozzle and gasoline spilled on the guy setting his pants on fire. I yelled "Fire" and the driver, another guy and I rolled the attendant on the ground, using a blanket to put out the fire on him. We disconnected the trailer and pushed it out of the way. The whole place was burning. We ran out into a large wheat field. There was a huge explosion with a large fire ball and we were knocked flat on the ground. None of us was hurt. Much of the wheat field was burning so we went over to a country road and when we got up to the gas station, the county fire department truck arrived. Somehow they got the fire out and we had to wait for about four hours for another truck to pull the trailer and get us to our destination. The owner of the company learned none of us was burned or injured. He parked across the side road where there was a restaurant and bought us hamburgers and fries. Then he said, "I don't want you guys worrying about the truck, cause I bought a new one the other day but I had to wait on delivery." We all said, "You should have bought it sooner." Then he said, "My insurance will pay off nicely since it was destroyed, but if I would have sold it I doubt if I could have gotten five hundred dollars." He was glad it was gone.
Twice I yelled fire when it was necessary but for me to not do so would be wrong. Only a fool or a sick person would yell "Fire" in a crowded building but what I did helped save someone.
I wonder if Mr. Coon feels my Open letters are a Fire Call (an alert) and that is bothering him. From the many e-mails I have received there appears to be a much needed re-awakening in the K.W.V.A.
Mr. Coon's remarks are being made to help his efforts in building a case against me to get me expelled. Not one other person, including Directors, has done this. He does not like my Open letters to find out the truth and to share it with others. His expressive adjectives against me has almost created an ad nauseam condition that I would rather not have.
It must be nice to have the use of the Graybeards Magazine as his personal sounding board. When does a member get a chance to express his views either on matters of importance for the good of the K.W.V.A. or, as in my case, to explain my side of the story? Again, everything is one-sided.
I was told the Graybeards Magazine was the K.W.V.A. Official Publication, but I think it is restricted to a 'select few". We do not qualify because we might have opposing views or question some of the actions of what has been going on. Several who did were dealt with by expulsion and replacement.
On page 11, Nov/Dec, 2001 Graybeards there is a scheduling of a Hearing, the date is 15 January, time 10:00 a.m. Mr. Pratt on several occasions suggested to Mr. Coon to postpone the Hearing until the July Meeting. I was to be notified. As of this writing I have not been notified of a date change.
Also the arrangements notice states you must call the Bobbie Smith travel Agency if you are a Board Member, and that the hotel will not accept individual reservations. We don't have forty (40) Board Members and the $239.80 is not the best rate. Mr. Jerry Lake's letter shows the best rate and you can call the hotel yourself. By going through the Bobbie Smith Travel Agency the K.W.V.A. could be taking a big financial loss. Why the change of using a Travel Agency instead of each person doing it on their own? Only Mr. Coon would know why it was done this way.
Here is a late breaking story for all, and I would be remiss if I did not pass this on. On several occasions I wrote that no one is safe in the K.W.V.A. because of the past actions against a couple of Directors and others including myself. The threats were "Do as I say or get out." Now another situation has reared its ugly head.
Mr. Jerry Lake, Director and Membership / Chapter Formation Chairman has resigned in protest due to the insensitivity of Mr. Coon. First Jerry advised Mr. Coon to not go to Texas for the installation of Chapter 270 because the application for the Charter had not yet been received. Mr. Coon went anyway and swore in the new Chapter Officers. The paperwork was not yet in Jerry's hands. Then there was confusion about not holding an official election for officers' positions. An Associate Member was elected as the Secretary. Jerry, in his official capacity, was going by the rules, Mr. Coon ignored him and went against them. This was very upsetting to Jerry. After the notice about the January Meeting was published Jerry had a serious discussion with Mr. Coon about Room rates and Meeting Room charges. Jerry asked Mr. Coon for the hotel's number. Mr. Coon told Jerry that he would not give the hotel number to anyone, Jerry must go through the travel Agency. About the time I checked on the rates and put the "Winter Special" in my letter, Jerry called the hotel and got a better rate. After Jerry notified us all about this, Mr. Coon called him and told him he should not have done this. All Jerry was trying to do was save the K.W.V.A. and attending members money and hope more members could afford to go to Las Vegas for the Mid-Winter Meeting.
Now Jerry has submitted his resignation as K.W.V.A. Membership / Chapter Formation Chairman because he did not approve of the way Mr. Coon was conducting business and his berating attitude towards him. Jerry's letter dated Dec. 20, 2001 to President Coon stated, "I hereby resign in protest your action regarding the January 2002 Mid-Winter Meeting effective Jan. 17, 2002. I find the program for membership room rates out of line and your stating it was to get a meeting room at no cost insulting. I shall remain as a Director for the term of 2001-2004 and concentrate my efforts for the good of the membership at large. Signed: Jerry J. Lake."
Then in an official letter (undated, but received by Jerry on Dec. 26, 2001), Mr. Coon writes. "Jerry Lake, this is to inform you that you are relieved as Membership Chapter person for 'Just Cause'. The enclosed are the FAX you sent out and the flyer (better room rates) that has 'obstructed our January Meeting. Please return all KWVA records and money to 2nd V.P. Dorothy Schilling, Membership Chairperson within 15 days after receipt of this letter. Harley J. Coon, President KWVA." It is to be noted Mrs. Schilling was appointed to this position by Coon on his own, unofficially. He further told Mr. Lake, on the phone, that "the Board of Directors are a bunch of 70-year-olds with nothing to do but complain and that they have no authority."
My question, how can someone be relieved for Just Cause six (6) days after he resigned? What did Jerry do that is wrong? How could this obstruct the January Meeting because it hasn't taken place yet? First you can't fire someone after they resign, and what is "Just Cause"? Jerry was trying to save money for the members, thereby helping the Meeting. Is everything good that members and officers do considered obstructive? Who is next that gets the ax because they want to help the K.W.V.A.? This should be another warning about how the K.W.V.A. is being managed by Mr. Coon. It's worse than I thought.
I also received word that Mr. Sam Naomi will accept filling the Directorship of the late Mr. John Settle who passed away Dec. 15, 2001. Director and Past President Dick Adams recommends him for the Directorship to complete the term of office that is vacated. Mr. Naomi from Tingley, Iowa was instrumental in helping Jerry Lake form twenty-three new Chapters in the K.W.V.A. and organized Chapter 99, the Tall Corn Chapter in Iowa. He is presently the President of Chapter 99 which meets in Malcom, Iowa. I personally feel he is an excellent replacement for he is a conscientious and dedicated person who will have his best interests in the members of the K.W.V.A. I found him to be a serious but very likable person. He is deserving of your vote.
Also Mr. Blair Cross, Washington, DC Affairs Officer has had an operation called a stent. He had complications and is deserving of our prayers.
Your personal comments about this letter would be greatly appreciated.
Freedom is not free, and it never was.
Respectfully, John Kronenberger