Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No “democracy hating thugs” says reThink Roanoke organizer

Hank Bostwick of the Star City Harbinger has organized a group he has dubbed reThink Roanoke. The group will meet summit at The Water Heater at 813 5th Street SW tonight at 8:00. On the reThink Facebook group page about 44 have accepted the invitation including Council member Dave Trinkle. Court Rosen declined and others are maybes. You can check it out here if you are on Facebook.

Bostwick contends that it is a non-partisan all-inclusive group that aims to move a progressive Roanoke City agenda forward. But already Bostwick is laying down the law with the same oppression he claims to rail against.

Bostwick states that “Tuesday night at The Water Heater, we are asking that Summit participants come un-thug. Red-faced rants, demeaning diatribes, and yes, damn it, withering snark are not welcome.”

He reaches back to the past in a quote taken out of context regarding former Council member Brian Wishneff to make his “thug” premise. Certainly there have been other members of this Council who have made a few “snarky” remarks but only those Bostwick wants to denigrate fit his agenda.

Bostwick reaches out as a friend and apologist with one hand then turns around and smites with the other when readership at The Star City Harbinger wanes. He admits as much in his reThink.org post.

Reaching out to bury the hatchet with Mark Powell who has been a subject of SCH “snark” as has been “yours truly” Bostwick invited Powell to the summit. Powell accepted only to get another taste of Bostwick’s snark in this same post.

There has been no agenda released and the comments made on suggestions for topics is far ranging. Matt Ames says, “There’s too much bluegrass music here and not enough Vietnamese food.”

There are some good comments like preserving our mountains, reusing old buildings for office space versus building new and promoting a better understanding of the needs of the disabled.

James Glass would like to see “streamlining government with some examples being: paperless office, cloud computing, public art policies, decreased bureaucracy + increased transparency.”

The group reminds me of a Valley Forward “light” but it should be an interesting summit so you are encouraged to attend especially minorities as the list does not seem to include any. It also seems to lean heavily to the left.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Local Events, Roanoke City Politics

Tags: ,

Comments (7)

Jeremy Holmes

December 1st, 2009 at 11:20 AM    

Thanks for your comments on reThink Roanoke. I do hope we’ll see you and other Roanoke Free Press readers tonight.

A quick comment on the apparent profile of attendees: We recognize this first summit, because of its location, may not draw the broadest range of Roanoke residents; we certainly intend on hosting several summits and other programs to engage as many people as possible and to get a sense of Roanoke’s priorities and potential. It might be helpful to think of tonight’s summit as kicking off a grand grassroots research progress.

If the list tends to the left, I hope that we as organizers (Beth, Hank and myself) do a good job of keeping everyone’s mind open. We truly want – need, actually – the broadest representation from all political perspectives, though it is my firm believe that on the level of local policy the standard Left vs. Right dichotomy doesn’t enter into it. Still, one of the things we intend on emphasizing is that citizenship means taking responsibility for oneself, one’s neighborhood, and one’s leadership. We don’t expect – and will actively discourage – the answer to every issue to be “The City needs to fix that.”

I very much appreciate Hank’s work with the group, and the value he brings as someone who has been involved in local political issues and investigation much longer than Beth and I. However, reThink Roanoke isn’t *his* group – its a joint effort of Beth, Hank and myself, each of whom bring different (and probably conflicting) ideas to the group, City policy, and citizenship. At the summit we’ll get a chance to explore those, challenge others, and be challenged ourselves.

Jeremy Holmes

December 1st, 2009 at 11:29 AM    

One other quick thing in regards to the Harbinger, Roanoke Free Press, and other new journalism efforts out there: I am thrilled that there is so much activity and good old fashioned muckraking going on in Roanoke’s blogosophere (and I honestly mean muckraking in the nicest way possible). I’m glad to see passionate people arguing vehemently about local issues and taking advantage of the technology to keep up a public debate, the type of thing that used to happen on newspaper commentary pages once upon a time, and taking the risk to put themselves and their opinions out there.


December 1st, 2009 at 12:15 PM    


It is something you need to take up with Hank. Everything was going fine for your group until his post that ruined the spirit of the summit.

I don’t see where Hank has been involved in political issues for very long. He gets many of his facts wrong sending a barrage of nasty emails to anyone with whom he disagrees. I don’t think you know the extent of his actions.

I had planned to be there if possible. I have 2 other events scheduled prior.

What here do you call muckraking?

Jeremy Holmes

December 1st, 2009 at 12:32 PM    

Val, maybe “muckraking” was not the best word, (though as a reader and writer I just like the sound of it); “citizen journalism” is probably better, but it doesn’t seem to capture the passion I often see on display in local, grassroots journalistic efforts. I meant no offense.

Regarding Hank’s post, it seemed to me he was very self-aware of his contribution to the political rhetoric that sometimes plays out of the valley, saying of his own writing style in this post: “For consensus building and constructive dialogue, such an approach leaves much to be desired.”

I think the Brian Wishneff quote – which I don’t see as being taken out of context if the original Roanoke Times article is accurate, nor considering the later flap with the Citizens for Sensible Decision ads – was a fine and appropriate example of the kind of rhetoric that reThink wants to avoid, or at least challenge.


December 1st, 2009 at 2:49 PM    

Being self-aware doesn’t keep him from curbing his writing style is the point. Why would you want a friendship with someone who you never know is going to attack you on a whim? Why would you trust him?

You have not been on the receiving end so it is understandable.

As far as the quote at least I would have said what transpired to illicit the comment.

Travis Wimmer

December 4th, 2009 at 11:18 AM    

What kinda topics are being discussed and acted on? I would like to bring my arguments and beliefs to the table myself! When and where!?


December 4th, 2009 at 4:46 PM    

You can go to the facebook page under discussion. In the article above click on the links.

Go to the reThink.org website. Notice of the next meeting will appear in these places.

Check what went on at the meeting here:


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