20 April, 2006

The Latest on Fran's: Buzz on the Warpath

Smash has posted an email from Buzz Patterson that is a real scorcher. I'm posting it all here because I don't want to risk that readers won't bother to click through to Smash's site.

I just had a long chat with Hal Koster. Our worst fears are not only well founded but grossly understated. It's a complete and thorough cluster @#$%. (Sorry, my words not his). I haven't been this pissed about anything in a very long time.

Andi, Kelleher's responses to our questions were blatant lies. Despite what Kelleher says, Hilton has done nothing to support the dinners... never met a bus, never contributed a cent, never negotiated for changes to bring the restaurant into ADA compliance, never advertised the restaurant or the dinners within their own hotel, never provided logistical support... in a word, they've done absolutely zip. In fact, Kelleher hides out in his office and has had no contact with Fran's owners. Hilton Corporate hasn't returned phone calls or e-mails. Hal has never spoken with a rep from Hilton about a future. This O'Boyle guy who is supposedly in charge of Hilton's leases has been MIA for years. Not only unprofessional in my opinion but grossly negligent. Fran's has been profitable every year in spite of the fact that Hilton won't even live up to their responsibilities for facilities management. They've had some plumbing issues... Hal and Marty now call their own plumber. Hilton wanted Fran's to re-upholster the booths and change the carpet, Hal and Marty asked for ADA compliance in return. When negotiations ceased, Hilton doubled their rent last month (doubled!). And then issued an eviction notice two weeks later.

Hal and Marty have retained lawyers and, as mentioned before, have the support of several influential organizations and people...

This is complete bullshit. Hilton has every right to make their business decisions. But our wounded vets are being kicked to the curb. When media show up now to document the process, Hilton's security team denies them access to the loading dock, the service elevator and the inhuman conditions our troops in wheelchairs have to endure to get to the frikkin restaurant.

It's not about the few thousand bucks it would cost to make this thing work... hell, I'll kick that in. This is about a bunch of numbskulls with no understanding of civil service, patriotism or, for that matter, good business sense. And I'm no hotel management major.

CBS and CNN are doing pieces tomorrow. As much as I despise MSM, I welcome this. Hannity & Colmes are doing a live hit Friday night. What's Alan gonna say? It's a right wing conspiracy? How can anyone argue in opposition to ADA especially when it's vets?

This, quite frankly, reeks. I'll be on my best behavior Saturday at the conference but this sucks. Pushing the throttles up...unarmed and unafraid. Feel free to quote me.

As bad as this situation is, a lot of what Buzz Patterson says here is very encouraging--especially the part about the major media. As far as the media's attention, I know that those in the blogosphere who rallied to this cause can congratulate themselves for having a hand in that.

It sounds like the tipping point has been reached on this story. It's got "legs," and I expect various people/organizations will get what's coming to them (both good and bad). Congratulations, you Davids of the Milblog world.

[Background on the Fran O'Brien's story here.]