In a 2014 episode of This American Life, a battle between a small Orthodox population and the local school board turned into all-out war, culminating in the Orthodox community overtaking the school board, pushing out detractors, assimilating the school to fit their own needs and forcing those left behind to look elsewhere for answers. That disturbing episode came to mind reading Danny Westneat's column about what's going on in Ballard right now between the Salmon Bay Eagles club and the the Olympic Athletic Club.
The Salmon Bay Aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles were founded in 1898 and own not only their clubhouse at 24th Avenue Northwest but also an 8,800-square-foot lot next door. In 2007, the nearby Olympic Athletic Club offered to purchase the lot after claiming pollution emanating from it was disturbing them. The Eagles did their own testing and found the claim to be unsubstantiated. The actual reason OAC wanted to purchase the lot was to turn it into their parking lot. The Eagles said no.
Last year, the club made a new offer valued at $2.4 million. The interesting part is that when the Eagles met for a general meeting to discuss the offer, 50 new members, all of whom were much younger than the core members of the club, showed up to voice their support of the plan. Where did they all come from?
Turns out, it's all part of the Olympic Athletic Club's plan to infiltrate the Eagles with sympathetic members who will ensure that the deal goes through. All of this was made clear in a flyer that OAC created, offering to pay Eagles membership dues ($36) for any OAC members that would sign up. The flyer also promised rallies to drum up interest and even escort members to and from the Eagles club.
To their credit, Eagles don't seem terribly upset about the shady practice. They don't expect to see these new members ever again, but they also support the sale for the most part, which makes the entire saga seem way overly-dramatic. Then again, if you've ever tried parking in Ballard, you might consider doing some unsavory practices in order to find a spot, too.
· There's a shady side to sudden interest in Ballard Eagles' club [ST]
· A Not-So-Simple Majority [TAL]