Continuing the Contentious Dialogue On Sophistry, Ideology

Friday May 28, 2004

I couldn’t agree more with Max Anderson’s assessment of the ongoing national and local political sophistry (“Rent Board Chair Chides Control Foe’s ‘Rant,’” Daily Planet, May 25-27). His own contentious diatribe is a prime example of the same sophistry he so deliciously condemns. He takes John Koenigshofer to task for supposedly misleading that he is a “...landlord and realtor who works out of George Oram’s firm, one of Berkeley’s largest real estate interests.” Mr. Anderson wisecracks facetiously that “...perhaps modesty prevented Mr. Koenigshofer...” from such a revealing label. If Mr. Anderson were not so inept in his own “... Ashcroftesque invasion of privacy...” he would have revealed that Mr. Koenigshofer and this writer organized and held the first public call for Richard Nixon’s impeachment, in of all places, Yorba Linda, Cal. He would have revealed that Mr. Koenigshofer holds a degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, that he is an artist of considerable depth, a fabulous poet and an engaging storyteller. Mr. Anderson would have also revealed that Mr. Koenigshofer forsook an internship at A.C.T. as a playwright to attend to his dying mother. That he requires a hip replacement from decades of fence building, landscape construction and gardening that gave him the courage to purchase his first project with a couple of credit cards and an unflagging endurance. Perhaps Mr. Anderson’s own physicality and ailments is derived from his longtime position as “...chair of the Rent Stabilization Board,” or other supine endeavors. 

One thing is for sure: Labels never tell the whole story of a person. I doubt that viewing Mr. Anderson adjudicate from that same chair tells his whole story. Or does it? It might if the world is as starkly delineated as Mr. Anderson and his ilk envision: landlord = evil, anti-property = blessed.  

But the world is not so finely divided. I sincerely doubt that Mr. Koenigshofer advocates that the Rent Stabilization Board illegally violate its “...requirements of the ordinance and the associated regulations,” but to change those requirements and regulations. Laws can be changed. The implementation of rent control is after all, an example. But no matter how well meaning a law, a law may not be perfected or fair. Rent control, again, is an example. Just as an unfettered, unregulated marketplace can be and is unfair, so is the hyper-regulated, class-orientated municipal decree. 

As seemingly difficult as it is for Mr. Anderson to believe, Mr. Koenigshofer is “...unwilling to sacrifice... character... on the alter (sic) of economic greed.” One would expect the ideologues of the Rent Stabilization Board and those who benefit from its decrees to be just as unwilling.  


Justice Putnam is a poet and singer/songwriter. He resides in Berkeley and does not own property.›