The Anna Louise Inn acts as a home and safe haven for hundreds of women fleeing abusive relationships. It’s also been located in the heart of Cincinnati for over 100 years. In short, it is a great resource and amazing testament to the power of dedicated, caring people working to make real change in the lives of others in their community. And a fortune 500 insurance company wants it. *cue thunder sound effect* And I guess I should clarify, this Fortune 500 company (which goes by the stupid name “Western and Southern”), doesn’t want the Anna Louise Inn. No, actually they just kinda like the land that it sits on. They’re like the bad guy in every 90s kids movie.
After the owners of the Anna Louise Inn rejected a low ball offer from the Insurance conglomerate and were awarded to 12 million dollar government Federal and State tax credit to renovate the house, Western and Southern CEO and Disney villain impersonator John F. Barrett demanded that the house should be evicted and his company should be allowed to buy it on the legal basis of “I’m rich, they aren’t, why can’t I have everything I want?”. The owners of the Anna Louise Inn vowed to fight this hostile takeover, which I’m sure they loved pouring their energy into instead of doing the positive community work that they dedicated their lives to.
Unfortunately, no scrappy kids on skateboards and rollerblades were able to come to the “good guys” rescue. We live in real life and in real life, we live in a world where the good guys often times cannot prevent the bad guys from winning. We live in a world where the legal code, the financial system and the society as a whole colludes to protect the privileged few who have dedicated their lives, not to public service, but greed. Greed may or may not be good, but it definitely holds the power to get things accomplished, even if its at the expense of the public good and in this case the lives of victims of abuse. A strong government could protect the powerless from the powerful but the government is not strong and John F. Barrett is probably a hell of a donor.
In the end, the legal expenses and time were too much for the Anna Louise Inn, which has now agreed to sell the home to Western and Southern. In the next two years, they are to find a new home, vacate the premises and turn it over to a corporation which has calculated that this land could make more money as a “boutique hotel” than as a community conscious “safe haven” to people in real need.
Barrett thinks this is a “win-win”, but for who, he doesn’t specify (himself and his companies shareholders?). He also has said he thinks it was time the women’s refuge got out of the way of “economic development”, which seems like something Cruella Deville would say to justify puppy skinning. But again, and I can’t stress this enough, people like Barrett are the “winners” in our society. They get what they want because we’ve made it impossible to stop them even when we know that what they are doing is wrong. We need to end this reverence of unregulated capitalism, as if it’s the only way. It isn’t the only way and companies like Western and Southern and people like John F. Barrett are constant reminders that we can’t sit by and allow them to get away with it. Grab your skateboard and let’s get to work.
Contact Western and Southern and tell them you find this unconscionable”