A Tough Read

The City Park West Gazette chooses its battles -- lots of them.

Ngozi didn't cast a vote in the board's decision to fund his newspaper, but in the wake of the Wedgeworth flap, critics suddenly found his many roles too convenient. "We've asked him to either resign his position as member of the council or as the fiscal agent," says Linkhart.

Ngozi says the resource center knew he had received the grant and that Uhuru Sasa was the fiscal agent. He doesn't plan to step down from either role, saying he will simply continue to remove himself from voting on grant funding decisions when he has a conflict of interest. "I understand the predicament that they are presented with, but if it was not a conflict of interest in the beginning, then why is it a problem now? A year ago they didn't have that concern."

He applied for a $1,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente but says he was turned down. He is now preparing a new grant application for the GDNP, but he's worried that political pressure will keep him out of contention.

Stop the presses: Thabiti Ngozi publishes the City Park West Gazette.
John Johnston
Stop the presses: Thabiti Ngozi publishes the City Park West Gazette.

And already he's lost some readers. Fran Lowry, the woman who helped Wedgeworth distribute her letter to Ngozi throughout the neighborhood, and Allison Cantrall, who owns the City Perk West coffee shop two doors down from the Gazette, say they find the newspaper to be divisive. "We're all moving on," Lowry says. "Thabiti [Ngozi] can't move on."

"I'm an easy target," adds Cantrall, who is the only white business owner on the block and a clear focus of Ngozi's diatribes against gentrification. "I was the white woman. I was the new business. Race is a big issue to him."

Ngozi believes that Cantrall and other "gentrifiers" represent "people who do not move in with an attitude or willingness to embrace what they find there. It seems they move in to eradicate what they find and re-create something in their own image." And that mentality is driven mainly by whites, he adds.

But race and gentrification are not highlighted in the August issue of the paper, which features a profile of a bicycle messenger and a story about the new owners of a nearby bed and breakfast.

Ngozi says he is now the target of other people's ire because the Gazette calls them like he sees them. "It stepped on some toes; unfortunately, those toes are politically connected."

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