This is a response to Bob Stroh’s letter.
I want to thank you Bob for simplifying my targeting decision this week. I should have responded to you long ago, when I still had some respect for your opinion. I will answer your list of whimperings one item at a time.
“For many years” (25, to be exact) I have indeed provided my opinion on candidates. But you can’t flatter me into believing my comments have the power to “affect outcomes at city hall” - and my “attacks” are not purely personal. However, critical examination is vital to good democratic government, and the pages of the Gazette have always been open to your own vitriolic rebuttals. Over the years I have been criticized for being either too friendly or too hostile to city hall. I guess the mix is about right.
We know how badly things can go when the wrong people slip into office (just think of the embarrassing fiasco Gary Creagle provided when he managed to get in). Some people listen to my opinions, others just laugh – or frown. It makes no difference to me as long as the opportunity for independent expression continues. I sign my name to the column; its truthfulness and accuracy are permanently placed for everyone to examine and debate.
You use words with such slovenliness, Bob, that you seem incapable of distinguishing a lie from a disagreeable opinion. Only liberal, politically correct sheep feel compelled to complain about the tenor of my columns.
In typical hypocritical-liberal style, you have shown few qualms about repeatedly using this paper for your own sharp, lying attacks upon others. For example, you delight in accusing Councilman and former Mayor Steve Conaway of having committed a wrongful act by traveling to Washington D.C. for a mayor’s conference to which he had been invited. You repeatedly maintain this lie (trip was unethical, possibly unlawful) in the face of numerous explanations by Mr. Conaway to set the record straight. This is a true lie because no reasonable person could continue to make accusations such as yours after learning of the facts, repeatedly clarified. People can and often do make mistakes; this does not necessarily mean they are lying.
Other examples of egregious lies emanating from you and those 20-something gadflies residing in your Politically Correct playground, affect the professional reputations of ex-City Manager Roy Payne, ex-Finance Director Barbara Smith, ex-City Management Analyst Steve McClary, City Planner Kevin McSweeney, and Director of Public Works Bert Rapp, outstanding employees all. And all this because of disagreement with past city policy on the water treatment plant, north Fillmore development, etc.
As to Mr. Bartels, you deliberately confuse the issue. I have expressed, and continue to express, great personal respect for Mr. Bartels. At issue, as far as I am concerned, is the fact that he recommended contracts be denied to Mr. Rapp and Mr. McSweeney, despite the fear expressed by these two long-time city employees that their jobs were in jeopardy without such protection DUE TO THE EXPRESSED AGENDA of the two new council members and our freshly appointed mayor.
You are either woefully ignorant of the fact that Walker, Washburn, and Brooks have openly, often obnoxiously, voiced their intention to get rid of these employees, or you are, again, a liar. You have been a regular, outspoken supporter of these views, in print and at the dais. Rather than simply take office and order a direction change through normal employee channels (the new majority is in charge you know) the new council decided to eliminate each employee who had differed with them in the past over a successful policy which left the city with a $2 million SURPLUS. This was a pure, announced, vendetta which has seriously harmed city confidence. In my OPINION Mr. Bartels is facilitating this disgusting policy by perhaps assuring the early departure of Mr. Rapp and Mr. McSweeney.
I don’t come to these issues and personalities recently. I have known all these people for many years, and have had official and unofficial meetings with all of them. I know where their sympathies lie regarding public works and policies. I know that many top level city employees expressed extreme concern to me (before and after the last election) about the welfare of the city in the event Brooks and Washburn were elected. Each told me that they did not wish to continue as city employees if these two were elected and attached themselves to Walker, pushing their extreme hard-line agenda. Brooks and Washburn got in and the employees I speak of have left, for that express reason; more are sure to follow. They are leaving because of the new council’s troublesome micromanagement style and the obnoxious atmosphere of personal disrespect for our experienced, competent, professional staff.
I do not say that Mr. Bartels is a formal “member” of any political group. I know nothing about Mr. Bartels’ formal political leanings, and could not care less. I do know, however, that he has gone along with the Walker, Brooks, and Washburn plan to deny much-deserved contracts to Rapp and McSweeney, and has, curiously, put off any performance evaluation until the magical moment arrives when a new permanent city manager is inaugurated. I do know, from past conversations with Mr. Bartels, of his interest in becoming city manager. At one time I even recommended it. He may have changed his mind. But the thought of having a new city manager (or a subordinate) “evaluate” the work of veteran employees like Roy Payne, Bert Rapp, Barbara Smith, or Kevin McSweeney, is ludicrous. What would that person know of their work? Enough is known of their work by the present council to evaluate it; that evaluation has actually been on-going by the Katzenjammer Kids for several years. Waiting for any fairness in this situation is just laughable. I don’t for a minute believe that Mr. Bartels failed to consult with his bosses on the issue of granting the contracts – and the decision was inescapable in view of past attacks on Rapp and McSweeney.
Your disingenuousness shows, Bob, when you try to make much of my reference to Mr. Bartels’ work with Mr. Payne on the north Fillmore plan. Surely you read Mr. Payne’s remarks on that issue (see responses online under editorial), and my correction. Political “sympathies” are what I worry about, insofar as they agree with the new Triumvirate’s agenda.
As for “correlation” between the jobs Ky Spangler and Bartels are doing, I would remind you that Mr. Payne didn’t require an additional $25,000-helper to get the job done. Maybe it’s time to “evaluate” Mr. Bartels’ job? Barbara Smith thought that might be a good idea.
I am deeply impressed with your acknowledgement that “owning a newspaper doesn’t give [me] license to harm people.” My intent is never to harm people, Bob. But that doesn’t mean needed criticism never “hurts”. My intent is to tell the truth as I discover it. If that happens to hurt, so be it – that’s the nature of politics and editorials, and politics is what this new group has brought to this little town, in spades.
If Mr. Bartels decided to deny contracts to Rapp and McSweeney on his own volition, I question his judgment. If the decision was made under the influence of Brooks, Washburn, and Walker, I question his judgment.
Bob, you question my honesty, accuse me of damaging “our city’s image,” of being a “bully”, and of being (God help us) “contentious”. I hope always and everywhere to be contentious where there is something worthy with which to contend.
You may be a liar, Bob, but you’re not a coward. I respect the fact that you stood-up to wrongly insult me. As for any “license” you claim I am abusing, you’re dead wrong. The opinion I express operates under a protected sacred right, a right codified in the First Amendment of our Constitution, which reads: “Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...”. I take that right very seriously every week. I also recognize the fair exercise of that right as a duty.
As for being a little contentious, there are important American precedents for that, like Payne, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, real opinionated troublemakers all. This newspaper may be small, but I live by those words and by that example, as do thousands of other publishers of small weekly newspapers.
And finally, Bob, check your pants; they’re on fire.