Dolan guest com­ment only tells half the story

The Star Democrat - - OPINION - By STEVE WHEELER Steve Wheeler writes from Eas­ton.

I don’t know Ms. Dolan, but do not care for her two-part as­sault on coun­cil mem­bers. It is ob­vi­ous in her de­tail-filled rant that she learned her craft well while at CNN. Tell half the story, at­tack while only re­veal­ing some of the facts and fin­ish with a smug con­fi­dence that half a story is good enough to con­vince most of the peo­ple.

I also don’t know how long Ms. Dolan has resided in Tal­bot County, but ob­vi­ously she is com­fort­able nam­ing and at­tack­ing many of the fam­i­lies who have a long his­tory of ser­vice, com­mit­ment and ac­com­plish­ments in this area. These fam­ily names have long been as­so­ci­ated with many good deeds and fill the lists of donors and board mem­bers of our many char­i­ta­ble and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions. Be­cause they made do­na­tions to legally reg­is­tered can­di­dates in a lo­cal elec­tion should not be rea­son to im­pugn their char­ac­ter.

The other half of the story she ca­su­ally omits: The bru­tal at­tack on Jen­nifer Wil­liams by a small group of peo­ple who were an­gry she didn’t agree with them on two sen­si­tive is­sues. Both the sound or­di­nance and the short-term rental bills were thor­oughly dis­cussed in pub­lic fo­rums. The cov­er­age was ex­ten­sive and cre­ated very strong stands by peo­ple on both sides. Af­ter many hours of con­sid­er­a­tion, Mr. Pack, Mr. Cal­la­han, Mr. Bartlett, Ms. Price and Ms. Wil­liams made de­ci­sions they felt were ap­pro­pri­ate. That is the func­tion of coun­cil mem­bers.

Ms. Dolan com­plains that “it is shame­ful 100 cit­i­zens in Rio Vista and Bent­ley Hay signed a noise pe­ti­tion, and the coun­cil voted against them.” Should 100 peo­ple make the de­ci­sion for the whole county? I hope our county doesn’t make de­ci­sions based on a pe­ti­tion signed by a vo­cal mi­nor­ity.

Af­ter the votes on both is­sues were com­pleted, the op­pos­ing side or­ga­nized and funded a di­rected and un­prece­dented at­tack on one coun­cil mem­ber, Jen­nifer Wil­liams. Sig­nage, and an or­ga­nized cam­paign of let­ters to the ed­i­tor, filled the senses of any­one who drives in the county or reads our lo­cal pa­per. Even the lo­cal head of the Tal­bot Demo­cratic Party ex­pressed his dis­dain for the per­sonal at­tacks. Frankly, many peo­ple on both sides of the is­sue felt it was dis­gust­ing. Even­tu­ally, very late in the elec­tion process, many of Ms. Wil­liams’ sup­port­ers felt a re­sponse to this degra­da­tion of lo­cal cam­paign ethics was re­quired. They or­ga­nized and re­sponded by form­ing Com­mon Sense Tal­bot PAC. The break­down of do­na­tions for this or­ga­ni­za­tion seems to be an in­dict­ment of in­di­vid­u­als who sup­ported Ms. Wil­liams. But in sev­eral cases they came from peo­ple who were re­pulsed by the tac­tics of the “County Over Pol­i­tics” group. How about a de­tailed ac­count­ing of this group’s donors?

Your guest com­ment on this is­sue doesn’t fit the “ru­ral char­ac­ter of our county” you so ar­dently es­pouse. It bet­ter re­flects the na­tional par­ti­san land­scape which tears our coun­try apart. Take a deep breath. Meet these peo­ple you have at­tacked. Un­der­stand their long his­tory of con­tri­bu­tions and ef­forts to keep our county both ru­ral and vi­tal. If you have a con­ver­sa­tion with Jen­nifer Wil­liams, you will be sur­prised how much de­cency and gra­cious­ness she has in com­mon with my fa­vorite pres­i­dent, Ge­orge H. W. Bush.

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