DESPITE MR. BASSETT’S CLAIM, WICOMICO COUNCIL MAJORITY DID SHOW AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP
I know my friend Greg Bassett, Executive Editor of the Daily Times, doesn’t get to write as many editorials as he used to since he became Publisher (actually, the new title is General Manager) of the paper along with his other duties. I guess that’s why he chose to tackle multiple issues at once in this morning’s rant against the Wicomico County Council, the Salisbury City Council, and the Worcester County Liquor Control Board. Perhaps he did so in order not to appear obvious in his attacks on the Daily Times’ favorite targets: the conservative majority on the Wicomico County Council and the fiscally responsible majority on the Salisbury City Council. Add in Geoff Smoot’s usual radical screed against the Wicomico Council and Susan Parker’s defense of partisan politics in re-districting and you have an excellent snapshot of the REAL Daily Times – a left of center publication which does not reflect the values of the community which it claims to serve.
Bassett and Smoot decry the Wicomico Council’s decision not to move forward with a new Bennett Middle School. Bassett accuses the majority who opposed moving forward – Gail Bartkovich, Bob Culver, Joe Holloway, and Stevie Prettyman, with a lack of leadership. In reality, the opposite is true. Leadership IS NOT rationalizing irresponsible actions. It’s easy to say, “It’s for the children!” It’s easy to play politics with a serious matter, as County Executive Rick Pollitt (with his 11th hour push for the school), Councilman Matt Holloway (with his cheap comment trying to tie together Bennett Middle and the tragic shooting at his alma mater, Virginia Tech), Superintendent John Fredericksen (with new political group), members of the Board of Education, their political arm – “Parents in Action”, and the Greater Salisbury Committee have all done. Instead, four members held firm against INTENSE political pressure and tactics that bordered on bullying to do the ONLY responsible thing – refuse to lock the county in to a tax rate increase without knowing what the FY 2013 budget to be proposed by Pollitt will look like.
Councilwoman Bartkovich, someone I disagree with on a regular basis, said it best:
"The big piece that’s missing is our operating budget, and that’s a very important part of this process, because we can be told something but when we see it on paper the facts could be entirely different," said Bartkovich. "To do this now would be like putting my name on a contract without all the blanks filled in."
As Pollitt, Fredericksen, their minions, AND their ally – the Daily Times – continue to play politics with this important issue, it is people like Bartkovich, Culver, Joe Holloway, and Prettyman who strive to solve the county’s severe fiscal problems in a responsible manner and within the bounds of the revenue cap.
WILBER MAY BE “SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM”, BUT DID HE SERVE THE CITIZENS OF SALISBURY WELL?
As for the Salisbury City Council, Bassett again is off base and lacks the facts to support his assertion. As we noted yesterday, there are solid reasons for retaining the services of another city attorney. Bassett’s argument:
Yes, you’re right — no need to waste much time typing anything about this clueless collection. Their treatment of Paul Wilber compares closely with the County Council’s treatment of future middle-schoolers.
Yes – that’s it. ????? It seems that Bassett really is taking his cues from a local blogger (our original piece was satire). Unfortunately for Wilber, attacking the motives, or intelligence, of Salisbury council members Debbie Campbell, Terry Cohen, and Tim Spies leaves them little choice but to outline a detailed case of their reasons for seeking additional legal counsel. Wilber certainly isn’t being well served personally by such actions. It is my understanding that Mr. Wilber has handled this in a professional manner. I wish the same could be said for Mayor Jim Ireton, Councilwoman Laura Mitchell, and the Daily Times. Unfortunately, their zeal to attack Campbell, Cohen, and Spies requires that mistakes made by Mr. Wilber, and the cost of those mistakes, be outlined publicly. For the sake of the citizens of Salisbury I hope that the council majority takes this path, despite the less than palatable facts.
As an aside, to add further evidence of Bassett’s (and his paper’s) visceral bias against the Salisbury council majority, we see a nasty little aside regarding the ethics complaints filed by Spies, and councilwoman Shanie Shields (against one another). What neither Bassett, nor his paper, bother to tell you is that Councilman Spies sought, and received, an advisory opinion from the same Ethics Committee that will here Shields’ complaint. In their advisory letter they state that there is no conflict of interest for Spies. Contrast that against Shields, who has admitted in front of others that she pays a below market rate rent to a landlord which she has voted to protect on multiple occasions.
We’ll leave Bassett alone regarding the Worcester County Liquor Control Board. As we stated at the beginning, his mentioning it was probably just cover for his real objective – attacking members of Wicomico and Salisbury government that do the right thing. While I like and respect Greg, if he is going to attack the actions of elected officials he should at least provide a little evidence for his argument. As publisher, he should also think about reserving his respected name for the byline of an op-ed worthy of his talents, and his title.