Two weeks ago, we congratulated Thaddeus Kirkland, the new mayor-elect of Chester City, but made no bones that we were not encouraged by his election. We offered factual evidence in support of our opinion and suggested that people who support him and his team also hold them accountable for their performance in office.
We further suggested that the new administration not play the familiar race or poverty cards just to pry additional resources from the county (we’ll have to explain that in a future editorial).
Maybe it’s not what we said, but how we said it, that rankled the mayor-elect so badly that he called our office, ranted for a couple of minutes, tried to insult the editor (it didn’t work), said he never wanted to speak to us again, then hung up before giving us the chance to respond.
He is still the 159th legislative district’s sitting state representative, so while he should have been conducting state-related, taxpayer-funded business during working hours, he was calling our office to lodge a hissy-fit about what we wrote about him.
He insisted that we have, over time, “disrespected me, disrespected my church; disrespected my family… for the last time.” He furthered insisted that we “don’t send any reporter” to cover him or his administration and he also tried ordering us to “remove your ugly green cans” from locations throughout “my city.”
Four of the hardest words in the English language are: “We told you so.” But we did.
We told you to prepare for this level of eighth-grade, name-calling immaturity. We said look out for personal attacks and allegations that “they print lies” (of course nobody complains when the coverage is positive). And we all but predicted there would be attempted bullying and intimidation. We were right.
The Saturday before the general election, Chester City Parks and Recreation employee Duane Lee prevented a long-time Spirit reporter from entering the Leake Center to cover Gov. Tom Wolf’s last-minute campaign swing through the city. He left her the impression he was acting on orders from “the state rep.” Lee said she wasn’t welcomed because her editor was “a pig.”
On Veterans Day, The Spirit wasn’t invited to cover the city’s annual luncheon held in the publicly-owned Community Room of Chester City Hall and last week, Chester-Upland School District President Anthony Johnson attempted to publicly humiliate a Spirit reporter in the presence of students, parents and officials, as she was attempting to do a positive story on a free coat give-away.
Johnson made disparaging remarks about both The Spirit’s editor and School Superintendent Gregory Shannon.
Board member Tyra Quail thought Johnson’s behavior was inappropriate and spoke out against it. We appreciate her intervention; she realized the benefit of positive news coverage for the kids and parents assembled for the event and put those kids first.
School board member Charles Warren remained silent.
These petty incidents reflect more about the content of people’s character than actually do harm to The Spirit or our egos. In the long run, do you know who really gets hurt?
The Spirit doesn’t exist to help or harm Thaddeus Kirkland or any political entity.
We are here as a public trust and know this… The United States Constitution guarantees us – all of us — the right of free speech and freedom of the press. It is with these rights that we press forward.
It is never our intent to “disrespect” anybody, but it is our intent to hold everybody who benefits from the public purse accountable… that means elected officials, appointed officials, family members, if such members benefit from public money, and public, not-for-profit organizations.
Holding them “accountable” does not mean simply writing what they want us to write, the way they want us to write it. Holding them “accountable” means telling it like it is, whether they like it or not.
That is our mandate and we will continue living up to the requirements of our centuries-old truth.
This newspaper is a bona-fide public advocate available to all races, all genders; all political parties, all ages and our friends in the Animal Kingdom. We remain a forum for the exchange of ideas and information, whether popular or not, and we will, to the extent of our resources, continue covering news that affects our readers no matter where that news happens and no matter who the news source is.
People, with class, who disagree with a position counter it with facts of their own and usually articulate their argument in a civil manner.
People with no class who find it hard to adequately articulate a position, often rely on name-calling, attempted bullying and whatever other forms of thuggish behavior they feel they need to convey their message.
Today, more than ever, communities everywhere need leadership that is more statesman than tyrant; more diplomat than dictator. Black communities that tend to favor one political party over the other don’t need Democrat to be synonymous with “demagogue.”
Public officials need to be reminded that they work for us, not the other way around; and we have the right to inspect their work and question their motives.
Point. Blank. Period. Don’t get it twisted.
Taking a line from a popular song, “Every move you make, every step you take, every vow you break, I’ll be watching you…” with or without “ugly green cans.”