- Last Updated on 02 August 2012
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This is a sincere attempt to set the public record straight and put an end to bullying and dissemination of distorted and inaccurate information regarding the city's legislative business. We long hoped ignoring the bad behavior would let it lose its appeal, and the city could eventually get on with business. We suspect our lack of response to the nonsense encourages its continuation.
Yesterday, a letter was sent from the office of Mayor James Ireton Jr. It contained his latest news release, in which he again lambasts a majority of Salisbury's City Council and frames the issues in a less-than-accurate way. Such behavior does not advance our city and prevents us from seizing opportunities to work together to make Salisbury a wonderful place.
We are disappointed by and dismayed at the rhetoric in which the mayor has engaged that inaccurately portrays our performance and intent. We unfailingly have neverstrayed from honesty, forthrightness and genuine concern for our constituents and our city in every aspect of our legislative actions. We have publicly made our concerns known at every turn, although the public may be unaware due to less-than-satisfactory media coverage.
We have repeatedly reached out to the mayor to join us in discussion and have encouraged approaches that could calm the turbulent relationship he has fostered with the council president. Terry Cohen has been open to various approaches to improve the relationship, while the mayor refuses phone calls, mediation or unemotional, fact-based discussion for the good of our city. Instead, he calls news conferences and disseminates news releases making false, misleading accusations. We are particularly disturbed the mayor would issue this disrespectful release at the very hour he knew the council president would be attending a funeral and unable to respond.
This most recent news release, which came less than 48 hours after the council majority plainly requested honesty and full truth from him and the media, cites two items which require more honesty and truthfulness than the mayor seems inclined to provide.
The truth is that the agenda item for the mountain biking path in the City Park came to council from the mayor without the recommendation of the City Parks Commission, a standard in the council consideration process. The commission is made up of concerned citizens appointed to work together to provide the council with their best analysis, based on appropriate research, applicability and city needs. The issue will be entertained by council, once the commission formulates a recommendation. Be assured it is a topic of informal discussion, even though it has yet to be formally advanced.
The truth is that the "three strikes" legislation is under legal review by the new city attorney. This legislation, which is one of the facets of the mayor's Safe Streets plan (a set of legislative measures developed to support the city's desire to have effective laws in place to help with our commitment to fighting crime) is also under review by the city attorney. This particular legislation is extremely demanding and its crafting requires exacting precision, as it has legal implications which, if it is not carefully written and reviewed before enacting, would certainly expose the city to many legal challenges and particularly expensive and embarrassing lawsuits. Not well done, it would be worse than useless. This is not what we are tasked to do nor is it what we intend to do. We anticipate seeing a properly composed final draft in the near future.
On the topic of crime reduction efforts, it is also worthy to note that the Safe Streets Program funding, brought to the city through the personal efforts of Cohen in a face-to-face meeting with the governor, has provided nearly $750,000 to date and is largely responsible, with the regionally unprecedented cooperation of a dozen local, county, state and federal agencies and offices, for the dramatic drop in major crimes in Salisbury. It is time that Cohen is thanked by the administration for her role in bringing that resource to the city.
The attached resolution outlines the truth about the downtown revitalization. Really, isn't most everyone in favor of a vibrant downtown?
However, as is pointed out in the resolution, the plan that was hyped in private meetings long before it was presented to the council is riddled with deficiencies.
Terry Cohen, in our opinion, is the most-knowledgeable, best-educated and most-intelligent council president that this city has had in memory. Her performance has been exceptional in that she demands legislation that is carefully and properly constructed, legally airtight and always in the best interests of the constituents and the city. She, and we, will not be swayed by the opinions of a handful of people who feel that Salisbury is theirs alone. She and we will continue to do what council is supposed to do: have a wide appreciation for the needs of our city, both immediate and long lasting, and to craft legislation that supports those needs, legislation that is both beneficial and correct in every aspect possible. Quickly considered, poorly researched and shabbily constructed legislation is not an accomplishment, it is a liability that costs the taxpayers, whether individuals or business owners; a liability that lessens the reputation of Salisbury as a place to work, live, study and do business; a liability that does not speak well of our city on so many levels.
Our record is an inconvenient truth that shatters attempts to paint us as the "culture of no." We did say "no" to a tax increase, but in doing so were still able to fund virtually every item in the mayor's proposed budget. We have worked diligently to get to "yes" on tough issues like the Onley/ Bateman intersection improvements, even though we suspect that we were deceived by the administration along the way. We have successfully negotiated settlements for the wastewater treatment plant and are bringing closure to the chapter that brought us to a failed facility in a way that brings the best possible outcome to the city under the very difficult circumstances we inherited. If you examine the record, you will see the positive results that our strong work ethic and divergent opinions yield.
That being said, we again ask the mayor to engage in honest and forthright discussion with the Council, not the time and resource wasting bullying that seems to have become his standard pattern of approach. We ask the media to accurately, insightfully and fairly report the news. We rightfully expect that the media outlets, our citizens' sources of the truth behind the news, will make every effort to tell the story in an unbiased and nonsensationalized manner, not relying wholly on one-sided, uninvestigated press releases and "he said, she said" reporting styles, or by editorials that most often and regrettably only tell one side of any story and deny those with an alternate view the common decency to respond without undue editing or plain dismissal. Salisbury's people deserve better. Salisbury's people deserve to be informed, not led by the nose by less-than-acceptable reporting standards.
We will continue to serve our community exactly in the way we promised: honestly, untiringly, professionally and with respect to your needs and the needs of our city. As always, we look forward to and encourage your engagement in city matters, as you are what we are all about.
As a longtime friend of Ireton, it was painful to have to take this action. However, I was raised to believe when you see someone being bullied, you have a personal responsibility to step up or you become part of the problem and might as well be the bully yourself.
Prior to the last election there was speculation that those who wanted to maintain the status quo in the city would try to divide the mayor and council. Perhaps they were successful, but this is the day all of it can stop. I continue to want to work with the mayor, but I won't be steamrolled when I know in my heart a certain decision is not in the best interest of Salisbury. I hope this will be the last story The Daily Times runs about the negative aspects of our city politics and that it will begin to talk more about the positives. As examples, I offer the EVO brewery, the new ownership of the Feldman's building, the thriving farmer's market and the new arts market on Saturdays. It is a positive message that will help us to turn the city around. If we use the painful experiences of the past year or so as a lesson and can now move on to lift one another up we can reach high enough to grab the "brass ring" that is a promising future for the city; we will have come through the pain and turmoil in a beneficial way and it will have been worthwhile.
Deborah Campbell is vice president of the Salisbury City Council. Tim Spies is a Salisbury City Council member.
Source Website: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/google/bully/~3/rMT2hF9PhSk/url