A friend of mine and I were talking the other day, and he said, “Sam, you know I love you, and you know we’ve been friends for more than 15 years, but it’s not like you’re the easiest person to disagree with.”
Which is true. A more succinct way of describing me is how my wife does it. “You’re like a dog who won’t let go of a pant leg.” Fair enough.
So when it comes to having an axe to grind, especially with local politicians, I don’t tend to let up. Ever. I get why some people don’t like this but I don’t understand when the some people who don’t like this are themselves politicians. After all, nobody forced them to run for office. They weren’t doing us a favor by choosing to run. They’re not doing charity work.
Complicating things is our - and I’m putting this gently - complacent local media, a group of people more dedicated to maintaining the status quo than shaking it up. My general assumption about media is that it ought to distrust everyone; as somebody once recommended to me, “Verify, verify, verify.”
Which brings us to Jim Manilla, our city’s thin-skinned mayor. His primary outreach element for his campaign for re-election is his Facebook page. It is available here. As it is currently set up, lowly residents are allowed to post on each of the threads that he creates…unless those residents have the audacity to ask him questions. Then he deletes either the threads themselves or the offending comments. Because god forbid a constituent ask a question of their elected official. What is this, France? (Other Facebook pages supporting the candidates are guilty of the same sort of rank propaganda.)
That said, it hasn’t stopped me from trying to get Jim to explain Victory For Morgantown, the incredibly hypocritical group of behind-the-scenes politicos attempting to get the following candidates (re)elected: Wesley Nugent, Linda Herbst, Bill Graham, Mark Furfari, Jay Redmond, and Ron Bane. Each of these candidates has decried the idea of Morgantown Together, a group of candidates who have publicly acknowledged working together; Victory For Morgantown’s candidates refuse to acknowledge that they ever organized themselves, despite obvious evidence of the group’s existence. Needless to say, that didn’t stop me from voting for at least one of these candidates, but if you’re going to criticize your opponents for being publicly allied with one another, you shouldn’t be guilty of doing precisely the same thing in the shadows.
I tried to ask Jim Manilla this. I am a voter that he allegedly represents after all. He lives a few blocks away from me. But asking an elected representative to explain their political scheming is a big no-no. Which is why I received and responded to the email below:
Got that? I’m “harassing” him because I asked him to clarify his involvement in a political group that he was obviously involved in. My question wasn’t profane or indecent; it just hit at a truth that he’d rather not acknowledge. To hammer home his frustration with me home, he also clumsily copied a local lawyer, Rocky Gianola, I guess assuming that either he had some sort of case or that I’d be quiet if I knew that a lawyer was involved.
Except he has no case, as I tried to make clear in my response. I was asking him a question. He is an elected representative. If he doesn’t want to be asked questions, don’t be an elected representative. It’s a remarkably simple solution that most people could figure out in mere minutes. But as you can also see, he immediately replied, warning me not to post on “his” sites. Except that “his” sites aren’t his; they’re Facebook’s. Facebook, whether we like it or not, is a public forum. At least as far as he has configured his site. So I told him so:
Oddly enough, I haven’t received a response. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t harassing him? Maybe it’s because he realized that voters are still allowed to ask their political representatives questions, even questions that those representatives would prefer not to be asked? I know this can get confusing, but until that changes, or until Jim figures out how to set his Facebook group to “private” - seriously, there’s an explanation right here - I reserve the right to ask him whatever question comes into my mind. He can ignore them or he can engage them. But being thin-skinned to the point of absurdity? That won’t get him anywhere.