Mr. Tea Party?
|I'm going a little off the reservation with this story in defense of
myself and the rest of the commission.
We all know when we enter the political realm we better have thick skin. Politics can be a full contact sport, that's expected and as for myself I can take it with no problem. Where I do have a problem is when people will just lie without any regard to the truth. That's when it's time to respond.
It's common, when elected officials make decisions, there will be some who disagree with those decisions. Recently, the commission made a common sense decision to make a minor change to the meeting agenda. This didn't set well with those few antagonists who generally disagree with everything we do. But that's OK. Everyone has the right to disagree. I support that right 100%
One of those individuals who disagreed with our decision is a gentleman named Wayne Schnell. Not only did Mr. Schnell disagree with the commissions decision, he took it a step further. Schnell went on an email campaign accusing the commission of violating the law and our oath of office. Bear in mind, Mr. Schnell attended none of the meetings when the agenda change was discussed.
His emails were titled, "Stop the secrecy at any commission meetings" implying that the commission had taken some secret actions which would be a violation of the Sunshine Law.
I responded to Mr. Schnell numerous times asking him to either prove his charges or retract his accusations as widely as he had made them and to attend the next commission meeting to apologize the the commission. Schnell never responded to my multiple requests over a two week period.
Fortunately, Mr. Schnell was in attendance at the last meeting, I assumed to prove or apologize. That wasn't the case. Mr. Schnell addressed the commission and essentially continued his accusations that HE BELIEVES the commission had indeed tried to do something in secret. I pressed Schnell to please provide any evidence or apologize. He steadfastly refused to retract or apologize and continued to state that HE BELIEVES the commission had committed some violation. I explained to him that just because HE BELIEVES something, doesn't make it the truth. He maintained it did. I don't even know how you have a conversation with someone that ignorant.
You might think it's a bit strong for me to be naming an individual in a story like this, but Mr. Schnell is no ordinary individual nor is it his first attempt to intervene in local politics.
Schnell was, and as far as I know still is, one of the leaders of the local Tea Party, and thus, I'm sure considered a staunch conservative in that circle. Unfortunately, his actions belie his words.
Mr. Schnell's first splash in local politics came three or four years ago when he led a group who were determined to stop the construction of the new Greenback School. Schnell was circulating a petition filled with lies and misleading information attempting to gain enough signatures to sway local officials to abandon Greenback. His plan failed.
Not long after that, Schnell began another petition campaign to attempt to overturn the current form of Loudon County government in favor of a charter form of government where he and twenty other people could dictate how Loudon County government would operate. Again Mr. Schnell failed. Did I mention, no, he's not from here but apparently thinks he knows what's best for all of us.
For me, Mr. Schnell represents nothing conservatives or the Tea Party stand for. I really don't think lying is in their platform not to mention that he apparently relies heavily on one of Loudon County's most far left wing liberals for a lot of his information. But that's for another story.
Mr. Schnell widely distributed his false, accusatory email in an attempt to defame and degrade commissioners. I will give Mr. Schnell the same challenge I gave him in my email responses, please present one shred of evidence to his accusations and if he can not, then be a man and admit he was wrong and apologize.
Elected officials should always be under special scrutiny for honesty and integrity and held to the highest standards. But just because we hold elected office does not grant others the right to lie and make false accusations against us.
I for one support dissent and debate with elected officials and I welcome anyone to take issue with my politics or positions or disagree with the votes I cast. I will not however, stand by and be accused of unfounded, illegal actions with no evidence or proof or just because someone believes I did something wrong without calling their hand on it.