Wendell Peters, Floyd County Circuit clerk, couldn’t hide his displeasure when I showed up Tuesday to report on the latest court session.
When I approached Peters to pick up a copy of the court docket, he looked with disdain and asked: "Are you sure you can accept this from a Republican?"
"Of course," I said. "I deal with Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents and even a Socialist or two."
Peters wasn’t amused. He was upset over that Capitol Hill Blue column that was highly critical of the Republican Party in Washington.
"I was offended by it," he said. "I hope you weren’t talking about present company."
I wasn’t, of course. The column was aimed at the President and Republicans in Congress. The last time I checked, the Constitutional officers of Floyd County weren’t part of that group.
But someone with a copy machine used up a toner cartridge or two copyed the column and distributed it around the courthouse, the town hall and other places. One was stuffed in the door of The Floyd Press. Another was found in the parking lot of the courthouse. Town Manager Mike Maslaney said one was stuffed in his Sunday Roanoke Times.
Too bad the person with the copy machine didn’t take the time to copy one of my many columns which said even worse things about Democrats and pass it around too. Guess they weren’t interested in balance.
Peters took my comments personally. He shouldn’t. What I do is never personal. My problem with the Republicans is focused at those in Washington who, I feel, have abandoned the GOP principles of a small, less-intrusive, government. It was the Congress and the President who gave us the USA Patriot Act, a rights-robbing piece of legislation that takes away many of the freedoms that used to be part of the foundation of this nation.
The folks in Washington are professional politicians. Most local officials are not. They are true citizen officials who actually try to help those they serve. Wendell Peters is a good clerk. Shannon Zeman is a good sheriff. New Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt is living up to voter expectations and delivering on her campaign promises. I’ve had great experiences dealing with county offices, both as a journalist and as a taxpayer and resident of Floyd County.
The same is true with Citizens Telephone. All of my customer service experiences with Citizens have been great. The cooperative’s DSL service is far more reliable than the Verizon service we had in Northern Virginia. I let the company use, without charge, one of my professional video cameras to shoot football games this past season.
So I was surprised recently to hear that some at Citizens felt I had a personal grudge against the company or someone who worked with it. I don’t use this site to pursue personal agendas or grudges. I reported what I did because enough employees of the company came forward with concerns that I felt should be part of the public discussion. Citizens is a publicly-owned telephone cooperative. We, the public, own it and we deserve to know if the company is in trouble.
So let’s stop trying to make this personal. It’s not. Let’s stop the anonymous notes on the door, the invective-filled no-name emails or the nasty, anonymous phone calls left on voice mail. If you have a problem with me, my address is 201 East Main Street, Suite 6, Floyd, VA. I’m there six days a week. Have the courage to walk in the door and discuss your concerns with me in person. Wendell Peters had the common deceney to express his concerns to my face. Others should as well.