I’ve read the Projo article, Bob Kerr’s wonderful editorial in the Projo yesterday, and much of the bloviation on the Projo blogs about Sam’s letter to the Witman’s.
Sam has apologized for writing the letter. We all agree that it came off as inappropriate, and was probably not a smart thing to have written.
The lynch-mob mentality that flows out of the Projo blogs has got to stop. Our lovely local Republican party leadership is not helping either with their Facebook site (shame on you Ms. Pinsky – how many years have you and your family known and even worked with Sam?). I was even distressed by the tact taken by this morning’s Political Roundtable speakers on RIPR, and was proud of Mayor Angel Tavares for not getting sucked in by their line of questioning.
Anyone who knows Sam (as I have for 20 years) knows that he is a man of utmost honesty and integrity.
Sam has devoted his entire “extra-curricular” life to public service.
He is a cerebral and academic politician (remind you of any Presidents we know?). He’s not the type to show up at community pot-luck suppers and bingo games, and frankly doesn’t always say the right thing in a social situation.
But don’t impugn his integrity.
This is how I understand (but again, don’t condone) Sam’s letter. Sam is a man of his word. Truth is more meaningful to him than most everything else. Sam was asked to do something on behalf of his constituents, and was able to do so. They made a commitment to him, and didn’t keep their word. For Sam, that showed a lack of integrity. His letter was basically a way of telling them that he was disappointed that they didn’t keep their word, as he had. There was no quid-pro-quo. The service had already been provided by the city. Should Sam have let the unkept promise of a campaign contribution go? Of course. But Sam is not a politician’s (politically correct) politician. And so he wrote the letter expressing his disappointment. The closing paragraph indicates that he was going to have to change his expectations about how people interact with one another, not that he was going to change the service he would provide his constituents.
Did the Witman’s have a right to be disturbed by the letter? I think everyone would agree that they did. I’m sure they have a lot to be angry about. But the creation of this tempest-in-a-teapot certainly makes me question their integrity. Also, who asks a City Contractor if they could also pave their driveway, while a city-contracted service is being performed?
Bob Kerr seems to indicate that Sam was doing “something that everyone does”. Bob: where are the legions of other constituents that Sam has shook down? Why aren’t they coming out of the woodwork? Perhaps because they don’t exist.
Please don’t impugn Sam’s honesty.
What about Sam’s role as a Councilman?
In the twenty-two years I have lived in this city, I have never before seen a member of the City Council take such an interest in the day-to-day workings of the Council, or make them transparent to his constituents. Every week or two Sam sends out and posts a letter describing in detail the issues facing the City, and the deliberations taken by the City Council to address them. Sam has held open community meetings to discuss issues of importance to his constituents. Sam helped dissect the Achievement First application, and came up with a middle-of-the-road compromise that showed a real understanding of the issues raised by two diametrically opposed camps. Sam has served as the Chair of the Council’s Revenue Subcommittee, and has helped explore numerous logical, intelligent ways of helping the City find the revenue to deal with its structural deficits. In his role as Education Subcommittee Chair, Sam helped dissect the PTU contract proposals so that we could all understand the many implications, including some of the problems we are now facing with a “no-layoff” clause. We are truly blessed to have someone of his intelligence participating in City Council affairs.
Please don’t impugn Sam’s forthrightness.
Someone on a Projo blog even claimed that the only reason Sam helped reopen Nathan Bishop was that he was too cheap to pay for schools for his children. First, Sam never sent his children to Nathan Bishop. Second, if the writer of that comment had any idea of how many unpaid, voluntary hours Sam (and several of us) put into the Nathan Bishop project, they would eat their words. I, and many other neighbors, have sent our children to Nathan Bishop, and are grateful for his involvement.
Sam, I am sure, has learned many lessons from this public tar and feathering. He has apologized. The letter was wrong. But now this needs to stop. Let him get back to the business of representing Ward 2, honorably, in the City Council.
Note that this piece was not vetted by the entire ESPEC Steering Committee, but I am sure that most members would stand behind many if not all of these comments.