There He Goes Again
Last updated 3/24/2021 at 4:50pm
In 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan told President Jimmy Carter in a debate, “There you go again” when he accused Carter of misrepresenting his position on Medicare legislation. To paraphrase Reagan, “There he goes again” now aptly applies to Commissioner Larry Chapman and his omissions, contradictory and misleading statements regarding this newspaper.
The latest round of comments came on March 8 and can be read below this editorial.
He said, “I decided to send a letter to the editor expressing support for officers. Nothing political at all.” Yet, the very first sentence of his letter submitted last June states, “Recently our law enforcement agencies and their staff have been under attack by leftist demonstrators and leftist politicians...” If you’re a candidate for office and your first sentence contains “leftist politicians,” then your letter is political.
Chapman confirms that he was directly informed by us back in the summer that “... we do not run letters from people once they have announced their candidacy for office.” And he omitted the next line, which stated that we “had to turn down letters from two Democratic candidates thus far.” As we acknowledged in a previous editorial, we attempt to let candidates know we do not print their letters once they announce their candidacy, and we definitely let them know that if they submit letters.
Chapman says he assumed this policy applied to elected officials and “due to this I never contacted the paper regarding any additional opinions or to defend myself or our commissioners from the attacks we were receiving due to our support for our resolution in support of the U.S. Constitution...” Yet, in his comments to the Board of Commissioners on Feb. 22, Chapman said, “I was informed by the editor of our local paper that he would not accept any response to any opinions that were printed in the paper from me,” and “What I am going to read now is an opinion that I would have sent to the paper had they printed it...” Either Chapman “never contacted the paper” or he tried to contact the paper to have a letter – the one he read to the commissioners in February – published.
Chapman claims we “provided a lot of praise, admiration and praise for the two candidates that switched political affiliation” and it was “disingenuous to prevent other candidates from sending in comments.” The two candidates to whom Chapman is referring are Mike Hawkins and Page Lemel. They, along with David Guice, announced their decision the first week in December of 2019 to leave the Republican Party. On Dec. 5, 2019, we published an editorial entitled “Principles Before Party” and recognized the work the three had done at the local, state and national levels. What Chapman again fails to mention is that in the following issue on Dec. 9, 2019, we ran a story including comments from Republican commissioners Jason Chappell and Will Cathey about the other commissioners’ decision. That story also included comments from then County Republican Party Chairman Sammy Kicklighter, who commended Hawkins, Lemel and Guice “for their service on the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners and for their leadership and accomplishments for the people.” On that same front page we also ran a story entitled “Chapman Looking To Return To Commission.” At no time during the campaign did we run letters from any candidates. All candidates were treated the same.
There are several other inaccuracies and contradictions in Chapman’s latest criticism. Those attacks aside, his comment, “I guess sometimes I never listen” reveals a dangerous and willful ignorance. An official who “sometimes” or “never” listens is not going to hear all his constituents and may not listen to important and valuable information from other government officials, be they municipal, county, state or federal officials. The best elected officials listen to as many people as possible.
If he listened to what his constituents had to say in this paper, he would have read on June 8, 2020, an editorial entitled “Confrontation Vs. De-escalation,” in which we praised the actions of Sheriff David Mahoney and Police Chief Phil Harris and a superb piece written by Chief Harris entitled “Brevard Police Committed to Protecting Everyone.”
We hope this is the last time we have to address glaring omissions and false or misleading statements; we prefer not to have to write, or even think, “There he goes again.”
Editor’s Note: During the March 8 Board of Commissioners’ meeting, the following comments were made by Commissioner Larry Chapman.
His “clarifications” refer to comments he initially made on Feb. 22.
“I guess I’ll do it again. I’d just like to clarify some statements and comments that I made at the last meeting. Someone said all press is good for a politician, because if you’re in office most people have and are supporting you, which is the case now and I appreciate all of the positive and supporting comments I have received. Also, I was advised that you never get in an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel. I guess sometimes I never listen. A little background on my comments at the last meeting that seem to have made the front page, along with a personal photo, of our local paper. This started last summer when all the riots, looting, burning and attacks on the police were going on by the leftist anarchists. It was very obvious that very few media outlets were…condemning the riots or offering support for law enforcement officers or agencies. I decided to send a letter to the editor expressing support for officers. Nothing political at all. I’ll read this letter shortly. I waited for a period of time, and it was not printed and I did not receive any comment back from the paper. I then contacted the paper to inquire if there was an issue with the content or something else. A little while later I received an email from the editor with the following comment: ‘As you may or may not know, we do not run letters from people once they have announced their candidacy for office.’ Well, I did not know that, and I don’t know if any of the other commissioners that were candidates knew that at the time. It might be good the next time for them to send their policies to each of the candidates. As there was no indication that this is only applied to official candidates during the campaign, and there was no comment regarding if elected, I assume it probably now applied to an elected official regarding opinion letters, and due to this I never contacted the paper regarding any additional opinions or to defend myself or our commissioners from the attacks we were receiving due to our support for our resolution in support of the U.S. Constitution, which is still unbelievable to me today. In my comments about the hate America left, which relates to the leftist anarchists destroying our cities and attacking police, I did note that the paper provided a lot of praise, admiration and praise for the two candidates that switched political affiliation. I’m not sure if the candidates’ personal comments that were printed were submitted in writing, or just from the interviews, but a little disingenuous to prevent other candidates from sending in comments – If okay to print those candidates comments as well, as it was all political, and give the appearance of support for them. Anyway, not to worry, unless something major happens, I do not plan to send any additional opinion letters to the paper. Now I would like to read the short letter that created this controversy to begin with: ‘Recently our law enforcement agencies and their staff have been under attack by leftist demonstrators and leftist politicians to the point some are calling for the disbanding and defunding of police and sheriff’s departments. These statements are made with no regard to the impact on personal safety and security of our communities and families and will lead to total chaos in our nations cities and communities. I’m worried about the future of our country should these leftists obtain more power. Hopefully, rational thinking Americans will wake up before more damage can be done. We are fortunate in Transylvania County and Brevard to have three of the most professional agencies and well-trained officers in our sheriff’s department, police department and highway patrol. The best in the state in my opinion. They risk their lives every day to protect us and our property against crime and criminals trying to disrupt our lives and communities. They provide critical service and support to all of our citizens, regardless of who they are or where they live in our county. This country better think long and hard about the impact it will have, especially in these cities and urban areas, if you do not have law enforcement to ensure our personal safety and security of our property and possessions. I want to express my personal thanks and support for all the men and women who put on the uniform and badge each day, and have sworn to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic, as their oath of office states. I pray for their safety every day.”