Like many readers, I was saddened to read in this morning's Joplin Globe that people were taking personal attacks against Neosho Mayor Howard Birdsong.
These vicious attacks were so personal that Birdsong felt compelled to address them with a statement at Tuesday's night City Council meeting. The Globe article indicated Birdsong would not tolerate harassment of himself or council members by members of the group opposing the proposed Moark expansion.
To quote from the Globe article, "Birdsong said in his statement that he had received an e-mail from a member of a group opposing Moark's expansion 'threatening to have me removed from the Neosho City Council because the issue was not on tonight's agenda.' "
The article also quoted councilman Jim Smallwood as saying 'idle threats and personal attacks are not the way to get your concerns heard and understood.' "
Mayor Birdsong and Councilman Smallwood are absolutely right. I was angered at the impudence of these Moark opponents when I read the Globe article. How dare they criticize hard-working public officials, officials who give up their family time so they can better serve their community?
About an hour ago, I received the complete text of the 'vicious' e-mail that sent Mayor Birdsong on a rampage.
This is the e-mail in its entirety:
Mayor Howard Birdsong,
Since you chose not to represent us on the "Moark Issue" by having the topic put on the council agenda, we promise to do all within our powers to get you removed from the Neosho City Council. There may be some other city issues that will bear investigating also.
Les and Wanda Bond
707 Peterson Road
This is the horrible e-mail that brought such an emotional response from the mayor? This is the kind of statement that can inflict serious emotional damage on a public servant?
Les Bond addressed the mayor with two brief sentences and simply said he planned to work to get him removed from the City Council. That's not harassment, Mister Mayor. That is called democracy.
Consider the response Birdsong gave, which was printed in its entirety in The Globe. "I will not permit you to occupy any more of my thoughts, and I will not give you one more minute of time in my life. I will not respond to anything you have to say about me, nor to any allegation, innuendo, or outright lie. I will not dignify your behavior with any acknowledgement."
I always enjoy it when people say they will not acknowledge something then spend the next half hour acknowledging it.
Let me put it in simple terms that even a Neosho mayor can understand:
Lighten up, Howard.
If you want to stay on the council, all you have to do is get more votes than your opponent at the next election. But people who disagree with you on the issues have every right to do so, and have every right to tell you that, without being branded as horrible people whose sole reason for existence is to cause you misery.
And if people want to discuss an issue, by all means put it on the agenda. It doesn't mean you have to vote for it, it doesn't mean anything except that you are willing to listen to the taxpayers, and isn't that what all public servants should do?