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'A miscarriage of editorial writing'

August 26, 2003

Dear Editor:

This is in response to your editorial Sunday accusing the Danville Citizens for Good Government committee of playing politics when they filed a complaint with the ethics commission regarding Mayor Bowling's vote in January rescinding the previous vote to build a new entrance to the Danville Manor Shopping Center. Let's look at your arguments.

You lead off by criticizing the delay of "seven months after the January vote on the matter." You go on to say it "was not based on information that has just come to light," that information being it was a known fact the mayor owned property directly across the road from the competing restaurants.

I question the validity of that statement and in my 10 years in this city I have heard the mayor had business interests in some fast-food restaurants but never have I heard which ones they were or their location. I suspect I have much company in my ignorance.

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You also fail to note that the Danville Citizens For Good Government was not even in existence until May-June of this year. Further, the Ethics Commission had never formally formed itself or had a meeting until the DCFG Committee submitted is complaint in the matter of the termination of the city manager.

So who was around in January when the "threesome" voted on the issue of the driveway?

Your next statement really puzzles me. You say "The question of a new shopping center entrance ... seems entirely debatable." Of course it is! But if I am a governmental official and I own property or possibly have a potential financial interest in an action of the governmental agency on which I serve. Do I at least acknowledge that fact and offer to abstain from that vote? I would think that would be the "ethical" thing to do!

Two more of your arguments. You accuse the Committee of "sheer politics, and it hurts the group's credibility." Where in heaven's name is the politics in this issue? What is the political agenda? Who is trying to do what politically? There are no elections on the horizon that I know of. If you want to accuse, at least do something to substantiate your statement.

And finally, you reach some sort of editorial low when in the last paragraph you suggest the committee undertake a "serious study ... to improve the traffic situation around the Hustonville Road-Danville Bypass intersection. That would be the ethical thing to do."

What the has that question to do with ethics in city government?

The entire editorial says to me you were reaching for anything to discredit the very hard work this committee has performed in the past without compensation or interest other than preserving the good name of the city of Danville and its local government.

In all my years in the newspaper business I have read editorials that disappointed me, but this one failed every test I ever held regarding good, honest straightforward writing meant to inform. It disappoints me to see this gross miscarriage of editorial writing.

A. Richard Gross

Danville

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