Leona Hemmerich: ‘If you can’t stand the heat’

To the editor:

It appears as though freedom of speech is now banned in Moffat County government.

This was shown through the recent action of the commissioners (orchestrated by Tom Mathers) to remove two members of the MCTA Board because of statements cited in the paper that went against the decisions of the Board of County Commissioners. Therefore I think it must be said: They don’t like the notion of freedom of expression.

Those who were present at that meeting may recall that after Mathers tried to explain why he wanted to remove the two MCTA members immediately (rather than waiting until the new BOCC is seated), he stated that the reason Bryce and I needed to be booted off the Board was because we were making statements that signaled our disagreement with the commissioners and their apparent ties to the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

While Mathers also made some statements that are very debatable, he came back again to his premise that by disagreeing in public with the BOCC, we were insubordinate.

I admit that I made statements at a public meeting (where Tom Gray should have been in attendance, but wasn’t) that the paper freely chose to print. I did not write anything to the Paper. I didn’t even bother trying to explain any of the statements that were quoted.

Apparently the BOCC took offense however, because Mathers specifically stated that they didn’t want to get “beat up in the paper.” I never said anything about anyone specifically, even in the meeting, but the statements that were quoted in the paper have certainly been proven true by Tuesday’s meeting.

While they did allow public comment, it was blatantly obvious that they had already decided what they were going to do and simply rubber-stamped that decision. Where is the collaboration in that?

This current BOCC certainly comes across to me as being dictatorial in their attitude.

Going back to this meeting, referencing Mather’s statement about not wanting to “get beaten up”, I asked the Commissioners if any of them have ever said anything negative about the Obama administration or disagreed with the president on anything.

I made the mistake of not waiting for them to answer, hoping they would get the point.

I was trying to get them to see that none of us can be expected to be in agreement with our elected officials at all times. It would also appear to me by Mather’s statements that while he looks at the MCTA board as his “employees”, he doesn’t seem to look at himself to be an employee of the people of Moffat County, which is in fact what he is – for now.

All elected officials should expect to get “beaten up” in the paper now and then. Perhaps the best way to put it is – “If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!”

Leona Hemmerich

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