Twelve words buried in the middle of an Gardner News opinion piece has created quite a stir: “Council should be reminded that discrimination against old people is not legal.”
The editorial, clearly marked “OUR VIEW: City committees could become vanity projects,” and printed in the Oct. 21 edition on the opinion page, is still being debated.
Councilman Rich Melton was so upset over the editorial he emailed the city’s attorney Oct. 23 and requested a legal opinion as to whether council had done anything illegal, costing taxpayers about $400 in fees. Councilman Lee Moore has suggested on a social media page that the Gardner News should pay for the city’s attorney fees and a cease and desist letter be written.
What’s interesting to note is that Melton did not have the authority to request a legal opinion without council agreement.
Also interesting is Moore’s apparent threat regarding the Gardner News standing as official paper of record. Also he suggests the city pay an attorney to write a letter demanding this newspaper cease and desist; we construe that as “quit writing editorials.”
Seriously?
It’s all much ado about nothing, but that seems to be the modus operandi for these two novice councilman. Get offended, deflect criticism, play victim, threaten and attack the messenger.
Newspapers have been writing editorials – many much more inflammatory than a reminder that council should not discriminate – since the country’s inception. That’s our job; opinions are meant to formulate debate. We don’t expect people to agree with everything.
Part of the problem seems to be they don’t understand the difference in an opinion and an article. This opinion – titled OUR VIEW – was on a page dedicated to opinions, and it appears on gardnernews.com under the “opinion” tab.
In fact, in Melton’s Oct. 23 e-mail to the attorney he references the OUR VIEW opinion tab, but writes “Here is the story I referenced. Thanks Rich.”
Even the city’s attorney, in Melton’s requested review, confuses the issue, sometimes referring to the editorial as an “article.”
In this tough economy, every dollar counts, and rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on a legal review of the newspaper’s opinion, those who disagree with the newspaper’s editorials might try the time-honored tradition of writing letters to the editor or counterpoint columns, or even calling the office to complain.
We can’t recall ever not publishing a letter or counterpoint, and some have been pretty fiery.
We welcome the opportunity to publish differing opinions.
Consider this an invitation. And it’s free. We won’t bill you $205 per hour in 6 minute increments.
The offending editorial dealt with the council’s debate over selection of individuals to sit on proposed advisory committees. The thrust of our opinion was that those who have served  before may have a historical perspective that others do not.
We also made the point that those committees should be open to the public and subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
We stand by that.
The complete, offending editorial is published here. We invite readers to formulate their own opinions and encourage letters to the editor.