It is often said that words matter. Historically speaking, this is often seen by using a particular word to connect to the past. The Whig Party chose that name because in the 1830s everyone knew that the Whigs in England were the ones who had opposed the King. By calling themselves the Whigs, they were criticizing Andrew Jackson by implying he wanted to be a monarch.
Recently this idea has played out with a Twitter beef between certain sports writers and LeBron James. After the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Milwaukee Bucks announced they would not play their opening round game against the Orlando Magic. Quickly the rest of the NBA games were canceled as players refused to play in light of the most recent shooting. The NBA came out in support of the cancelations and announced the games would be played at a later date in the near future. In writing about the games, many writers referred to the canceled games as postponements. It was at that time that LeBron James tweeted, “Boycotted not postponed.”
Why does the name make a difference? Either way, postponed or boycotted, the games were all held two days later and the playoffs continued. May I suggest that James, understanding the historical significance of boycotts, wanted to connect his actions to the past. By insisting what he did was a boycott, the current movement could be seen in a similar light as, say, the Montgomery Bus Boycott. James did not articulate his reasons for his Tweet, but there must have been a reason for his insistence he was boycotting.
To be fair to the journalists, they had reasons for their word choice. First, traditionally in sports a boycott has referred to players skipping a game or event while the game went on without them. When past NBA All-Stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor boycotted games because of racial injustice, the games were still played but without them. So when the NBA rescheduled the recent playoff games, to many it seemed more like a postponement.
Secondly, though not required, to make a good sports boycott story, some amount of sacrifice is usually made. There are some excellent examples in history. In 1936, the Olympic Games were held in Hitler’s Germany. Hitler planned to use the games as a showcase for his achievements and show off he did. He built amazing venues and used the world’s captured attention to turn everything into a pageant of Nazi propaganda. He also showed off his nation’s athleticism by dominating the games and winning the most medals. Even while cautious of Hitler, most of the world arrived in Berlin anyway, not wanting to let politics ruin the games. However, there were some athletes who just could not bring themselves to ignore Hitler’s treatment of the Jews.
One such athlete was Albert Wolff, a French fencer. Though Wolff had a chance to medal in the Olympics, as a Jew he simply could not tolerate Hitler’s Jewish views. Instead of competing, he gave up any chance of Olympic glory and remained at home. He never gave up on his Olympic dreams, however. In 1948, twelve years later, when the games commenced again after WWII, the now 42-year-old athlete finally got his chance to compete. Much older now and out of his prime, this time he represented his new home of America and had the honor to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremonies. It’s worth noting how Wolff spent his time between the two Olympics. Instead of sitting in his hotel suite for a few days, eating room service, he decided to enlist with the French army and left for the front, willing to die for his beliefs. He did not just fight; he earned his nation’s highest honor for bravery. Eventually, he was captured by the Germans and sent to a Jewish war camp. He managed to escape the camp and made his way to Portugal and then eventually the U.S. Once in America, he enlisted in the American Army and was sent back to the front in Africa to fight again.
There are other famous boycotts. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Russia because of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. Many athletes who had trained for years for this one event were forced to give up their only opportunity to ever win a medal. There was some satisfaction for America, not the summer athletes, but for the winter ones. Later that year America did play in the winter games. That was the year when the American hockey team beat the Russians during the “Miracle On Ice” game, arguably the most inspirational American Olympic game ever. By not sacrificing even one game, James’ boycott does not seem to measure up for many.
In the end it really does not matter what the game stoppage was called, the playoffs have continued and James looks poised to win his fourth championship. James wants to be seen as fighting for social justice like those who came before him. However, maybe it is the very fact that he might win that fourth title that some have questioned his choice of words and have denied what he did was a boycott.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.
Submitted Commentary: Is information free in Front Royal?
From: Front Royal Town Councilman Joseph McFadden
During a presentation on FOIA by Town Attorney Doug Napier, which is available on the Town Website if you wish to watch the entire presentation, I was given a lot to think about.
During the presentation, I wrote down questions. Some were answered at the time I asked them (at the completion of the presentation) and others were to be answered with information either provided to me or that I would have to dig up (which I was willing to do). It was emailed to me in a spreadsheet the following day thanks to a competent staff able to generate a report for me.
I’ll present some facts and figures here and the subsequent answers I learned by reviewing the spreadsheet I was given.
In the presentation, I was told that in the Calendar Year 2021 (Jan 1- Jan 19, 2021) there had already been 91 FOIA requests submitted to the Town of Front Royal. I was told that if that rate continued, we would face 1700-1800 FOIA requests in this year alone. Considering the issues we’ve already faced (Old: EDA Lawsuit, Afton Inn and Happy Creek project. NEW: Article 47 Lawsuit, Sexual Harassment, and Firing of former employee Lawsuit), I thought the number believable.
According to the document: There were 7.
I followed that statement up with a question regarding how many did we get in 2020 so that I could look at the trends and see if it was high, or normal for a month-to-month statistical comparison. I like processes and I like tracking trends.
According to the document: There were 87.
It would be a 2,011% jump in the number of FOIAs if we were to hit 1700-1800 predicted (I used 1750, splitting 1700 and 1800, as my number and 87 as the originating number to determine that percentage). That’s quite a jump.
Trying to wrap my mind around how there could be such a discrepancy in these numbers, I thought back on hearing in the presentation about FOIA requests that had 15,000 or even 80,000 pages in the request. But again those numbers don’t match up.
I heard that many of the requests take a lot of time to review because “Some laws are not easy to decipher.” Well, I’ll just leave that there. Shouldn’t we have a staff member that is an expert on this to field the massive volume of FOIA requests? That was my thought at the time.
I was told that we billed the staff hours used to fulfill the requests. Later, I asked to clarify if the staff was paid hourly as a contractor or yearly salary as an employee and if these FOIA requests were only being completed during overtime hours? They are salaried employees, and the searches are completed during normal business hours. And in fact, the searches are often farmed out to department heads to complete.
Specifically, I asked that if it is in the scope of work of a staff member and not done outside of normal business hours, how can we then bill the requestor?
And my follow-on question is that if the FOIA is for my emails, couldn’t I simply pull them at no cost to the citizen?
Based on section 6 of the VA FOIA Advisory Commission’s Guide that I took the time to read before the meeting – Section 2.2.3704.1: “6 – A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.”
That doesn’t seem to talk about charging for salaried employees to do what is part of their job duties, such as pulling emails when there is a FOIA request. We have search features in Microsoft Outlook that makes searching super fast and easy. And indexing on a server is also pretty fast. I should know, I once advised a DOD agency looking for a way to archive all their historical records being pulled from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq onto closed secret computers so that they could be searched by historians and journalists. And I got very familiar with how quickly indexing of documents and emails happens and can be accessed real-time.
I learned that some FOIA requests are “fishing expeditions” or submitted “to harass.” I also learned that it is charged this way to “be fair to everyone.”
However, upon review of the data provided to me, I saw that there were a few repeat requestors (out of the total 94 in the spreadsheet) but that not everyone got a bill. I found my dad’s name on the list. I followed up with him. He was not billed. If everyone is billed and treated fairly, why wasn’t he?
I learned that we have never been fined for not completing an FOIA request.
I am now awaiting the answers to several questions about the obvious discrepancies I saw between what I was told in the work session and what was delivered in the form of reportable and quantifiable data.
But I am also waiting to find out 2 key things:
1. If we collect money from an FOIA request for salaried time, where does that money go once collected?
2. How much money did we collect from FOIA requests in 2020?
Stay tuned if you are as interested in this as I am.
Remember, until only a few weeks ago, I was just a citizen like you!
(Originally posted on the councilman’s social media site)
We can agree to disagree, but never to the point of being narrow-minded
On January 21, a group of concerned citizens went to a BOS meeting to declare Warren County a “Constitutional Sanctuary County” against the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, I believe we need to stop with the fearmongering from our state health officials and governor! We have lived with this pandemic for over a year now, which we have learned a great deal and can, by all means, use our God-given brain to make health decisions for ourselves!
Second, if you are sick or have come in contact with an infected person. Do the right thing, get tested, stay at home for 7 to 10 days and get on with life!
All along we were told by CDC, NIH, even our general M.D.’s to use the 3 things that help stop the spread. Hand cleaning, mask-wearing, (when out in crowds), the social distancing of 6ft. which by the way should always be the case with stopping illnesses.
But, no, some in our government want to take away our rights and freedoms and call it for the good of the nation.
Really? Then how come some elected officials get to carry on their lives any way they want, but we can’t?
I call that “a narrative” to power over the rights and freedoms of our Constitutional laws!
To the email writer calling those residents “selfish patriots” was uncalled-for. Name-calling never did settle things, it just keeps the solutions from being talked about in a manner which all can come together.
We can agree to disagree, but never to the point of being narrow-minded.
Let’s take this issue of being restricted to conduct our lives and businesses seriously. We were not made to live in a bubble, our bodies will either adapt and fight or die. Either way, all flesh will die that’s a given.
Fear will kill far worse more than any pandemic or war!
Odors and Town Processes – a theoretical seminar
Recent newspaper accounts report Front Royal work crews were out trying to find out where a strange odor was coming from. – All they had to do is open the door to the Town Council meeting. The work crews had to suspend their search due to a broken water main. I think they should notify Mr. Tederick. He is great with redundant water pipes.
Let’s explore that thread briefly before we talk about morals, ethics and legalities. In a page straight out of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” or maybe from the Sopranos, Tederick’s meteoric rise through the political hierarchy.
How did he get here? Well, he was appointed to a Grand Jury. Due to his leadership capabilities he became Chairman of the panel. Using his investigative skills, he signed the indictment for Hollis Tharpe – the charge? Frequenting a bawdy house. Long, goofy story short: Hollis had to resign as mayor but later all charges dropped.
“We have no mayor!” Was the cry that went out. The Gentle Knight Tederick stepped up and said, “Send Me!”, or something like that. Thus, without public input, Ta Da, he became mayor.
But one of his driving passions was to put in a redundant water line up the Route 340 North Corridor. Why? Well, just like the excuse for the destruction of Happy Creek, it was “well we had never done it, so we had better do it”. Really? How about “The Power Plant wants it”. Really? If they want it, why won’t they pay for it?
Or could it have been because he allegedly had a relative working for the developer that wanted to put in 800/600/200 units for senior citizens and low-income housing. Well, it all fell apart when it was pointed out that:
- There was no water. We were in the midst of a drought at the time. So Matthew had the Town Manager do a water consumption study – Damn, it came back – no water (and eventually doomed the guy).
- There was no capacity at the Waste-Water Treatment Plant.
- Traffic. Damn, the Sheriff said that they didn’t support the development.
Matthew was stumped. What to do?
First, get rid of that troublesome Town Manager. So, according to various staff members, he began to bully the guy, to such an extent he had enough and quit.
“We have no Town Manager!” Was the cry that went out. Once again, the Gentle Knight to the rescue.
So now, plans are underway for the pipe. The engineering firm selected was the same one that botched the Happy Creek destruction. We must save money! So Matthew fired the Town Tourism Board. Why? Well to save money, he said, oh by the way, allegedly to get rid of the head of it. So the solution? Pay a contractor $600,000 dollars to do it; evaluate themselves on their efficiency with a set of criteria nobody knows but them; and do it all “behind the famous closed door”.
Well, he rolled through the destruction of Happy Creek making that beautiful. Issues regarding that fiasco are continuing.
CARES money. After throwing a temper tantrum with those County Supervisors who had the temerity to ask for the required paperwork, Mr. Tederick went to the Chamber of Commerce and had them distribute the money! Legal? Well, the lawyer said it was okay. Questionable? Because you are asking a non-government entity to do the government’s job. He could have asked the EDA to do it but, well, we have seen how the Town deals with them. But why the Chamber of Commerce, have they ever done anything like this before? No. Could it be an example of rumored “friendly backscratching” circling Magic Matt. Nah! That would be unethical.
Wasn’t there a video on the Royal Examiner showing Matthew standing in the wreckage of Afton Inn telling a reporter that “we finally have a plan to move forward”. No he didn’t, the Town still doesn’t.
Then there was a Taj Mahal of police stations built with cafeteria etc. All based on Town Council input. There they were at the Grand Opening, Tederick, Holloway, and their pal Meza, grinning away. Off to the side was the new head of the EDA. How would he know that the Town would have no “moral, ethical or legal” requirement to pay for it. Yep, one morning the hirsute wanna-be Jacob Meza allegedly was driving down the street and Shazam (thanks to Gomer), there was a police station sitting there! How did that get there? What a surprise, surprise, surprise it must have been to find that there.
Well life goes on here in Mayberry: Meza was caught off guard when confronted with his conflict of interest (Recuse is defined as to withdraw from the decision-making process because of personal interest or unfairness). His personal interest? Other than his position on the Valley Health staff and his bosses staring him down and the purported big bonus. Really, no problem here folks. Why? Because a lawyer who just so happened to own nearby land said so. Moral? No way. Ethical? But legal?
But that’s okay. He was reborn as a Town Council person after it was found that Town Council members don’t fall under Council “jurisdiction”.
Once, on the Titanic a lawyer saw the iceberg looming dead ahead. Should he notify the captain and save people’s lives? No, because he had recently bought ice cube rights for that glacier and he might be held responsible. After all, there were no laws that said he had to say anything. Later, he was one of the first in the lifeboat. When questioned, he said “The law was changed to women, children and lawyers first”.
And that’s why it’s legal. So class, we have learned that morals and ethics are subject to vast interpretation. Tony Soprano once said, “If I do it, it’s ethical and if the lawyers say it, it’s legal”.
Warren County, Virginia
It was a dark day on Jan. 6 as Congress planned to confirm the Electoral College vote for the next president. Around 1 p.m. a group of pro-Trump protesters pushed their way into the Capitol building, disrupting the official count as Congress was forced into lock down. The issue at hand was the President’s claims of voter fraud and a stolen election.
This was by no means the first contested election in the U.S. The 1800 and 1824 elections were both decided in Congress. The 1876 and 2000 elections were both decided in the courts. Let’s also not forget the South seceded from the nation in 1860 because of Lincoln’s election. In fact, in 2001, 2005 and 2017 some Democrats protested the final confirmation vote the same way some Republicans did this year. In these cases, the Vice Presidents acted like Mike Pence this year and did their duty and confirmed the vote even with political pressure not to do so.
The differences between this current election and the past ones were that the controversies did not involve a sitting president. They were always between two new candidates. 1800 did have an incumbent president in the race, but the controversy was between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Trump is the first sitting president to contest his defeat. The other more important difference was those election controversies were all handled peacefully, except 1860. Yes, there have been many protests over elections, but trying to take the Capitol to obstruct the vote is unprecedented.
There have been other elections with fraud claims, most recently, the 2016 election that Democrats claimed foul because of Russian influence. Yet, the one I think is important because of the behavior of the candidates is not remembered today as controversial but at the time was called out by many as fraudulent.
Today, when discussing the 1960 election, most think of the young charismatic John F. Kennedy manhandling and crushing the much older Richard Nixon in the first televised debates. I would argue this is a false memory. For one, Nixon was only four years older than Kennedy and, two, this was one of the closest elections in history. The closeness of the election meant that several states were swing states and just one or two of them going the other way meant a difference in the president.
Two of the states that could have gone either direction were Texas and Illinois. Both ultimately voted for JFK, but not without some controversy. In Texas it was claimed that JFK’s V.P., Lyndon Johnson, used undue influence and fraud to guarantee a Democratic win. Yet it was Illinois that captured the nation’s attention, especially the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley. Daley is one of the men credited with the quote, “Vote early and vote often.” On election night, he called JFK to tell him basically that, with a little luck and some help from some friends, he would win the state. Daley was a mayor either loved or despised, depending on your political leaning, but no one questioned his power over the city and even the state. Daley was rumored to be involved in ballot stuffing, especially in Cook County, that turned the state towards Kennedy.
The cries of corruption were minimal on election night and ultimately JFK was the victor. It was after the election that the rumors began to build. The man more than any other who began to beat the drum of fraud was a reporter and friend of Nixon, Earl Mazo. He began to investigate the rumors and wrote a series of articles detailing his evidence. He had found graveyards in Chicago where all the permanent residences had voted. The story that most stuck out was the 56 voters whose residences all turned out to be the same abandoned house. Yet as interesting as these stories were, most were never published at the insistence of Nixon.
Nixon asked his friend to stop running the stories. His request was not because he felt they were untrue. In fact, Nixon, for the rest of his life, privately insisted the election was stolen from him, and many from his administration insisted they had evidence of fraud. What Nixon believed, however, was that in the midst of the Cold War his nation could not afford a challenge to democracy. Recounts were requested, but after a couple of legal challenges failed, Nixon did what was best for the nation and stepped aside. It was Nixon’s job as sitting Vice President to confirm the votes for Kennedy in the same ceremony that was interrupted Jan. 6 with Pence. Nixon did what Trump could not. Whether or not there was fraud, Nixon believed there was. But he put his ego aside for the good of the nation and did not resist.
While all of Trump’s court challenges were completely legal, almost all of them were found by several courts to be without merit. We have seen similar actions in many elections. Where Trump will be remembered with infamy was his refusal to accept the outcome even after the courts rejected him. The difference may be this: eight years later Nixon ran a second time and won. However, after Jan. 6, even Trump’s staunchest supporters turned on him, making any effort for a second run obsolete.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog
Long-time Meza ‘fan’ perspective on council appointment
There are those who have no problem expressing their opinion. I happen to be one of those people. So I thought I would now express my opinion on the appointment of Jake Meza to Town Council.
Since this was a pre-planned appointment, Mr. Meza did not have to spend a penny on a campaign for the November election.
Now, my opinion: EGO, ARROGANCE, POWER HUNGRY, VOTING POWER, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS DIRTY POLITICS, MANIPULATED TOWN ATTORNEY, PUPPETEER AND PUPPETS, RULE BREAKING REPUBLICAN PARTY/COMMITTEE.
Front Royal, Virginia
The Town Council appointment game analyzed
Wait a minute! What’s that you say? Controversy in the Town Council? That’s hard to believe. Cronyism? Charging the Town Council with cronyism is like charging the Indy 500 with speeding. Who could it be? Mr. warmth and personality himself Jacob Meza. Foregoing the opinions of lawyers, why would they select Mr. Meza in a closed-door meeting (aren’t they all)?
His charisma – umm nope; style (GQ magazine has called and wants their “unshaven terrorist look” back); I know, maybe it’s his diligence in supporting Valley Health’s financial and policy interests. What’s that you say – Valley Health is his employer. No problem, he will just recuse himself from votes regarding his employer until that vote is needed. Oh, I see, well, I guess if you are having a baby and have to drive to Kalamazoo to have it, you could thank him.
Ahh Jacob Meza, Town Councilman for life. Here’s how the scam works; you don’t run for re-election, but you are appointed anyway. Then another Council member who has PO’ed town voters doesn’t want to bother with all that noisy campaigning – no problem, appoint him too. Well, at least we know Matthew Tederick will always have a job waiting.
Council members are NOT “under the jurisdiction of the council” states their own long-time town lawyer. Wow, I guess he is the same lawyer that gave half my boat to my ex-wife (I gave her the underwater half). So, I wonder who the council, or the town attorney for that matter, comes under the jurisdiction of?
What to do? Well, the lawyers could take it to court thus ensuring more legal fees for everyone. OR (and I say this with tongue in cheek), Mr. Meza could just honorably step down saving the Council from further stress or embarrassment.
Oh man, I crack myself up sometimes.
Warren County, Virginia
PS: since I wrote this letter prior to Monday’s first meeting with their appointed member, sure enough, this is headed to court.