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OPINION: A new low in Front Royal politics



Wow – hard to explain the new low in Front Royal politics. One only need review the video of Monday night’s Town Council Working Session to witness true unprofessionalism at its best (or worse depending on how you look at it). The Town of Front Royal deserves so much more, and the Town Council should hang their collective heads in shame.

I should be disappointed in myself for not believing this group of elected thugs, and a hand-picked failure of a Town Manager, could take us even deeper into governmental despair. Shame on me for having faith.

Let’s look at this. It included an extremely large, standing room only crowd of concerned citizens of Front Royal, a surprisingly still ill-prepared Interim Town Manager who demonstrated without any doubt that he knows little about leadership or how to manage staff, and a truly unprofessional Town Council.

One could see on Mr. Tederick’s face from the onset of the meeting that he was extremely nervous and likely had not slept for a couple nights. Tough to sleep soundly when you know the gallows await and you know your story can not stand up to any real questioning.

As I said in my most recent article, the Town Council had found their stooge in Mr. Tederick; but while letting him do their dirty work and now rush through its rationale, the impulse not to lose center stage in front of so large an audience was too great to resist.

Mr. Meza should be nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a man interested in what was best for the citizens of Front Royal and his self-imposed look of regal importance of learning at the feet of his mentor Mr. Tederick.

Jacob Meza, left, at Monday’s heavily attended Front Royal Town Council Work Session discussion of an apparently council-endorsed budget plan eliminating some crucial Town staff and departmental functions to reduce town government operational costs. Letasha Thompson listens at right. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

Give a supporting Oscar to Mr. Holloway for his portrayal of an insane middle-aged man. Remember the movie “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson and the famous phrase – “Here’s Johnny” – or in this case “Here’s Crazy Chris”? Rather than act like a mature adult, Mr. Holloway decided to reduce council’s debate with its mayor to the level of a developing school-yard brawl. – “That’s a downright lie” may not be the proper response to the mayor’s assertion he had only heard of the budget/staff termination plan the previous week. Of course, little Jacob Meza had set the table for Crazy Chris with his accusation that Mayor Tewalt was “playing to the large crowd” by expressing opposition to their and Mr. Tederick’s preferred course of outsourcing now-cut staff functions, apparently that outsourcing largely taking place around July 1 when the new fiscal year begins.

How do these men find new ways to show how unimpressive they really are? Well, that could apply to most of the Council. Are you listening Ms. Thompson, Ms. Cockrell, Mr. Sealock and Mr. Gillespie?

First let’s cover the citizens of Front Royal. It was evident from the start these individuals wanted to voice their concerns while at the same time listen to the “potential” words of wisdom from the Interim Town Manager and Town Council who had created this situation. I will have to admit, within reason, they were well behaved.

Only during the above-referenced school-yard brawl with their mayor and the section when Mr. Tederick started to show his apparent lack of understanding of tourism and his explanation of why he let people go prior to his recommendations being approved and implemented – allegedly due to compassion – did the audience let out a few catcalls, etc. Overall, they appeared to, perhaps surprisingly, hold themselves in check.

As a crowd reaching about 50 gathers, council and staff chat prior to meeting/work session’s convening.

They were without a doubt more adult than several members of the Town Council who should apologize to the citizens for their bad behavior. Only once did the Mayor have to remind the onlookers that they need to respect those at the table. Too bad, he did not remind the Council members that they also need to show respect to all those at the table.

Mr. Tederick’s words on “Compassion” for those he had removed, followed by noting that if Council disagreed with his recommendations those same individuals could reapply for their jobs, rang so hollow. What 5th grade class on leadership did Mr. Tederick learn this skill from? Never in my career have I heard such bad judgement on hiring or firing. If this was supported by any decent attorney, I would have to say they never managed a staff as well.

I had to think, not long, on why someone in the position of Mr. Tederick could think this made any sense. It then dawned on me. It is apparent, he has never really managed a large, multi-departmental staff, and the rest of his career has been on managing financial portfolios and not leading people. Rather simple, he does not think as a leader or a manager. He only thinks of money. The same can be said for Chris “You’re the liar” Holloway and Jacob “The Lessor” Meza.

Reapply for their jobs? The only reapplying for jobs will be with these same Council members asking town citizens to re-elect them in coming elections, the first less nine months away.
I also started to think about what real revenue comes into this County and Front Royal. A fact that Mr. Tederick did not really cover. We could assume, tourism is a major factor. So, I decided to do my research. It did not take long to find the following website: and click on top right research tab.

Unlike every other chart Matt displayed, this is the only one that shows growth every year. Amazing that the only thing that shows steady growth is the one he condemns and suggests it be giving to a privately held company that perhaps magically showed up in his office the day after he announced the removal of the Tourism Director. Something like the Attorney Bro’s we now have working in Town Hall and their relationship with his 1839 Capitol adventure.

Also, his statement of doing a one-year contract makes absolutely no sense. One with any management background would realize that this position requires stability in dealing with the various organizations that comprise the tourism landscape. But Mr. Tederick, this DOES NOT grant you permission to now issue a five-year contract to any friends who have appeared like a gift from heaven at your doorstep.

Chris Holloway, left, and Matt Tederick take break with colleagues prior to closed session being convened at end of Monday’s quickly adjourned special meeting and budget work session.

One last comment before I put away my keyboard for the night. I am not certain what was said behind closed doors by the Mayor regarding tourism and what actions should be taken. However, one with any decorum – for Mr. Holloway that means: behavior in keeping with good taste and propriety – if so compelled, would have called Mr. Tewalt a liar behind closed doors and not in front of the citizens they represent.

Never lower yourself to prove a point.

Poor play of the week goes to Mr. Holloway, with an assist to Mr. Meza. I would not be surprise if he has won that award before on several occasions. I would expect, but we will not get, a public apology from him for his unprofessionalism. Apparently building housing units does not require such skills.

I can only hope this council, at least the other four members, hear the citizens of this town.

Simon Mays
Front Royal

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Sheetz zoning reversal: ‘Slimy politics’ & the monetization of Warren County



The following members of the Board of Supervisors don’t care what their constituents think:

  • Tony Carter, Happy Creek District
  • Cheryl Cullers, South River District
  • Delores Oates, North River District

Tonight they voted to allow for a rezoning so that Sheetz can build a “convenience store” at Exit 13 right at the entrance to Apple Mountain Lake. They voted it down in February and Mr. Carter (who is actually supposed to represent us) actually brought it up for a re-vote even though he voted it down in February under the pretense of a “bus stop”. This was not about a bus stop. This was about money pure and simple.

Shame on them for voting for the destruction of the character of Linden. The community overwhelming showed them that we didn’t want it but they didn’t listen. Money trumps caring about people it seems.

So, your first sight into coming in Warren County from 66 – a Sheetz. I hope you didn’t build out here to get away from commercialism or to live in the country! The Board of Supervisors has stripped both those hopes away tonight.

Just more slimy politics folks. Nothing to see here, move along.

Bob Hicks
Apple Mtn., Linden

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Divided Parties



historically speaking

Just when you thought our political leaders could not divide us any further, they have now turned on themselves. Right now, both parties are dealing with internal conflicts. The Democrats are struggling between the so called “progressives” (I still believe they are not using that term correctly) and the “moderates.” One recent difference is between how to respond to problems in Israel. As for the Republicans, they seem to have the bigger conflict right now, as seen by the removal of Liz Chaney from Republican leadership over her beliefs about Trump. Historically speaking, this is not new. During the Republicans’ most dominant period in history, they twice splintered into competing factions and both times allowed the Democrats to crack their control of the White House.

There have been two great runs in political history, one by each party, but the Republicans had the larger of the two. Between Abraham Lincoln who won in 1860 and FDR who won in 1932 and ended the Republican’s run, there were only two Democratic presidents. In other words, for a 72-year span, Republicans controlled 64 years and Democrats only eight. Yet instead of being satisfied with their dominance, the Republicans split into factions.

During the Gilded Age (1870s-early 1900s), three Republican factions emerged, two revolving around prominent figures. The first group were the Mugwumps. In a time of political corruption, mostly from the spoils system or rewarding political supporters, the Mugwumps were calling for reform. They wanted to see civil service exams so government jobs could be based on merit instead of patronage.  The Mugwumps were the weakest of the divisions.

Then there were the Stalwarts, led by the very powerful New York Senator Roscoe Conklin. These were the most traditionalist who wanted to keep the spoils system intact. It was this group that supported a third term for President Grant because they were profiting from the corruption in his administration. Finally, there were the Half-Breeds, led by the most powerful of them all, the Senator from Maine James Blaine. They took a page from the Mugwumps and called for reform, but in reality, they were no different than the Stalwarts, except they wanted Blaine as president.

The Republican party was able to stay together in 1880 when it compromised with Garfield, a Half-Breed presidential nominee who was not Blaine and Chester Arthur, a Stalwart for V.P. The partnership did not last long as Garfield was assassinated by what many thought was a Stalwart plot. However, before Garfield died, he pushed for some civil service reforms. When Arthur took over, he went against his own faction and pushed through the Pendleton Civil Service Act. Pendleton was a good start but not enough for the Mugwumps.

In the 1884 election, one of the more interesting that I have discussed many times, the Half-Breeds were tired of messing around. They dumped Arthur and succeeded in running Blaine for president. The Democrats took advantage of Blaine’s ties to corruption and cover-ups by courting the Mugwump vote when they ran a true reformer in Grover Cleveland. The move gave the Democrats just enough votes for the rare victory.

The next couple of elections danced around some as the Republicans took back the White House in 1888, only to lose again to Cleveland in 1892. Starting in 1896 the Republicans regained their control with McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, then Taft. However, even though the old three-way split in the party had dissolved some time earlier, a new division had grown by the 1912 election. Teddy Roosevelt left office after a term-and-a-half, and he handpicked his successor to follow through with his progressive reforms. (These were the real progressives, who wanted reform but slow moderate changes.)

By this point, both parties were divided between progressive and moderate wings. Complicating matters was that there were more internal conflicts than external between groups. The problem was TR’s replacement, who, though a good progressive, was willing to compromise too much with the moderates for TR’s liking. In 1912, Roosevelt decided to retake his party and ran for the presidency. Yet when Taft was re-nominated instead, TR stole away the progressive wing of his party and formed a third party, the Progressive Party, which became better known by the best party name in history, the Bull Moose Party. Of course, with the Republicans divided, the Democrats ran their own progressive, Woodrow Wilson, and won.

We will have to watch over the next few years to see if history will repeat itself. Will the divide between the progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party sink the party’s chances for reelection? If Trump runs again, will he cause a third-party split from the Republican party led by Republicans like Chaney and Romney. Time will tell, but, historically speaking, this could be a bumpy couple of years ahead for both parties.

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

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The day (June 6, 1944) in World War II



The greatest mobilization of military forces in the history of the world. 10,000 casualties… 4,414 dead that day.

Let us remember the Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Boatmen, Chaplains, Medics, Corpsmen, Nurses, Doctors, Cooks…. all that served!

And the wives, children, mothers, dads, loved ones back home with blue stars in windows…many of which would turn to Gold amid a tidal wave of tears…weeping mothers, dads, children, brothers, and sisters…relatives…aunts, and uncles…sweethearts. They gave that we might be Free. God bless their ever-lasting Souls. And God help US TO REMEMBER!!

In Jesus, we pray to be worthy of their sacrifice, AMEN

I was a small boy and saw the tears and heard the crying. Our next-door family lost their dad. His children were my playmates. My dad and uncles served. Thankfully they came home.

In my uniform before my dad was drafted. 


With my family saluting in my uniform.


The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson
Front Royal, VA

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foothold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

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Let us honor and remember the brave men and women who laid down their lives to preserve our freedom



Dear Friends,

This Memorial Day, we pause with solemn gratitude to honor and remember the brave men and women who laid down their lives to preserve our freedom, and we pray for lasting peace throughout our Commonwealth, our nation, and the world so that future generations may enjoy the blessings of liberty.

Since the founding of our great Commonwealth, Virginians have proudly answered the call to duty and given their lives in heroic service to our nation. These patriots were bound by their love of country and united in their quest to uphold our founding ideals. Their selfless acts of courage and patriotism embody the very best of our Commonwealth and our nation, and it is our responsibility to ensure that their sacrifices were not in vain. We must come together as they did, to continue their work and to build a brighter and better future for everyone.

Today, and every day, we honor the extraordinary service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. Let us pray for the fallen and for the loved ones they left behind. Let us continue our enduring mission of building a Commonwealth and a nation worthy of the patriots we honor today.

Glenn Youngkin

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Memorial Day – May 31, 2021: Remembering the service of the fallen



On Memorial Day, we take time to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by those who fought for our country.

Many of those who died in the service of our country are known to us personally. They were our sons, our fathers, our uncles, aunts, or cousins, or they were our friends.

The heroes of wars long past are not forgotten. Veterans group walk the old graveyards to place flags on the tombstones of those who died in battles long past but still remembered. Their great sacrifices and honorable service helped our country become the nation it is today. We can never forget.

Many of their names are on tombstones in our own country and in cemeteries across the globe.

Some cannot be named specifically, and they are honored in a special way: at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

It is guarded by faithful sentinels night and day.

The importance of this duty is expressed in the “Sentinel’s Creed”:

My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me, never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance, my standard will remain perfection.

Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.

It is he who commands the respect I protect, his bravery that made us so proud.

Surrounded by well-meaning crowds by day, alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored Glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

— Sentinel’s Creed of the Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Crime and Policing Patterns



historically speaking

One key job of historians is to find patterns.  Most things in history are circular and come and go throughout time.  The majority of what I do with this column is to try to show that current events have happened before and that nothing is new.  Knowing this can help us make better decisions in the future.  One such circular event is crime and policing.

Crime and policing in some way are as old as time itself, yet there have been periods in American history where crime was more common or at least thought to be.  The first period that comes to mind is the so-called “Wild West.”  Whether the cow towns were actually violent is debated, but Hollywood has engrained in our collective minds the wildness of towns like Dodge City, Tombstone, and Deadwood. What brought order to these towns were men as tough as iron.  These sheriffs were quick with a gun but sometimes were accused of being as violent as the men they arrested. To make the west safe, they had to enforce tough laws with a strong hand.  Hollywood has capitalized on men like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Bill Hickock.

Another period known for lawlessness was the 1920s.  Prohibition was the law of the land but that only opened the door to criminals who saw easy money in bootlegging.  Gangsters became household names like Al Capone, “Baby Face” Nelson, and John Dillinger.  There were also men like “Lucky” Luciano who helped organize the Five Families in New York.  Then there were crimes that are not as famous today but were know at the time like the Osage Murders in Oklahoma. The crimes of the 1920s helped turn the new and undermanned Bureau of Investigation into the modern trained and efficient Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The man responsible for the turnaround was the ruthless J. Edgar Hoover.  Before the 1920s, the public feared a national police force that could turn into secret police. However, the crime wave in the ’20s  and the inability or unwillingness of the local police to confront it, resulted in a public demand for help, even if some of the police tactics reminded some of a police state.

The Osage murders are a good example.  As shown in David Grann’s book Killers of the Flower Moon, which is currently being turned into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Osage Indians were being murdered in 1921.  The local police were unable or possibly unwilling to find the murderers.  In one of their first big high-profile cases, the FBI solved the crime.  I don’t want to give away more, but it’s a book worth reading.

Hollywood has always taken advantage of these times to make a bit of cash and that is no different than with the next major crime wave.  In 1971 America was introduced to a new character and catch phrase, when Dirty Harry first asked the bad guy, “Do you feel lucky?” The movie about a crime-ridden city and an ineffective police force resonated with the public.  It took an old school cop, one not afraid to use violence, to finally catch a sniper terrorizing the city.  However, the sniper was released because Harry had not followed all the rules.  Harry eventually catches him again, this time killing him, then throwing his badge into the river in protest to how crime was being handled.

Dirty Harry was not finished, however. His style of policing became so popular that he made four more movies and inspired several other similar movies.  Another standout was 1974’s “Death Wish.”  In this film, Charles Bronson’s character was a happy family man until thugs broke into his home and killed his wife and left his daughter barely alive.  After the police could not help, Bronson began walking the streets at night in Central Park hoping to get mugged so he could bring his own form of vigilante justice to the city.

Movies like “Dirty Harry” and “Death Wish” reverberated with people who were themselves afraid to walk in places like Central Park.  Crime rates had been on the rise since the 1960s but then started to fall in the 1990s.  The reasons for the decline in crime are still being debated today, but many give credit to men like New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who started controversial but effective policies to reduce crime. (Yes, he had a career before Trump.) One thing he did was to greatly increase the number of cops on the street.  Giuliani was attacked as a racist and his policies as Gestapo tactics, but people were able to walk the streets at night.  What we have seen in all these cases is that the population tolerated more policing for safety.  Yet over time, people became less tolerant, forcing less policing, and the cycle continued.

We are watching this cycle currently play out again.  Not only are we seeing calls to defund the police, but in cities like New York, police officers retiring is up more than 400% from the previous year.  Most are citing anti-police attitudes for the cause.  It has become so bad that NYC now restricts the number of officers who can retire each month.  Look at some of the movies that started coming out in the 2000s –”Training Day” in 2001, “Crash “in 2004, “The Departed” in 2006. All these depict police as corrupt and violent.  Yet at the same time, starting in 2020, we have seen an increase in crime.

Time will have to tell if crime on the rise is a matter of COVID or new attitudes towards policing.  Historically speaking, the attitudes towards policing and lower numbers of law enforcement will be followed by continuing higher crime rates until they get high enough that the next version of “Dirty Harry” will be required to clean up the streets.  Who knows how long that will take, but until then the only question to ask yourself is, “Do you feel lucky?”

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

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