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OPINION: Matt ‘The Hack’ Tederick and the rest of the Town Circus Act

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I know, it has been several weeks since my last article. I was hoping that providing Front Royal senior staff (notice I did not say leadership) time to get their act together would suffice.

Sadly, I was mistaken. Matt “The Hack” Tederick and the rest of the circus act, “The Town Clowns” (sorry I meant Council) continue to display such poor judgement it can only be assumed they do not have the capacity to modify their behavior and act like people who work FOR the people of Front Royal, and not just in their own self-interest or because they are just ill prepared for this job.

It was well understood by all, to include the previous Interim Mayor (Tederick) and the Town Council, that Joe Waltz left because he could no longer fend off their absurd demands — although they praised him in front of folks when he left which was sad to watch. Joe was a decent man that refused to do things he did not believe in or take actions he could not honestly defend.

In addition, it was also well understood as soon as Matt Tederick took over as Acting Town Manager that specific heads would roll. Remember the Town Council selected an individual that admitted to the Royal Examiner that he had no experience for the job – it shows every day. Many knew who was at the top of his hit list and saw that played out this past week.

It was like a circus car, one clown out the door and many more to follow – and I am talking about Matt and the Council who blindly follow him, not the people who lost their jobs who were just good honest hardworking folks per Matt Tederick’s statement to the Royal Examiner on 29 Jan 2020.

Who is driving this car?!? Public Domain Photo

Now we see Mr. Tederick in front of the citizens attempting to respond but extremely ill prepared. Where are his henchmen that successfully supported him, allowed him or just forced him to take these actions? It appears they (the Council) have gone underground. Why not let Matt fend for himself as he was willing to be their hatchet man – they found their fool so let him take the heat. It would be nicer if they never reappeared. Don’t just fool yourself into thinking this was all Matt’s work alone.

Let’s now look at the situation we find ourselves in: Four positions empty, no budget plan yet presented to the people and our elected officials continuing to prey on the fine citizens of Front Royal.

It was evident that Mr. Tederick is ill prepared to provide any adequate response. If no real plan has been approved or even well thought out, just say that. He admitted in one session late last week that he did not know where tourism responsibilities would ultimately land. One should quickly ask why remove staff members that have performed well for the citizens when no plan is in place to take those responsibilities over. This was well documented in yesterday’s (Feb 2, 2020) Royal Examiner’s article entitled “Many Questions, few clear answers on Town reorganization plan.”

The citizens should be upset and rightfully demand a response that provides real answers and not just political jargon. These officials work for us and not themselves – or IS it the other way around? It is real simple to understand: if you take action, be able to answer the simple question, “Why?”

If not, please exit stage left – I will open the door.

Matt Tederick on the job as interim mayor last June, his first council appointment which led to his second appointment as interim town manager in the wake of the October resignation of Joe Waltz, which became effective Nov. 8; and now there is this … Royal Examiner File Photo

If the article in the Royal Examiner of Jan 31, 2020 entitled “Letter to Major and Town Council” by several local business leaders is half-true, and there is no reason to believe it is not all true, concerning Felicia Hart’s accomplishments then she likely has brought more business to the area and made more coherent decisions than the council combined – and add in their Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick for good measure – as those business people apparently know Hart and her work well, I will take their word over Matt and the Town Council’s as to her value.

We may want to consider removing the members of the Town Council and put Ms. Hart back in her previous position or just let her take over Town Council responsibilities. I am sure that it could be said for Jeremy Camp as well. We could possibly save money if that is what Matt is concerned about. Most of these Council members come ill prepared to even discuss the simplest of town activities or able to think on their feet, so why not switch up?

It is possible that Mr. Tederick just misspoke about not knowing how things would fall out, remember when he misspoke and said, “slush fund” – Oops. Or other such business examples which I touched on previously.

Again, Jacob “The Lessor” Meza continues to amaze us all by defending Mr. Tederick and whining about how town people question him and the members of the council.

Jacob Meza proclaimed he and his council colleagues were ‘not crooks’ following public criticism of council actions last fall – but who said they were?

Jacob, it’s easy to remedy – leave the council or accept criticism like any adult in an elected position. As I have said before in my articles, it comes with the territory. If I were you, I would give it up – as you don’t have it in you to lead. I call him “Jacob the Lessor” because every time he speaks, less meaning words flow from his lips. But he can ramble on … and on … and on …

Sorry, just practicing my impression of Mr. Meza.

Not sure what the citizens of this town can do to stop this madness. Can the citizens of Front Royal start a petition to replace existing Town Council members – something for our Town Attorney to answer. It appears the Town Manager and elected officials are just not willing to listen to the people who elected them. I believe elections are this fall – Remember that, citizens.

Simon Mays
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Rogue Town Government?

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The FY 2021 budget proposal has been applied by cutting employees, departments and funding in the current budget year through the Interim Town Manager without having a Public Hearing and subsequent approval by the Town Council for those actions or that budget proposal. This conduct of “no rules” apply to the Interim Town Manager and the absence by Town Council to demand accountability appear to create a rogue government.

How can they get away this?

Linda Allen
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Edmund Burke and Mitt Romney

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historically speaking

I recently wrote an article for his column about a lesser known influence on the Founding Fathers, a man named James Harrington. I think, with the recent acquittal of President Trump and, more specifically, the vote of Senator Mitt Romney, it is worth examining another influence on the Founders. This time the man was a contemporary and a member of the British House of Commons. He was famous for many concepts, but I want to focus on his ideas of how a republic should work.

Edmund Burke was born in 1729 and was a leading statesman and political philosopher of the time. He supported the American colonies’ struggles with Britain, but did not support the Revolution. Probably Burke’s most famous quote is, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As inspiring as that is, I am more interested in two other quotes. First, “When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people. The second quote is, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

What Burke is arguing is that in a republic it is the duty of representatives to vote their conscience, not the will of their constituents. I know this goes against everything we think today about our democracy, but that is not the way the Founders envisioned representation. As I have said before, the function of the Constitution was to protect the people from the government and the government from the people. As much as they feared tyranny, they feared the masses even more. When it came to our representatives, the Founders believed in the idea of government by our “betters” and virtual representation.

Unlike today where we tend to want representatives who are like us, who somehow know what we are experiencing and can relate to us, the Founders envisioned our representative to be our betters. If we were going to elect someone who was like us, we might as well have a direct democracy. Instead they created a republic where the masses would choose someone who was smarter and more informed than we are to make the important decisions. This was a practice taken from the British, where the masses could vote, but had to vote for a nobleman who had the time to understand the issues. The reason the Founders chose a republic over a democracy was not just out of practicality but because most people do not have the time or ability to comprehend and study every issue and vote.

The concept of virtual representation also came from the British. Think of it this way. Once you vote for your congressman or senator, they represent all Americans. Every decision they make affects everyone, not just people in the state or district where they live. In this way they represent everyone virtually. It was never meant that our representatives poll their constituents. Instead they were to vote their own conscience or intelligence. As Burke said, representatives owe us their judgment. That is why we elected them. If we decide we do not like their judgment, that is why our representatives are voted on every two or six years.

With the acquittal of President Trump on his impeachment charges, I have actually found there is more talk of Senator Mitt Romney’s decision to vote for conviction then the acquittal itself. I assume it is because everyone already knows of the outcome of the senate trial before it even started, but the idea of a politician breaking ranks goes against the current norm. Not all, but most, of the praise for Romney is coming from the left while the vilification of the senator is coming from the right. This is not surprising. The left is praising a man who dared break ranks to stand up for what he thought was right. I have even seen the word hero being used. Of course, I doubt they would use those same words if one of their own broke ranks and voted their conscious supporting the President. Those people would be traitors.

That is how the right is seeing Romney, a traitor who is only jealous because he lost his presidential bid. Many have argued that Romney is breaking his trust with his constituents in voting against Trump. One comment I read said that he owes nothing to his faith or his family, the reason Romney claimed he voted to convict. Rather, the only people he owes anything to are the ones who voted him into office. Though I understand the frustration of the right, party loyalty has replaced virtuous representatives, but historically speaking Romney has acted exactly how the Founders expected our representative to act.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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EDITORIAL: Try looking at it this way

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We all see things according to what we think is best for our Survival. That’s kind of it. We might be right or we might be wrong. We might have formed our opinions through experience or some other source: reading news, education, church, friends, etc. – the list of our information sources are endless. Also weighing in on our judgment about what is right for our survival is our current environment, urban or rural, our circle of friends, and our ethnic, racial and class status. New experiences can also alter our perception of what is best for our survival. Our view is always subject to change. What we may see as good for us today may not seem so good a year from now.

What we think is good for our survival, which may also include what we consider thriving economically, certainly reflects in our politics, and our choice of information. So much so, that we may only seek out sources that reflect our preconceived beliefs.

All of this is normal human behavior. The only thing that has changed over the years is the amount of information (24 hours a day) and the variety of sources, some accurate some not.

The reason we make these observations are only this: understand that others that feel differently as to what is best for their survival are not stupid, the enemy or any of a thousand other words we use to demonize and dehumanize others. They are simply saying or voting as they see best for their survival from their perspective. Also, consider this: if we do not seek compromise in a nation as diverse as ours, none of us have a good chance of survival, at least not in a thriving way.

Remember that the three 24-hour news networks all cater to their established viewer and advertising bases to some degree. Seek other sources of respected news that may present an alternative perspective to the one you are used to; and stay away from the blogs that have no editorial oversight, and by all means, seek to understand why others see their survival in a different light than you view your own.

Our differences in some issues have always existed and we have always, except once in our national history, been able to find common ground, or at least mutual livability. While in the short term there is money to be made on fear-mongering, the long-term payoff for us as a nation will come from recognizing the common humanity that people of goodwill all share, regardless of our superficial differences.

We must quickly adapt to, and recognize the latest use of technology that seeks to maximize profits by dividing us, and remember that we are all humans seeking to survive.

Beware of those who will burn the house down – including yours – to get their way.

Being able to see behind words to the objective truth of any situation that impacts us all must be our goal – our collective survival may depend on it.

Royal Examiner Editorial Staff

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We hurt ourselves

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The new EDA Executive Director and the new EDA Board with its expertise and all the other residents of Front Royal were victimized by what one major player did with EDA funds. Why would the town take an adversarial stance toward the new EDA which is not at fault and refuse to make payments for our new police station when we are all ‘in the same boat’? These are people who came in to help resolve the issues and advance our economic development.

If we hurt the EDA instead through non-payment for the Front Royal police station, we hurt ourselves. Common sense dictates that we do not want the EDA to collapse. We would still have to pay the bills yet lack a way to increase revenue in the town with the help of the EDA.

Worse — the proposed town budget fired the professionals who had planned events that are now being canceled one after the other, leaving us without any avenues for economic development. Yet $200,000 has been transferred to the Town Attorney account to pay lawyers to argue in favor of making it harder on the EDA to survive, that is, the town will not compromise on the interest rate to be applied to the loan for the police station.

Sitting in the wrong account, Community Development, page 47 of the proposed budget, sits a $515,000 labeled police facility. It does not mean that we pay the EDA for the station. It is sitting there awaiting transfer as needed to the Town Attorney account for payment of high legal fees. (Information gained from a credible source.) The few in governance are allowing the expense up to $700,00 in order to have a court tell us what to do when we could decide in a cooperative manner for no cost beyond staff time. We all are going to pay in one way or another. It is cheaper to cooperate and split the difference in the interest on the loan rather than do what Council least likes to do, raise taxes.

It is disheartening that the town fights against its moral obligation. It is even harder to wonder and perhaps watch tax money ‘burn’ away because of one employee with a ‘group think’, alias Town Council.

Linda Allen
Front Royal, VA

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Opinion

Thank you, Doug Stanley!

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I want to share my personal sentiments about our County Administrator, Mr. Doug Stanley.

Mr. Stanley is a personal friend. We have actively participated in countless projects for our community of Front Royal and Warren County over many years, together and with other devoted citizens. We have all been devoted to the betterment of everyone, in every instance.

Mr. Stanley has represented the Motto of Rotary International, “SERVICE ABOVE SELF”. He has instilled this ethic in every effort he has taken on. His example for young and old alike is to build character, leadership and be the person for others to follow.

He is the fall guy for the mistakes of many, yet he has moved forward and stayed the course for his position and target for success in Warren County.

As County Administrator, his accomplishments are beyond compare among his peers throughout our state of Virginia. This is only possible with a working environment of continuous commitment on his part. He and his staff are all talented individuals, devoted to their positions.

In recent times he has become the recipient of criticism. This local action has harmed our community very deeply. Many of the words of criticism have come from persons who intentionally tried to destroy his stellar reputation and care little about others here. Many people have been the instigators and gone so far as to threaten and publicly attack him. Many of these are also self-centered and have not served our community beyond their own self-fulfillment needs and wants. What an eye-opener this has become in learning about people. Loss of respect is a term well due upon such behavior in today’s civil society.

No one is a perfect person for all things. I certainly am not! Most of us try to simply survive. However, for those who reach out and above their own needs and share their successes, the field is open for service to others and all mankind. It is a pleasure to offer more than required.

Warren County has been blessed with Mr. Stanley and his devotion here.

My hope is that the Board of Supervisors may use their intelligence and the same devotion to our community that Mr. Stanley has and renew his contract.

Remember the open door created for anyone who makes charges against others. Their own track records may come to light for all to see and maybe very humiliating. Be prepared to accept such burdens if they exist.

Consider the sources of criticism for Mr. Stanley, the same people who can “simply move away if they don’t get rid of him”. Our community deserves better than this. Our elected officials need to perform their jobs and do what is prudent, proper for the best interest of ALL.

Thank you, Doug Stanley!

Respectfully Yours,
George McIntyre
Linden, VA

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Opinion

Historical Impeachments

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historically speaking

Watching the Senate hearings over the past weeks I am happy to see historical arguments being made by both sides. As I have said, the Constitution is purposely vague, and it is no different when it comes to impeachment. There are three sections in the Constitution that discuss impeachment, but even with those sections there are still many questions. As with most Constitutional issues, the rest has been filled in with laws, the courts, and especially precedent. Several times both sides have referenced both the Andrew Johnson and William Clinton impeachment trials. In this vein, I think it is worth examining the lesser known of the two, the Johnson case, to see what we can learn from history and if there are similarities between the two.

There is a great deal of detail to explain Johnson’s election as V.P. Suffice to say, the Republicans in 1864 were concerned about Lincoln’s chances in the upcoming election. That may sound crazy, but he was not yet the super popular president that he would become. Johnson was a pro-war Democrat and Lincoln hoped that by bringing him on the ticket he could attract other pro-war Democrats. What made Johnson an even more interesting choice was that he was a pro-slave, state’s rights Democrat from Tennessee. Johnson was brought in for votes only. Once in office, Lincoln did not use him and he by no means was meant to ever be president.

The issue with Johnson’s impeachment revolves around Reconstruction. Even before the end of the War, Lincoln was already discussing his plans for how to treat the South. He basically wanted to make it easy for the southern states to return, including keeping their existing governments. His biggest opposition to Reconstruction was the radical wing of his own party. The so-called Radical Republicans wanted to punish the South and make it difficult for their return. They wanted to remove all past leaders and guarantee certain rights for the new freedman population

The Radicals were originally excited about Johnson as president. He said and did all the right things. However, when Congress left for recess, he put in his own plans for Reconstruction that were just as lenient as Lincoln’s, maybe even more so. When Congress returned, they attempted to retake the power. They tried to pass laws to help the ex-slaves but were blocked by Johnson’s vetoes. The Radicals did have enough support to overturn Johnson’s veto on the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave freedmen citizenship, but they faced an uphill battle. It was at this point they began looking for reasons to impeach the president. They tried twice unsuccessfully before they found a reason that stuck.

In 1867 Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which basically said that the president could not fire any member of his own cabinet without congressional approval. This was done for two reasons. First, Congress was afraid that Johnson would start replacing Lincoln’s Republican Cabinet with a Democratic one. Secondly, they hoped this would trip up Johnson and give them a reason to impeach. The plan worked. Johnson, who had been fighting with his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton over keeping troops in the South, finally grew frustrated and fired him. Johnson did not think the Tenure of Office Act would hold up in court. He was right. But before the courts examined the case, the House acted first and charged Johnson with eleven counts of impeachment.

The eleven articles are incredibly repetitive. They all boil down to Johnson having broken his oath of office by firing Stanton and by hiring Lorenzo Thomas without consent of Congress. They basically said it in different ways, like he violated Stanton’s rights in one and conspired with Thomas against Stanton in another. In Article 10 Congress went as far as including that he criticized congress “with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory, and scandalous harangues.”

The trial lasted for three months. The defense argued that Johnson had done nothing wrong. They claimed he was challenging an unconstitutional law and basically his act did not meet the demands of a High Crime. What seemed like a slam dunk win at first fell apart by the end. From the beginning of the trial, Johnson worked with moderate Republicans to save his position by promising not to interfere any more with Reconstruction. Also, the managers had a week case. It became apparent the entire reason for the law was to remove the President. His only real crime was disagreeing with Congress.

In the end, seven Republicans voted to acquit. For some congressmen they were more concerned with the man who would replace Johnson, whom they saw as even more difficult. For others, when it really came down to it, they did not want to remove the President based on a power struggle. It would create a dangerous precedent that they did not want and could hurt the balance of power. When they received their assurances from Johnson, the Republicans were more than happy to leave him in office until the next year when they could replace him through voting. One senator said after, “I cannot agree to destroy the harmonious working of the Constitution for the sake of getting rid of an Unacceptable President.”

What is interesting about today’s impeachment is many will see similarities with Johnson’s trial and many will not. Supporters of Trump will see two presidents who disagreed with a hostile Congress which simply wanted the president removed for political reasons. Others will disagree with any similarities. More like the Nixon scandal, they see a president who clearly overstepped his authority and then tried to cover it up. The problem is this split happens to be along party lines, which is very much like the Johnson impeachment. With Johnson, Republicans had to cross the party line to clear him, whereas with Trump they had to cross party lines to convict. But either way the vast majority of the Senate in all three presidential impeachments trials voted along party lines instead of voting their consciences. So, what we can learn from studying Johnson is that in the end what we see is that impeachments are political above everything else.

For my Texas readers, if any of you are interested I will be speaking at the Weatherford College Interdisciplinary Academic Conference on Feb 27 at 5 PM. The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, you can call 817-598-6326. If you attend, make sure you come by and say hello.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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