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Shenandoah’s natural transportation highway

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Before commerce was first introduced to the railroad phenomena and before the macadamized turnpike stretched from Winchester to Harrisonburg, our great valley had a natural transportation highway. It would take a number of enterprising partnerships, strategic planning and long term labor intensive efforts to deliver the physical improvements necessary to access a narrow, twisting and shallow river.

In colonial times travel by land was done by old-fashioned stagecoach, on horseback, or on foot. The roads were in a habitually deplorable condition. Many of the towns were thoroughly without roads, only connected with their neighboring towns by Indian trails. Great quantities of hemp, grain and other farm products were often brought to town from the remote settlements on pack horses.

Wagon transport was not an essential factor in Shenandoah Valley trade until the 1760s, when the shipping requirements of the hemp industry provided the first major demand for wagon teams. A warehouse for hemp was established in Frederick County and freight wagons necessary to conduct trade first became a priority.

Wagons in general were expensive to construct and demand for wheelwrights and other skilled craftsmen were greater than the supply. The local and legendary Newtown wagons had not yet been developed to haul hemp and farm produce from the river valleys and mountain slopes over the Blue Ridge to busy city warehouses. Overland transportation using wagons was always an option, but costly and dependent on good weather. Wagon routes were often a treacherous option due to heavy spring and summer rains.

Beginning in 1790, the Shenandoah Valley produced a surplus of flour for export and the developing requirement for passage to eastern markets in Alexandria, Richmond and Fredericksburg grew more intense. Farmers searched for other avenues of conveyance and the solution appeared to be in a natural, but potentially unnavigable transportation highway. Written records reflect that in the 1790s, pig iron and flour were first loaded onto primitive rafts in the North River at what would become Bridgewater and sent down the Shenandoah during high water seasons.

Historical Society Museum – Bridgewater, VA located on the banks of the North River, has been a center of commerce for over 175 years. Its history began with a quiet little settlement previously known as Magill’s Ford, Dinkletown and Bridgeport. Photos / Nancy Gunderman

Around that time George Washington became actively involved in efforts to establish an organization whose objective was to develop water routes between the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers employing a series of canals and locks. Washington led the way in chartering the Potomac Company by first seeking interstate cooperation between Virginia and Maryland in developing the Potomac River. Both states passed legislation in early 1785.

Washington had also called for the establishment of a U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry, located at the mouth of the Shenandoah River. By 1799, as work commenced on the armory, improvement of the Shenandoah River was a requirement to channel up-river lumber and iron into Harpers Ferry as material resources to support site construction and later for forging muskets, rifles and pistols.

The Virginia legislature unsuccessfully attempted to establish an independent company for developing the Shenandoah River to handle substantial boat navigation. In 1803 it granted a charter to the Potomac Company. In 1805, after obtaining the necessary start-up loans, the company hired a boat crew to inspect the Shenandoah from Harpers Ferry to Port Republic on the South Fork. The Potomac Company concentrated efforts toward managing the most difficult river rapids by building a series of canals and locks on the lower seven miles of navigation above Harpers Ferry. These milestones were completed in 1806.

Potomac Company crews continued to hammer away, black powder blasting rock and dredging the river bed and by 1807 established a navigable passage for trade between Harpers Ferry and Port Republic, then the head of navigation on the Shenandoah. In especially shallow areas, funnel-shaped wing dams made of stone were built with an opening in the center to form a higher flowing passageway for boat traffic.

Historical evidence accounts for an unsophisticated cargo carrying boat, called a Gundalow, to become a mainstay of valley commerce and transportation from roughly the turn of the nineteenth century until after the Civil War. These whitewater river crafts were heavy, with square bows and sterns, flat bottoms, pine hull/floor boards and measuring as much as 9 ½ feet wide by 76 to 90 feet long. The side planks were two inches thick and fourteen or more inches wide.

The yellow pine scale model of a wooden gundalow flat bottom river boat built by George Erdman is on display at the Shenandoah Valley Cultural Heritage Museum at the Edinburg Mill.

The Gundalow was a short-lived boat built for quick inexpensive shipment of bulk commodities (8-12 tons) down river. The boats were most often loaded with flour, lumber and pig iron. Other diverse items such as pork, beef, tobacco, ginseng, copper, manganese, wheat, whiskey, furs, tanned leather and occasionally herds of turkeys were pre-staged on site while boat captains waited for high waters in order to make the trip downriver to Harper’s Ferry or continue on the Potomac to Georgetown.

The crafts were mostly built by local sawmills near Port Republic. A gundalow was usually manned by six crew, four pole men and two oarsmen, one for each tiller. Boatmen manipulated the craft through manmade and natural chutes, rapids and constant choppy waters, docking at river stations to discharge or take on cargo. At their destinations, gundalows were disassembled and sold as inexpensive lumber to frugal builders who then used the recycled material for wall, ceiling and floor construction in houses.

Once landed and unloaded, the boatmen received good paying wages and returned to their point of departure on foot. Front Royal was often a popular place to rest on the return trip. A man could buy new clothes, or get a room, bath, meal, bottle and perhaps some female companionship here. These river sailors were both boisterous and unruly and locals claimed they carried a readily combustible powder keg in their hearts. Boatmen mingling with horse and cattle wranglers, wagon drivers and trainmen created an atmosphere for ferocious nightly saloon brawls giving the village of Riverton on the northern edge of Front Royal, the unflattering nickname of “Helltown.”

The Potomac Company was never able to generate enough funding to fully support navigation improvements to the upper stretches of the Shenandoah River. In 1816, the company sold its Shenandoah works and permissions to the New Shenandoah Company. The new company’s first objective was the physical improvement of the Shenandoah River between Port Republic and Harpers Ferry. Countless wing dams, cut through and tow paths had to be constructed, but by 1825, a continuous and improved waterway extended from Port Republic to the river’s confluence with the Potomac at Harpers Ferry.

By 1829, valley farmers believed that river transport was a cheap, safe and viable alternative to any wagon route east. Therefore, prior to valley rail and turnpike service, upland farmers and iron masters turned to the Shenandoah River whose waters were made navigable by the very spring thaws and ice melts that mired wagon routes and they did so with great zeal. Later channels were sufficiently cleared to navigate gundalows on the North River as far as Mt. Crawford and Bridgewater, on the South River at Grottoes and the Middle River, as far as Mt. Meridian.

Port Republic, founded in 1802 and located at the convergence of the North and South River, established an authentic harbor as docks lined the riverbanks in order to oblige increasing river traffic. The prospect of shipping and boat building propelling immense river trade slowly transformed the newly chartered town into a center for local commerce and agriculture. The nearby Massanutten Mountain ridge provided the tall, limbless long-leaf yellow pines that fueled boat building and other lumber dependent industries. Methodist and Presbyterian churches, mercantile stores, grist mills, leather tanneries, blacksmiths, saw mills, a tilt hammer shop as well as hat makers, shoe factories, wood workers, coopers and tailor shops eventually lined both Main and Water Streets.

Port Republic Museum – Port Republic, VA was founded in 1802 because land speculators were quick to recognize the vast industrial potential of the area, valuing the rivers as a source of power for driving machinery and as waterways for transporting articles of trade.

The New Shenandoah Company began upgrading the North Fork in 1825 for boats measuring a minimum of 66 feet long and 8 feet in width. Contractors not only cleared the river segments congested by trees and other debris, but also built works including dams and chutes. Records of the company indicate that the contract called for river navigation enhancements up to Tumbling Run, halfway between Strasburg and Toms Brook, but continued improvements were extended up to the dam at Pennybackers Mill, near New Market by May, 1832. This site was known as the head of navigation and may also have been a boat yard with docking capabilities for loading cargo similar to Port Republic, however on a much smaller scale. In 1845, accounts reflect that the North Fork was navigable at high water for large boats up to Plains Mill near Timberville.

The macadamized Valley Turnpike, completed in 1841, connected the western valley to the Winchester and Potomac Railroad and gradually reduced the gundalow traffic on the North Branch to almost non-existent status by 1850. The Manassas Gap Railroad arrived in Front Royal in 1854. Gundalows that once floated down the forks of the Shenandoah River to Harpers Ferry and beyond, now were unloading their cargo on to trains at Front Royal which transported them to market points east.

During the Civil War Valley Campaign in 1862, Stonewall Jackson swept the Valley burning bridges to slow Union troops, rendering wagon transport all but impossible. The destruction of bridges briefly revitalized gundalow traffic on the Shenandoah. After the war, gondolas continued to be used to move product to Front Royal until the bridges could be rebuilt and the Manassas Gap rail lines extended to Harrisonburg in 1868. The Shenandoah Valley Railroad connected the south fork communities with Hagerstown MD and Waynesboro, VA in 1881.

Some farmers, out of respect for southern tradition, continued to use this river system friendly to the “sons of the valley” as late as 1880. Despite sporadic business from loyal farmers, millers and timbermen; destructive winter weather, floods, railroads and modern turnpikes pushed the river captains, sailors and gundalows into the dust bin of history. Only recent scholarship has brought them all back to life again. Perhaps someone will soon uncover a nineteenth century gundalow buried under river silt somewhere in the Harpers Ferry basin?

Note: An outstanding source of information on the Shenandoah River is The Shenandoah River Atlas, prepared by W. E. Trout, III and Friends of the Shenandoah River.

Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia

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Opinion

Submitted Commentary: Is information free in Front Royal?

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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)

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We can agree to disagree, but never to the point of being narrow-minded

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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!

Tenia Smith
Front Royal

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Opinion

Odors and Town Processes – a theoretical seminar

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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:

  1. 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).
  2. There was no capacity at the Waste-Water Treatment Plant.
  3. 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.

Gomer Pyle – Public Domain Photo

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”.

Fred Schwartz
Warren County, Virginia

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Opinion

Fraudulent Elections

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historically speaking

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

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Long-time Meza ‘fan’ perspective on council appointment

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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.

Paul Gabbert
Front Royal, Virginia

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The Town Council appointment game analyzed

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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.

Councilman and appointment under continued citizen scrutiny

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.

F. Schwartz
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.

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