January 4, 2006
An op-ed piece in today's Staunton News Leader by Evarts W. Opie, Jr., former publisher of the local newspaper, laments the "gratuitous personal attack" on then-commissioner of revenue Ray Ergenbright that appeared in an editorial on December 16. He lays out the facts about the difficult transition to the new tax revenue software system and concludes, "Instead of throwing brickbats at the outgoing commissioner we should be thanking him for 11 years of good and faithful service."
It was gratifying to read such a strong condemnation of the unfair campaign against Ergenbright (and former Treasurer Elnora Hazlett) by a person who used to run the newspaper, before it was bought out by the Gannett Corporation several years ago. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where the phrase "better late than never" does not apply. In my mind, the fact that the voters of Staunton were deprived of the full story behind the property tax software controversy when they went into the polling booths on November 8 was an outright travesty. As I noted on October 20, I remain mystified by the motivations behind the editorial bias that seems to have affected the News Leader's coverage of local news. Small town intrigues...
Former mayor Marion Barry was robbed at gunpoint in his own kitchen by two youths who had been helping him to bring groceries inside yesterday. This quote from the roguish Barry is a perfect illustration of the prevailing mindset in Washington, making lame excuses for criminal behavior.
There is a sort of an unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend. ... I don't advocate what they do. I advocate conditions to change what they do. I was a little hurt that this betrayal did happen. [SOURCE: Washington Post; apologies for the prior omission]
Barry also used the opportunity to call for stricter gun control laws, notwithstanding the fact that the District already has one of the toughest (and largely futile) anti-gun laws in the country. This incident, and Barry's reaction to it, further undermines the city's image just as the confrontation over stadium financing between the city government and Major League Baseball has escalated, a time when prestige matters the most.