Déjà vu. About 10 years ago, several of the town’s most vociferous voices attacked me when I was a sitting commissioner. Using profanity and disrespect, they stood up to the microphone and called me a disgrace and asked for my resignation. Weeks later, many of them apologized when they learned that they had been purposefully misled by a campaign orchestrated by one or more residents.
    Subsequently I was encouraged by many to run again. I chose not to do so because the legal cost and the energy spent on my defense against fabricated charges was such that it just wasn’t worth trying to give back to the community.  
    Mob behavior had this direct discouraging effect on me, but it affects all of us, discouraging competent, thoughtful individuals from running for public office.  
    Debating issues is a good thing. However, debate requires that the participants show patience and an attempt to understand the issues.
    Accusing commissioners of being part of a grand conspiracy is unfair to those who serve. There is a good chance that those who are involved in managing the town’s affairs are more knowledgeable and have a better grasp of the issues and take the total background into consideration when making decisions. Disagreement with a position taken by others does not mean that their decision is not the correct one.  
    We do not appear to have learned much over the decade, as some citizens again tested civility at the town’s microphone last month. We experienced the same type of orchestrated behavior, even going so far as to accuse the victim of having been responsible for having the former police chief secretly record a telephone conversation. The victim erroneously was transformed into the guilty party.

Bernd Schulte
Ocean Ridge

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