Letter: Elected officials should show respect

From: Russell Poling Sr.


I am writing this letter to address events of the April 18 Columbus City Council meeting and the letter to the editor from 3rd District Councilman Frank Jerome. He represents my district. His actions and statements are not what I expect from my elected representative.

At the meeting, Councilman Jerome protested repeatedly when a speaker declined to give his correct address and then stormed out of the meeting when the mayor would not agree with him. This action was disrespectful and rude to the mayor, the other council members and to the residents of Columbus.

My real concern is the letter to the editor. In it he mentions “most of the four or five avid supporters of our former mayor.” Our local media do not help matters when they also label this group of people in the same manner.

I get the impression that he feels anyone who supported the former mayor is no longer welcome to address their government. Supporting a defeated candidate or losing a race yourself does not disqualify you as a resident. I cemented the right to speak out for myself and others when I wore my country’s uniform for 20 years.

Jerome says that the aforementioned speaker should be banned for the rest of the year. That is a dangerous precedent. When elected officials decide unilaterally who can and cannot address their government, we no longer live in a government by the people and for the people.

He chastised the mayor, city attorney and his fellow council members for not joining him in walking out of the meeting. Again, he is disrespectful of these city leaders. They chose the high road.

He goes on to say that this group has constantly attacked the council and mayor since they were sworn in. Speaking one’s mind about something that concerns a taxpayer is not an attack. He includes myself in that group, which he confirmed by email April 29.

I have on occasion attended city council meetings where I have politely spoken out against something this administration was wanting to do. I have also made supportive comments. I always provide my name and address, and I did it with the utmost respect and with the valid concerns of a taxpayer. When I finished I thanked the mayor and council for listening to me and allowing me to speak.

I urge others to attend these meetings and find out what is really happening. Don’t just take the word of letter writers and people who submit Onions and Orchids.

Councilman Jerome finishes by stating that none of the people in this group volunteer to help the community. I serve on the City Plan Commission, the County Plan Commission and as a veteran mentor with the Bartholomew County Veterans Treatment Court. I donate about 200 hours per year to make my community a better place to live. How many hours does Councilman Jerome volunteer?