Letter to the Editor: Panic Attack? Here’s The Story

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Yesterday the Spy published a fascinating letter from Mr. Leon Sheer, husband of the Chairwoman of the Talbot County Republican Central Committee, entitled “Vote Against Laura Price” and expressing outrage against her, a fellow Republican. Given the identity of the author, I believe most would reasonably interpret that letter as virtually an official manifesto from the GOP Central Committee.

Mr. Sheer claimed that Ms. Price “has decided to attack fellow Council members” (all of whom are other Republicans); he accused her of disloyalty “to the Republican Party;” and he urged Republicans to vote for Jennifer Williams and all other republican candidates and “anybody else except Price.” Referring to “those attacks,” he asserts that they are “dirty politics and should not be tolerated in our County.” Wow.

Here is why Mr. Sheer’s vitriolic attack on Ms. Price is not just wrong, but 180 degrees wrong.

BACKSTORY:

I am the person who brought to the County Council meeting on Tuesday evening five (5) clipboards, each with a sign-up sheet announcing a “Coalition to Unseat Jennifer Williams and her allies, Pack and Callahan,” and inviting people who were interested to sign up. (See photo attached.) I warrant to all that neither Laura Price nor any other living soul (my wife included) knew anything about this–either the “coalition effort” or the actual sign-up sheets. For better or worse, I acted on my own initiative consulting no one else—certainly not Ms. Price, who in all likelihood would have tried to dissuade me. And I took these clipboards to the Council meeting for somewhat the same reason Willie Sutton hung around banks.

For many reasons (to be discussed in coming weeks), I believe Ms. Williams and her constant allies are pursuing many policies detrimental to Talbot County and its citizens in the long term. And I believe the only responsible action in this democracy is to take positive action to un-elect them. Isn’t that so? I think Jennifer and Corey and Chuck would acknowledge that it is not personal–in the sense of being motivated by any antipathy to them as individuals—but it is serious and motivated by different viewpoints about substantive issues local to Talbot County.

Incidentally, the infamous clipboards were not distributed in a surreptitious manner. The purpose could not have been more clearly labeled, and they were intended to get to everyone in the room—knowing some (most) would be interested in linking up and a few would not. I had my name and phone number on the boards–so that they might work there way back to me…and all did. (Indeed, a majority in the room signed on.)

One of those who did not agree was the Executive Director of the Mid Shore Board of Realtors, who took a quick snapshot of the sign-up sheet. That snapshot promptly went to the overseers of the local party, leading to yesterday’s screed. Irresponsibly, though my name and number was on the material, no one from the republican central committee contacted me to make any inquiry prior to blasting Ms. Price. I would be surprised if they asked her about it either.

IT’S NOT ABOUT PARTY:

And that takes me to the “republican” thing. This effort to defeat Ms. Williams and others has nothing to do with party. Nothing. The Council’s issues are all local issues, with Jennifer leading in the wrong direction (IMHO), Chuck and Corey in support. Do the Sheers really think the people angry with this Council are all Democrats? Registered republicans, trying to enjoy an evening on the deck, do they not hear noise at 65 decibels? Are there no republicans who live along our County roads where sewer lines will soon be run….or is it that such republicans favor new subdivisions, while only their democrat neighbors don’t? And STRs? Maybe putting a commercial use in the middle of a neighborhood only irritates registered democrats, and only devalues homes owned by D’s. Talbot’s Comprehensive Plan which Ms. Williams and allies try to undercut whenever possible, was the product 2 years of hard work by engaged citizens of both parties, and many independents too.

Unlike the Sheers, I believe the people of Talbot County recognize that this Council election is not about ideology or party issues, but practical problems demanding thoughtful pragmatic solutions reflecting the input and opinions of citizens and a fidelity to the Comp Plan. If the republicans put up 5 candidates committed to that, then bully for them—vote for those candidates! Same with the Dems. But fact is, Williams, Callahan and Pack  have demonstrated an indifference if not opposition to the principles of the Comp Plan, and a single-minded intention to ignore the opinions and input of engaged citizens. So the effort to unseat them is altogether bipartisan, and no one in this coalition cares who is and R and who is a D or and Independent. We just want to protect our County and have it grow and prosper in a manner consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

THE PARTY’S ATTACK ON LAURA PRICE:

All that said, look again at the bitter attack made by Mr. Sheer on Laura Price:

It was not Ms. Price who “decided to attack fellow Council members.” Apparently it never occurred to the party bosses that mere citizens could think of taking action–even though the meeting room was once again filled to capacity with angry citizens whose opinions were acknowledged by Laura Price and ignored by Williams and her constant allies.

How is it that Ms. Price was disloyal “to the Republican Party?” Had the republican central committee put out some sort of directive as to how to vote on Bill 1401, including the noise and STR amendments which went against most citizens’ positions?
And “dirty tricks that should not be tolerated in our County?” What can a thinking person even say?

Finally, appreciate the irony that the husband of the Chairwoman of the Republican Central Committee, without inquiring fully about the events in question, would launch a vehement and unqualified attack on a particular Republican council person alleging disloyalty based on a misunderstood attack that Ms. Price hadn’t even known about. Some demonstration of loyalty, eh? Almost Shakespearean.

Dan Watson
Talbot County

PS–I’ve heard second hand that some readers, on the basis of yesterday’s attack piece, have sent nasty emails to Ms. Price, and at least one supporter requested that their contribution to her campaign be refunded. In fairness, I do hope the information above might trigger some reconsideration.

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