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Mass-mailing before election brought ugliness to county

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Several weeks ago, we received a “poem” – for lack of a better word – that just recently was included in a mass-mailing aimed at Trimble County voters.

Whether the individual or group who sent it to our office meant for it to be published, I don’t know. But, we didn’t – for two reasons.

One, we, as a policy, do not publish poems. There is no way to ascertain the actual author of poetry that often circulates in e-mails or chain letters, so we cannot publish those. We have no way to be sure that the sender truly wrote a submitted poem, so we don’t publish them to avoid possible copyright infringement.

Second, the writing was anonymous and a thinly veiled attempt to defame and discredit the current members of Trimble County Fiscal Court and the judge-executive. Even though libel laws are looser in terms of things that are written about elected officials and other public figures, it is still libelous to accuse someone of participating in illegal behavior without any factual information to back up such claims – as this writer did.

Believe me, if someone out there had any proof of wrong-doing by any of our elected officials or local government employees in the county, I am the first person to want to see it. If it were true, I would not hesitate to report it. Being a watchdog is part of the job of a newspaper; but, we require facts and don’t operate on hearsay.

That this piece of writing was not accompanied by the author’s name – or facts to back up the claims – tells me the claims are false.

To be totally honest, I thought the content of the mailing was similar to something mean girls in middle or high school would write to bully kids they don’t like.

What I found the most interesting was that, out in the community, most people who talked of it – and that weekend, everyone was talking about it – said they found it to be more offensive to Trimble County residents than to the candidates it intended to riducule. The piece made several references to residents not being smart enough to know better than to vote for the people they had elected.

As I write this, it is Monday evening before the Primary Election. So, I have no idea who has won any of our local. All I can do now is wonder if this mailing was worth the enormous amount of money it must have cost to mail it to so many people.

I truly doubt it.

Why? Because, the general public really isn’t as stupid as the writer of the piece seems to think. 

I have spent more than a year now reporting on the local boards and commissions in Trimble County. I attend most of the public meetings. I cannot say the same for those candidates who were challenging the incumbents. I’m always amazed that so few candidates will attend the very meetings they would be running, were they to be elected.

That said, I have a lot of respect for the people who run our county and cities – elected or not. I see what their jobs entail; I see the work they do and the time they must spend to make sure our needs are met in the community. It’s a lot of hard work, and often thankless work; as we all know, you can’t please everyone all the time.

So, to anyone who questions any of their elected officials’ votes or actions, I encourage you to attend these meetings. Express your concerns; ask our leaders to explain why they voted for or against something. Tell them why you disagree. If they are worth their salt, they’ll listen to you, give you an honest answer and be grateful for the chance to explain.

In my opinion, whether or not it’s an election season, anyone who hides behind a pen and paper to make accusations such as these is a coward. Plain and simple. And to them, I say shame on you for bringing this ugliness to our county.

Phyllis McLaughlin is editor of The Trimble Banner and lives in Milton, Ky.