By David C. Meade
Well folks, it is an election year and have you heard the news? Phillip Clardy is running for mayor of Williamston. Not that this directly has anything to do with what I am about to address, but . . . Clardy made an announcement last week and less than a week later it has started.
Most of you may remember, during his two terms in office there was turmoil in town hall, accusations against Clardy of wrong doing and accusations by Clardy of wrongdoings by others. Employees were hired and fired. Such is the nature of small town politics.
During this time The Journal investigated and/or reported on it all, firings, hirings, accusations, financials, investigations and yes, even the rumors if they could be substantiated. Most of the investigations of Clardy were determined to be politically motivated or instigated by disgruntled employee(s).
The Journal covered these issues week after week and month after month. If you want to go back to 2003, the articles are online on our old website, which is still active at www.williamstonjournal.com or come to our office and look through the pages of our file copies.
As far as The Journal is concerned, it was well covered at the time. Why, you ask, is this an issue now?
Just this week, the political rehashing started again. Residents of Shorebrook and other areas found a letter from an anonymous person or persons identifying themselves as “Citizens for Truth and Justice.” A copy of this letter was mailed to The Journal, and who knows where else. The envelope the letter was mailed in was postmarked in Greenville and used The Journal street address as the return address.
Normally when I receive an anonymous letter, it is looked over and then sent promptly to where it belongs, in the trash can. If you can’t or won’t put your name or face with your opinion, how much could it be worth?
The letter suggests there was a cover up of information going back to the Middleton/Turner administration and these anonymous citizens want to know why Richard Turner, a former Williamston Police Chief, was fired and why Clardy withheld information about the firing. There is reference to a story, I can’t call it a news story, written by a reporter for the local daily newspaper, about a tape recording.
Week in and week out I and my staff make decisions on what is news and what is not, what deserves legitimate news coverage and what does not. If an issue legitimately involves the concerns of area citizens and/or our readers, we will report on it.
This anonymous letter and the issues it raises, does not.
As a reporter, I can’t tell who would benefit if there was anything to the issues raised, but I do have a question. Why now? What purpose does this serve?
At The Journal, we still believe that a journalist should be fair and accurate in reporting the news. If someone has an issue that they think should be looked into, I am open to the suggestion, and if there is something to it, we will pursue it. When we do, we will present the facts and information as we find it and let you, the readers and citizens, decide if the action reported on is justified or if there is wrongdoing or not.
Often on controversial news stories, we get criticized from both sides for our reporting. When this happens we know we are doing our job.
And if we think it is necessary, just to make a point, we may print an editorial expressing our opinion on an issue.
As far as The Journal is concerned, the past is the past and I sleep just fine at night knowing the tremendous amount of time and energy put into reporting on the issues at the time were enough.
If something that happend nine years ago interests you, I suggest you research the articles that were written at the time and you may find the answers to most of the questions brought up by Citizens for Truth and Justice. Or if that is not enough, I have boxes of materials, copies, answers to FOI requests, SLED reports, Solicitor’s reports and more. You are welcome to come look through it.
David C. Meade