There was a large period of time where I had no use for the local newspaper and the slant that was coming from it. That period of time never encompassed the period in which Mr. Swift owned or operated the paper, nor during the period in which it is currently owned.
I knew that when I brought to light the controversy at the Hammon Senior Center that I would be publicly skewered by certain people. No problem. Unfortunately, it goes with the territory around here.
Truth is a hard pill to swallow for some. However, I was, and still am, astonished at the personal attack leveled on Ron Swift, former publisher and editor emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator.
To remotely suggest that he lacks journalistic integrity is outrageous. I have lived in this community half of my life and if there is one person in this community I trust wholeheartedly, it is hands down Ron Swift.
Ron is a professional. He has never viciously gone after another person in this town to create a headline. He has always endeavored to reach out and gain an understanding of all parties’ side of a matter before he writes his opinion.
Back in 2006, I was on the receiving end of an editorial regarding a council decision that he did not agree with. He had his say, and I had mine, and neither say involved a heated exchange.
As time passed, I concede that we were both wrong on our stances, things were learned and remedies made. That said, never at any point did I feel that Mr. Swift was malicious or untruthful, and that opinion of him stands to this day.
The response that Ms. Lustgarten produced in direct response to Mr. Swift’s article regarding the concerns at the Hammon Senior Center only serves to illustrate Ms. Lustgarten’s inability to comprehend his generosity.
The article was not written to attack her, but to bring to light that there are serious concerns from both “camps” that require immediate attention and that all parties need to communicate, especially her.
Mr. Swift was incredibly fair in approach; couldn’t she afford him the same in response?
Lastly, I again ask that the City Attorney address Ms. Lustgarten regarding her conduct during “other matters.” Violating anyone’s First Amendment rights is not appropriate, nor is rumor-mongering on the record. This last week’s episode was over the top and only creates mounting legal liability issues for the City.
As for the Mayor’s embarrassment, he needs to pick up his gavel and use it.
Specifically, when a speaker is at the podium and individuals in the front row are calling the speaker names and stating that their time is up… use the gavel.
No citizen should be intimidated from addressing their elected leaders no matter how controversial the subject.
When a Council member reads an inflammatory letter into the record during open session... he needs to use the gavel.
The Mayor needs to do his sworn duty and control the meetings.
He, and others were well aware of the concerns surrounding the Senior Center for over a year. The matter was brought forth privately last year to no resolution, and the intensity has since escalated.
Our leaders need to ask themselves what they “could have - should have” done in order to resolve the issue instead of attempting to minimize serious concerns by classifying them under the “finger-pointing/bickering” categories.
Eventually it will be necessary to demonstrate some leadership.
Former City councilwoman