A Voice from the Gallery
Ray Mosby editor and publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, wrote an article entitled, Why Community Newspapers Matter, which appeared on the front page of the October 8, 2015, Volume 128, Issue 41 edition of The Alcester Union-Hudsonite. Mr. Mosby discussed the importance of a small town newspaper to its community citing community mindedness, the power to exact change, to promote things that benefit the community and to shed light on those things that do not benefit the community as a neighbor and fellow resident; former newspaper publisher and editor, Paul Buum did that. Sadly Mr. Buum is no longer with us, our paper has been absorbed into a group of other small newspapers owned by a publisher who is not our neighbor and not a fellow resident.
As a contributor I wrote opinion pieces to the Alcester Union-Hudsonite called A View from the Gallery which reported and critiqued the Alcester city council and its decisions which affected the citizens of Alcester. I attended each and every meeting that I wrote about and I presented a bald, truthful and not-always-so complimentary account of what I heard, saw and witnessed behaviors of council members during those city council meetings beyond the summary accounting of minutes published in the newspaper by the city.
In June 2015 my opinion pieces were no longer accepted for publication, so I sent an email to Shane Hill owner and publisher of The Alcester Union-Hudsonite as well as many other small newspapers in the surrounding area asking for a face-to-face meeting to discuss why my submission was declined. I received the following email in response:
“Jun 5 at 12:57 PM
It is our decision not to publish any of your view from the gallery because I feel they are not productive for the City of Alcester only bashing most actions the council takes. My advice would be if you are not happy with how matter are being handled, you should take one of the open seats and try to fix matters as part of the council. That way what you have to say will be recorded in the Minutes and published each meeting.
Alcester Union Hudsonite”
Mr. Hill sits in judgment determining what is or is not good for the city of Alcester and Mr. Hill, who to my knowledge, has not been a regular first-hand witness/attendee of Alcester city council meetings and who has no skin-in-the-game as far as a taxpaying resident. History has taught the folly of censure of-and-by newspapers i.e. Hitler’s Germany and Hussein’s Iraq. As citizen taxpayers, we have a duty to critique and take to task those who have taken an oath to govern our city of Alcester for their poor choices, bad decisions, libelous comments about Alcester city employees in open meeting, failure to properly investigate charges of sexual harassment within city departments because the complainant resigned, assault of a police officer doing his duty and failure to vacate for cause the lease of a woman operating the city bar who admitted in open regular meeting of the council (one councilmember works as a bartender in the Alcester bar) she allowed underage kids in the bar.
I filed a complaint based upon her admissions in an attempt to force the city to take action. On October 6th,2015, I reiterated my complaint and presented it in written form to the city attorney and the mayor who dispersed copies to the rest of the council which included city councilwoman/Alcester bartender , I received a call the following day from Alcester barmaid Kelsey blathering, “We’re going to put the Kibosh on you”.
We cannot allow certain self-serving city council members or non-resident newspaper publishers to squelch the truth just because it offends them, a public official friend, businessman or financial institution.