There are various forms of intimidation practiced throughout society, and especially in the world of politics.
The oldest political form of intimidation may be attacking the character of someone who looks for the truth about someone else. It doesn’t have to be adults who do this. If Little Johnny belts the baseball through the neighbor’s window, he is liable to blame Sister Sue quicker than he will accept any blame himself.
Thus, when I mention that Town of Gilbert officials are less than candid in regard to their records and other public information, the best some of them can do is try to intimidate me. They can’t refute the facts, so they attack the message carrier.
I could point to a legion of folks that will be happy to tell Councilman Randy Livingood, husband of Mayor Vivian Livingood, brother-in-law of … oh well, you get the point, that he will not intimidate me into not revealing the truth.
Randy Livingood, who spouts religion in one of his Facebook personalities and uses constant profanity to address me in one of his others, apparently thinks rehashing information I long ago shared with readers will actually scare me off. I invite Dandy Randy to ask citizens in Glenville, where they and I sure thought I was mayor; Kanawha County or Charleston how easy it is to frighten me.
Randy can check with his engineer friends to find out more of my background if he wishes but, in this case folks, I DO know where the money leads. And I know their bungling ways.
In a small town run by a clique like the Gilbert mob, it is not unusual to see friends and relatives in high positions. That’s just one of the reasons Mayor Livingood can ballyhoo that she “takes no pay from the town.” But guess who does?
When convenient, the Mayor claims Town Council, that group including her hubby, makes all the decisions for the town. But on the campaign trail, she boasts of what she has done to right the wrongs in Gilbert. The Mayor has no problem taking credit for anything the public judges as “right,” while tossing the blame to “a seven-member Council” if something goes wrong.
But when I question misleading statements the Mayor distributes on Facebook about poll workers, it is more her husband, son and a “he, she or it” relative in Kanawha County who try the intimidation game.
Using all the discretion she is capable of, the Mayor did block me from her Facebook accoun as soon as I pointed out the truth. She, in an outwardly Christian way, worried that her “grandchildren” might see a questionable word from me. Yet, as noted, grandpa feels free to call me a “p—k” and much more. Hopefully, the babies are banned from grandpa’s account. Wouldn’t want to tarnish their image of him on his knees quoting Romans 8:28.
The son is not quite as vociferous but the Kanawha relative, whose Facebook name and picture fail to identify a sexual identity, makes constant veiled threats. He/she or it (I have no idea what to call him/her or it and always try to be respectful) has gone from telling me he/she or it wants to “sit down at your kitchen table” to making cute comments about the size of my house and “it was good seeing you last night.” Tell me that doesn’t have all the trappings of a deranged killer murder mystery made for television and I’ll say you’re wrong.
So cute are he/she or it’s comments that law enforcement has copies in the event something untoward happens to me or my home. He/she or it claims on Facebook to work at Charleston Area Medical Center but wrote privately that she does not. And I’m the one who is misleading the public somehow?
In my positions in government (we’ll let the Livingoods recite for you what they were), I always told employees to provide reporters or the public with any public information immediately upon request. While Gilbert officials can hide behind the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) techniques to thwart my seeing the records, any member of the public should be able to look at checks, statements and anything else at any time the office is open.
That the Livingoods are so anxious to see me they won’t simply makes copies of the requested documents tells a great deal about their motivation. I, on the other hand, will not come to Gilbert Town Hall without a qualified accountant who will also be present as a witness to any dialogue between us. I didn’t just step off the Mayflower but he/she or it was certainly there when my boat did arrive.
Thus, Gilbert officials are making it as difficult as they legally can for their records to be examined. But they will be examined. Trust me.
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Then they have cronies at an apparently unlicensed, unregistered “newspaper” seek to “interview” me about the “lies” I have spread about the Livingoods.
The primary “lie” seems to sprout from my earlier comments that the Mayor appeared to have done a good job in Gilbert. They are also troubled, it seems, that I gave the Mayor some free political advice that she ignored and lost the House of Delegates primary election. Don’t be confused: I am glad and proud that the voters elected Phyllis White, a true public servant. The Mayor had not demonstrated her willingness to mislead voters when I gave the free, but solicited advice.
By the time that election rolled around, the Mayor had shown her true colors by misleading ignorant voters and potential poll workers about how elections are counted. I called her on it. One is not supposed to do that. The Livingoods make no mistakes. Despite seeing and admitting the truth in her commission appearance weeks later, the Mayor failed to look any county official in the eye and say, “I’m sorry.”
Those words are not in the family dictionary.
The dictionary being a book that lists helicopters and airplanes as synonyms. For the Livingoods, “synonyms” mean they are interchangeable. They have made a great deal, however, of poking fun at me for saying Arch Moore was in a plane crash. Maybe if I had said, “whirly-bird” they would have been happier and understood.
Through it all, I remain unmoved. The notorious county officials, who opponents love to still call “Team Mingo,” have never treated me (or I would say any other member of the press) as the Livingoods and their ally, Thomas Taylor, have.
Any time I have asked Hootie Smith, John Mark Hubbard or any county official about a record, they have immediately said, “come on by and we’ll give you a copy.” No hiding; no FOIA; and nobody could have blasted Team Mingo more or worse than I did. I called it as I saw it then; I call it as I see it now.
These county officials understand the role of public “servants,” though and are first-class people. We will not discuss the class of the Livingoods.
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Mingo County Clerk Big Jim Hatfield is said to be on the road to recovery after falling and breaking a bone in his arm.
Hatfield supporters, who are numerous throughout Mingo and southern West Virginia, began worrying about the Clerk after they learned he fell.
But Hatfield missed only a few days from work and was back on the job when I checked in late last week. “Tell them I’m all right,” he laughed. “It hurts but I’m going to live.”
For those who love to maintain I only preach dislike for public officials and others, Hatfield is the perfect example of the many for whom I have the ultimate respect. Far more office holders are good people than bad, even in the southern coalfields. A few bad apples do not ruin the whole bushel.
There’s no finer man than Big Jim Hatfield. The same goes for Art Kirkendoll, Ron Stollings, Jennings Miller, Will Thompson, Smith, Hubbard and dozens of others.
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For all my past transgressions (not having lived the life of perfection the Livingoods have), I also never have tried to limit access to public records or attempted to hide from reporters.
But the September 14, 2013 Charleston Gazette sure makes it sound as if the Livingoods went in hiding back then.
Reporter Travis Crum said he was told by town officials that the elected crew did not want to talk about an indictment of disgraced Mingo Judge Michael Thornsbury. Of particular interest to Crum were parts of a federal indictment of Thornsbury that alleged Gilbert’s Assistant Police Chief Nathan Glanden had conspired with the judge to falsely arrest and jail Robert Woodruff.
Woodruff, you may recall, was and is the husband of Thornsbury’s former secretary. An elaborate scheme that brought down a former State Policeman of the Year involved Thornsbury trying to cook up charges so Woodruff would go to jail. The theory was that the judge wanted the secretary for himself and felt if the husband was gone, a relationship would develop or continue (depending on whose version you believe).
Glanden filed an arrest warrant for Woodruff due to an altercation, although Glanden did not witness the fight nor respond to it. Eventually, the charges were dropped when the reign of Thornsbury began to unravel.
Meanwhile, back at city hall, an employee told the reporter that the Mayor did not wish to talk to reporters. Keep in mind that the good Mayor was full of talk when she made her inaccurate charges against the county commission and poll workers. There was no fear of reporters detected then when she spouted on Facebook and appeared weeks later at a commission meeting to essentially cover her behind for the things she had said.
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