Eye on Concerned Citizens of Greene County Va

By Susan Gibbs

Bob Young, who disgraced Supervisor Eddie Deane has endorsed for the At Large seat he is vacating, called for a boycott of the candidate forums because he thought someone was out to get him

Bob Young, who disgraced Supervisor Eddie Deane has endorsed for the At Large seat he is vacating, called for a boycott of the candidate forums because he thought someone was out to get him

Calling attention to the political division that exists within the county, one of the questions asked at the Greene County Chamber of Commerce and Charlottesville Area League of Women Voters-sponsored board of supervisors’ candidate forum last month was what each candidate would do to heal it.

Neither Bob Young, endorsed by Supervisor Eddie Deane to take over his At Large seat; nor Donna Harlow, a write-in candidate solicited by Deane to oust Chairman David Cox from his Monroe District seat, attended the forum and so neither responded to the question.

However: Cox, Dale Herring, who is running in opposition to Young for the At Large seat; Former Greene County Public School Board Chair Michelle Flynn, who is challenging Incumbent Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) for his seat; and Lamb did respond.

Lamb called for a cohesive board of supervisors; Cox agreed with Lamb and noted that these are trying times; Herring said board members should agree to disagree; and Flynn said, “Be nice.”

But frankly, I don’t see a healing happening, not for this generation and perhaps not for the next. This election year things have gotten way too nasty and have been carried way too far.

Last week, I posted an editorial about Deane, Bob Young’s wife Eva, the Greene County Republican Committee (GCRC), and Rob Schilling radio broadcasts (http://eyeongreene.com/eye-on-corruption-eddie-deane-eva-young-and-the-gcrc/), and suggested that these entities had created two scandals. One, involving Greene County Administrator John Barkley, and the other involving Cox.

This week I’m taking a look at Concerned Citizens of Greene County Va., a Facebook page created and maintained by an anonymous person or group of people calling for open government and promoting GCRC-endorsed candidates who swear that if elected they will guarantee transparency.

These candidates include, in addition to Harlow and Lamb: Incumbent Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith; Steve Keene, a convicted felon who works part-time for Smith; and Greene County Public School Board Candidate Larry Morris, senior pastor at Solid Rock Full Gospel Church in Barboursville.

Aside from the obvious hypocrisy, the person, or group of people, who control this Facebook page have written some things that could very easily be considered voter intimidation. Though messages are posted and then sometimes taken down, readers have long memories. One man, for example, read a post by Smith’s mother, taking credit for the harassment of one of the volunteers working for her son’s challenger, Brooks Taylor, by calling that volunteer’s employer.

In addition, an anonymous letter was sent to Taylor’s wife, falsely informing her that her husband was having an affair; his campaign signs were taken down; and supporters were harassed in a variety of ways.

Another post describes Herring, whose Republican roots go back generations in this county, as a Democrat.

Write-in candidate Donna Harlow, solicited by Deane to oust Chairman of the Board of Supervisors David Cox from his Monroe District seat, also did not attend the candidate's forum, and so did not have to answer questions from the public

Write-in candidate Donna Harlow, solicited by Deane to oust Chairman of the Board of Supervisors David Cox from his Monroe District seat, also did not attend the candidate’s forum, and so did not have to answer questions from the public

Caricatures of Flynn and Taylor supporter Dan Goff have been posted.

And then there was the incident with Kristine “Kiki” Flaig, who, two years ago, did some volunteer work for VaVoters.org, a group that supported Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) when he was challenged for his seat by Keene, who, this time around, is challenging Incumbent Brenda Compton for her position of Clerk of the Greene County Circuit Court.

Flaig also baked cookies this election season for an event supporting Taylor.

When the Charlottesville Area League of Women Voters needed someone in this county to find a location and set times candidate forums, Flaig volunteered—but Bob Young got hold of the information and threw a fit.

“Kiki, other than setting invitations for the candidate forums, what will your complete role be for the event? Will you be asking questions or moderating for the event?” he messaged Flaig on her Facebook page at 10:03 pm Thursday, September 3.

“No, I’m just helping set it up, not even a member of the League of Women Voters,” Flaig responded two minutes later, at 10:05 pm. “Guess they heard I’m unemployed right now and figured I’d have extra time. I can also pass along suggested questions or send you the contact info if you’d like to submit them directly.”

What could be construed Young’s paranoia then reared its ugly head.

Nine minutes later, at 10:14 pm, Flaig received his response: “I hope that you can understand if some candidates are a bit dubious of your involvement with this forum given your activity with VaVoters and open support for some candidates, via FB posts. Voters and candidates deserve a level playing field at these events and many in the county are aware of the past and present intent of VaVoters.org and the forces behind it. Albeit has not been active in many weeks but the history and aims may still be active.”

Eleven minutes later, at 10:25 pm, Flaig responded: “I have no idea what is going on with VaVoters as I no longer work there. I have never claimed to be impartial, however to date I am only supporting 2 candidates (Keene & Taylor). Admittedly I have not been all that disciplined about staying abreast of all the other candidates positions this summer and focused my time on my kids. And frankly I was so turned off by what has been happening at the BOS meetings and the conduct of all the parties involved I have not had much desire to attend local meetings. I do feel like we need a change of regime with leaders who are willing to listen to all sides of an issue, study the facts, and make informed decisions transparently.”

The following morning, on September 4, at 6:17 am, Young wrote: “I think we need leaders who don’t lie to citizens and scheme behind close [sic] doors too, and who dismiss bad actors under county employment who misuse their position.”

Very early that afternoon, at 12:13 pm, Flaig responded: “I can see you have some concerns about my involvement with the forum. I passed your concerns and contact information on to Dena Imlay, who is the Director of Voter Services for the League of Women Voters Charlottesville Area. She should be contacting you sometime today.”

The next thing we knew, Young had launched a campaign against Flaig and was calling for a boycott of the forums.

All of these online actions stink of McCarthyism—the practice of making accusations without proper regard for evidence, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism, and is named for a junior senator from Wisconsin named Joseph R. McCarthy.

On February 9, 1950 McCarthy gave a speech to a group of Republican women in Wheeling, West Virginia. With the country just four years out of World War II, and the Cold War settling in, McCarthy claimed that the United States State Department was harboring communists. Holding up what he said was a list of 205 names, McCarthy announced: “… known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist party and nevertheless still working and shaping the policy of the state department.”

The fact was that there were no names at all on that list. What McCarthy held up was a three-year-old letter from a former Secretary of State informing a congressman that permanent tenure for 205 state employees might be denied on various grounds, including drunkenness.

Even so, the next day, when he spoke in Denver, those 205 “security risks” had become “57 card-carrying communists.” Ten days later, in the United States Senate, those “57 card-carrying communists” had become “81 cases,” and the Senate sent the charges to a special committee headed by Democratic Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland.

On June 1, from the floor of the United States Senate, Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith denounced the smear tactics of McCarthy’s anti-Communist campaign, pointing out that the deliberative character of the Senate had been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of senatorial immunity.

On July 20, Tydings’ committee concluded that McCarthy was a fraud and hoax and perhaps should be brought up on charges of perjury.

But with McCarthy protected by Senatorial immunity the media kept its coverage of him going as he retaliated against Smith for speaking against him, and as he went after Tydings. In the latter instance, McCarthy had a composite photograph put together purporting to show Tydings speaking amiably with a former United States Communist chief, and then saturated the Senator’s home state with the phony picture.

McCarthy was blamed for evicting Tydings from what would surely have been his fifth term, before going on to win re-election himself. The media reported one of McCarthy’s most renowned accusations, when he claimed that a former Secretary of Defense had participated in “a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man” by making decisions that “aided the Communist drive for world domination” and implied that he was a traitor to his country.

As a result of the coverage given McCarthy, no United States politician was willing to appear to be “soft” on Communism. McCarthy assumed chairmanship of the United States Senate’s Government Operations Committee and the media followed along as he targeted Voice of America, the Government Printing Office, General Electric, and Allis-Chalmers, identifying a few suspicious individuals, but finding no Communist spies.

Over the course of the next several years thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment.

And then, when one of his staffers was drafted and military commanders did not bend to pressure to give the man special privileges, McCarthy went after the United States Army. In response, the Army issued a detailed chronology documenting improper intrusions into the man’s military career, and McCarthy retaliated, claiming the Army was holding his staffer “hostage” to deter his committee from exposing communists within the military ranks. To resolve the dispute, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which McCarthy chaired, voted to investigate and to allow live television coverage of the inquiry.

On April 22, 1954, as America watched, the hearings pitted McCarthy and his attorney against one hired by the Army, a man named Joseph N. Welch.

Welch’s calm, patrician manner served as an appealing contrast to McCarthy’s rude outbursts during crossfire of mutual recriminations over doctored photographs, and fabricated memoranda.

Finally, McCarthy insinuated that a young lawyer at Welch’s law firm harbored communist sympathies, and Welch responded with a righteous outburst that finally brought McCarthyism to a conclusion dramatic enough to have been created by the best of Hollywood’s writers.

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness … Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do injury to that lad. I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you … Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, Sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?”

The next day, front pages of newspapers across the country showed the two Joes—McCarthy smiling as he savaged a young man, and Welch quietly weeping, and it was over. McCarthy faded from view, his drinking took its toll, and the man, but not his legacy, was forgotten.

Like McCarthy, the person or people maintaining the Concerned Citizens of Greene County Va. Facebook page have no sense of decency.

That is not something that can be healed, but as long as their candidates are not voted into office, it can, in time, be forgotten.

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