Wendell Peters, Floyd County Circuit clerk, couldn’t hide his displeasure when I showed up Tuesday to report on the latest court session.

When I approached Peters to pick up a copy of the court docket, he looked with disdain and asked: "Are you sure you can accept this from a Republican?"

"Of course," I said. "I deal with Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents and even a Socialist or two."

Peters wasn’t amused. He was upset over that Capitol Hill Blue column that was highly critical of the Republican Party in Washington.

"I was offended by it," he said. "I hope you weren’t talking about present company."

I wasn’t, of course. The column was aimed at the President and Republicans in Congress. The last time I checked, the Constitutional officers of Floyd County weren’t part of that group.

But someone with a copy machine used up a toner cartridge or two copyed the column and distributed it around the courthouse, the town hall and other places. One was stuffed in the door of The Floyd Press. Another was found in the parking lot of the courthouse. Town Manager Mike Maslaney said one was stuffed in his Sunday Roanoke Times.

Too bad the person with the copy machine didn’t take the time to copy one of my many columns which said even worse things about Democrats and pass it around too. Guess they weren’t interested in balance.

Peters took my comments personally. He shouldn’t. What I do is never personal. My problem with the Republicans is focused at those in Washington who, I feel, have abandoned the GOP principles of a small, less-intrusive, government. It was the Congress and the President who gave us the USA Patriot Act, a rights-robbing piece of legislation that takes away many of the freedoms that used to be part of the foundation of this nation.

The folks in Washington are professional politicians. Most local officials are not. They are true citizen officials who actually try to help those they serve. Wendell Peters is a good clerk. Shannon Zeman is a good sheriff. New Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt is living up to voter expectations and delivering on her campaign promises. I’ve had great experiences dealing with county offices, both as a journalist and as a taxpayer and resident of Floyd County.

The same is true with Citizens Telephone. All of my customer service experiences with Citizens have been great. The cooperative’s DSL service is far more reliable than the Verizon service we had in Northern Virginia. I let the company use, without charge, one of my professional video cameras to shoot football games this past season.

So I was surprised recently to hear that some at Citizens felt I had a personal grudge against the company or someone who worked with it. I don’t use this site to pursue personal agendas or grudges. I reported what I did because enough employees of the company came forward with concerns that I felt should be part of the public discussion. Citizens is a publicly-owned telephone cooperative. We, the public, own it and we deserve to know if the company is in trouble.

So let’s stop trying to make this personal. It’s not. Let’s stop the anonymous notes on the door, the invective-filled no-name emails or the nasty, anonymous phone calls left on voice mail. If you have a problem with me, my address is 201 East Main Street, Suite 6, Floyd, VA. I’m there six days a week. Have the courage to walk in the door and discuss your concerns with me in person. Wendell Peters had the common deceney to express his concerns to my face. Others should as well.


  1. It’s message, not messenger.

    When 70% of the population recognizes that there is a problem, then we should not squander our time with trivia about who’s punctuation or couth may be out of the mainstream. Many people feign offense at the truth to avoid the discussion of the subject.

    The old story about treating the mule with love and respect; but first you have to get his attention- well it applies to the public as well.

    We are shortlived people, we have squandered the time we have on this earth. The sooner we recognize the complexity of the adage “follow the money” the better we will comprehend problems in decision making both corporate and government; then I think we’ll be better off.

    Let’s contribute to this process, have faith that the truth will set us free. We have far more in common than the powers would have us believe, let’s overlook the small stuff and focus on the big!

  2. When I started reading Capitol Hill Blue in the late 1990’s–living in Roanoke, VA, one county away from Floyd and unaware that apparently Doug Thompson had worked with my father many years before at the Roanoke Times–I was a diehard Republican on every issue except the environment, and I was immediately attracted to CHB because of the anti-Clinton articles.

    I was still a diehard Republican when Bush came into office, but over time I not only quit supporting Bush, I fell out with the Republican party entirely. Much of this was due to Bush’s behavior, and much was due to educating myself about what was really happening in Washington, and the consequences both here and abroad from those actions. And part of that education came from Doug Thompson and Capitol Hill Blue.

    I wonder, as that former Republican who remembers being extremely uncomfortable in the initial stages of my turning against the D.C. GOP, if the folks doing the smearing and anonymous copying are themselves trying to fight personal doubts in an extremeist way. Thinking is dangerous to a zealot.

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