Put right tools in place
All the citizens of Parkersburg deserve to be treated with respect, no matter the setting, no matter the forum, from all City of Parkersburg representatives, whether hired, elected or appointed.
We can agree to disagree. We can respectfully disagree with another person. But the recent behavior of Councilman Barber in a social media post was miles away from respectful. I fight every day for free speech, but this post was inflammatory, designed to provoke emotions and dissent. It’s not any different than someone walking into the Smoot Theatre, and yelling “Fire.”
This latest example from Councilman Barber’s long line of missteps demonstrates why he does not have the temperament to hold the seat of Councilman. He has a criminal record that was not disclosed before the voters of District 4 voted him into office. He pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct from a July 2017 incident in his neighborhood. And I personally witnessed Councilman Barber’s tirade in a council meeting, berating those attending (and some that were not there) in his words as “liberal city-haters.” And no one from the current council called him “out of order.”
The statement issued from the City Council relating to Councilman Barber’s post was woefully inadequate. While “emphatically disagreeing” with his post, its only purpose was to separate them from that despicable post. I agree with Councilman Carpenter’s assessment that the statement only addressed a single incident instead of “being generic for the future and future councils.”
While current administration may not currently have the tools to sanction a member of the council for “conduct unbecoming a city employee,” they certainly can implement those tools. As I’ve suggested, they can implement a social media policy, an ethics policy, and/or a code of conduct, with a variety of sanctions, depending on the severity of the infraction. They can and must take action against those who do not represent the city in a respectful manner.
In my opinion, Councilman Barber should resign for the good of his district, and for the good of the City. But if he chooses not to, citizens can and will start a recall campaign to remove him from office. The stain he has painted on Parkersburg will not quickly fade away. But removing him from office along with policies that ensure this type of behavior will not be tolerated would be a great start.
Sue Ellen Waybright