Harassment by any other name is still harassment!
A Republican Party-recruited candidate for Parkersburg City Council who alleges his political opposition to Mayor Bob Newell was the reason Newell ran a background check to harass him and a tea party leader should check his own motives before yelling foul.
Joe Backus, a longtime detractor of former mayor Jimmy Colombo and current mayor Bob Newell, has alleged Newell was attempting to harass him by having a Parkersburg police-instigated background check run on the GOP's hand-picked candidate to run for city council from what is Sharyn Tallman's district now. Tallman is running for mayor.
The News and Sentinel published an article on the allegation that Backus, of 1029 Quincy St., brought forward. To present a fair and balanced article, the newspaper obtained both Newell's and city attorney Joe Santer's responses to Backus' allegation.
But that apparently wasn't what Backus wanted nor did it satisfy Backus who immediately took issue with the article and alleged it was slanted in Newell's favor. Backus further stated he would no longer speak with reporter Jody Murphy because of what Backus contended was Murphy's bias in favor of the mayor.
So what does Backus do next in what can only be seen as an attempted retaliation? He files a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Parkersburg for any traffic citations issued against Murphy in the last two years, and asks to be told how much Murphy paid via the tickets and/or how many were dismissed, presumably as a favor to keep Murphy from having to pay for any of those purported citations.
First, Murphy has not received a citation within the two-year period designated by Backus. Further, if he did he would have paid it or he would have faced disciplinary action at the newspaper for having it "fixed," if getting a ticket "fixed" is even possible.
Just for the record, in case Backus decides to FOI my traffic records. I also have not received a traffic citation within the last two years. I did get a speeding ticket (31 mph in a 25 mph zone) going down the Broad Street hill a few years ago, which I wrote about in my weekly column after I paid the $76 ticket. So if Backus actually reads, he will already know about my ticket and can save wasting his and the city's time.
Now let's get back to Backus, who screamed harassment when police ran a background check on him. What does he think it is for him to request what certainly could be perceived as a background check on a reporter who he apparently has a personal problem with when it comes to that reporter doing his job appropriately by fairly and impartially reporting both sides of an issue?
I call it harassment. Some might call it attempted intimidating! Others might call it an attempt to control the news, a news reporter and/or the news media!
Whatever it is called, it comes back to Backus demonstrating his lack of qualifications to be a city council member and is a slap in the face to the GOP leaders who recruited him for the candidacy.
If the Republican Party couldn't do better than Backus, it shouldn't have offered a candidate. The only vote Backus should get is his own, providing he actually votes.
Jim Smith can be emailed at email@example.com