The Rabid Conservative

Think Right, Act Right, Be Right.

Small Town Politics Attacking Private Citizen’s Efforts

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Most of what is crossing the national wire to me is pretty boring; it’s the same old song and dance.  We’re constantly assailed with idiocy from the Main Stream Media.  So, in sweeping the local newspapers and feeds, I find little gems like this one that, to me, are far more interesting, because of the scope, there’s little attention drawn to it and little to no concerted effort to do a Public Relations cleansing of the facts. In other words, what journalism should be.

Turns out out, the small town of Conneaut, Ohio, which borders Lake Erie and is in the far north east corner of the state, population 13,000, has a website operator named Katie Schwartz who is being drilled by the City Manager because of her website.  The City Manager, Bob Schaumleffel, Jr. sent a Cease and Desist letter because, on the surface, it was because he didn’t want Schwartz’ website to be confused with the official city website, which is currently being overhauled.  However, while citing competition with the defunct city website, Schaumleffel went political, ranting about about personal attacks against him and his administrative team.  Schaumleffel went on to send a Cease and Desist letter which city council not to rescind to Schwartz over all of this.

Schwartz is a young professional, with degrees in Marketing and Business.  She arrived in Conneaut about 18 months ago and was dismayed over the lack of business advertising.  EverythingConneautOhio.com has been online for three months now and fills the hole very well as a business portal and online meeting center. She has a forum, a blog, uses Twitter, and has worked to be true to the name.  But what is most remarkable this is her level of activism into improving her town’s economic climate.  She’s using a private, free-market approach to help increase the quality of her town.  Once again, we see private industry doing something that the government bureaucracy was unable or unwilling to do.

Schwartz’ website is a business, but it is a private site and has the same protections as any other private site.  Just because Schwartz has done a good job marketing it and positioning it to be more of an online hub for the folks in Conneaut doesn’t mean that she has to be totally agreeable with the current administration of the city.  Schaumleffel showed his hand by ranting on about receiving personal attacks as the result of her site.

In briefly looking over the site, I didn’t find anything overly critical of the City Administration, but I did see two topics out there that might create some stir.  First, a topic about televising the council meetings on the local cable channels, definitely a plus for those who advocate for an open and transparent government. Second was the wisdom of having a City Manager versus an elected Mayor.  A little more research showed that the previous city manager resigned abruptly last year, which leads me to believe this may be a topic of increasing interest in Conneaut. And with a private website in place to facilitate communication among dissidents, issues can pick up steam quickly.

But Schaumleffel doesn’t seem to be to keen on this site and has told her to cease and desist and take all information relating to the municipal offices down. In reviewing the information, it contained who the City Manager and Council members were and how to get a hold of them. So why did three out of the seven on city council and the city manager believe that it was inappropriate to list this information?  Such information hardly competes with the official city site but it has put a burr in Schaumleffel’s saddle.

Personally, I hope Schwartz tells the City Manager to go pound sand.  He has no right to dictate what Schwartz posts on her site.  She has not at all purported her site to be the official city site and nothing on the site is slanderous in any way. But yet, local government is censuring her over her efforts, just because the City Manager doesn’t have the chops to deal with being criticized as a public official.

Bob, being criticized is part of being in office. Put on your big boy pants and just roll with it.  Or, even better, try listening to your citizens, the way government should work.

Good work, Katie. Hang tough!

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Written by The Rabid Conservative

May 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

Posted in Political

Tagged with ,

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