02/15/09 — Bad taste: NAACP president's letter not best way to address 'slight'

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Bad taste: NAACP president's letter not best way to address 'slight'

It is almost not worth commenting on -- the letter that NAACP local chapter president Sylvia Barnes sent to the city of Goldsboro in connection with what she perceived as a slight by Councilman Chuck Allen during an October city council meeting.

Ms. Barnes claimed she was embarrassed by comments made by Allen, challenging some of the statements she made during the meeting and calling into question her credibility.

The gist of the comments? That Ms. Barnes might not be the best of sources when it comes to complaints about how city officials have handled controversy with regard to promotions in the Goldsboro Fire Department.

Allen also made reference to other concerns Ms. Barnes had brought to the council -- unsubstantiated, he claimed.

Allen's comments were made after Ms. Barnes had her say -- her right as a citizen of Goldsboro.

Now, if Ms. Barnes felt her honor was questioned, she had every right to express her opinion in the form of a letter to her city government -- a strongly worded one at that. There is nothing wrong with challenging a statement made by a public official.

But what makes this letter worth a closer look -- and fodder for commentary -- is what else it included.

Ms. Barnes asked the city for $35,000 in compensation for pain and suffering -- insinuating that she hoped that the matter could be resolved out of court.

And that is a suggestion that is not just inappropriate -- it is insulting.

No lawsuit has been filed, and this letter was leaked anonymously to the press. Ms. Barnes did not return calls giving her an opportunity to explain herself.

Forget the absurdity of the request for the moment -- or the length of time it took to make the claim.

If you live in the city of Goldsboro and pay taxes here, you should be insulted that a member of what is a prestigious organization that claims to be a uniter, not a divider, would think this sort of  "implied threat" is even close to appropriate.

Demand an apology -- OK, but ask for a $35,000 out-of-court payment -- that is something to be embarrassed about.

It is unlikely that a member of Goldsboro city government needs to be told that taxpayers have no interest in paying Ms. Barnes anything -- and would encourage the city to fight such a ridiculous claim in court

and to pursue court costs.

The taxpayers won't even ask for anything for pain and suffering.

In the meantime, it is time to get back to the serious business of running the city.

Published in Editorials on February 15, 2009 11:51 AM