Friday, March 16, 2012

Mike Stegall - The Written Word

Several weeks ago, the administrator of this site and I had a discussion about me coming on here once every 2 weeks and allowing people online to ask questions about the county and government in general. I even had a name for it: we were going to call it “Chatting with the Commissioner.” You know, like my Coffee with the Commissioner series, only allowing people to sit at home on their computers and chat. I was trying to fulfill my campaign promise of bringing local government back to the people. I still believe in that. .

We send our minutes out to all media, our sessions are open to all of you, we are on the radio once a month, I go out to talk with people once a month, and I write the Commissioners Corners for the papers. Communication is what it is all about. I like to let you know what we are doing, because I am not ashamed of what we do.

In the last several months, as all of you know by now, we have had an explosion of controversy in Darke County politics. We have had name calling, people sending in letters to the paper under fake names, innuendo, outright lies, and an unfortunate personnel matter dragged through the mud, and made very public (so much for us hiding things, huh?). I have enrolled on the chat several times to try and help people make some sense of all of this. I have no other purpose but to keep people informed as to what is going on. I have no reason to lie. If I do, it will always come back to haunt me.

In the last couple of weeks, I have watched some very good people get thoroughly verbally trashed on the chat by people who are too cowardly to use their real names. “The coward threatens when he is safe” is a quote by Van Goethe, the famous German writer. He is correct. As my friends and colleagues have had numerous rumors and lies told about them, I began to wonder: Do I really want to do this? Is it worth it to have people I like destroyed by people who think they know, when they don’t, so they lie about it? I could get on the chat, as I have done several times, and explain my position, always trying to be polite, but having some people just keep getting worse, and more vile, and not believing me anyway (and not brave enough to try and find out the truth).

That is why I have been on here sporadically lately. I haven’t commented, I have just been watching. I made a commitment to bring the local politicians back to the people. This is not the way to do it. Who would want to come on here, knowing that some out there are only going to lie and talk horribly about their families no matter what? What amazes me is the people who hide behind their anonymity are the same ones who ask “Why won’t anybody good run for office?” and “Why don’t our politicians be more open with us?” Really? You don’t know?

I have decided that from now on, I will continue in other venues, but not on the chat. I know there are a lot of good people on the chat, and I feel for them. They want to contribute to the good of all of us. I am hoping to meet them personally, because I believe the best way to communicate is face to face. The good people on this site will seek me out to talk. I know because it has already happened. I look forward to meeting all of you in person, even those who disagree with me or just don’t like me. I would like to shake your hand and say “What can I do for you?” I bet we could work out our differences like adults. The naysayers will continue on here to try and destroy those they perceive as having some advantage they do not have (behind some fictitious name of course).

This site has real potential. I applaud John for keeping it going, and for all the good information he has on here. This has become one of the best ways to find out what is happening in Darke County. I wish I could help him out, but at what cost? Not to me, I am a big boy, I can take it. I have been yelled and cursed at by some of the best, but if what my friends and I say is constantly going to be a target and have to be defended by them, it is not worth it. I doubt the cowards among you will ever come and see me and discuss what you don’t like in person. That’s too bad. You might learn something, as might I.

The written word can be very powerful. It can be good and informing, enlightening and humorous, or mean, vicious and damning. Because people can hide behind anonymity, some have chosen the latter course. Too bad, not only for them, but for the negative image it gives the people of Darke County. We need to be more positive. I will continue to be positive and promote the good whenever I can. I just won’t be doing it on the chat.

So, please come to my Coffee with the Commissioner’s where we can talk and learn from each other face to face. I am really easy to talk to, and I don’t think people ask dumb questions.

For the rest of you who will never try to find out the truth, or are afraid that what you find is not what you thought or heard, the next time you ask the question “Why can’t we get good people to run for office?” or “Why don’t our politicians be more open with us?”, look in the mirror, you just might find the answer.

Mike Stegall (My real name!)

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