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The women of Anderson County deserve better – Part 2

ON BOOTS AND BOURBON

In the December 1 issue of The Anderson News, there was a front page, above-the-fold story titled “Police, EMS, called to Boots and Bourbon event,” about first responders being called, and attending to, an intoxicated woman.

Mr. Carlson went on to write in his opinion column, “The Stave Fest and Boots and Bourbon both receive taxpayer funding though the tourism commission, with Stave coming in the form of a sponsorship and Boots the form of a grant. Yet there hasn’t been a single incident involving someone being overly intoxicated or someone else allegedly threatening people and pushing them around. Believe me, I checked.”

I also checked.

On September 7, 2019, a week after he’d been released on bond wherein one of his bond conditions was ‘no consumption of alcohol,’ a man violated that bond at Stave Fest. Someone contacted law enforcement. An officer gave have him a Portable Breath Test. He blew .048. His bond was subsequently revoked.

Which leads me to the following questions:

  1. Is the play-by-play of an intoxicated woman receiving help from first responders — even at an event that received $750 of taxpayer funds — a front page, above-the-fold story?
  2. Mr. Carlson did not contact the organizer and host of the event, Meredith Lewis, as any journalist would, to ask her what happened. Why?
  3. Would Mr. Carlson have published this story on the front page if the event were hosted by someone else, a man perhaps?

I contacted Ms. Lewis. “Once I was made aware of the situation,” she said. “I requested off-duty EMS staff [who was already present at the event] to assess the situation and tell me what I needed to do. He said call 911. I asked him to do it.”

Here are the details. There were 217 attendees / ticket holders. Ms. Lewis said the tasting and bar service began close to 7 pm. The bar was located in the kitchen area, blocked off, and drinks were served by wait staff. Dinner was served starting at 7:15 pm and there were 2 meats, 3 or 4 vegetables, pasta salad, and desserts. The show started about 8 pm and was over by 10:30. Sometime during the evening, Ms. Lewis lost one of the wait staff due to a death in the family, so she was then serving more than 200 people with only 3 cocktail servers.

Everyone Ms. Lewis paid to help with this event were local: 6 high school students to bus tables and cleanup, 4 waitresses, 1 bartender, 1 coordinator, and there were 2 people leading tastings, plus Ms. Lewis. Workers ate for free.

The following is a list of local businesses who participated in this year’s Boots and Bourbon event:

Splatter Inc
J Bailey
Lovers Leap
Walmart
Wildcat Liquor
Heavens 2 Betsy
Bluegrass Sabor
Local Marketing
Local Website
Central Copy
LW Graphics
Lawrenceburg Flower Shop
Elly Cakes
Sweet Mash
Trail Suites
Brown Barn Candle
Lawrenceburg Candy Cottage

Also:
Hill of Beans(Local Owner/Craig Watkins)
Springfield Laundry(Local reps/Mark Lilly & Adam Castle)
TOPS in Lex (local photographer/Woody Phillips)

Donations: Bauer Candy & Off the Ground for welcome baskets.

Per Ms. Lewis, money made from Boots and Bourbon helps to fund arts programming, but the main reason is to promote tourism and to benefit local businesses. More than $11,500 was pumped back into community businesses by using/shopping local, in addition to the money out-of-town attendees spent at our hotels, restaurants, and shopping.

Mr. Carlson is right, taxpayers have a right to know what they received for their investment — and the answer is: All of the above for $750, less than the cost of an iPhone.

Mr. Carlson then wrote in his opinion column, “The best way to have parties of this sort not end up in the newspaper is to not have the taxpayers subsidize them.”

What does he mean by “parties of this sort?” A party where alcohol is served, in a place known as The Bourbon Trail? A party hosted out in the county, by a woman?

ON THE GOVERNOR’S VISIT

On Tuesday, November 30, Governor Andy Beshear came to Lawrenceburg to present more than $1 million in grant money to fund water, sewer, and road improvements.

The Anderson News gave no advance notice of the governor’s visit. When other politicians come to town — Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, and just this past Saturday James Tipton and Adrienne Southworth — the newspaper and/or its attendant Facebook page normally provide notice.

I attended the event and found the newspaper’s coverage, or lack thereof, odd.

  1. Why was no advance public notice given on our newspaper’s Facebook page? And why were no photos of the event — photos of big, daily events are almost always shared — posted there?
  2. The story about the governor’s visit appeared low on page 6. How is this not a front page story?
  3. Former County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis — a woman who served Anderson County for 17 years and who now serves in the governor’s transportation cabinet as Commissioner of Rural and Municipal Aid — coordinated fund approval and delivery. Commissioner Lewis attended the event; she was recognized by everyone from the Judge Executive to the Mayor to the Governor himself for her work; she is the first such commissioner to come from Anderson County. And yet our newspaper never mentioned her. Why?

ON ASKING BASIC FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

There was a story titled “County attorney makes promise, keeps it,” in the December 8 issue of The Anderson News wherein County Attorney Robert Wiedo is pictured giving a $6,500 donation to Open Hands Food Pantry. I applaud this gift, as it is both generous and needed, and it is indicative of the generosity of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Anderson County residents who give all they can to support local, regional, and other charities. There are so many good people here, and for that we are extremely fortunate, and thankful.

My questions about the article lie elsewhere.

From a strictly editorial perspective, it is suspect to see so many stories — week after week, all positive, no hard questions, rarely even a follow up question — about one man running for a re-election that will take place in 5 months.

And while the headline and photo are about giving, the bulk of the article is not.

CA Wiedo’s statements beg obvious, basic follow-up questions that have either not been asked or the answers not printed. Below are CA Wiedo’s quotes and the follow-up questions that any journalist would have asked:

“When [Gov.] Beshear closed small businesses in March 2020, I noticed a few local politicians preach that ‘we are in this together,’ yet I observed good people struggling while these same politicians continued to draw their checks, completely unaffected,” and “I am sorry, but we are not all in this together and these politicians with gifted positions should do more.”

  1. What are the names of the “local politicians?”
  2. Why do you believe they did not need a paycheck?
  3. How do you know they were “completely unaffected?” Do you know them personally? Give me an example.
  4. What do you mean by “politicians with gifted positions?”
  5. You said they should do more. Who are “they” and how do you know what they are doing/giving?

“My business got shut down … literally,” he said. “I was told to shut the doors, send people home and go file for unemployment.”

  1. You were not running a public-facing business. Why would your business get shut down?
  2. You say you were told to shut the doors, send people home and go file for unemployment. Who told you this?

“Some people were still drawing paychecks and it wasn’t having any impact on them?”

  1. You said “some people.” Are you referring to the female county attorney at the time?
  2. Are you suggesting she should have voluntarily asked to stop receiving a paycheck?
  3. How do you personally know the pandemic “wasn’t having any impact on” her?

“I had three months of zero income …”

  1. You were an attorney in private practice. People had a continuing, ongoing need for legal representation during the pandemic. Why did you choose to cease doing business, taking “zero income?”

It should be noted that 100% of the responsibility here lies with Mr. Carlson. Any journalist, and certainly the editor of a newspaper, would have asked these questions. An interviewee is not responsible for answering questions he is not asked.

So why did Mr. Carlson not ask a single, obvious, followup question? And should this half-page article — which could be viewed as an otherwise-expensive, campaign-type ad for a political candidate — have been published at all?

Which brings me to other questions I have asked that remain unanswered:

On October 20, the editor quoted CA Wiedo as saying, “During that transition period we simply had to make due [sic] and we did the best that we could.”

Why did Mr. Wiedo decide not to hire, even if for a transition period, any of the the 3 women who had working knowledge of the office?

Mr. Carlson has written extensively about last year’s alleged “difficult” transition in the county attorney’s office, but has yet to offer proof. With one phone call, I obtained documents that show otherwise and portions of those documents were included in my October 27 published letter to The Anderson News. Why has Mr. Carlson never asked the former county attorney — a professional woman with decades of experience — for those documents?

The newspaper editor is the most powerful person in the county. He determines what makes the news and what does not; he decides what is urgent / breaking news; he directs public discourse toward this and away from that; he can discourage citizens who fear him from participating in civic life or running for office.

The women of Anderson County deserve better.



END NOTES:

The fact that Mr. Carlson continues to ignore basic questions that are in the public interest, some of which have been asked more than once, is puzzling. I list them here, yet again:

Re: blocking commenters.
Why did the editor block teachers and others from commenting on the newspaper’s Facebook page while there are often folks who post angry, inflammatory comments that are never removed?

Re: editor’s use of the phrase “local Squad and its acolytes.”
Who comprises said Squad? What are their names? Are they specifically Hispanic women? Women of color? All women? All Democrats? Liberals in general? The editor needs to clarify.

Re: covid deaths.
Why has the editor never listed Covid-19 as the cause of any of the 57 deaths in Anderson County? Has he contacted any family members to ask if they would like to speak, on the record, to encourage others to be vaccinated?

Re: masks.
Why did the editor choose to present exclusively the perspective of an occupational therapist but nothing from a local woman doctor board certified in public health and emergency medicine?

How we can help: A message from Bobbi Jo Lewis, Kentucky Commissioner of Rural and Municipal Aid

All photos property of Bobbi Jo Lewis.

This morning I spoke at length with Bobbi Jo Lewis, Kentucky Commissioner of Rural and Municipal Aid.

Commissioner Lewis was on the ground all day Sunday with Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, Deputy Secretary Mike Hancock, Chief of Staff Jamie Emmons and other Executive Leadership of KYTC in Mayfield, Bowling Green, and Dawson Springs.

While the pictures and video we have all seen is shocking and heartbreaking, it is so much worse in person and the pictures just don’t convey the whole story. The Main Street in Mayfield (Graves County) has been obliterated. Many residences and businesses were destroyed in Bowling Green (Warren County). Dawson Springs (Hopkins County), like the other counties, has an astounding number of homes lost, families displaced, loved ones lost and loved ones still missing. And, according to KYTC Personnel, Bremen (Muhlenberg County) was also devastated with countless families displaced and, virtually, the only sustainable building left – their elementary school. There are many other communities in Western Kentucky and communities reaching up to the western limits of Central Kentucky that sustained damage as well and are in need. I have to give a big shout out to all the officials, KYTC personnel, and all first responders for their quick action in the recovery efforts. You are so appreciated and we all know there is a long road ahead and so much to do.

Viewing the devastation throughout Western Kentucky was certainly an eye-opening and heart-wrenching experience. So many have lost their lives….lost their homes…lost everything. There is destruction at every turn. There is no infrastructure such as electric, water and sewer as they were all damaged in the tornado. This means no lights, no heat in the cold, no functioning sewer, and no water to drink, bathe, or flush. Most significantly, there is nowhere for the people to go for housing other than temporary housing or shelters. People need basic necessities and a place to live.

If you are looking for a way to help these communities – and we are ALL desperate to help – there are a number of things you can do and here are some options:

1) Make a financial donation to a reputable source like the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov (No administrative fees are involved and all donations are tax deductible).
2) Donate blood. (This Friday, December 17th at the Kentucky State Capitol and at Memorial Baptist Church in Frankfort)
3) Donate toys for the children for Christmas. FirstLady.ky.gov/ToyDrive

On the spread of disinformation, and no information

A sign outside a high school in Louisville, where demonstrators were protesting against a coronavirus vaccine clinic last month. (Amira Karaoud/Reuters)

From vaccines to masks to a visit from the Kentucky Governor last week, my rural newspaper — The Anderson News — uses its platform and its Facebook page to spread disinformation or no information at all.

My story for today’s Washington Post.

___________________________________________

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, I arrive too early to a spacious, high-ceilinged, bright-lighted conference room connected to our police department to await the arrival of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. A police lieutenant I know well stands way over by the big windows talking with a fellow officer on the governor’s advance detail, while Bart Powell, another early-bird and our county’s director of public safety, sits a good ten feet from me. We are not masked. We are all vaccinated. I ask Powell how things are going. He raises both brows and says he is worried about what’s coming next.

What’s coming next is omicron, the latest coronavirus variant.

Click here to continue reading.

Editorial choices and The Anderson News

In “The Death of a President: November 1963,” historian William Manchester writes about Ted Dealey, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News and his relentless ire and bias against President John F. Kennedy, which fueled two years of resentment and anger in the public discourse leading up to November 22, 1963.

For example, “In the fall of 1961 [Mr. Dealey] was one of a group of Texas publishers who had been invited to a White House lunch. To the astonishment of his fellow guests he had produced and read aloud a savage indictment of his host. He wanted everyone to know that Ted Dealey was no moron ‘to be led around by the nose’ or lured ‘to your side by soft soap.’ He had reached the conclusion that … What we needed was ‘a man on horseback to lead this nation, and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline’s tricycle.’”


A newspaper editor decides what is news and what is not; he decides which story gets the splashy, front page headline and which one gets buried on the bottom of page five; he decides how to frame the story to lead the reader to a conclusion; he decides which pictures best feed the narrative; he decides which public officials to investigate and which ones to let slide; he decides which guest columns and letters to the editor to publish; he decides which questions he wants to answer and which ones to ignore.

LAST WEEK’S LETTER
The only published letter to the editor in last week’s The Anderson News was very short, and it read, in part, “Somewhere in history we stopped hanging people for stealing someone else’s horse. That was a mistake.”

Hanging people?

Publishing this letter — and only this letter, as well as its placement at the top of the Opinion page — was an editorial decision.

BLOCKING TEACHERS
In ACS teacher Rebecca Potter’s letter last week, she wrote that the Editor of The Anderson News had “blocked many who disagreed with him — including several teachers who tried to express their concern — from commenting on the newspaper’s Facebook post [about CRT].” Why did the editor block teachers and others from commenting on the newspaper’s Facebook page?

THE ALLEGED SQUAD
In the August 18 Anderson News, the editor called out the “local Squad and its acolytes” and connected them New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Who comprises said Squad? What are their names? Are they specifically Hispanic women? Women of color? All women? All Democrats? Liberals in general? The editor needs to clarify.

VOTER REGISTRATION
The editor recently reported that former county attorney Azzinaro changed her registration to Republican when he has not reported on any men — current elected officials, even — who have changed their party registration. Why?

MASKS
On the efficacy of masks, why did the editor choose to present exclusively the detailed, front-page perspective — two weeks in a row — of an occupational therapist but nothing from a local doctor board certified in public health and emergency medicine?

COVID-19 DEATHS
The Anderson County Health Department lists 53 dead of Covid-19. Why has the editor chosen not to list Covid-19 as the cause of ANY of these 53 deaths?

COUNTY ATTORNEY WIEDO
In a front page article on October 20, the editor quoted County Attorney Robert Wiedo as saying, “During that transition period we simply had to make due [sic] and we did the best that we could.” Why did Mr. Weido decide not to hire, even if for a transition period only, any of the the 3 women who had working knowledge of the office? I asked this question and more a month ago. Mr. Wiedo is running for re-election. Why has the editor, nor CA Wiedo, chosen not to provide an answer?


In Manchester’s book, he writes of the Dallas Morning News that “In the two months before Kennedy’s last trip to Texas there was something almost Orwellian about the News” and that Kennedy was “often portrayed as a Judas who followed ‘the communist line, which is an atheistic, godless line’; who supported forces of disorders with ‘communist-front affiliations’; who champions unwed motherhood, welfare chislers, and ‘compulsory unionism’; and who was eager to take ‘a man’s income tax and, without his permission, spend it abroad as ‘foreign aid’ … But it is idle to look for subtle delineations in the New’s concept of the President. The paper was mounting an all-out assault on him.”

Sound familiar?

Mr. Dealey made these editorial decisions even as the following words from his father were sculpted on the facade of the Dallas Morning News’s building:

BUILD THE NEWS UPON THE ROCK OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS CONDUCTED ALWAYS UPON THE LINES OF FAIRNESS AND INTEGRITY ACKNOWLEDGE THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO GET FROM THE NEWSPAPER BOTH SIDES OF EVERY IMPORTANT QUESTION ~ G. B. DEALEY

A newspaper editor has singular power and responsibility in that he/she controls and guides public discourse.

I would argue that in 2021, the most divisive factor in Anderson County, Kentucky is not our politics, it is our newspaper and its corresponding Facebook page.

Why does this matter? It squashes public debate and keeps otherwise good people from openly participating in dialogue, local groups, or running for office for fear of the ending up on the wrong side of a powerful newspaper editor who may not, for lack of a better word, like them.

This does not make for a healthy society. The citizens of Anderson County deserve better.

The Women of Anderson County Deserve Better

I received a letter from Anderson County teacher, Rebecca Potter. It reads as follows:

On August 18, Ben Carlson of The Anderson News published an Opinion Editorial titled “Getting to the bottom of what children are being taught” which included an open records request for curriculum from Anderson County Schools (ACS). He was hunting for Critical Race Theory (CRT) material. 

Two days later, he published the school district’s response on his newspaper’s Facebook page and told the community to “do their own research,” using our school system in an attempt to proliferate his own political beliefs. He then blocked many who disagreed with him — including several teachers who tried to express their concern — from commenting on the newspaper’s Facebook post. This is censorship.

Mr. Carlson misrepresented what we teach, erroneously tying CRT to social emotional learning (SEL), which has been around for decades. 

Teaching our students to be kind to everyone in the classroom, regardless of race or gender, is hardly CRT.

We believe every student has value. We do not tolerate racism in the classroom. We teach the truth of history, science, literature, and humanities. We teach our students how to think, not what to think. 

Parents can see what we are teaching. From preschool to high school, assignments and lessons are available to parents. We use technology such as Google Classroom, Infinite Campus, and teacher websites to share information with parents. We make ourselves available to parents through phone calls, emails, and meetings. We encourage our parents to be involved. Many of us are parents ourselves with our own children in ACS.

To our ACS Parents: It is an honor to work with your children in the classroom every day.

To Mr. Carlson: If you want to “get to the bottom of what children are being taught,” as you wrote in your headline, why didn’t you ask teachers? 

###

According to education.ky.gov, 77.59% of Kentucky public school teachers are women. There are approximately 200 teachers who work for ACS. Statistically, the majority of ACS teachers are women. 

In the same August 18 edition, Mr. Carlson again seemed to address the women of Anderson County when he wrote of his CRT allegations in his Opinion column, “I’m sure the handful of people in this county who fancy themselves the local version of the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-led “Squad” will bristle mightily …” and “I’m mindful, too, of the local Squad and it’s [sic] acolytes …”

Who is this “local Squad and its acolytes?” Does he have a list? Who are they? And why does he connect them to New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, a woman who, last I checked, does not represent Kentucky?

If you read The Anderson News, it seems there is a woman, or women, targeted almost weekly. If it is not our woman school superintendent, it is a local woman doctor, a former woman county attorney, a former-former woman county attorney, one of the two women magistrates, a woman school board member, etc… 

I do not know Rebecca Potter personally, but I understand her plight. Until recently, I had never had a conversation with Magistrate Meredith Lewis, but I have often joked (in a frustrated, not funny, way) to my husband after Fiscal Court meetings that Lewis must be the only magistrate because she is the only one who gets constant newspaper coverage.

A journalist’s job is to report facts and to hold those in power accountable. Men far outnumber women on our combined Fiscal Court, Board of Zoning, Planning Commission, and School Board, so why is it only the women who draw Mr. Carlson’s scrutiny?

I will posit Mr. Carlson does throw the occasional bone to a female voice, but they lean to women who agree with him ideologically. For example, why publish two, front-page articles about the anti-mask occupational therapist and outright dismiss the view of a pro-mask woman doctor? Could it be because Mr. Carlson personally does not believe we should be wearing masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and he is using the therapist to make his argument? 

For more than a year and a half, other than running ads by the Health Department, The Anderson News has not encouraged citizens to wear masks to protect the vulnerable, nor to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Or, as he derisively calls the vaccine, “the jab.” Why?

Unlike most newspapers — local, regional, and national — Mr. Carlson has yet to publish stories of Anderson County families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. There have been no articles about long-haulers who continue to suffer and could use community support. The Health Department lists 53 dead due to Covid-19, but we have yet to see Covid-19 listed in our newspaper as anyone’s cause of death. Why?

Which brings me to the front page of last week’s paper with the headline, “Magistrate’s allegations fall flat.”

This is misleading. It is Mr. Carlson’s opinion that the allegations fell flat, not fact. Mr. Wiedo received a legal opinion. In a court case, facts are always in dispute and are determined by a jury, i.e., the people of the community.

In the October 27 issue of The Anderson News, I asked 3 questions, one of which was: Why were two professional women with decades of experience — on a lawyer, one a doctor — not contacted for comment before publishing negative articles about them?

I await answers to these questions. The public awaits answers to these questions.

These are the big stories, but there are small ones, too. The Anderson News recently pointed out that former county attorney Tiffany Azzinaro had changed her registration to Republican. There are men in this county — current elected officials, even — who have changed their party registration. Why are the men not similarly reported?

I was talking about all of this with an elderly man in town, a man born and raised here, and he said to me, “These old boys have had their way a long, long time, and they don’t want no women beside ’em, much less in front of ’em. They want women to stay right back here,” he waved his arm behind his back, “out of their way, that’s what they want.”

When I asked ACS teacher Rebecca Potter why she sent her letter to me and not to The Anderson News, she replied, “Because I was fairly sure it would be a waste of my time. I doubted it would be published or taken seriously.”

The women of Anderson County — and the 23,000 residents of Anderson County — deserve to be taken seriously.

Letter to The Anderson News re: Fiscal Court statement by Magistrate Meredith Lewis

Immediately following Anderson County’s November 2, 2021 Fiscal Court meeting, The Anderson News posted an all-caps, BREAKING NEWS story on their Facebook page: Homeschool kids would not be allowed to play youth basketball.

This “breaking news” was not only premature — an update/clarification would soon be added — it served as a distraction from real breaking news: a stunning statement from Magistrate Meredith Lewis as to the “misrepresentation and outright lies of certain reporting” and her startling claim that a “breach of confidentiality is inexcusable from the County’s legal advisor.”

I have attached Magistrate Lewis’s full statement below, but the basics are these:

  1. On October 19, Lewis sought legal counsel regarding a confidential fiscal court matter from County Attorney Robert Wiedo.
  2. After a week of receiving no response from Mr. Wiedo, Lewis had to make a 2nd inquiry.
  3. When Mr. Wiedo finally responded, he included two other county employees and the branch manager of Kentucky Waste Management on the email, making all of these parties, as Lewis stated, “privy to partial information without my knowledge or consent.”
  4. “It took less than 12 hours,” her statement reads, “for word on the street to be that I had reported this to the state when in fact it was Mr. Wiedo who took it upon himself to handle in a manner that I view as disrespectful, unethical, and unprofessional.”

After the meeting I asked Lewis why she made her statement. She said, “I gave Judge Gritton the opportunity to address this matter and make the Fiscal Court aware of what took place as well as to correct the action taken by Mr Weido. To my knowledge, as of the date of my statement, he had done neither.”

There are clearly questions for County Attorney Wiedo — who recently announced he is running for re-election — which must be answered and shared with the public.

Maybe Editor Ben Carlson did not immediately report Magistrate Lewis’s shocking statement on the newspaper’s Facebook page because he did not yet have the full story — this would normally be a fair argument — but then why was the youth basketball story posted within minutes of the meeting’s end as all-caps BREAKING NEWS?

I was in the room for the Fiscal Court meeting. You could have heard a pin drop as Lewis spoke. I promise you youth basketball was not the breaking news coming out of that meeting. So why did The Anderson News promote it as such when there was, in fact, real breaking news? This was misleading, at best.

I asked Lewis what she meant specifically when she said, in her statement, that there was “misrepresentation and outright lies of certain reporting?”

“Ben Carlson, the editor of The Anderson News, has been twisting my words and the issues surrounding my district, my actions, and my motives for months,” Lewis told me. “And anyone present in a Fiscal Court meeting who reads one of his articles or opinion pieces after the fact knows it. I did not trust how the rumors directly related to Mr Wiedo’s recent actions would be used in the newspaper based on [Carlson’s] obvious biased reporting against me. When citizens have met with him to clarify his inaccuracies related to me or the issues, he refuses to correct or retract those false statements or state the facts presented to him. I have learned, through experience, he will only twist my words to fit his narrative. Ben Carlson has rarely contacted me for clarification on issues. He did, however, contact me this week after my statement.”

Dear Editor of The Anderson News: I have questions.

If you are the editor/publisher of a newspaper, you carry singular power and responsibility to the public. If you’re going to write a front page story denigrating the former County Attorney, a woman, disguised in a puff piece on the current CA, a man, there will be questions. And if, in the same edition, you inexplicably choose to disparage the reputation of a respected, local doctor — oh look, another professional woman — there will be questions. Dear editor: Do better.

__________________________

Two front page stories in last week’s Anderson News raised several questions for which I have sought answers, the first titled “Weido announces bid for reelection.” The story states that Mr. Weido “had little time to savor that victory” because, due to it being a special election, he was unaware that he would be sworn in immediately.

How is it possible to run for public office and be unaware of the start date?

Notably, “Weido said the transition was not as smooth as the citizens of Anderson County deserved, but the transition was exactly what was expected,” and Mr. Weido is quoted as saying, “I had no files, no staff, no building, and no funding….”

I contacted former County Attorney Tiffany Azzinaro to ask about these allegations. “There were 3 women in my office — Whitney McCormick, Beth Willoughby, and June Hancock — that had no idea what to do about coming to work the next day,” she said. “They had not heard from Robert to know if they had jobs or not. I reached out to him, but they heard nothing from him about reporting to work on the 10th or the 11th, so they assumed they had no job.”

Mr. Weido states, “During that transition period we simply had to make due [sic] and we did the best that we could.” Why did Mr. Weido decide not to hire, even if for a transition period only, any of the the 3 women who had working knowledge of the office?

Ms. Azzinaro also provided me with a copy of this email dated November 9, 2020, six days after the election. “Robert: We need to make some arrangements, rather quickly, for this transition to occur. There is a child support docket at 10 tomorrow and a DNA docket at 1:00 tomorrow. Also, the staff is curious about whether or not they have jobs. They have not heard from you at all. Could you either reach out to me or to them at the office before we close so they have an idea as to what is going on? Please let me know when you are coming to at least get the files for tomorrow. We do not have hard copy child support files, but we do have hard copy DNA files. Dana is ready, willing and able to continue to function as the Assistant. She is completely knowledgeable and wonderful. Please reach out to her if you can.”

Ms. Azzinaro has provided me with additional emails dated November 10, 20, and December 8 which are too long and detailed to quote here, but suffice it to say they indicate that both Ms. Azzinaro and Mr. Weido were communicating in detail about transferring files, phone lines, bank accounts, etc… In what way does this denote a difficult transition that was “exactly what was expected?”

Mr. Weido has been in office almost a year. I asked Ms. Azzinaro if she had ever, within that year, been contacted by TAN Editor Ben Carlson for a statement or documents relative to the transition.

Her response: “No.”

The second front page story regards the complaint Dr. Pamela Graber filed with the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Occupational Therapy. I assume Mr. Carlson has a copy of the complaint as there are direct quotes from her letter in his article. It is curious, then, why Mr. Carlson quotes Ms. Courrejolles at length but provides none — none — of the references to credible sources on masks provided by Dr. Graber: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the National Academy of Sciences.

In his Opinion column, Mr. Carlson then wrote: “For not obeying the establishment’s talking points, a local doctor fired off a very ugly complaint to the state board” and “we can thank people like this authoritarian-loving doctor who, and I hope this is true, is retired.”

Dr. Graber has lived in Lawrenceburg for 35 years. She worked 15 years in the ER and 3 years before that in public health service. She went on to be the medical director for Anthem’s Healthy Woman program and continued to work for insurers auditing charts for fraud, etc…. Dr. Graber was, and remains, board certified in public health and emergency medicine (expired in the ER now) and is currently licensed as a retired physician.

I contacted Dr. Graber — she is active in local groups and easy to find — to ask why Mr. Carlson might impugn her reputation as a physician and describe her as “authoritarian-loving.” She had no idea, and went on to describe the charity medical work she has been fortunate to do in disaster areas and on the border since her retirement. She also wanted to make it clear that she named Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Morgan in her letter because she knew the licensing board would ask for witnesses. She was simply providing the names of 2 people she knew to be present at the school board that night.

I asked Dr. Graber if she had been contacted by Mr. Carlson for his article or opinion piece.

Her response: “No.”

And finally, 3 questions for the editor of this newspaper:

  1. Why did you choose to present exclusively the detailed medical perspective of Ms. Courrejolles and nothing from Dr. Graber?
  2. Oddly missing from the piece on Mr. Weido’s reelection bid is his platform. As I recall, his focus in the special election was the Second Amendment, and yet gun rights do not fall within the purview of the county attorney. What is Mr. Weido’s platform within the scope of the office?
  3. Why were two professional women with decades of experience — Ms. Azzinaro with a law degree and Dr. Graber with a medical degree — not even contacted for these stories?

Senior dog rescue

Everybody say welcome to our sweet, 10 year old foster! ❤️🐾 And my annual plea as the holidays approach: Please consider fostering and adopting senior dogs.

School board member in rural Kentucky: ‘I have never experienced so much hate.’

The day before school started on August 11, Anderson County, Kentucky, school board member Rose Morgan received a text message from a former board member: “Shame on you for trying to take the prayer out of the school board meeting. Ever wonder what might happen if you did?”

I ask if Ms. Morgan considers this a threat. She says, emphatically, yes.

When I read the articles pleading for those of us who are vaccinated to remain compassionate toward the unvaccinated, understanding of those who still refuse masks, 18 months into this pandemic—about how we need to listen better to their fears and make them feel heard—I want to invite those people to our county where we we remain below 50 percent vaccinated, where our overworked health department can’t give away free vaccines, and where we sit in routine school board meetings knowing that most of the people in the small, enclosed room with us are proudly, unapologetically, defiantly unvaccinated and unmasked.

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