The Stevensville Town Council, or at least two of its members, have appointed Jerry Phillips to fill the vacancy created when Raymond Smith resigned. Councilmembers Stacie Barker and Robin Holcomb, after moving to appoint Jim Crews, voted against their own motion after hearing from residents of Crews’ own Ward 2. (Council President Bob Michalson recused himself from the process.) Not one member of the public spoke in favor of appointing Crews, who has previously served on the council and as mayor and is currently under investigation (along with Councilor Michalson) for allegedly harassing the town clerk. Although Barker and Holcomb had been poised to appoint Crews, they actually seemed to listen to the public comment and changed their minds.
That was good news. However, why is it always so tempting to blame the messenger when the news is bad?
Lately, Stevensville Town Council members have been bashing the Bitterroot Star, apparently because they don’t like to see their names associated with the reports of petty bickering and small-mindedness that have characterized this council’s meetings ever since Council President Michalson initiated his vendetta against the mayor over publication of what he mistakenly thought were private emails.
Councilmember Barker read a letter at the end of the recent meeting, stating that she quit reading the paper because the news is so negative. But we don’t make this stuff up! For months, that’s about all there has been to report about the council, as the decision-making process has been thwarted by what appeared to be personality conflicts and lack of trust. The atmosphere became so toxic in the office that there is an ongoing investigation into it and so toxic at the council meetings that state officials were called in to provide training in inter-personal communication.
The Bitterroot Star merely reports on what takes place at the meetings. If it’s negative, that’s what you’ll read. If it’s positive, that’s what you’ll read. You can look through any issue of the Star and find plenty of “good” news, just not about the Stevensville Town Council.
So, we say to the council members, who now have this opportunity for a fresh start, give us something positive to report. We (and surely your constituents as well) are ready!