LETTER: Representative should be held accountable

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

To the Editor:

Let us not forget what has happened in Lee County to radio hosts who committed no crime, but who dared to criticize a government official. Let us not forget that the official in question, Rep. Mike Stone, responded by leveling a veiled threat at Central Carolina Community College, whose president suspended the radio program from the air, effectively censoring these hosts’ speech.

Even some of the most conservative voices in Lee County have condemned this act as an abuse of power. Mike Stone’s recent actions with respect to the Sanford City Council and the Lee County Board of Education triggered a firestorm of controversy. Stone did not even attempt to consult the city council or Lee BOE before he filed the bills, and

had the audacity to say that he didn’t need to because he had “spoken to citizens,” as if these elected officials in the city council and BOE are not the direct representatives of the citizenry in government.

I don’t know what response Mr. Stone was expecting, but mild criticism from a local radio program is not a wild response, nor an unexpected one. Mr. Stone’s choice to bully the radio program off the air is nothing short of outrageous.

I have served in Afghanistan and Iraq and have seen rampant government corruption firsthand. I am always shocked and amazed to see it here in America, and to see corruption and the abuse of power in my own hometown is the worst thing of all. I hope that the reading, listening intelligent public will hold Mr. Stone accountable for his actions. No one likes a bully, and we are right to expect better from the men and women we elect to public office.

Jay Calendine

Sanford

Editor’s Note: The radio program the letter writer is referencing was called “The Rant” and was carried by the CCCC radio station until recently. According to a statement from T. Eston “Bud” Marchant, the college’s president:

“My information is that [the show] began in 2008 when an employee of The Sanford Herald approached the station about a news show related to content of The Sanford Herald newspaper.

“During a show on Wednesday April 3, 2013, the bills recently introduced by Rep. Stone to change the city and school board elections from nonpartisan to partisan, as well as the way CCCC trustees are appointed, were discussed. Mr. Stone’s office emailed the college asking a number of questions about the show.

“Mr. Stone’s questions were answered to the best of the college’s ability, and he was provided with the budget information he requested.

“I then made the decision to suspend (not cancel) the program until all the facts surrounding the matter could be determined.”

According to the program’s Facebook page, The Rant show will soon be available via podcast.