From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 11 - March 15, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Editorial: Town Council lawsuit is bad in every way

by Mike Fitzgerald

I have seen many lawsuits in my 30 years as a professional journalist and have observed numerous others as a private citizen.

They have had a wide range of scope, spirit and impact. Some have been courageous, necessary and effective. Others have been trite, mean and unsuccessful. Some have been downright stupid and silly.

The current one in Pinedale that is trying to unseat Town Council member Dave Smith is one of the worst I have witnessed.

And yes I have factored in my being a relative newcomer to Pinedale and its local politics.

Hereís why:

Smith didnít knowingly deceive the voters or intentionally act illegally. He acted just the opposite in spirit and dedication and was rewarded as the top vote getter.

He was caught in a legal and tricky technicality. How often can that happen to all of us on any scale?

Laws are written and enforced to keep order and promote justice. It would be hard to argue that Smith came anywhere near breaking the spirit of the rule. And how can you suddenly yank 183 votes out of the hands of the people of Pinedale? Thatís a slap in their faces. They responsibly exercised their right to vote and now it wonít matter a lick?

Thatís especially wrong in my book. Smith, from what I have witnessed in two Town Council meetings, is a very bright, involved and dedicated public servant.

He has been active on every issue, vocal and fair, often asking the tough questions. His fellow council members, all of whom I admire so far as well, seem to respect his thoughts and integrity. Why the heck would you want to get rid of such a valuable and energetic Town Council member? And drag a few other hard-working innocent bystanders into the legal muck as well?

The lawsuit has also been a major ó and embarrassing on a statewide level ó distraction to a council and town that has so many crucial and time-consuming issues facing it.

All over a legal technicality. Yes, the law is the law, but thatís why you have judges to interpret them and lawyers to argue over them. I hope that Pinedale is successful in getting a stay to appeal last weekís decision to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which hopefully will take a more fair and common sense approach to the issue at hand.

A temporary stay and then a sound decision from the stateís highest court would leave Smith where he belongs: in his seat on the Town Council. If not, considerable and unfair harm has been done to Smith, the council and especially the people of Pinedale.

One final bit of advice: If you tend to be a sore loser, I would suggest not running for public office in the first place. There is no guarantee that you will win. Itís up to the voters to decide. At least it should be.

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