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Jay Barnes

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Third Ward City Council Candidate Scott Spencer's answer to questions about a former rock are a strange attempt to re-write recent local history.

First, Spencer said the City Council should have "formed a group of citizens that represented the community on this." That's exactly what happened: Two citizen commissions and the council voted on this. Together, there were eight separate hearings at which public input was sought — and the council itself is "a group of citizens" who "represent the community." If elected, will Mr. Spencer punt every vote to a "group of citizens" other than the very people we elect to make these decisions?

Second, Spencer said he didn't "think the affected residents felt comfortable or safe making their voices heard publicly." This is silly. Opponents were not threatened. But people on the other side were. Several received hate mail and another was subject to a Facebook post suggesting violence to silence him.

Third, Spencer said the "decision was the easy way out to just simply remove it and erase it from our history." But there is nothing a city council anywhere can do to "erase history." No one is going to forget the Civil War. Removing the rock simply meant the city will no longer further the anti-historical agenda of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

It's one thing to take a position — and quite another to misrepresent those who disagree with you or remain willfully ignorant to the facts. While much of the initial opposition was not ill-intended, there are a handful of people in our community itching to perpetuate a local culture war for their own benefit. In the process, they are showing themselves not only to be anti-historical, but dishonest even about the process that led to the rock's removal. Worse, while they decry "division," they take actions designed to further divide our community.

Local government is the level of government that most affects our daily lives: police, fire, streets, sewers, trash, code enforcement, parks. Potholes don't have a partisan viewpoint and the over- politicization of local government is to everyone's detriment. Unfortunately, we have a number of people running for council who do not seem to have any agenda other than to perpetuate a false culture war. We should all wish it weren't so — because that's not the day-to-day job of the City Council.

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