Monday, December 19, 2005

Stillwater: Meeting of Two Minds

Interesting comments the past couple of days concerning my question about School Board member "Choc" Junker's current health. Here are the quotes, in case you missed them.

Anonymous said...
Why not ask the entire school board that question? I am sure you can ask to speak at open forum! Better yet, why not ask Mr. Junker's family? I am equally sure that one of his kids would respond appropriately. Is it because you have no balls? You sure are a bad ass, hiding behind your computer and all. I will assume you have no balls and are spineless if you fail to follow my advice.

6:06 PM

Prendergast said...
Assume away, "anonymous." Regardless of your assumptions, I currently have a spine. I also have two balls; both are pink and one of them hangs slightly lower than the other. I never wrote about that before because I didn't believe it was a matter of public interest. In any case, I fail to see what this has to do with issue of Mr. Junker's health, which IS a matter of public interest. You insinuate that I'm a coward, but actually I have no objection to asking "the entire school board" that question publicly, in an open forum. You forget that I've already tried to ask the same question publicly (on the letters pages of our two local newspapers.)

The problem is not that I won't ask this question publicly; the problem is that the papers won't allow me to. Responses (or lack of same) to my latest attempts to get answers will determine where and to whom I ask the question next time. What I find disturbing is that no one (publicly or privately) will vouch for Mr. Junker's mental capabilities so far. You seem to have some familiarity with the situation, but I notice that you did not express an opinion on the matter; how would you rate Mr. Junker's mental state these days, on a scale of one to ten? But please include your real name with your answer; that "hiding behind the computer" crack is not appropriate if you keep signing yourself "anonymous."

8:38 PM

Anonymous said...
Bill, Why not ask Choc or one of his family for the status of his health? Their phone numbers are readily available! Why bother with associates? You would just receive an unqualified opinion. You know about opinions. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. In your wifes case, she has two!

12:56 PM

Prendergast said...
I suspect that the Junker family already knows that I have been asking this question for some time. The reason that I don't ask them directly--well, it's like this. Suppose, hypothetically, that there is something wrong with Choc's mental health and his family knows that. This would mean that they were the sort of people who were willing to allow a blood relative to occupy an important local elective office, despite the fact that they knew he wasn't up to it. The sort of people who would permit that are not likely to give me a candid answer, right? Suppose, on the other hand, that Choc's mental health is just fine--then I'm bothering them about nothing, right? And again, you forget that I did try to ask this question publicly, in the pages of the local newspapers. The Junkers would have read and been free to address the question. But the papers wouldn't run it! And I've been running the question publicly in this blog for more than month. I can't see how I'm going to get to the truth of the matter by asking them the question over the phone or getting an answer privately and off the record. If Junker's a public official, an elected official, it's a public matter.

And there is more than one story here: his colleagues' refusal to vouch for his health. That's a separate story--if they have their doubts, is it fair to Choc to let him continue to serve on the board? Is it fair to the voters, to keep them in the dark about this issue? And the local papers' refusal to run my question publicly is another story--don't the papers have a duty to at least address the issue, if they have reason to believe it may be true? Do the Junkers have that much control over two local newspapers? If so, that's news.

And there's yet another story. You are writing in to call me a coward and an asshole, etc. etc. (but you won't tell us who you are.) And you seem to be insinuating that if I ask my question of the Junkers, "something bad" will happen to me--could you spell out for the readers exactly what you mean by this? Are you saying that Junkers are going to sue me, or beat me up or have me beaten up, if I ask them this question in person? Is that why you're urging me to ask them in person, because you'd just love to see what the Junker family does to me? That would be a good story, if that is in fact what you are insinuating--can you tell me your basis for believing that they will do that to me? I mean, do they have a history of doing things like that? Anyway, please feel free to refer the Junkers to this blog, if you want to let them know that this question is now being asked publicly.
And please, please, sign your real name next time. You obviously have valuable insights into this situation and into the dynamics of power in our small town; I value your opinion and would love to know who you really are.

But it is not true, as you say, that everyone has an opinion--so far, the public officials that I have written to about Mr. Junker refuse to express any opinion on his mental capabilities. Neither did you, by the way.

2:44 PM


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