Saturday, January 03, 2009


We all wear different hats

Recently it was called to my attention there is a letter that a City Council candidate has written to which he did not wish to sign his own name. In his words, "...since I'm a ca(n)didate I believe it is wrong for me to have my name on it."

The candidate, Tom Martz, has a record of being very outspoken and active regarding city issues in Springfield and has, on more than one occasion, spoken before the City Council in City Council chambers. I applaud him for taking such an interest and being so active in local politics, just as I applaud any resident of Springfield who takes an active role in their own governance and in issues that impact their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

In fact, Mr. Martz became the acting Chief Petitioner on behalf of the petitioners requesting a State audit of the City of Springfield. Councilman Doug Burlison had been the Chief Petitioner but, after his election to the City Council in April 2007, it was my understanding that Mr. Burlison felt continuing to be the Chief Petitioner would be a conflict of interest or, could be perceived as such.

Because Mr. Martz is active in City government politics and is a candidate for City Council he's definitely on my radar screen, as are all City Council candidates and, quite often, those who speak at any given City Council meeting. I've sat with a number of them, interviewed a number of them by phone and have steady contact with more than one involved citizen. As a journalist, reporting on city matters, I view it as a part of my job to do so.

But, back to the topic at hand, through more than one venue, I received a copy of an email Mr. Martz sent to a google group he established for discussion among members of the Missouri Liberty Coalition. In that email, Mr. Martz wrote:

"I have a letter which I have transposed which I would like to see in the CFP (Community Free Press) and the S~N~L (Springfield News-Leader) only not with my name attached to it. Anyone who might be interested in submitting this letter send me a private e~mail and I'll send you a private copy for your review. Should after reading it you chose not to use it just let me know , no hard feelings either way. I believe what I had to say in this letter is something that the voters should know before voting, since I'm a cadidate I believe it is wrong for me to have my name on it. I don't want someone trying to promote it as an attack piece when all I have done is point out the facts.

A Springfield resident would be much appreciated for this instead of someone who does not lkive here"

It is up to the reader to decide whether it is ethical for Mr. Martz to write a letter he is unwilling to attach his signature to and appeal for a volunteer to affix their name in his stead. However, such a letter, if it is known to a newspaper would not, likely, be considered for publication.

Mr. Martz, later, indicated someone had agreed to affix their name to the letter for submission and the person who would submit it is not a member of the Missouri Liberty Coalition but, that was not before my husband, a member of that group, volunteered, unbeknownst to me, to affix his name to the letter. He tells me he had not, and has not ever, seen the letter Mr. Martz referred to.

For the record, I have not seen the letter Martz wrote about.

The private discussions on this topic that have naturally transpired between my husband and myself are not something in which I feel the public has a right to be included. However, the role my husband played must be addressed.

In an email response to Mr. Martz through the Missouri Liberty Coalition google group, Mr. Melton offered to send the letter to the publisher of the Community Free Press. He then wrote:

"I can have Jackie suggest that someone at the paper take a long look at it and put it in the CFP but they don't all ways put every thing in print. Some stuff goes on the web site as well."

I did not know that Mr. Melton was writing such an email until after he had done so and I am appalled that my husband involved himself in such a way and made a suggestion that I would be involved in the process of such a letter being either submitted or promote its publication in the Community Free Press. When it was called to my attention, naturally, I was very upset at the implication that I would play a role in its publication.

The fact of the matter is, I am a freelance contributor for the Community Free Press. It has been a priviledge I have enjoyed for two years now and I, certainly, submit more today than I did when I began 2 years ago, with my first "test" article in January of 2007, thank heavens, I think I have grown as a writer since then!

Letters to the editor at the Community Free Press can be submitted to the Community Free Press through email, through fax or via snail mail. Working as a freelance contributor I am not privy to those letters prior to their publication. I play no role in the paper's choice of which letters to include or not to include in any edition of the paper. That is not to say that I have not encouraged many people who have a myriad of thoughts and opinions on a myriad of topics to submit letters to the editor. Most recently in this entry, when I encouraged readers to submit letters to the editor wishing outgoing Managing Editor Mert Seaton well and letting him know, through the paper, he would be missed.

Mr. Melton, I believe, is proud of his wife and has on occasion implied I have greater powers of persuasion at the CFP than I actually have. I think it's a man thing. ;)

At any rate, my husband is an adult and he fancies himself a bit of a political activist however, his key interest is the FairTax issue. He's been promoting it around the area for years. It's as much his right to have an opinion as anyone. While I like his opinion of the FairTax, we disagree on many issues and get in many heated discussions about politics, social issues, etc., in our own home but, just as I make every effort in my reporting at CFP not to involve my own opinions in my reporting there, I do not involve Mr. Melton's opinions in my writing for the Community Free Press either.

I learned a lot from outgoing Managing Editor Mert Seaton and I owe him a lot. One of the first lessons he taught me when reporting for CFP is that, and I paraphrase, people don't care what you think. That is a steady refrain I keep in my mind as I go about my work for the paper. You see, I want the facts as much as anyone. I ask a lot of questions and try to keep my mouth shut as much as possible. Some people have more mouth than ears, I'd like to think I have more ears than mouth when it comes to reporting at the Community Free Press. Certainly, I have the blog here, unrelated to the paper, in which I can give my weighed opinion on things but, as my disclaimer says, "Jackie Melton writes a regular column for the Community Free Press. Her opinions are not the opinions of the Community Free Press and this blog is in no way associated with the Community Free Press."

Just as any other reporter, or freelance contributor, I wear many hats. I'm a Christian, a wife, a freelance journalist, an AWANA Spark's Club director, a sister, a step-mom, a blogger, and even a friend to a few people. Sometimes those roles bump into each other in inconvenient ways and it takes due diligence to keep them separate but, giving myself the credit I feel I am due and deserve, I think I do a very fine job of keeping them separate and will continue to try to excel no matter which hat I happen to be wearing the next time you see me.


tom said...

"In an email response to Mr. Martz through the Missouri Liberty Coalition google group, Mr. Melton offered to send the letter to the publisher of the Community Free Press. He then wrote: snip

The statement above is factually incorrect as I signed into the MOLiCO google group yesterday as we were exchanging e-mails and there are only three now currently four messages in that thread.

normally I send these messages from my own personal e-mail instead of signing into the group to do so, For my last message yesterday I made an exception as it was demanded of me to post MS Melton's response to a group that the message never showed up on that I can find

myself twice, Charity, and Jim. As far as I can tell your husband replied to me in a private e-mail discussion after my initial first response which is the way many of these messages are handled unless it is a message for the group. As for any other groups the message went out to I know of two.

Just making sure the facts are stated correctly as what transpired yesterday was done in private e-mails that I'm aware of since I don't control Mr Meltons outgoing e-mail messages. I would like to confer back to my e-mail from yesterday but they are all removed as I do on a nightly basis, so in keeping with the spirit of this the messages in the google group are stored and Mr Melton's message that is referred to in this post is NO WHERE to be found.

I guess my last statement about mountains from molehills was correct.

Jason said...

"received a copy of an email Mr. Martz sent to a google group he established for discussion among members of the Missouri Liberty Coalition"

Are you a member of that Google group for Missouri Liberty Coalition members or did someone from that group show it to you?

tom said...

I would bet she is going to say NO, however in reviewing the membership roles it does list hers as being a member. This could have occurred at a point where e-mail addresses were added to get the group up and going.
In Jackie's defense she is probably unaware that her e-mail is listed in the membership roles. Everyone who signed in to a sign in sheet has had there e-mails attributed to the group until such time as they asked to be removed.

I have had someone send me a copy of Mr. Melton's actual e-mail and it was sent to my personal box and three groups, why it did not show up on the MOLiCO group is a google issue because it did show up on the yahoo groups.

Jackie Melton said...

For further clarification:

I am not a member of the Missouri Liberty Coalition.

As I wrote in my original entry I was made aware of the issue through more than one venue.

Someone, without my knowledge or consent, at some point, signed me up to receive emails from the Missouri Liberty Coalition. But, not thinking it would ever become a big issue, I never requested to be removed from that email list.

The Missouri Liberty Coalition google group is one of the venues through which I received both of those emails mentioned in the original blog entry, however, as I was working, and not monitoring my emails yesterday, it was not until after they were called to my attention through another means that I was made aware of their posting.

I did receive those emails through the Missouri Liberty Coalition group in my email box. Whether they are at the google group Web site or not, I do not know, as I do not have the address to that group, having never, personally, joined that group.

Jason said...

Then if you are not a member it's going to be harder for someone to build a case of your bias in this situation. The scenario of your husband just being a little over-enthusiastic in regards to the situation is more plausible.

Had you been an actual member, then it could be easier to say you were a puppet for MoLiCo or worse and that your husband just slipped up and released what has been happening behind the scenes.

As for what Tom has done, personally I feel it's not something that someone who wants to be on City Council and be trusted would be doing. Sign your own name to it. If someone else in the group agrees then let them write their own letter in their own words.

How could we trust that Tom is always working in the sunshine if he's doing something like this before he's elected?

tom said...

Since Jackie and many already know about it I seriously doubt you can proclaim I have done anything in the dark.
My request was made in an open forum on an open forum website which anyone can read the messages from. If that is trying to be secretive about anything then I'm never going to be enrolled in the James Bond school of spies.
As for being trusted I've done everything in the open and have not went behind any ones back in any regard. The letter that I have asked to be sent has NOT shown up in any publication.
At least what I do I do so people can be informed of what it is I have asked.

Busplunge said...

"I'm a Christian, a wife, a freelance journalist, an AWANA Spark's Club director, a sister, a step-mom, a blogger, and even a friend to a few people."

And those are also the hats that make you unique and special!

All of us wear hats, be they stocking caps, ball caps, sombreros, stetsons or hard hats.

How do we know what hats to wear? Our upbringing and history.

Some like to hang around with people who wear the same kind of hats. They find a hat that fits and want everyone else to wear that hat also.

Others like to stretch themselves and try out different hats.

Personally, I like you best when you wear the hat that says, "Put it on my tab!"

Anonymous said...

Your journalist hat is askew.

"between my husband and myself" incorrect. Use the objective case for the personal pronoun, not the reflexive. ..."between my husband and me" is correct.'s privilege' not priviledge.