Crestwood mayor creates ‘disturbing synonym for dissent: negativity’

To the editor:

To respond more respectfully to criticism and dissent, Crestwood Mayor Gregg Roby would do well to follow the example of his predecessor, former Mayor Jeff Schlink.

At the Aug. 26 Board of Aldermen meeting, Mayor Roby in-formed former Alderman Jerry Miguel that the subject of the city administrator’s poor performance, which has drawn public criticism, “… has been a sore point in this community for a number of months and I, too, am tired of it. And I, too, am tired of the accusations that are made by some individuals who do not have all the information …”

It would appear that Mayor Roby has conveniently suffered a case of amnesia when he complains about being tired of criticism, for it was only a few months ago that candidate Roby appeared multiple times before the Board of Aldermen complaining about former Mayor Schlink’s lack of leadership, going so far as to exercise his right to assemble and organize a protest in front of City Hall. He and his supporters were relentless in their criticism of those elected officials with whom they disagreed.

With the dignity demanded of the office, former Mayor Schlink allowed his critics the freedom to express themselves, never once verbally expressing his frustration or telling people he was tired of their complaints. He knew that as mayor, free speech meant that he would hear from his supporters and his critics alike.

In attempting to silence critics of his administration, Mayor Roby has created a disturbing synonym for dissent: negativity. It is alarming enough that transparency is beginning to take a back seat under Mayor Roby’s administration, but this latest approach to handling criticism deserves special attention.

In praising the city administrator’s record, Mayor Roby cited his military career. Funny, in his military service to the country, I do not think the city administrator was defending the right of elected officials to silence their critics; that footnote is nowhere to be found in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

No, Mr. Mark Sime was defending the right of free speech, and if Mayor Roby has any interest in establishing credibility as a mayor, he must abandon the practice of intimidating critics by labeling their opposition “negativity” and adopt a more educated attitude by accepting dissenting opinion as a natural component of the democratic process.