Speaking Personally

Avoiding another circus
Two months have passed since I published an editorial that repeatedly used the word "circus" to describe circumstances at Mountain View City Hall. I wrote those words, but did not hear any feedback on them until last week. And the feedback was delivered in a form that I believe is so unacceptable that I view it as my duty to inform my readers.
Imagine this: You are a young reporter making a routine appointment at city hall to interview the mayor about the details of a recent city council action. When you show up, instead of meeting you for the interview, the mayor makes sure he has witnesses, then he begins belligerently barking references to the aforementioned editorial through a glass partition — that it's too much of a circus at city hall, that he is too busy hiring a trapeze artist to talk to you, and that he will no longer give interviews to your newspaper.
I don't have to imagine any of this. This shocking incident is what really happened this week to a reporter employed by this newspaper.
Julie Olsen showed up at Mountain View City Hall to do her usual work and was taunted by a grown man spouting references to words I wrote.
This is Donnie Pruett. He's the mayor of Mountain View. He's a man who didn't say a single word to me about my unflattering editorial. Instead, Pruett waited until there was a young, inexperienced reporter to ambush before venting his temper.
It's the definition of unprofessional. But I don't have to tell you that.
Forget Pruett's behavior with my young, female reporter. Forget his tirade in a public building you technically own. Let's look at the bigger picture.
What do you think of an elected official who refuses to grant interviews to the local paper? I suppose that's his choice.
But what do you think of a city government that allows three weeks to go by before posting video of city council meetings for public review? Folks, that's not supposed to be a choice. There's a legal time frame that's supposed to be followed. Even if there wasn't, it's simply an issue of doing the right thing for the people you serve.
Election day is coming our way like a freight train. After April 5, Mountain View will have a new mayor elect, and it won't be Donnie Pruett. He isn't running.
Voters, what you think about the candidates in the upcoming April election matters. What you know about their character matters. It matters greatly.
Decisions made by city-level politicians affect your life every day. More importantly, they form the future of your town. More than any other ballot you will cast, your vote counts in local elections. In June 2020, Donnie Pruett won the election by seventeen (17) votes.
It's not my place to tell you how to vote, but it is my job to help you make an informed decision.
I plan to interview each and every candidate running this spring in Mountain View, Willow Springs and West Plains. If you have questions for these people, send them to me.
Let the despotic actions of Mountain View's mayor be a cautionary tale about the impact small-town elections can have.
Voters, choose wisely. By doing so, perhaps we can avoid another circus.
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Howell County News

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