Goofy actions shed a bad light on Myers, J-Mun

November 04, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

Did I hear the president right, that widespread, deadly explosions in Iraq are a good thing, because they prove the United States is making progress with its rebuilding program?

Wow. Who knew that suicide attacks were a leading economic indicator? Bush hasn't quite sunken to Clinton territory yet, but the disconnect with reality is either disturbing or admirable, depending on whether you're a foreign policy grunt or Timothy Leary.

I don't know what there is about public office that compels people to say goofy things, but it is the case at all levels.

Take the two most recent public apologies issued by our own elected officials, Del. LeRoy Myers and County Commissioner John Munson.


First, word was going around that Myers called the Washington County schools superintendent a "Nazi." Myers quickly apologized and in his own defense said that he hadn't called the superintendent a Nazi, he merely had compared an action she took to being like something Hitler would have done.

Um. OK. And that is better - how? It's like saying "No, no, no. I didn't call him a 'Hun,' I just said it sounds like something Attila would do."

Then along came the unpleasantness with J-Mun this week, when an employee of a cell phone store charged him with assault, alleging he shoved her after he became dissatisfied with corporate policy.

Munson quickly said that indeed he had not shoved her, he had only "gone off the deep end" and threw his cell phone and charger into the wall.

Technically, yes, that would be better than shoving a woman. But how was he able to turn off that little voice inside his head that must have been saying, "I'm an elected official and have the public trust of 130,000 people; ergo, hurling a small appliance into a wall during a fit of rage may have its negative aspects?"

According to press accounts, the disturbance began when Munson entered the U.S. Cellular outlet complaining of a loose wire in his cell phone charger (I thought these phones were supposed to be "wireless").

I don't know that there was a loose wire as much as there was a loose screw - and I'm not sure it was in the cell phone. And yes, yes, I've gotten all your e-mails about how, being a former postmaster, Munson "went postal." Thank you very much for your input, now never contact me again.

But when you, as a public figure, do something that is going to force you to issue a comment the next day that begins with the words "I never touched her ..." perhaps there were some other grievance options you missed. What cell phone plan is he on anyway, "Unlimited Brawling?"

Memo to J-Mun: Next time, feel free to use the suggestion box.

We don't know for certain what Munson's fellow commissioners think, but we suspect that next time they're in a work session and Munson pulls out his cell phone, all four of them are going to hit the floor.

At least a cell phone is relatively small, and, once airborne, can do limited damage; but I'm guessing the girls at Sears are praying that Munson never has a problem with his toaster oven.

During a meeting on the Day After, J-Mun did apologize to his fellow commissioners for "what happened or didn't happen."

"I'm sorry. I hope you will forgive me. I have to leave now to see an attorney."

Heavens. We know how much these commissioners love to go to court, but this is ridiculous. For their part, the other four greeted Munson's apology with icy silence, which probably says a lot about how he is viewed by his peers.

Heck, even Kobe Bryant got a few rudimentary "good luck, hang in there" calls from his sports colleagues. The only two words the other four wanted to hear probably were "I" and "resign."

It will be interesting to see if J-Mun runs for re-election in a couple of years. It's one thing to call for the abolition of the County Commuter, but how do you work around this little item on your rsum? What do you put on your brochures? "Against higher taxes; for limits on government spending; pound for pound, less angry than Mike Tyson."

Could be tough. For any politician, the lesson is that if you're going to be throwing cell phones, your defense has to be a little more substantive than "I missed."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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