BY D. REED ECKHARDT
Anyone who wonders why Truth to Power exists need only look at what has happened in Cheyenne’s media in the past several days.
On Saturday, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle took it upon itself to slap this city’s firefighters in the face. Why? Because they dare to hold Cheyenne’s officials to the contract they signed with those same firefighters. The WTE essentially called the firefighters babies for filing a grievance over work schedules and duties.
Is City Hall required to follow the negotiated and signed contract between itself and a legitimate union? Of course it is. But the WTE, which is clearly in the pocket of the
city’s controlling forces, including Mayor Marian Orr, chooses to ignore that the city must follow the law. Instead, it belittles firefighters’ concerns as simply the “shuffling a few duties” and essentially tells them to sit down and shut up.
|Saturday's "Thumb" from the WTE.|
Making matters worse is that the WTE didn’t even bother to talk to the firefighters or mention their position. Rather, it took the word of Orr that this is much ado about nothing.
But wait. Isn’t this the same mayor who has been beating up the city’s firefighters ever since they opposed her in the 2016 election? And isn’t this the same mayor who went to the Legislature earlier this year and tried to decertify the firefighters’ union? Yes, and yes.
And the WTE editorial board asks Orr to provide clarity on her dispute with firefighters? Really? Apparently the paper has so lost its way that it chooses propaganda over digging to get to the real truth.
Meanwhile, Truth to Power this week published a dynamite column by former City Council member Richard Johnson which shows – in stark detail – how Orr and her sycophants are making city firefighters’ lives unbearable. Johnson spoke to more than 30 sources to confirm his facts, and his article was reviewed by more than a dozen people who are close to the issue.
On this blog, Johnson tells of a naked effort by city officials to go after the firefighters. (https://bulldogwithteeth.blogspot.com/2019/07/city-hall-is-abusing-cheyennes.html) And anyone who doesn’t think this is about payback for firefighters’ support of candidate Amy Surdam in 2016 election is fooling themselves. This mayor has shown a shocking level of arrogance. That she and her officials would turn that on the firefighters union is no surprise.
Please note that this column is not intended to be an outright endorsement of the firefighters or their union. Their contract is problematic for the city in a number of ways, including a growing impact on the city budget. But that is not solved by abusing them and destroying their morale.
No, this is about this city’s only printed editorial voice failing to do its job of investigating the underlying problems with the firefighters rather than accepting Orr’s word as gospel. Why not call the firefighters before slapping them down? Because you are not interested in what they have to say. Orr speaks, you believe. And the people of Cheyenne are blinded to the truth by their newspaper.
But no more. Truth to Power is here – and we will continue to be here. It is time someone step up and speak out to this city’s overbearing leadership since that is not happening anywhere else.
Right now, it is Richard Johnson’s turn to speak Truth to Power. Recently our Dani Olsen did the same, pointing out corruption in the state's Republican leadership. And Rod Miller has shown how far this state's right-wingers have strayed from what true conservatism is all about.
Others will follow here. If we don’t do it, no one else will.
D. Reed Eckhardt is the former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.