By Fred Schmidt, First Ward Columbia City Councilman
COLUMBIA, 7/3/12 (Op Ed) -- Where's Fred? At home, of course....
Last Thursday, Mike Martin headlined his Beat Byte email attempting to create a rumor that I do not live in the ward. Sadly, he duped ONE ward resident into corresponding with him, and she was badly misquoted. As is customary, I was not going to dignify nonsense from a nonsensical person with a response, but people have been asking, and it is a serious legal charge, so I respond.
I live on Ash. I do not live on Anderson. Naturally, if you look for someone where they do not live, you will not find them. You will find them where they DO live. Carol Rogers, the sole source whom he quotes, lives on Anderson. She is not my neighbor.
I live on Ash.
Monday, a KOMU reporter, Chloe Alexander, showed up at my house on Ash (my legal residence and my home in fact) to interview neighbors. EVERYONE she found reported that yes, we see Fred here all the time - that's his house right there. Some of them gave her clear details showing familiarity with me. Some spoke on camera; some demurred but gave quotes.
However, the story didn't run...because there is no story!
If you read Martin's story closely, he quotes only ONE person, Carol Rogers. To repeat, Ms. Rogers is NOT my neighbor - she does not live on Ash. He cleverly strings a sentence together to make a quote from Ms. Rogers sound as if my neighbors (on Ash) don't see me. Of course, my neighbors see me all the time. Either neither of them spoke to my neighbors (I live on Ash), or they are fabricating.
To give Ms. Rogers the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Martin frequently strings together fragments of quotes with sentence completions, to make it appear people said things they did not say.
Contrary to Mr. Martin's assertion, Ms. Rogers never contacted me. Mr. Martin made no effort to contact me. Ms. Rogers apparently DID come around Ash - yesterday, one neighbor described his encounter with her. She did not identify herself, and acted suspiciously.
So he told me he was vague with her, since she seemed to be "up to something."
But he told her I live here, and he sees me from time to time. To repeat, the KOMU reporter spoke to everyone who was out, and they ALL said that I live here and they see me regularly.
There is no story. People should stop slinging mud at the wall to see what sticks. Personal attacks and just plain rumor-mongering distract the public's focus from the real issues facing Columbia.
Mr. Martin is not a journalist, he's a rumor-mongerer - and bad at it.
I wasn't going to dignify Mr. Martin with a response, but it's become apparent that some people are not aware of these facts. Others of you have pointed out the elementary errors in the last Beat Byte's other stories; I limit my comments to the story I know best, my own.
Ed. Note: We stand by the story -- which never asserted that Mr. Schmidt had moved, but left the question open -- and the right of Mr. Schmidt's constituents to publicly ask questions about his residence, a key element of the Columbia City Charter.
Multiple times, this writer personally observed each of the residences neighbors believed could have been involved, and the questions remained. The materials we received -- which involved several neighbors, not just Mrs. Rogers -- came in over a few weeks, and the details did not change. The information came to us unsolicited, so the charge that we "duped" anyone or they were working on our behalf is false.
Finally, it's good to be promoted to "rumor-mongerer." Councilman Schmidt earlier compared this writer to Adolf Hitler.
More importantly, the culture of secrecy and non-transparency at City Hall has relegated much information from there to the level of "rumor," so it's hard to be apologetic for reporting it.