The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Our Patience Has Run Out

Two weeks ago, on June 4, 2008 The Western Star ran a letter under Readers Opinions with the title "Illegal activities on Owen Avenue." The letter was signed "Bessemer Neighborhood Association."

The letter, which I will not reproduce here in its entirety, began with "The Bessemer Neighborhood Association would like to inform you of the activity of the tenants of *** Owen Avenue, Bessemer."

It continued, making accusations of illegal drug activity and sales, truancy, vandalism, and animal cruelty. The letter named 4 people, and described two vehicles and gave their tag numbers and addresses where the people live.

From the paper, "People believed to be involved in illegal drug sales and theft: 'person 1', 'person 2', 'person 3' and 'person 4'.
Tag numbers of cars involved: 'AL tag # 1' and 'AL tag # 2'. "


The letter also said copies were being sent to community leaders, and ended with "We strongly encourage you to take action."

Where do I begin. First and foremost, the Bessemer Neighborhood Association did not write, authorize, or suggest that this letter be written. Furthermore, the officers of the association are not aware of the activities mentioned in the letter.

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association's mission is to improve the quality of life in Bessemer, but trying to do this with slanderous accusations is not in our methods list and we feel that the printing of this letter will be counterproductive to our efforts.

We were promised an apology yet the attempt that was printed in yesterday's paper falls short. Here is the apology as it appeared in the June 18, 2008 Western Star:

Apology

The Western Star did not follow the company policy on running letters to the editor when a letter ran in the June 4, 2008 edition from the The Bessemer Neighborhood Association. The newspaper apologizes to those mentioned in the letter for any inconvenience or problems that the letter may have caused them.


Dale Jones, the editor, knows that the Bessemer Neighborhood Association did not send the letter. He knows that we feel a letter of this type will be counterproductive and will undercut our efforts to improve things in Bessemer. Yet his "apology" states that the letter was from our association. The apology says that "he" did not follow company policy when running "our" letter, indicating that the problems with the letter were ours. They were not, because the letter was not ours.

Those are the facts. This is the opinion. Dale Jones should not be running a newspaper. Already, we have documented plagarism by Jones, and now a breach of ethics and professionalism. Any newspaper editor who would:

  • print a letter that defames individuals with no basis
  • would print such a letter without verifying its authenticity
  • would print a letter from an organization without an individual letter writer's name
  • would print such a letter without even getting the name of the person who sent it (so he claims)
  • would print a letter that endangers individuals,

...should not be editing a newspaper. He should be relieved of his duties.

This newspaper is owned by Bob Tribble of Trib Publications, PO Box 648, Manchester GA, 31816. 706-846-4336.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the individuals who were mentioned by name in the letter printed by the Western Star be able to sue the newspaper for libel?
Since when did it become acceptable to smear someone's name and make accusations accusing others of crimes that have not been litagated?

Steven Smith said...

I am a citizen of Bessemer, and a long time reader of the western star. Dale Jones is probably the best editor that paper has ever had, especially considering that man who used to run the paper.
If I were Mr. Jones, I think I'd sue you for the slander you have put on this blog on several occassions. There is no doubt that he knows what he is doing.
As for that letter, I thought it was good. I am familiar with that house that was mentioned and there is some bad stuff going on there.
I certainly would not have run an apology, but that's just me.
Compared to what DeLong used to write in this paper about our elected officials, this doesn't even scratch the surface.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you don't want to know the truth about elected officials in Bessemer.
Whatever DeLong writes about the officials of this city can be verified.
You might not like what you read but that doesn't keep it from being the truth. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Joe Openshaw said...

Let's not start another editor idol contest between the Star and Tribune. That gets nowhere.

I did not slander when I accused Jones of plagarism. I documented it.

But there are standards to which an editor should strive to achieve. As for suing the newspaper, certainly the elderly grandmother that was accused has a case. But does she have the resources?

Anonymous said...

As a former elected official in Bessemer, and one with a background in law, let me say that this entire situation smells like a set up.

Is anyone surprised that Joe Openshaw, Bessemer's lone homosexual/gay rights activist and a weekly contributor to The Western Tribune, run by former editor Dan DeLong who everyone in this town knows has a criminal record a mile long and who himself was fired from The Western Star, has posted this information about Jones?

If you look over the history of this blog, this is not the first time the Openshaw has attempted to accuse Jones of unethical standards, yet he writes in a publication run by the most unethical person in Bessemer.

I read the apology and, legally speaking, Jones covered all his bases with what he published in the paper.

I know Dale Jones to be an honest, ethical, Christian man. He has written some editorials of a very conservative nature and has obviously ruffled some "feathers" (no punn intended).

Jones single handedly saved the Star from going under after it was almost destroyed by DeLong, who came to Bessemer while still dealing with his felony conviction from California (I encourage you to look at the records. They are open to the public)

Anybody who is anybody in this town, supports Jones 100%.

I assure you, that is not the case with Openshaw or DeLong.

Like I said, this smells like a set up.

Joe Openshaw said...

"Bessemer's lone homosexual/gay rights activist" OMG...an activist!!! Run!!! Actually I am a "human rights" activist, believing that everyone deserves the same rights and responsibilities, regardless of race, religions, sexual orientation or gender identity. Others do not not believe in equality.

As for the claim that Jones is supported 100%, that is as laughable as the assertion by Jones that 100% of Iraq war veterans would go back to Iraq in a minute. I get emails from prominent Bessemer officials and citizens who do not support Jones, and some who do not support DeLong, and some who distrust all the media. What they like about me is my openness and honesty and frankness when dealing with local, state and national issues.

Joe said...

"Bessemer's lone homosexual/gay rights activist" Oh yeah, I forgot. I can think of a dozen or more gays here in Bessemer that are working hard to restore our city, and who support the same issues I support. And we have a huge number of straight allies, including elected officials.

As for supporting Jones 100% and not me. I support progressive views, Jones supports conservative views. In presidential politics, that is Obama v. McCain. Let's see what the Bessemer precinct totals show us in November. I will wager that Obama receives more votes than McCain in Bessemer.

Anonymous said...

Joe, Joe, Joe....shouldn't you just give it a rest?

Everyone in this community knows what a wonderful person Dale Jones is. He does a WONDERFUL job running the newspaper with the limited staff and resources he has available.

Honestly, I wouldn't doubt if you or DeLong sent the letter in.

Joe, are you jealous? Why don't you just start your own newspaper. If it relates to the same topics and pretty little flowers as your blog...I doubt you get the first subscription.

Of all the jealousy, why don't you aim straight for the source...Trib Publications...instead of Mr. Jones? Maybe you could get more satifaction. Your silly little blogs won't bring Mr. Jones down. You've failed one too many times.

You should get your panties out of a wad and let Mr. Jones continue to do the great job he does.

Joe Openshaw said...

Listen. My panties are not in a wad. I did not claim Dale said or did anything to me. I am speaking for the Bessemer Neighbohood Association, whose reputation was damaged by the letter.

I have said before, I have nothing against Dale having conservative views or publishing them in his newspaper. But here are the three things (so far) that I will always respond to:
1. Supporting views with statements that just aren't true. That was the case long ago, when the accusation was made that 100% of Iraq vets would go back in a minute, or whatever. when I have a nephew who has been there twice and would not go back. When there is a whole organization of vets who would not go back.
2. Plagiarism. When I saw that, and read the exact same words, paragraphs in fact, that I had read elsewhere, I brought it up. I learned about plagiarism in high school, did you not? Do you not think an editor should avoid it? Do you not know that journalists have been fired from the New York Times and other big papers for such?
3. Unethical journalism. Publishing the letter represents it. Slander, not authenticating the source. Any journalist, including Mitch Tribble at Trib publications who I spoke with, will agree that the letter should not have been printed and could leave one liable.

If you think that doing those three things are OK, and should be overlooked, then you have just revealed something about yourself that you should be ashamed of. No wonder you hide behind the cloak of anonymous.

My "silly little blog", Dale...oops, anonymous, is not meant to bring Jones down. It is meant to educate the public on progressive issues and provide entertainment. It also lets the general public outside of our city know that there are progressive people here, and to encourage them to move on in. It achieves all of its purposes.

Anonymous said...

Haha...dear, Joe. You at least agree you wear panties. How funny!!

And I am a 100% supporter of Dale Jones and see no wrong that he has committed.

1. If it's an OPINION article, Joe tell me how you can argue against it?

2. In that editorial, which I read...I never recall Dale stating those claims were HIS. He simply used them to go along with his OPINION column.

3. Unethical? How can someone being concerned with the well-being of their community be unethical. I think the public deserves the right to know what's going on in the community especially if there are such as these.

Talking unethical...how is it ethical to bash Mr. Jones on a stupid, senseless blog that leaves his supporters to defend him? Why not talk to Mr. Jones face to face.

Oh wait...I stand by my accusation (which, Joe you might say is unethical...but then again what do you know about ethics considering outlandish things you support)...that you are simply jealous of Mr. Jones. Why else would you be such a loyal follower of Dan DeLong a known CRIMINAL?!?! How can you believe ANYTHING he has ever put in his so-called publication???

I think it's time you move on and smell your pretty little flowers. Dale is at least MAN enough to tell it like it is!!!

Sharon said...

Joe Openshaw is a coward. He publishes the mailing address of Trib Publications in order to get his gay friends to write and attempt to have Dale Jones fired.

People in Bessemer know Dale and his family are highly regarded and rightfully so. He continues to do much for this community.

I know of nothing the the BNA has done other than have a few meetings to 'complain' about issues.

The Western Star has been our community news for 25 years now. Dale's style is very similar to Hal Hodgens who started the paper. We have a paper that is completely unbiased when reporting the news and does not editorialize articles as they did during the DeLong days.

Joe, you need to leave this alone. You are definitely in the minority.

Joe said...

Anonymous:
1.I can argue against it when opinions are based on inaccuracies.

2. My point exactly. He just made up facts or misquoted others..do some research.

3.So just because someone is concerned they can't be unethical? That is about as naive as you can get. No wonder you all elected Bush president.
And I am not jealous of Dale. but you seem to be a little envious of my "pretty little flowers" that you keep referring to.

Sharon: Explain why it is cowardly to express one's opinions. I published the address so that those who believe ethical standards could contact them. You "Jones supporters" can't have it both ways, advising me to contact the Trib instead of Dale, then criticising me for doing just that.

Oh but that is the Republican way, I forgot. Talking out of both sides of your mouth.

Again the Republican way...trying to convince the minority to give up because they are the minority. We would not have achieved civil rights legislation if that advice had been followed.

To all: It just floors me that people are trying to make this about me, when the ethics of a newspaper publisher are what is in question. Talk about trying to shift the focus..good strategy, but easy to see through.

Time to wrap this one up. No more comments.