Letter writer’s attack on Leonard was not justified

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 12, 2004

Editor, the News-Herald:

Considering its source, the diatribe against Roger Leonard which you printed in your Dec. 9 edition deserves very little in way of a response. However, since some of your readers may not know the writer of the letter, where he lives and pays taxes, or how much of his bread is buttered by the &uot;City&uot; that he praises, it might be in order for you to tell your readers such details.

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Leonard, but I have read his writings in your paper. As a resident of what is now the city of Suffolk since 1963 and a payer of substantial Suffolk real estate taxes (more than $25,000 this year alone), I know that Mr. Leonard is almost always 100 percent right in his published statements. Indeed, anyone who could say that the &uot;City is not in the Hotel Business&uot; needs only to read the city’s propaganda about public/private development. Somebody is wrong on that one, and it’s not Mr. Leonard.

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It’s also interesting that your writer takes Mr. Leonard to task for questioning the city’s intended foray into the parking garage business. Could you tell us any more about the city’s plans? From whom is the city planning to buy the parking garage land, or maybe engage to build the garage? In any event, I wonder if your letter writer could find anything in the city charter that empowers the city to undertake a &uot;Business Venture&uot; such as a parking garage.

Roger Leonard is a Suffolk resident and taxpayer, and he has a right to be heard. He is taking the time and making the effort to bring serious flaws in city policies before the citizens, and a personal attack such as you published yesterday is totally unwarranted. For my money, Mr. Leonard is &uot;putting his money where his mouth is&uot; every time he stands up for the other residents and taxpayers of Suffolk, and we need more like him.

As a final note, I was saddened to see the unusual step your newspaper took in creating a highlight box in the middle of the writer’s anti-Leonard letter to repeat in bold face a particular accusation against Mr. Leonard. I haven’t seen that done before, and I consider it to be in very poor taste. Was that box intended to show the newspaper’s endorsement of that accusation?

C. L. Willis, P. E.