Duman: Leonard’s criticism unfounded

Published 5:38 pm Saturday, March 5, 2016

By Mike Duman

State and national politics aside, I am chagrined and somewhat dismayed by Mr. Leonard’s commentary on local government.

The inference that our city and mayor can remotely be compared to Portsmouth borders on the ludicrous. Any minimally informed individual would be aware that by any measure imaginable there is unquestionably no resemblance.

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Mr. Leonard refers to our local government as “oppressive” and “opaque.” He states that “the mayor and council seem hell-bent to obscure actions and infringe upon the rights of the people to know, and that is both offensive and wrong.” I am part of this council and what I find offensive and wrong is the vitriol and harangue directed at individuals who have chosen to dedicate their time and effort to ensure our city is operated in an efficient and professional manner for the betterment of our citizens. I believe that my counterparts on this council are not self-serving power mongers as Mr. Leonard infers, but are individuals with integrity who perform their tasks with due diligence and dedication. It is an endeavor that is often criticized and seldom appreciated by those who are served. It is also an endeavor that provides a great deal of satisfaction when efforts result in tangible enhancements to the quality of life for those who reside in our city.

Concerning a lack of transparency and opacity, Mr. Leonard insinuates that there is a concerted effort to stifle access to information requested by the public. He purports a long history of failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

About a year ago I met with the publisher, editor and news editor of this paper to address their concerns relating to obtaining information through FOIA. At the conclusion of this meeting I requested that any obstruction, real or perceived, in procuring information be brought to my attention. As of this date, I have not received a single complaint. I welcome any citizen to contact me directly if they conclude there is an impediment to their right to obtain information.

Today’s political climate lends itself to many of the assertions Mr. Leonard spouts, but I contend they have little place in our city. I truly appreciate that there are individuals, such as Mr. Leonard, who keep a watchful eye on those elected to govern. It behooves our citizens to be informed and engaged. There is always a place for constructive criticism and suggestions, but I object to those who choose caustic dialogue, innuendo and disingenuous claims.

I am proud of what our city has accomplished, where we are and where we are heading. I understand, like everything in life, there is room for improvement.

Mike Duman represents the Chuckatuck Borough on City Council. Email him at Chuckatuck@suffolkva.us.