Sunday, November 23, 2008

Living in Paradise can be HELL

I'm not trying to implicate anyone in the brief telling of this story. I actually like the suspected person very much. However, it seems clear to me that justice sometimes needs to be served so people can move on. In the last few months I've watched the mayor of our town's personality diminish. He has lost weight. His wife is distraught. His children are scared.
This is the letter to the editor I wrote after the newspaper assured us a story would be written, but caved to pressure and didn't print anything. I know a lot of details are left out. This isn't good storytelling technique, but I don't know how else to tell it without implicating individuals unfairly.

Dear Editor:
Sometimes it’s easer to be quiet. However the citizens of Paradise are baffled by the silence of the Herald Journal concerning a case that has divided our town. Last Wednesday night over 60 Paradise residents showed up to a public hearing, in large part to show support to the mayor for the last eleven years, Lee Atwood. A reporter from the paper was invited to attend. The reporter assured us that some kind of story would be printed. However as the days have passed, once again it’s clear that this isn’t going to happen.

In short, our mayor has been maligned, harassed, and systematically set up in a complicated drug-dealing scheme that had the scheme been successful would most likely have sent our mayor to prison for a long time. Detectives made an arrest in the case several months ago, but now the county attorney’s office is dropping the case.

For all parties involved, we feel it’s important to bring this case to fruition. The victim in this case, the mayor and his family, and the citizens of Paradise, are being let down by the county. It is unacceptable that a person who works so hard for the citizens of Paradise at great sacrifice to his own business, and family should be treated in this manner. It’s one thing to be victimized by a disgruntled citizen who doesn’t agree with the policies that the mayor has been elected and sworn to uphold, but it’s quite another to be re-victimized by the system and the county, and even the newspaper who has chosen to cave in under pressure.

While I feel sympathy for the person arrested, it is important for him also to be able to tell his story in court so as not to be tried in the minds of community members. The truth needs to be revealed. While I don’t agree with Mayor Atwood on all policies, I now know after serving on Paradise planning and zoning for five years, that he walks a very tight line in making some difficult decisions. And in all the years I’ve worked with Lee, I have never seen him to bend the rules in anyone’s favor in the least degree, including his own. He is a man of extreme integrity. I have nothing but respect for him and I hope that the county attorney feels shame for deciding not to turn every stone to find the guilty person in this crime, and prosecute, so this good man and his family can go on with their lives in peace.

C. J. Warburton


Josi said...

Good for you, Carole, hopefully they will take your lead and do a proper job of figuring the whole thing out. And very well written, I might add :-)

JoLynne Lyon said...

Good for you, Carole. I hope somebody can get to the truth of the matter. I am surprised that the HJ has refused to do anything on a story that has raised so many questions in your community.