The Pinehurst Hot Mess: Oh, grow up.

People have been asking for my take on the “big” Pinehurst story in Sunday’s edition of our local paper.  The mayor of Pinehurst and his city manager apparently ran to the drive-by paper’s newsroom crying about me and a particular councilwoman.

My first thought, after reading the Sunday article:  Grow the $#%@ Up.

Two guys – John Strickland and Jeff Sanborn – who have a multi-million dollar budget and police power at their disposal are crying to the local newspaper about ONE guy with a keyboard and a website. 

Sanborn likes to talk a lot about his West Point and US Army background.  He HAD to have seen a lot scarier things than ME and my site while on active duty.

Granted, I have been told by many a source in Raleigh that my site is one of the top three Daily Must-Reads in legislative, executive, and judicial branch offices throughout our fair capital city.  I know that my site has been cited on multiple occasions in publications produced by The London School of Economics. I hear all the time from North Carolina expatriates living and working in Asia, Europe, Africa and The Middle East.  I also hear frequently from regular readers in the media and PR industries in DC and NYC.  I remember speaking with a PR rep in Dallas on one occasion.  She had my site up while talking to me and recalled that her friends in Los Angeles regularly share articles from The Haymaker with her.

So, I can understand feeling a little intimidated when this site has you under the microscope.   To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, The Daily Haymaker speaks loudly and carries a BIG STICK.

An authoritarian streak.   That must have really bothered Sanborn. He made a huge deal of quoting that phrase to The Pilot. “Authoritarian” is a great way to describe what’s going on at Village Hall.

Sanborn can deny all he wants.  I have email where he has written to council members demanding that SOMEBODY “shut [me] down.”

That’s right.  Not correct me.  Not defend him or village government.  But “shut [me] down.”  That’s the way tin-pot fascist dictators talk.  That’s what Putin does to his critics.  That’s how dictators in Venezuela and Cuba have dealt with their critics.  Shut them down. 

When someone with police power and a multi-million dollar budget is demanding I be “shut […] down,”  I take that pretty seriously.  That kind of talk from someone like that is concerning, to say the least.

Fred Chance.  Sanborn made a huge deal in the paper about someone named Fred Chance not being allowed to defend him to me.  Comments to The Haymaker are kept in moderation (or limbo) until they can be approved.  That’s typical for most sites.  Sometimes that takes a few hours or a few days.  I handle the task myself.  The site gets a lot of legitimate email, and a lot of Russian spam.

It’s rare to have your comment appear immediately on a web site.  I saw an email from Chance where he suggested I compared Sanborn to Josef Stalin. He then proceeded to question my level of education and give me a history lesson on Stalin.  For the record, I had referred to Sanborn’s tactics, such as “shut [me] down,” as stalinist.

(Never mind that — at the time I was reading the Chance message – I had already removed that sentence in one of my two post-publication edits of the post.  I had criticized Sanborn’s style as “authoritarian” in an earlier sentence, so the “stalinist” sentence was redundant. It’s not unusual for me to go back and edit posts after publishing.  Many times I catch grammar and spelling errors I missed during the first pass.)

I still kept “Fred’s” post in moderation.  I was suspicious that the name was an alias.  I have been involved in local politics for two decades, and have never heard of “Fred Chance.”  The writing style looked a lot like Sanborn’s.  I suspected it was Sanborn defending himself under a fake name.  I don’t like letting people use aliases that COULD be real people.  Sometimes the real person contacts you, and trouble ensues.

Meanwhile, I encountered Pinehurst council member Lydia Boesch out on the town and asked her if she knew “Fred Chance.”  Her answer?  “Oh, Kelly’s husband?”

Of course.  Kelly Chance is the village clerk, who reports directly to Sanborn. If you are seeking public documents from the village, you go through her.  I found it interesting that the only person who wrote in defending Sanborn was the husband of his direct-report.  *Surely, there was no pressure or intimidation involved in that deal.*

Meanwhile, I got back to administering the site.  There, I found a second message from Chance, suggesting that I had blocked his first email and threatening to send a copy of his initial message to The Pilot in order to “shame” me.

Oh, sure.  *Threatening me is a great way to get me to do what you want.*   So, I trashed both of his emails and went about my business.  The next thing I know, Sanborn is raising the whole Chance affair to The Pilot.

Meanwhile, a whole lot of really important stuff is not getting done in The Village of Pinehurst.