Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, October 20, 2006

What is the definition of a coward?

Tim Branning writes the following letter to the editor in this weeks Howard County Times:

Calling Robey a coward takes rhetoric out of bounds

While attacks by one's opponent during a volatile political season are expected, I feel compelled to respond to a recent article in the Times. The article, titled "Schrader, Robey battle for Senate seat in spotlight race," states that Brian Harlin, Howard's Republican Party leader, called Jim Robey a "coward." While you might disagree with Robey's views, his past service to Howard County certainly does not support that accusation.

Robey spent 30 years as a county police officer and commander, including eight as chief of police. He is a two-term county executive. One does not achieve that level of success without the ability and willingness to tackle tough issues. Jim Robey comes from a profession where cowards do not succeed. His successes speak for themselves.

I was a county police officer for 28 years. I served directly under Jim Robey for most of my career. I can assure you from personal experience, Jim Robey is no coward. I have known and respected Jim Robey for 34 years, and "coward" is not a word that applies to him. Political rhetoric from an opponents supporters is expected, but the words should be chosen more carefully.

I personally think a coward is one who is scared to engage voters. Considering that Robey has refused to participate in the Bloggers Candidates Forum and the way he reacted to me at a Columbia Democratic Club candidates forum earlier this year I have strong reservations on whether or not Jim Robey is willing to listen to or engage the voters of this county on anyting. I judge people on their actions and though I have no way of judging Jim's record in the police force I do know that Jim Robey has been a coward in my interactings with him over the last year. I am seriously considering a letter to the editor to that effect, even though I was hoping to save my letter to the editor to be on the school board race.

For those of you who don't remember my previous comment about my interaction with Jim Robey at the Columbia Democratic Club's candidates forum here is a repost:

Now I should say upfront that I really liked Jim Robey until earlier this year. We had spoken in passing at several events over the years, including a very nice conversation when I was working the polls for Ken Ulman on primary day 2002. Now that changed at a candidates forum for state legislative candidates at the Columbia Democratic Club where I asked Jim something along the lines of: “I am a resident of District 13 and I am hearing from many of my neighbors that live in the district that they are very concerned that the current plan for downtown Columbia redevelopment doesn’t reflect what the community said during the first day of the charrette. I don’t want to see Schrader re-elected and I am getting concerned that Democrats will get hurt by this unless people are assured that the plan will be fixed to reflect what people said they wanted. Would you be willing to give us that assurance?” Jim got very upset by the question and said he had already spoken to me about it (which is not true because our only interaction on the subject until then had been less than 30 seconds at Ken Ulman’s announcement event when he was pulled away to go up to the stage before I had said anymore than the rough concerns I expressed in the later question to him. At Ken Ulman’s announcement he had given no response, though as he was getting pulled away I had suggested he check out the Howard County Blog where I had been writing about a lot of the concerns people had with the plan.) Anyway, since we really hadn’t talked before on it I went up to him afterwards, but before I could get two words out of my mouth he stuck his hand in my face and said he knew who I was and he didn’t want to speak to me and I should go vote for Schrader. I kind of stuttered at that and tried to continue, but with his hand still in my face he kept saying “I know who you are. Go vote for Schrader.” I was sure that there must be some mistaken identity. I kept trying to go on until he turned his back on me to talk to someone else. I picked my jaw off the floor and went off to see if I could get the mistaken identity sorted out another way. I spoke to three people who have known me for many years and who have a close political relationship to Jim, but I have never gotten any resolution on the matter. At the time I thought he may be mistaking me for the guy (David Keelan) who writes the HoCoMD Blog, which also goes by the name Howard County Blog. David is a Republican activist and has been very critical of Jim Robey’s friend Wayne Livesay who is running for County Council in District 5. Based on what I have heard since I no longer think that was the case, but as I said, I have not gotten a full explanation of what Jim’s outburst was all about. I would not even bring this up except for Jim Robey saying he’d “rather show up and confront people face to face". I am just still flabbergasted by that statement and his response to me when I asked him a question in a live candidates forum.

I would never have brought this up the first time if Jim Robey didn't make public statements that made it relevant and I would not bring it up again except that a Jim Robey supporter has chosen to portray Jim Robey in a way in sharp contrast with my own experience with him.

Am I wrong that the definition of a coward in politics is someone who refuses to engage the voters?


Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

no you aren't. I would go on to add that a coward is someone who refuses to engage the voters in a honest fashion such as reported in this story.

5:30 AM  

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