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Friday, October 30, 2015

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black: Bruchey vs Spong (with Bruchey's Response)

  I haven't written about politics in Washington County or the City of Hagerstown for quite sometime. My last post regarding Washington County was an interview with County Commissioner Woody Spong ( Coincidentally it is a matter regarding Commr. Spong that compels me to write again about issues in Washington County. 

ISSUE 1: Commr. Spong is accused of making a "vulgar, inappropriate, and sexist" comment to BOE President, Donna Brightman. Was it sexist or does it actually diminish the seriousness of real acts of sexism?  

Brightman wrote a letter to the Herald Mail claiming that he said:
"FACTS are like whores, once you get them on their back, they'll do whatever."
 She said that it was in a conversation just between the two of them where they: 
"were talking about facts and figures that had been presented about the school board's budget."        
 My first reaction was to wonder if she swooned and had to have someone with smelling salts to bring her back after such a blow to her....facts and figures. He clearly was not talking about her, or about women, and definitely not about the women on the BOE. In context, the statement may not be PC or polite, and maybe it was a little vulgar and inappropriate with someone of Brightman's sensitivities, but:
It made his point that facts and figures can be manipulated.
Commr. Spong later, much later, claimed that he said "lady of the night." It is her word against his. Whatever. Sometimes you have to learn how to react and handle other professional's unprofessional behavior professionally.     
    It would have been far more inappropriate had he blurted it out in a public forum. At most I might have winced at his lack of social skills. It would kind of be like the time when Mayor Bob Bruchey,in a public forum, talked about not being able to find a strapless bra for his wife in downtown Hagerstown because everything closed up too early. However, even if it were a conversation between me and my most vicious adversary it would have rolled off of me like water off of a duck's back. (I hope I am not offending any ducks.) 
    I started my career in the 1970's in the then male-dominated field of electronics. I was the only female as an electronic technician for two years, and later the only female engineering writer for about the first three years. I grew the thick skin necessary to succeed. As a technician, I faced income inequality, no chance of promotion, sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault. I received a little more respect from most of my colleagues and customers as a writer, but there was the occasional good old boy with no sense of boundaries. With this in mind, I find petty accusations of sexism to be counterproductive to the cause of women. I had to choose my battles when the battles were new and fierce. So I find it laughable that a strong, intelligent, professional like Donna Brightman is cut to the core over the word "whore" as an adjective for facts and figures. To be a female political activist I have also had to have very thick skin. In my opinion, if Brightman is going to serve as president over an organization as large as the BOE and participate in the necessary politics...she is going to have to learn to handle uncomfortable conversations without running to the local newspaper. I pick my battles and fight the ones that I choose wholeheartedly. Of course I am a crusty old woman from Baltimore, but Commr. Spong's comment would not even make it onto my radar.  
    In my opinion the letter to the local newspaper was not about Brightman's feminine sensitivities to the word whore, but more about offending her facts and figures and thwarting her plans. I would not be surprised to find out that Brightman has been encouraged to make this big to-do-over-nothing by Commr. Spong's haters. Make no mistake. He has them.

ISSUE 2:  Was this comment so egregious that Commr.Spong should be forced to resign from the Board of County Commissioner? 

    We have people ready to rend their clothes and wear sackcloth and ashes in the square until Commr. Spong is driven from politics. It is no surprise that it is the same people who were spitting mad about his appointment. It has been suggested that because he spoke to a lawyer he must know that he is guilty of being a sexist. Are you kidding me? The sexist card used by political adversaries can be as destructive as the race card. It can ruin careers and lives. It can lead to lawsuits and your assets could be threatened. It can adversely affect your family. Of course he spoke to a lawyer first. Anyone who is saying that in his position they would not have been concerned...even a liar. As I said before, I don't think a remark is sexist just because it has the word whore in it, especially as an adjective for facts and figures in a political discussion. I absolutely do not think it is grounds to have him removed from the Board of County Commissioners. 
ISSUE 3:  Are politicians and other political operatives exploiting this accusation for political purposes?  

    It appears that the same people who were so vociferously against Commr. Spong's appointment are the same people who appear to be exploiting this situation to try to have him removed from office and replaced with someone that they deem more suitable. I know because of the phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, flaming blogs, etc, that I received when I interviewed Commr. Spong just after he was appointed. I see the same people spreading it all over Facebook, writing flaming blogs, and going on the amateur local talk show, The Flip Side, to keep it alive and in the public eye. There have been whole segments on this show about this non-issue of a sexist remark. On all of the other unrelated segments there have been obvious attempts to bring it up even when it doesn't quite make sense. I don't see any serious activist for women's rights taking note of this comment. It is only Commr. Spong's detractors keeping it alive. 

ISSUE 4:  Is it acceptable for politicians to be hypocrites, or should they be called out on blatant acts of hypocrisy? 

   I am not a fan, friend, or  foe of Commr. Spong. I have not thought about him again since interviewing him in May 2015. I wouldn't have written this blog at all had I not watched an episode of The Flip Side and witnessed a politician shamelessly not only exploiting this lame comment, but the hypocrisy was mind blowing. This was a politician who I often find to be offensive, sometimes sexist, and certainly inappropriate beating that dead horse about Commr. Spong's alleged offense. This is the pot calling the kettle black and his name is Bob Bruchey.  Bruchey has said things and overlooked sexist statements said to me by others. They weren't so offensive that I ran to the local newspaper. In fact I never spoke of it. It was something that did hit my radar, but I am can handle it. Only after watching him angling for opportunities to disparage and disgrace Commr. Spong in every segment of the show did I sit up and take note of this issue. I was thinking of all the people....he needs to shut up. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and contacted him online via Messenger to ask him why he kept harping on Commr. Spong's comment when he is not exactly against rude and sexist remarks. For example:

"Nah, you never bothered me. After all, I enjoy a smart woman who can stand up and give me shit. Well, just as long as she sits back down and keeps her mouth shut afterwards I mean."

    This is not a she-said-he-said. I saved the conversation on Messenger. I found this much more offensive and sexist than the whore analogy of facts and figures. There is no question that this statement is sexist and was meant to put me in my place. As you can see in the picture below, I took a deep breath and decided to keep it classy, but when I saw him repeatedly raking Commr. Spong over the coals for being not even half as obnoxious it made me angry.

   There is another incident that I feel depicts Bruchey's lack of regard for belittling women. This one is my word against his, but I bet I could find it if I looked hard enough. Bruchey didn't deny it when I asked him about it on Messenger. I had jumped into a political discussion on Facebook that included Bruchey and his most public admirer who will remain unnamed at this point. This guy loves Bruchey. He never misses an opportunity to flatter and fluff him publicly. So we were talking about Hagerstown issues when Bruchey's friend said to me,

"Why are you even in this conversation? Shouldn't you be in the kitchen making me lasagna?"

I was stunned. I think I responded that I do indeed make a mean lasagna, but I can also carry my own in a political discussion. Bruchey never said a word. I think that could be called offensive, inappropriate, and sexist. There was not one single word in my defense from Bruchey. In contrast, he can't stop talking about what poor Donna Brightman endured from that "stupid" man Woody Spong. When I asked Bruchey about this incident he said that he confronts this guy all of the time about the things that he posts on Facebook, but he does it privately. He even denied being his friend. He went on to explain, "We don't hang out together or have beers at each other's houses on the weekend." I pointed out that that was the exact same thing that Commr. Spong said about his relationship with Terry Baker when he was unfairly accused without evidence of getting the appointment because of his "friendship" with Baker. Ironic or hypocritical?
    I got the same "explanations" from Bruchey that Commr. Spong's haters are calling "excuses". He didn't really mean it like I took it. I should have known that he was joking. Why should Bruchey get the benefit of the doubt that he would not allow Commr. Spong? 

    Hypocrites can't take their own advice. 

     On The Flip Side, Bruchey said that all Commr. Spong had to do was apologize. If he had taken his own advice and apologized to me when I contacted him I would not have written this blog. He didn't. He is a politician; he doesn't have to apologize to someone like me. In my opinion he owes me an apology and Commr. Spong too. I saw the flipside of Bob Bruchey, and I didn't like it. He said that The Flip Side is "just entertainment...nothing more, nothing less." Let's see how entertaining he finds this blog. 

God I hope another Republican runs for mayor!

Bob Bruchey's Response

"Lynda, as I read your post, blog and subsequent comments, I was saddened. I have always enjoyed our back and forth on issues. If I had known that the private message from 10 months ago had offended you, I would have immediately apologized. I sincerely thought I was joking around with you and absolutely wasn’t trying to say anything that would hurt your feelings. I also didn’t realize that I needed to defend you against negative comments, since you can most definitely stand your ground with anyone. You and I have been friends for quite some time and I don’t take friendship lightly; therefore I stick up for friends that I think are being mistreated.  I do apologize if I have offended you it was definitely never my intention to do so. Hopefully we can remain fb and real friends and continue to converse on subjects important to you and I. I respect your opinions and enjoy your, at times, humorous posts. Again, I hope you can accept my apology and I look forward to many more conversations."

Bob, How could someone who is so concerned about Cmmr. Spong's comment not have known that his own comment was offensive? I think you are being a bit disingenuous.

Would you say:
I like a smart black who can stand up and give me shit. Well, just as long as he sits down and keeps his mouth shut afterwards I mean. How about a smart Jew? A smart homosexual?  Of course this would have to be said to a black, Jew, or  homosexual to make it truly comparable. Would you expect them to get "the joke"? Of course not, and neither were you joking to me. It was your passive aggressive way to put me in my place.

This is your apology to me? Answering via a comment on a post on Facebook? I wonder if you would let Cmmr. Spong get away with that?

You are right that you don't need to defend me against sexist comments made by your friends in your company, but you should have. I guess it didn't have the political expediency as you had hoped Cmmr. Spong's comment would have.

You said that we have been friends for a long time. Not so. We should be friends. It's actually quite mystifying to me because although we belong to the same party, I have most often found myself at the opposite end of issues regarding taxpayer money and how it should or shouldn't be spent. I can't ever recall being anything more than a Facebook friend, which we all know doesn't amount to much in the real world. Whether or not we remain so is up to you.

None of this matters to me at all. I could care less if you talk down to me. What bothered me was how you publicly raked Cmmr. Spong over the coals for so much less! Are you going to apologize to him? Are you going to publicly admit that you really have done worse? You are running for mayor again, so I am sure that you want this to blow over. Couldn't you have allowed the same for Cmmr. Spong? I have to say that I have never seen a politician so viciously attacked before ever casting a vote much less from his own Party as Cmmr. Spong. I don't know him, and he may vote like a Liberal for all I know, but you and others are crossing lines in your hatred of him and your displeasure with his appointment. This Donna Brightman hysteria was not a fair fight and you exploited it.

On your last segment of The Flip Side you were softer, yet you found Cmmr. Spong's waiting 6 days to apologize unexplainable and unforgivable. Well it took you being called out after 10 months for this lame apology. Something tells me that Cmmr. Spong will be waiting much longer.