Why not talk about Walker plans before the election?

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

We’ve known each other for a long time, and I’ve known him to be a straight shooter. And quite opionated. It doesn’t bother me that I assume that he didn’t vote for me in the elections last month. I didn’t ask, though if I did, he’d have no qualms telling me.

He wrote last week to ask me for e-mail addresses for Frank Lucente and Tim Williams. He said he had something he wanted to ask them regarding the effective firing of city manager Doug Walker. I obliged, helped him get in contact with Lucente and Williams, then heard back from him a couple of days later.

“Why is it that they waited until after the election to make it known that they wanted to replace Walker?” he asked in the followup e-mail.

“Maybe it would have made no difference in the results of the election, but at least it would have been honest. I mentioned that to Lucente in the e-mail that I sent to him the other day,” he wrote.

It is an honest question – and it’s been one that I’ve been getting from other self-identified Lucente-Williams-Bruce Allen supporters.

“Why didn’t you raise that issue before the election?” another person asked me downtown the other afternoon, after I’d answered that I had assumed it to be common knowledge that the ultraconservatives would go headhunting if they got their way on Election Day.

And it did seem to me to be common knowledge that the bloodletting would begin soon after the election. It actually got going weeks before Election Day. Remember Bob Lunger, the now-former city attorney? According to the paper, Lunger left because he came across a job offer he couldn’t refuse. But why was Lunger looking for a job? Was it because the Lucente camp made it known to him that he wouldn’t be their city attorney if they won on May 6? Sure it was.

So Lunger fell on his sword, even as the compliant local media made his departure out to be something that it wasn’t. The writing was so obviously on the wall, but how do we get people to become aware of that?

Think to how Jeremy Taylor, running against Lucente for the at-large seat on city council, raised several issues with Lucente regarding his tepid support for a series of infrastructure improvements approved by the voters in referenda last fall. The Lucente camp responded to that with a mailer that went out to thousands of city residents that ended up getting covered in the News Virginian with the effect that somehow Taylor was misleading the citizens on the matter.

Looking back, I could have raised the Walker issue, pushed the other side into offering either a swift public denial or more likely a “I don’t think this kind of thing ought to be talked about in public,” but where are we then? You know, other than where we are right now?

And where we are right now is an interesting place, to say the least. Give the Lucente-Williams-Allen camp credit for winning the election, but their post-election has been one serious misstep after another. The Walker firing was a massive overreach that has begun to erode from their political base, and we’re not even to July 1 yet. And we can only imagine what other shenanigans they have in store once they have the power of the gavel.

Or … might they pull back? I say that based on the visual evidence of seeing Lucente at last night’s city-council meeting. The man that the NV wrote about as being someone who “smiles easily and speaks softly” looked 20 years older than he did the last time I saw him – bags under his eyes, a scowl in the place of the smile, and not a word publicly, again, about what is going on in the city that he will be running in four weeks.

And I think I know why. If he’s been catching half the crap that I’ve been getting on his behalf the past few days, well …

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