Around Town: Of Candidates and Cupcakes

I knew our candidates forum on Monday at the Civic Center would be an interesting one the moment I pulled up to the building. I was driving right behind the automobile of Steve Wright, husband of At-Large City Council challenger Lora Wright, and on his back windshield was one of Lora’s “no cupcake” window decals.

nocupcake.JPG

Maybe you’ve seen one of them. We’ve tried to write a story about the decals for The Herald, but no one will talk about them for the record…nevertheless, the story goes that the decals (or “window clings”) – which show a cupcake inside the universal symbol for “none allowed” (a red circle with a line through it), but no words – are the creation of Councilman Steve Brewer, Wright and maybe one or two others as a sign of their disdain for The Herald in general and me in particular. I’ve had numerous calls about them over the last month or two from people who have heard directly from the particulars involved about them. (I’m supposed to be a “cupcake,” owing more to my fluffy build than my sugary disposition, I guess.) You can see the decals on the window of Wright’s jewelry store on Steele Street and on the back of the Wright automobiles and Steve Brewer’s car.

Lora Wright states emphatically that the decal means “no food or drink allowed” in her store, although that doesn’t explain why she and Brewer have them on their cars. I guess they don’t want food or drink there, either. At any rate, Wright told my wife that “lots of people around town” have them, and that she and Brewer both have them because they’re “trying to lose weight.” Hmmm…

Oh. I get it. Hardy-har.

The Herald has taken Brewer to task editorially (that means in editorials, on our opinion page) because of his conduct and practices on the city council (re the business privilege tax, among other things), so this window decal stunt (plus the letters of protest he’s had the city attorney write to my bosses) are his attempt to get back at me, I suppose.

Brewer didn’t say anything at last night’s forum, but his presence was felt during each of the three forums involving the contested races for the city council. You can read Editor Billy Liggett’s blog (http://billyliggett.wordpress.com) for more about that, and about the peculiar goings-on after last night’s forum…which were bizarre indeed, but par for the course in Sanford city politics. I’ve kidded Billy that he’s finally gotten a taste of being “Brewfooted.”

Election Day is three weeks from today. Early voting is going on now. For us at The Herald, now that the forum is history, it’s back to work! First, though, let me finish up this cupcake…

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5 Responses to Around Town: Of Candidates and Cupcakes

  1. Nick Adams says:

    The only thing more juvenile than the stickers is your concern about them. As the publisher of the Herald, you are a public figure, and as a result, you will get criticism. What speaks more in this situation is not the stickers, but it is your reaction.

    You mention above that you tried to write a story about the stickers. This is worthy of a reporter’s time? A personal slight that hurts your feelings should take up column space? Someone might have called you a name, and so you try to play detective (or did you get a reporter to do it for you?) to see what you can hunt up. Bill, this is plain disappointing on your part. If you don’t want criticism, legitimate or otherwise, then remove yourself completely from the media. Stop writing editorials, avoid attending public meetings and speaking, and stop writing this blog (which is connected to the Herald and is therefore affiliated with your professional duties).

    If a politician or other individual says something in a public venue, then you may have a legit concern. But, you are honestly trying to chase down a rumor about if stickers around town are making fun of your weight. Read that last sentence again. This, this, is what you spend your time as publisher doing (as you noted above, someone at the Herald tried to get comment, but none was given)?

    And now, you have taken a rumor that you can’t substantiate, and you are reporting it while calling out a member of the city council, someone running, and her husband (someone who isn’t running for anything–or is it ok to go after the family too?). You can’t get anyone to confirm it on the record, and yet you are willing to call out names. This decision goes against every rule of journalism (and, again, this blog is an extension of the Herald). You should be ashamed.

    It’s disappointing to see you squander what resources the Herald has on rumors that, at worst, are people mocking your weight. You really should rethink all of this.

  2. Bill Horner III says:

    There’s a big difference between a public person and an elected person. And the idea behind a story was simple: an elected official and another candidate for office want to make a statement…the purpose of the story was to let them make it, whether it was about The Herald, me, or anyone. Don’t you want to know how your elected officials work, and go about making decisions? Isn’t that insight valuable?

    We’ve never hid from criticism, including publishing letters to the editor that were very critical of us, even when we thought they were unfair. And this is a story that came to us in the form of people who’d heard about the cupcakes directly from the parties involved…so to call it unsubstantiated isn’t quite accurate.

    I’m not ashamed at all. We take our role as the 4th Estate in Lee County seriously. There are too few watchdogs. We want what’s best for Sanford and Lee County, Part of that is holding those who make the decisions accountable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have noticed the no-cupcake signs but wondered what they meant. I’m sure that most residents are clueless as well. If this is truly an inside joke generated the democratic city councilman (and candidates), it doesn’t surprise me. Brewer’s arrogance and insider approach to political leadership is shameful. I applaud the Herald for exposing some of the antics of this council by Brewer. I am registered unaffiliate, but will likely vote republican this year.

  4. Jay Loats says:

    I wish my bank account was as big as your ego or appetite since you seem to think people see you as a cupcake. You are an educated person in a position to be one of the most thought of and respected men in the county. Instead you use your gifts and talents to confuse and misinform the public. Your editorials are biased and one sided in order to discredit the ones you feel threatened by on your quest of power and greed. You are the one single person that has caused the most damage and public unrest in this town. You continuously criticize a member of the city council, yet you promote and defend a pottery throwing pedophile. In your email correspondence with Karen Brown you stated that you were told by a state official that our police department was the most corrupt in the state, yet you would not name the official. I see your “cupcake theory” to be just another one of your unconfirmed rumors, yet another ploy in your game to fuel the flame for the upcoming election. As publisher of the only newspaper in town your personal feelings should only show on your ballot.

  5. bhorner3 says:

    I don’t see at all how we’ve intentionally misled or misinformed the public, especially with our editorials. We have been critical of a specific board member in three different editorials, but we also endorsed that same person when he sought office. I’m not sure that qualifies as “continuously criticizing.”

    And if you actually saw the e-mail messages in question, you would have seen that what you claim I wrote is different than what was actually written…not to mention the fact that ther person you mentioned refused to talk to me directly, even by phone, about what prompted the e-mail exchange in the first place. Much could have been addressed and solved had she done that.

    At any rate, you mustn’t have gotten the tenor of what I wrote about the cupcake issue…which is fine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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