Get all the facts first!
It’s sad when good people trying to do their best for their community are the targets of untrue accusations as you relate in your column. Maybe the community immediately assumes guilt because we’ve become so accustomed to politicians actually being guilty of what they are charged with. Think Kwame Kilpatrick. Think Anthony Weiner. We found that even a member of one of the local school boards had a secret unsavory life.
However, we need to be fair and get all the facts before accusing people, especially those in local affairs, of wrongdoing. I learned that the hard way when I jumped all over several members of the County Commission for a vote they had taken and the reason behind it. I based my opinion on information and it turns out my information was faulty. However, before I knew that, I made some public accusations about the former chair and one of the present commissioners that I regret doing to this day, although I apologized to them in person and at a commission meeting.
I learned from my mistake though (or like to think I did so). I started attending the Commission meetings so I could get the information firsthand. I also started attending my township meetings for the same reason. I also found that people in positions of responsibility are there because they truly care about their community and want to do the best job possible. And many of them are new to politics. They are not professional politicians.
Bottom line: Get all the facts first and give people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, good people just make mistakes and sometimes, so do letter writers and citizens who are up in arms.