When word filtered into our office earlier this week that popular restaurateur/philanthropist Matt Haley had been involved in a motorcycle accident in India, you could hear a collective gasp. When we learned Wednesday morning that he had succumbed to those injuries... we were an office in mourning.
Through advertising, interviews and various events throughout the community, many of us have had the good fortunate of getting to know him over the years, and all of those interactions were positive ones. He even wrote a guest column on cooking for us when we were first starting out and greatly contributed to our legitimacy in the area just through his presence.
He was our client. He was our go-to source for many stories. He was our friend.
His accomplishments are known by most of you already, and if you are unaware of those, read the story on page A1 of this week’s paper. You will no doubt be impressed by all he has done in his all-too-brief lifetime.
What we want to convey in this space, outside of the news story on his passing and legacy on the front page, is something he possessed that is more intangible — something you felt while talking with him, as opposed to what you learned by a list of his accomplishments.
Matt made things happen that he wanted to have happen. He impressed upon you in every conversation that he was the kind of guy who could accomplish anything he set out to do, and he had a way of making you feel like you had that ability inside yourself, as well. He believed strongly in positive thinking and hard work, and that there was nothing that couldn’t be done if you decided it had to be done.
That is a gift.
In that spirit, we ask all of you to look inside yourselves right now and determine what you want to do in life. Decide what it is, and come up with a plan of action to make it happen. And implore upon somebody else you talk with to do the same.
Consider it a gift to Matt Haley. Or, consider it his gift to all of us. Make you, and someone else, feel strong. Matt always did.
I’m a bit of a news hound.
I get it honestly, as my parents have always been fervent followers of current events, and my mother’s parents used to sort through three or four papers a day. My grandfather, a longtime journalist and publisher in New York, once told me the reason he read so many newspapers was so he could take pieces from every article on a particular subject and make up his own mind as to what really happened.
He really was a smart man.
Those words have been ringing loudly through my mind recently as I have watched the events unfold in Ferguson, Mo. The footage from the protests and law enforcement actions have seemed surreal to me, as if they were born from another time, not just a different location. Substitute grainy black-and-white images for high-def color, and this could have been Oxford, Ms., or Little Rock, Ark., or Chicago.
For those of you who have not been following the events, a white police officer in the suburb of St. Louis shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown on Aug. 9. That much is unquestioned.
However, the circumstances of the shooting are very much in question. Some witnesses have said that Brown was charging the officer and the shooting was a means of self-defense. Some reports claim that the two got into a physical confrontation and there was a fight over the officer’s gun and that is how the first shots were fired. And some say that Brown was innocent throughout the ordeal and was simply gunned down in cold blood because of the color of his skin.
Here is the problem with witnesses and theories: human beings.
We all see things differently based on exactly where we were at the time in relation to the incident, how scared or confused we might be with something like this taking place in a setting that does not involve a television screen and, honestly, based on our own predispositions. If someone is pro-cop, they tend to see things in a way that puts the officer in a positive light, and likewise for someone who might be anti-police. I’m not calling any of the witnesses liars, mind you — just human beings.
So, basically what I’m saying is we don’t really know precisely what happened during the shooting that triggered the other events in the town, but I’m guessing we will get more information as the investigation continues, and that information will be embraced or ridiculed — based on the personal beliefs of people disseminating that information.
What I can say with some certainty is that people on both sides of this issue have contributed to the mess that has unfolded in the aftermath of the shooting.
The police would not reveal the name of the officer (Darren Wilson) involved in the shooting for several days, citing concerns for his personal safety, and that got the disenfranchised feeling more angry, saying that if it was a young black male accused of shooting someone, the police would have released his name and photo to the press immediately.
On this one, I have to say, “Not true.”
I came up through this business as a police reporter, and I can tell you that the only time police willingly release a name of a suspect before charges are filed is when they are actively looking for that individual and can’t find him or her. Trust me on this one, as I have butted heads with departments across these fruited plains, and have been stonewalled time and time again with the frustrating “active investigation” response.
However, Ferguson police have done significant harm to relations (both racial and authority-citizen relations) throughout this process. They released a video of Brown allegedly robbing a liquor store moments before the shooting, but that was completely irrelevant as police have said that Wilson did not know Brown was a suspect at the time of the incident. This is classic “besmirching” to minimalize an individual, and all it did was incite people.
Also, showing up in riot gear and heavy weaponry pointed at citizens often doesn’t go over very well, particularly when people are upset in the first place for what they perceive as heavy-handedness by law enforcement. They have also tear-gassed and arrested several credentialed members of the media — not a good idea if you want a positive message relayed to the world.
As for the protestors, they are not entirely without blame, either. Though the vast majority of them have been peaceful and apparently responsive to police directives, there have been groups taking advantage of the situation to loot and cause violence, casting a pall over the rest of the group’s efforts. If everyone involved in this public action stayed on course, their complaints and concerns would be more-widely listened to, but the bad apples have spoiled the proverbial bunch.
It’s also important that the protestors demand a fair and impartial investigation, and not just a witch hunt. If Wilson only used deadly force to protect himself, as many argue, sacrificing him to satisfy perceived racial and class injustices does nothing but harm for the greater good. If you truly want justice, then demand justice — not a pound of flesh.
Ferguson is a ticking time bomb right now, and the entire world is watching. Let’s all keep our heads about us.
Letters to the Editor
In accordance with Coastal Point editorial policy, the last issue in which letters to the editor regarding the Sept. 6 Bethany Beach Town Council election and Sept. 9 primary races will be published is our Aug. 29 issue. All letters regarding these races or their candidates must be received by 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, in order to be published.
Reader has concerns with area Internet
I am an owner of a property in South Bethany and have tried to work from here this summer. Mediacom’s Internet access is so slow and so sketchy that I am down hours each day, waiting for it to come up. We have purchased new equipment, reported our challenges.
I cannot spend months out here if I cannot depend on this service. If my theory that it’s a truly underpowered operation is true, then it may preclude businesses and retirees from staying in the area, spending their money.
Alexandria, Va., and South Bethany
Reader: It’s not County Council’s money
I really find it disgusting when County Council grants a request for money. I don’t begrudge the funds going to the worthy causes, just that County Council acts like it’s their money. It is not — the money they use as a “discretionary fund” is taken from the citizens of Sussex County through taxes.
If they are so magnanimous, dig into their own pockets, not mine. At the very least, the check should state that it is from the citizens, not the County Council. Attempting to curry votes is another subtle issue to be considered.
Character matters, and we need a new one — vote for Rob Arlett.
Olmstead weighs in on Bethany election
After serving on the Bethany Beach Town Council for 10 years, last year I made the decision not to seek another term. Over these recent years, I believe the majority of Bethany voters approve of the way Town Council decisions have been made. Council members first take time to gather information, consider and discuss both sides of issues and seek public input before a final vote.
It is, to a large extent, because of the people that have been elected to serve that Bethany continues to be the desirable destination that so many enjoy.
Bethany Beach citizens understand that those seeking office must have as their primary goal the best interests of our town and its citizens. From time to time, candidates come forth because of a single issue or specific negative concern but are not usually successful. Let’s always hope we elect those who put their name forth so that they might contribute in a positive way for Bethany Beach.
Jack Gordon and Lew Killmer are certainly two such people. Having served with both of them for several years, I personally know of their unbiased approach as issues are worked through. Town Council members, of course, don’t always initially agree, but after open discussion and sincere consideration of an issue, strive toward mutual resolution that will best serve Bethany.
Both Jack Gordon and Lew Killmer have in the past, and will continue in the future, to serve Bethany well if reelected.
Rosemary Hardiman, completing Mayor Tony McClenny’s Town Council term after he unexpectedly became ill this past year, is a candidate I hope you will join me in voting for this election. Rosemary has previously served on town committees, including as chair of the Communications Committee, and also as an election judge during past elections. Her knowledge of the town has been an asset, as she in this short time has been a full participant in council discussions and decision-making.
Rosemary’s background as an attorney makes her well qualified for deliberating issues. It is evident at Town Council meetings that she studies the issues, asks pertinent questions and seeks input from Bethany citizens. It will greatly benefit Bethany for Rosemary to be elected this September.
Bruce Frye, after serving on various town committees and attending Town Council meeting regularly over the past years, has now put his name forth for your consideration. I believe Bruce has made this decision based on his sincere interest in Bethany and his willingness to offer his time and talents to our town. In my view, Bruce would make a good choice and bring a new voice.
In my view, these are the candidates that will best represent you for the next two years on the Bethany Beach Town Council.
Resident supports Young staying in office
On Sept. 6 I will be voting to re-elect Margaret Young to a fourth term on the Bethany Beach Town Council. She supports a progressive Bethany with a quiet, small-town appeal.
Margaret first came to town as a child in the 1940’s, as did I. Together, we have seen a great deal of growth and many changes. Yet Bethany as been able to keep its charm. Margaret is determined to preserve this small-town appeal.
I have known her to be honest, dedicated and loyal to her constituents. There is no issue/problem that she will not tackle and try to solve in a timely manner. She has helped me and several of my friends on quite a few occasions. She is an active voice for the citizens of Bethany.
Margaret has been involved in town government and social issues all her adult life. She can be seen working at her church, managing the volunteers for the farmers’ market, which she helped to found, trying to find ways to solve the flooding and drainage problems, being the watchful eye for the historical society by co-authoring the new publication “Bethany Beach: A Walk Through History” and leading the debate on the controversial rezoning issue. These are just a few of her endeavors.
Margaret does not compromise her principles. She is not afraid to ask thought provoking questions. On the council she votes her conscience, even when her vote may not be the popular vote. She wants Bethany Beach to be the true quiet resort.
Keep your voice alive. Vote to re-elect Margaret Young for a fourth term.
Kathleen Carmody Rowe
Reader puts support behind Young
In the upcoming Bethany Beach election there is only one candidate, Margaret Young, who is independent and asks the hard questions. Open discussion, transparency and the welcoming of dissenting views serve to protect and preserve the uniqueness of Bethany Beach.
A vote for Margaret Young is a vote for progress, tempered with careful consideration of the lasting impact on our town. We should promote robust debate and avoid “group thinking.” Re-elect Margaret Young.
Reader supports Wheatley in race
As we move closer to the 2014 elections, the man I am most impressed with in our local races is longtime businessman Bob Wheatley, candidate for Sussex County Council in the 5th District.
While working with Delmarva Power, I had the opportunity to work closely with Bob on several projects. I found him to be an honest, hard-working person. This is a man who has devoted more than two decades of his life to public service with the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission, being reappointed time after time by County Council Democrats and Republicans alike.
He is also extremely connected to the local community through his many years running his own business, as well as his involvement in many civic, religious and charitable organizations.
Bob Wheatley does his homework and has some great ideas when it comes to the actual issues. From economic development to fire and emergency services to managed growth in the county, I believe Bob has the best plan for the future.
That’s why Bob Wheatley has my support in the Democratic primary on Sept. 9 and will have it again in the general election in November.
I urge all voters of the 5th District to do the same!
Sherman “Snuffy” Smith
Steele makes his selections known
Voting in Bethany Beach!
What could be more simple?
Three men and a woman!
These three men have been heavily involved with the town for a long time. Their experience is outstanding!
How could you not vote for them?
Rosemary has been involved with the flooding issue just after I left Council.
She has her own mind and she knows what she believes.
She has experience in the areas of the town’s business that matters.
So, please cast your votes, as I will, for Jack, Lew, Bruce and Rosemary!