Community better served by not taking sides

I respectfully offer a few comments on your editorial concerning the tension between the Culpeper County Sheriff, Mr. Jenkins, and the Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Ms. Frederick.
While I agree with you that the friction has reached bizarre levels, I do not agree with your premise that this friction has harmed the public. In fact, had there been friction such as this prior to and during the investigation of the Hash case, the county may have been spared the embarrassment brought on by the miscarriage of justice. Perhaps the good old boy environment that seems to have existed between the Sheriff’s Office and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office at the time contributed to this miscarriage. I suggest that friction between these two offices might have caused each to make darn sure that every dot and tee was in place and nothing was glossed over due to looking the other way because of professional or personal friendships. A little friction then might have gone a long way. Friction between these offices does not necessarily bode ill for the public. This same friction can be considered a healthy forcing function for the best efforts of each office to be presented.

You give no facts to back up your assertion that the public is materially harmed in any way due to the ongoing friction. Is it an embarrassment to the county? Sure. Did the people vote for a change in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office? Absolutely. I imagine then that the voters elected Ms. Frederick to conduct her business in a fashion different than her predecessor. I also imagine those same voters then expect Ms. Frederick to fight an uphill battle against the same forces (including you and your paper) to flush out the cronyism and good old boy way of doing business in the county. Your paper’s wish for a different election outcome not withstanding, continuing to show bias against Ms. Frederick is doing no service to your reader or your paper’s reputation.

While I do not agree with your editorial position concerning this friction harming the public, it is certainly proper and admirable that you voice that position. Where I have an issue with your editorial opinion is the inclusion of the paragraph lamenting the county’s loss of Mr. Walther as the Commonwealth Attorney. The election is over, the people have spoken. My vote was cast for Ms. Frederick because I thought it was time to break with the good old boy network in the county. While it is true that Mr. Walther was not included in the Hash civil suit, it is my opinion that he and his boss at the time had both lost my trust and Mr. Walther should have resigned as well. In any case, the manner in which the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office handled the Hash case was sufficient for me to cast my vote for a change in that office. Your lamenting his loss to the county and the inclusion of his current job and the fact he seems to a valuable asset to his current boss has no bearing on the current friction between the two county offices and simply serves to highlight your obvious bias. The voters of Culpeper County voted for new blood in the Commonwealth’s Attorney office in spite of your paper’s strong endorsement of her opponent as well as the many letters to the editor your paper elected to print that offered their support to the good old boy Mr. Walther. That should tell you something about where most Culpeper citizens stand regarding Ms. Frederick.
Following is your Company’s mission statement,

The company mission is to build community trust through professional and thorough coverage of the news of the communities we serve. Our core purpose is to connect with people in an honest and constructive manner. This value system will build unwavering trust between our news company and the community it serves.
Your editorial does not meet the goal of your mission statement.
Please stop picking sides in this issue. Just report the news. When the sheriff screws up handling evidence, let us know. When the Commonwealth’s Attorney is found guilty of assault, let us know. Continuing to lean so far over on the side against Ms. Frederick is relegating your paper to the category of a rag sheet.
By the way, is it a fact that the Sheriff’s Office mishandled evidence in a recent drug case…not allegedly.

Joe Matusic

Editor’s Note: All letters submitted to the Culpeper Times supporting Megan Frederick or Paul Walther during the November election for Culpeper Commonwealth’s Attorney were run either in print, online or both.