Ever since Facebook exploded into society I’ve taken the stance of using the website as not a way to gossip about things going on in the community or the world, but as a way to connect with friends, relatives, share pictures of my cats and look at other people’s cats, and share news from our papers.
I personally think that if Facebook were used for the sole purpose of sharing pet and baby photos, the world would be a whole lot friendlier place. I mostly avoid the darker side of Facebook, but try as I might, local gossip seems to bleed over into my Facebook feed and I see what the community is talking about.
In past weeks a lot of local community members have been talking about, sharing viral video clips and generally fuming about Oscoda Township Trustee Tim Cummings’ comments to Oscoda Township Treasurer Jaimie McGuire concerning alleged bookkeeping issues with the treasurer’s department in the township. This is all over Facebook right now and is a huge topic that is getting the town talking.
After a heated argument between the pair during a July meeting, Cummings told McGuire that he thought her “victim mentality is self-created, sweetheart.” Cummings telling McGuire to “go balance a check book” shortly followed the comment. To add insult to injury, he added a hearty guffaw to put the icing on a three-layer cake of rudeness.
In case you’re keeping score, this is 2020, not 1920, and things are very different for women. Such a comment today to a woman is extremely rude, misogynistic and has absolutely no place in today’s society, especially in the political realm.
I do not think the comment is enough that Cummings should resign from the post, or be tarred and feathered and ran out of town on a rail, or one of the myriad of public punishments that have been done to community wrongdoers over the centuries. Voters may very well take care of that in November. He garnered the fewest votes in the Republican primary against three challengers, and there are many more people on the ticket this November for trustee seats. His comments could lead to voters axing him in November.
That is not to say that the comments and marginalizing of another elected peer’s work and expertise should be condoned by the public or the board in the meantime. I think his rude and misogynistic words need to be looked at an evaluated by each and every member of the Oscoda Township Board of Trustees, so they can self-reflect on why they go into the position they are in in the first place.
Many of the elected officials, and township hopefuls, who participated in the newspaper’s pre-primary survey – including several who sit on the board currently – submitted answers to the questions. The upshot of all of them, and I’m paraphrasing this here, is they would like to make the township a better place to live for its residents.
But how is treating one another on the board like garbage making the community a better place? It isn’t. To be sure, accurate financial record keeping in any government is important, but I think the public having confidence in the fact that the elected officials are working together, and being civil to one another, is also very key.
One of the things with representative government is, and this seems pretty obvious, is the community gets to select representatives to sit on government boards to represent their interests. They pick people that are often likeminded and share their values. I like to think that the voting public doesn’t want people who treat one another with disrespect, and do not keep the ball rolling for a better community, on the board.
Taking it back to Facebook is the fact that thousands of people, including young budding public servants and future leaders of the community, got to open up Facebook, check out a local elected official belittle another public servant, laugh about it, and go on with the meeting as if it was OK. Well it wasn’t OK.
That is a terrible example of how representative government should be working in the community. The recent public apology by Cummings to McGuire, followed up by his “yeah, but still” argument for her alleged bookkeeping faux pas was also a joke. You do not apologize to someone and expect them and the public to believe it is sincere, then double down on your argument as almost a justification as to why you said the comment to begin with.
We are better than that as a society and community, and showcasing it on the Internet, for the entire world to see is embarrassing. I’m embarrassed that my township board is the laughing stock of the county because of one board member’s comment. I’m embarrassed for Jaimie for having to be the brunt of the comments. I am also embarrassed that no one, especially Supervisor Aaron Weed, in recent meetings from the board has called Cummings on his ignorant comment. But I am also proud of all the people who stood up at a recent meeting and called to attention what I believe is a pretty serious issue.
Lets hope that with votes, come Jan. 1, 2021, political change will lead to a board that is more civil and actually works together for the community and not against one another, because as it stands they are dysfunctional and there are too many great things on the horizon for the township to be led by this board.