As those who haven’t been under a rock for the last couple months know, Salisbury’s city elections came to a yawning conclusion (for the most part) earlier this week. At the moment the only two people remaining on pins and needles are Cynthia Polk and Shanie Shields. After Shields led on Election Night, absentee balloting has thus far turned the tables and placed Polk in the driver’s seat by one vote with still a handful to be counted – a flat-out tie is a definite possibility.
But that rivalry is nowhere near as bitter as a couple I’ve observed over the last week. Let’s begin with the pitched disagreement here on this very website featuring “Outraged Richard” against a diverse coalition of commentors who really don’t care who Jim Ireton sleeps with either. In fact, as long as Jim isn’t going to make himself into an example of a gay mayor (as opposed to a mayor who happens to be gay) then I see no issue with that for 95% of the population. My objections to Ireton are strictly policy-based although I reserve the right to comment if he makes his lifestyle choice a political issue.
Aside from “Outraged Richard”, I think the issue pretty much stayed where it belonged – in the closet, as it were. But I’m certain this statement will draw more comment on both sides – good for readership I suppose!
Now, whether the recent uneasy truce between Jonathan Taylor (aka the Salisbury Grinch as in Views of a Salisbury Grinch) and Joe Albero of Salisbury News will hold or not probably depends on the seconds, thirds, and so on in their duel. We ended up making the rivalry a thorny side issue in all three electoral races, with Taylor favoring Gary Comegys, Shanie Shields, and Muir Boda while Albero backed Jim Ireton, Cynthia Polk, and Debbie Campbell.
Depending on how the District 1 race turns out Albero may go 3-for-3 but longtime readers of the local blogs may recall how disheartened people were with Louise Smith (who had pretty much unanimous backing from the local bloggers.) So Joe shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatch because Polk could be the next example of a vote in favor of those Albero detests.
Perhaps a legitimate question can be asked regarding what happens next with both websites. Taylor wants to change his direction and focus on the good within Salisbury but that will be a turnoff to those who expect him to counter what they consider the overreaching by Albero on certain topics, and this redirection will likely be greeted with a great deal of skepticism by those on Joe’s side, particularly G.A. Harrison of Delmarva Dealings.
And then you have Albero and his numerous co-contributors, along with the sycophants who slavishly support whatever he says. The question can be asked whether his enemies list – a grouping which seems to dwindle with each passing day as the political winds shift – will become too small to keep Joe’s site interesting. After all, one can only read so many police reports and public service announcements before wishing for red meat, and let’s face it – Barrie Parsons Tilghman was a major source of protein for Joe and his readership.
For someone like that, there always needs to be a foil; an archenemy to unite one’s purpose. Mine is big government, unfortunately that particular devil of mine isn’t going anywhere soon. Aside from the occasional Harrison article, one thing Salisbury News generally lacks is good political commentary. But Joe rarely lacks for an enemy – I’ve even come in handy a time or two along with pretty much every other blogger who’s not a contributor of his.
Most troubling amongst all the conflict is the ease with which both men stepped into the realm of making it about family. Personally I don’t care who went first, neither needed to go there. And to be perfectly frank I’m of the belief that the truce isn’t going to last very long because there’s too many anonymous commentors who like nothing better to stir up trouble and have an axe to grind against either Taylor or Albero.
While Joe tends to dismiss what I do and the reach I have, he forgets that I’ve been at this longer and have a pretty good memory of what’s come before on the local website scene. There’s been a number of what I dub “anti-Albero” sites and thus far Joe has outlasted them, in part because he has a larger enemy (and likely deeper pockets too.)
So if Taylor is no longer the bogeyman and Barrie Tilghman is out of the political picture, who becomes the enemy Joe craves? At the same time, can Taylor resist the frequent opportunities for cheap shots?
If either want to get the respect each thinks they deserve, then both Joe and Jonathan need to achieve a much higher level of discourse than they’ve shown over the last several months. Only time will tell who blinks first in this contest of wills.