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It thrills me to no end when someone takes me to task over one of my editorials or columns, and this week I welcome letter writer Katie Stevens Hutton to the deep end of the opinion writing pool.
Hutton, secretary for the library’s board of trustees, is all worked up in her letter to the editor because I had the temerity in last week’s editorial to let readers know that I’ve requested to view the public library’s financial documents. Given that the library is taking in roughly $400,000 more in local taxes each year than is needed to run the place, asking to see its financials seemed a fairly reasonable request to me.
But in Hutton’s letter, she describes me as an ignorant hack who doesn’t fully understand how the library is funded, accuses me of sensationalizing the issue with false implications and misleading comments, and that I’m alleging that the library is squandering and possibly mishandling taxpayer money.
Heck, I’m too stupid, she implies, to even understand the fiscal court’s role in accepting the library’s budget summary each year.
And to top it off, had I been bright enough to ask about the things I’m too stupid to understand before writing last week’s editorial, I would have saved myself the utter shame of being exposed for the fraud I really am — by a third grade teacher at Turner Elementary, no less.
(I know she’s a third grade teacher because the letter she e-mailed included that information. Not to mention that it came on a school day from her anderson.kyschools.us e-mail address — you know, the ones educators use to stay in touch with parents from computers that are paid for by taxpayers. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.)
Anyway, perhaps it’s time to take the teacher to school.
Ms. Hutton, I’m sure when you’re teaching classes and not writing letters to the editor, you work very hard at making sure your students accurately comprehend what they read. Perhaps tonight would be a good time to take that particular lesson plan home and learn it yourself.
Nowhere in my six-paragraph editorial do I imply, assume or apparently indicate that I believe the library: is part of county government; should be “frowned upon for not spending every dollar available”; is subservient to the fiscal court (that’s why I wrote that the court accepted the budget summary); is “squandering and possibly mishandling taxpayer money”; or any of the other rash of assumptions and hyperbole you claim in your letter.
Instead of comprehending what I wrote, you did what I hope you teach students not to do and jumped to all manner of conclusions without any supporting facts or basis.
Then, in an apparent breathless dash to finish your letter before leaving school that day, you committed another learning sin by not even bothering to finish reading what I wrote: “In an effort to better understand why it costs nearly $1 million to operate — and over $1.3 million to fund — the library, The Anderson News has submitted an open records request to review the library’s finances.”
Had you bothered, you wouldn’t have found it necessary to excoriate me for being too ignorant or stupid to ask questions first.
Ms. Hutton, I fully intend to ask questions but will do so after I’ve done the responsible thing and actually taken the time to view the finer points of the library’s budget, including its payroll.
Or to put it another way, I plan on doing my homework before showing up for class unprepared and asking a bunch of questions based on faulty comprehension, rash assumptions and over-the-top rhetoric.
Perhaps, Ms. Hutton, you should do the same tonight after reviewing the merits of reading comprehension.
E-mail Ben Carlson at email@example.com.