Are city commissioners sending the right message?

SANDUSKY A letter sent by Sandusky City Commissioners Craig Stahl and Dennis Murray was intended to
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

A letter sent by Sandusky City Commissioners Craig Stahl and Dennis Murray was intended to raise funds, but now it's raising some eyebrows.

The two commissioners wrote a letter July 26 to raise money for Sandusky Now!, a political action committee formed by Citizens 4 Sandusky's Future.

At Monday's City Commission meeting, Commissioner Dannie Edmon argued that because "Sandusky City Commissioners" was centered in bold print at the top of Murray and Stahl's letter, it altered how people will perceive its contents.

Stahl replied that it was clearly indicated on both the letterhead and the envelopes that the names were listed first, followed by the title of Commissioner.

The letter was sent to "a small number of friends and acquaintances who love and support our community, and have the ability to financially contribute to an important discussion that we will have this Fall," Stahl and Murray wrote in the first paragraph.

Stahl and Murray both emphasized that the letter was sent at their own expense, not the expense of the city.

Edmon said his understanding was that the commission would not become actively involved with political action committees for the marina district project.

"Publicly we decided we would remain neutral," Edmon said.

"We have not made a commitment to sit on the sidelines," Murray responded.

Edmon answered, "I just want to know what the rules are."

Some citizens at the meeting shared Edmon's concern.

"Some people are going to assume the commission supports this," Jack Sprau said, holding a copy of the letter.

"I'd like to tell Mr. Stahl and Mr. Murray -- you are true politicians," Don Schwanger said.

Schwanger was most upset about a sentence in the second paragraph of the letter targeted at groups whom the two commissioners characterized as simply opposed to "anything they see as progress."

Schwanger said that is simply not the case. Citizens for Responsive Government and the Waterfront Watchdogs are concerned about the use of public land.

"We're seeing big-time politics," Schwanger said. He explained that putting the title of "Sandusky City Commissioners" on the top of letter inadvertently linked it to the other five members of the commission.

"I don't think we've misled anyone in any way," Murray said. "I offer no apologies for any aspect of the letter."