Sunday, February 26, 2006

That "Famous" Bern Ewert Temper

Yesterday I attended a “meet and greet” breakfast meeting at Ryan’s Steakhouse in Danville VA. I went with the purpose of listening to the current 5th Congressional District Democratic candidates for the office held by Virgil Goode. Having already done my research on both candidates, I admit to being a little distressed with what I had found out. Needless to say, that research was the basis of the question I asked Bern (and which I had written down upon arriving at Ryan’s):

Having lived in this district for 22 years and having voted for the Democrat Virgil Goode several times, I feel personally burned by his defection to the Republican Party and what I see as his lack of honesty in the recent revelations from Washington. So I am very interested in seeing Virgil replaced. In my personal research of the current Democratic candidates, I found several pieces of information mentioned about you that are stressful to me, given the recent 5th District history. (1), which is associated with the FEC, shows a $500 donation to a Republican Congressman from Michigan and (2) I found documentation that you had also considered running for Congress in 1987—as a Republican. My question: How can 5th District Democrats be assured that you will also not defect to the Republican Party?

He quickly blew off my question by citing that the Republican donation was just a business- associated investment associated with a project being completed in Northern Virginia and admitting that he had “lost his mind for a couple of weeks.” He went on to say that he stands on his record and that “Dickie” Cranwell, the State Democratic Chairman, has endorsed him and has known him for 30 years. (Unfortunately, I have questions about a lot of that, too—and will be discussing my feelings and research in later postings).

After the meeting, I stopped outside the room near my friend, who was talking to the other Democratic candidate Al Weed (a man I had previously been introduced to only once—during his 2004 Congressional race against Virgil). Bern walked up to me and immediately asked if I was a member of Al’s campaign. Needless to say, that assumption made me very annoyed and I replied that I was a member of the Cumberland County (VA) Democratic Committee. During our ensuing conversation, I told him that the Republican issue was only one of the questions I had about the research I had done on him. As he gave me a business card and told me to call him about my concerns, he asked me what those other concerns were. I mentioned Explore Park and the fact that his two resumes don’t mention his exact duties in regards to the Park. He attempted to blow me off with some facts and figures about the Park, but I got the impression that my comebacks (based on research I had done) showed that I knew more than he thought.

I told him that I felt he should be presenting his entire employment record for the 5th District voters to examine—and, as he was digging in his bag, he told me that I was overreacting to the situation. He pulled out a resume (the same one handed out by Katherine Turner of Bedford at the 5th District/Central Committee meetings in Richmond) and proceeded to show me that Explore Park was listed under his company’s name—Ewert and Company. I told him that being a director of Explore Park was a lot different than just saying his company worked on the project. I told him that his resume shouldn’t just list what makes him feel good and look good as a candidate. He disagreed vehemently again and I left, after asking if I could take the resume with me.

Needless to say, I’m still annoyed—as much about his assumption that I work for the Weed campaign as the high-handed manner in which he discussed his irritation about my question with me. Unfortunately, for Bern, his irritation for having his actions/recommendations questioned and his lack of “people skills” have been mentioned before—in several online newspaper articles and web logs that I have researched (including today’s Danville Register & Bee).

· A July 20, 2003, comment by the Peoria Pundit about Bern when he was interim city manager was “I haven’t been particularly impressed with Ewert. He’s a go-along, get-along guy, and sits there at council meetings with a sour look on his face, like its (sic) an affront to his dignity to listen to anyone who doesn’t agree with his recommendations.

· In August 2003, the Pundit says, “In his last official act as interim city manager, Bern Ewert displayed, once again, his unwillingness to follow the explicit instructions of the
majority of the council when the instructions conflict with the wished of the pro-economic development crowd.”

· A January 24, 2004, blog listing by the Pundit referenced a Peoria Star Journal article which said, “Bern Ewert, the Savior of Economic Development, is not beloved everywhere. The former /temporary/ city manager is being touted by Mayor Dave Ransburg to head the Peoria Civic Federation. But it’s a hard sell. It seems that the movers and shakers found Ewert’s tenure a little too contentious for their tastes. So did some of the other people he’s worked with before. Kudos to Jennifer Davis (a Star Journal reporter) for digging up the information.”

· The Peoria Star Journal’s Davis even mentioned his current Congressional race in a February 6, 2006, online article with this comment: “Bern Ewert, a Virginia-based former city manager and private consultant for government, was either heralded or hated during his five-month stint here in 2003 as Peoria's city interim manager.

· Even Waldo Jacquith says about Bern: “He’s prickly and seems to lack the people skills that, for example, Al Weed has.”

· Who’s who in Galveston says Bern left his acting city manager position “after failing to respect certain sacred cows.

These shortcomings have also been cited as reasons his contracts with various localities have not been renewed at times. So, I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised by his manner yesterday morning—just ticked off.

I still contend that Bern Ewert should disclose his entire employment history to 5th District constituents and take credit for even his failures. And why he should think that his skeletons [giving money to a Republican Congressman from Michigan (one wonders why) and thinking of running for Congress in 1987—as a Republican, no less] would remain in the closet in this day and age is beyond me. Even Jack Ryan (R-IL—and supported by Virginia’s own George Allen) found this out the hard way in his campaign against Barack Obama. Wake up, Bern—it’s the 21st century!


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