EDITORIAL: Blame the Wave

March 24, 2014

Going to the Post Office, it’s hard to miss the posters attacking the Wave, including accusations of “schemes to denigrate our town.” Another claim stapled to the telephone pole is that “the Wave has been screaming about wasteful spending and that we are going bankrupt.

The postings appeared on the telephone pole this past Friday, the morning after former town councilman Larry Veber addressed Town Council with a similar message. “Something that’s very concerning,” Veber related, “from what I hear from people who come into town. Two people recently that love Cape Charles and were so impressed with Cape Charles – they looked at everything, and said, ‘listen – we understand your town is going bankrupt!’ . . . ‘Everything we read about in the Wave – it’s bankrupt. You guys are going under! You are really in serious, serious trouble!’”

Veber continued, “We need to have somebody who’s going to give the information and not editorialize it.” . . . “There’s a group somewhere that keeps on talking, keeps on beating, and it’s hurting our town – in my opinion it’s having a tremendous negative effect on Cape Charles.”

Our response is that Mr. Veber’s accusations are utterly ridiculous and without foundation. What he doesn’t like is that the Wave actually reports the news – good and bad. The inner circles of any government never want bad news reported, and if possible they will print their own Pravda – or in the town’s case, the Gazette.


Mayor Sullivan once said, “For accurate, precise information, please refer to the Gazette.” But don’t expect to get the full story in the Gazette. For example, Gazette readers learned all about plans for a giant prototype windmill to be built in the Bay off Cape Charles Harbor. That was good news. But when the multinational company pulled out of the deal, that was bad news, so the Gazette never printed a word.

But back to the Wave: We have never suggested, editorially or in a news story, that the town is going bankrupt. Readers can prove that for themselves. In the top right corner of the page is a search window. Type “bankrupt” and check the results. You will find two stories about the Madonia bankruptcy auction, and a story quoting Councilman Steve Bennett: “’I don’t think this will put us into bankruptcy. By law we could have $40 million in debt,’ he said.”

What about “wasteful spending”? Searching for “waste,” we find only stories on “wastewater” and “waste collection.”

Last January, Paul Chandler, who owns vacation rental property, wrote, The Wave purports to be a newspaper. If that’s the case, it has a responsibility to the town to be a quality newspaper, instead of becoming a biased, divisive tabloid pandering to [an] insular minority.”

We responded: The Wave has published 49 stories and events so far this month. Please put substance to your complaint by specifying which of those 49 stories should NOT have been published.

Mr. Chandler wrote back: “You appear to have completely missed my point.”

It appears that our critics know they don’t like the Wave, but are unable to cite specifics. So give Mayor Sullivan credit: back in 2013 when she was still speaking to us, we asked for a specific example of what she didn’t like about Wave reporting. She cited that morning’s headline: Town Plans Deal with South Port to Protect Inner Harbor. She didn’t like the word “deal.”  We would wager that she didn’t like a more recent headline either: Town Grants South Port $180,000 Utility Fee Deferral — it probably sounds too much like a “real deal.”

To prove that the town is not bankrupt, Mr. Veber is distributing a chart showing the total assessed value of town property versus town debt. You can read the chart on the telephone pole, but here’s what you won’t read: that report was as of June 2012, before the county reassessed town property for 2013. That was over a year ago, but Mr. Veber has yet to hear the news: town property values dropped 36 percent. In reaction, Town Council raised the 2013 tax rate to “equalize” the budget, and then raised it some more to actually increase the budget. The Wave reported it all (and for that matter so did the Gazette). The Wave also reported that town debt now totals $10.8 million, up from only $1.7 million in 2005. That’s not a typo — town debt now is more than six times what it was in 2005.

Would somebody please get the word to Mr. Veber?



9 Responses to “

EDITORIAL: Blame the Wave

  1. Thomas D. Giese on March 24th, 2014 9:40 am

    Kill the messenger!

  2. Tom Kenny on March 24th, 2014 1:49 pm

    “What about “wasteful spending”? Searching for “waste,” we find only stories on “wastewater” and “waste collection.”

    Oh, please your nose is growing. Just because the word “WASTE” doesn’t appear in the article doesn’t mean the article isn’t about what the Wave perceives as wasted money. A recent example: “Town Paying Dickie Foster’s Real Estate Tax.” Clearly the slant on this is the Wave believes the town shouldn’t be leasing the property and that the town is wasting valuable tax revenue.

    As the saying goes, “Dog Bites Man” is not news; “Man Bites Dog” is news. When a property owner pays real estate tax to the town and county, it’s not news, but when a town pays the property owner’s county and town tax bills, that’s news. Waste is another story. –EDITOR

  3. Dana Lascu on March 25th, 2014 12:23 am

    Cape Charles without the Wave would be a town of blissful ignorance heading merrily towards a financial cliff. We don’t have to endorse all the articles and opinion pieces to realize that the Wave is providing an enormous public service, striving for a better future for our town – a future that will not materialize if we are saddled with more debt as a result of thoughtless runaway spending. For most of us, the emotional investment in the local character and community is immense and it would be a tragedy to lose them because of the ever-growing and unwarranted taxes and fees.

  4. Craig Richardson on March 25th, 2014 3:47 am

    They are just mad that someone is reporting ACTUAL news about the problems in Cape Charles, instead of fluff articles, plain and simple! The Wave has exposed all the crooked dealings, the back room deals, and they know it. They are so scared, they’re resorting to lies and misinformation to try and discredit you. The Mayor and her cronies know their days are numbered, and are on the attack. Keep up the good work, and keep exposing the corruption in this county!

  5. Wayne Creed on March 25th, 2014 3:31 pm

    It seems every other month, they trot Mr. Veber out for what is now a fairly well-rehearsed vaudeville show (how can an honest man be tortured into telling such tales…hope they at least get him a coffee for his trouble). And now, as if Mr. Veber’s theater of the absurd isn’t enough, the usual suspects have now entered the realm of print media. They must really be worried, because, the numbers don’t lie. Think about a town of 600 full timers, and a debt of almost 11 million–courtesy of the Sullivan-Bannon-Natali axis. This vicious attack against the Wave is to be expected, as a free press must be engaged in uncovering social, political and economic conditions that exist in order to increase the ordinary people’s understanding of their plight and their confidence to challenge it this May at the polls. “A free press is the ever vigilant eye of the people’s spirit, the embodiment of the people’s trust in itself…”

    Still, listening to this entire reel of angst does make one wistful…nostalgic for a time before they usurped power–do you remember when the town only had 14 employees and we still mowed our own grass? Now, we have 37 employees, and have to hire contractors to do the work (what do we pay, $35,000,$40,000 or $50,000.00 to cut the grass in old school park?). Councilman Bennett’s next $10,000.00 workplace survey should be to unravel the mystery of how Cape Charles has become productivity Bermuda Triangle.

    Speaking of grass cutting, what has gone on in and around the park the last few years sums it all up. A few people from the Cult of Citizens for Central Park took it upon themselves to destroy the rustic old school park by turning it into a delicate paradise that requires extensive manicuring, and then slapping the maintenance fees on the general populace….really, shouldn’t the few who wanted it (Citizens for Central Park) be paying for the maintenance out of their budget? Don’t even get me started on the old school, and what a few rogue politicians did there.

    Like Greg Allman said, there ain’t but one way people, and that’s at the polls this May. It may be our last chance at redemption–the last chance to finally pry their greasy fingers from around the neck of Cape Charles. It won’t be easy. Even now, they are winding up their toy soldier, ready to parade him before the adoring masses–pull the string and he will say just what you want to hear. Don’t they always.

    Walking my dog, late at night, through these cold, wet, streets, I try to remind myself that only we can be our captains…“I know now that what makes a fool is an inability to take even his own good advice.”

  6. Nancy Daniel Vest on March 28th, 2014 10:22 am

    I do feel that the ANONYMOUS and GOSSIP portions of the WAVE lower the level of discourse in our town. Often the comments seem jaded and lately they seem like vehicles for unpaid political advertisements. It is impossible to know if these posts are all the work of one person or one candidate seeking a venue to support their point of view. I think the readers of the WAVE deserve better than this.

    EDITOR’S RESPONSE — Be assured that the ANONYMOUS posts are not the work of one person! We welcome a cross section of views, but persons with an axe to grind tend to write the most often — and yes, they can be jaded. Some contributors have sharpened their axes at the Wave’s expense, and we have published those missives as well. The GOSSIP entries are a different category — they report news tidbits, not opinion. For unjaded happy news, we recommend Cape Charles By the Bay Facebook page (CLICK). The link is shown in the right-hand column of every page of the Wave.

  7. Dana Lascu on March 28th, 2014 12:54 pm

    Happy to out myself as an occasional Anonymous and Gossip author and have no goal with regard to the elections (I don’t vote) and in general other than to make Cape Charles a better place for us and for our children, if they decide to live on this side of the Atlantic. Know other Anonymous/Gossip authors who don’t vote.

  8. Deborah Bender on March 28th, 2014 3:57 pm

    Just for the record, the few times that I have posted in the Anonymous section I actually put my name. I don’t mind posting using my name. (And I don’t run around putting signs on telephone poles in the dark.) The Wave (which by the way is NOT a blog) has brought to light many things about the town that some people in the town would really rather that people not know about. If this town’s leadership would be more transparent about what is really going on, maybe the citizens wouldn’t be so upset. Honesty is the best policy.

  9. Nancy Daniel Vest on March 30th, 2014 10:31 pm

    As I recall the ANONYMOUS column used to contain a statement about appropriate content. I believe the wording was “no pot shots.” I don’t see that statement listed anymore. Has your policy changed?

    Not really, but we do make a distinction between private citizens and public figures. That is, we don’t publish anonymous criticism of private persons, but we do allow occasional “shots across the bow” at elected and paid public officials. Public criticism is a fact of life that anyone running for office or representing a public body needs to be prepared to take — and, we might add, anyone publishing a newspaper. –EDITOR