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Bailey still refusing to resign

Published 12:50pm Saturday, May 25, 2013

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Playback58@gmail.com

ISLE OF WIGHT—Newport District representative Byron “Buzz” Bailey is staying put for now on the county’s Board of Supervisors.

Before the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors could even address the issues of county and school budgets on Thursday, several residents asked for Bailey to resign. Not the least of them was fellow board member Rex Alphin of the Carrsville District. On Monday, Chairwoman JoAnn Hall of the Hardy District first asked for a resignation. Both times, Bailey apologized for a comment he made May 13, as well as emails containing crude humor that he and School Board member Herb DeGroft had circulated privately with other board members and county staff. The emails, many of which feature President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, were anonymously printed and made public.

One of those recipients is Dottie Harris of Smithfield, president of the IOW Chapter of the NAACP. She’s demanded apologies from both men, as well as their resignations. Failing that, she’ll strive for recall elections.

In a statement he made that afternoon, Alphin outlined that freedom of speech is a treasured one in the United States, “but with that right comes a responsibility. Beneath that freedom lies a moral framework whereby we are called, particularly as leaders, to use our communications to promote what is good and true and beautiful, to call forth that which is noble among us.”

Alphin went on to say the aforementioned emails “failed in those arenas.

Their insensitive and condescending manner denigrated a people group only because they were a member of that group.”

“In light of their content, their tone, their manner, and their message, I believe it to be in the best interest of our board, our county staff and our community that Mr. Bailey step down from his position,” he said.

Alphin added this was difficult for him to do because he’s aware of his own faults and still considers Bailey a friend.

Smithfield Supervisor Al Casteen responded by asking why didn’t Hall and other county staff immediately contact Bailey when the emails began to arrive.

“Mr. Bailey compounded Mr. DeGroft’s poor judgment regarding spreading political jokes, even though it was in the height of the political season and similar jokes had to be flying around the Internet,” Casteen said. “It still was wrong and both have admitted it and apologized for their actions.”

He concluded that both men made mistakes, but didn’t blame others, and the boards should keep them.

“Honesty and a ready willingness to admit mistakes in judgment and quickly apologize are traits seldom send in too many people; particularly politicians,” Casteen said.

In the vote taken afterward, Alphin and Hall voted to require Bailey step down.

Casteen, Delores Darden and Bailey said no.

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