“Will call tonight,” was the last I heard from Richard Zahn, on Oct. 13.
He never did. So I sat on his letters.
The first came from an unfamiliar email. Turns out it was his secretary’s. And his signature was photocopied onto it.
I emailed Richard, asking if the letter was indeed from him. Two weeks later he replied it was, along with another letter and two blank checks.
It took me all of two seconds to realize his inference. Everyone has a price. If I didn’t have the guts to print his letters, he’d pay for them to run as ads.
In this letter he accused the Register of maligning Clyde Toland, a local attorney who gave his interpretation of the will of Tom Bowlus in regards to the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. The Register printed Toland’s letter and the reaction to it by several Iola citizens.
Seems when you are the bearer of bad news you also get the blame.
In both letters Richard used the address of his deceased parents here in Iola. Richard Zahn hasn’t lived in Iola for more than 40 years. To my knowledge, he splits his time between homes in Scottsdale, Ariz., and New Jersey.
He remains a fan of all things Iola, for which the community is grateful, but it’s disingenuous for him to list Iola as his home address.
I emailed Richard back, saying I was affronted by the blank checks and his accusation we had done anything to damage Clyde’s reputation.
He emailed back saying, “Thx, will call tonight,” in the subject line.
I took his reply literally, as those who are hoping for a different outcome often do.
He never did call.
Instead, he sends out a mass mailing accusing the Register of not printing letters to the editor critical of the proposal to build new schools.
A NEWSPAPER’S reputation as a purveyor of the truth is its biggest tool.
The Register staff has worked tirelessly these past couple of months to provide both sides of the story in regards to the vote on new schools. We have interviewed merchants around the square, published pro and con letters to the editor, sought the perspectives of other communities, covered every public forum, and gone in depth about the current conditions of our elementary schools and high school.
Here on the opinion page we have spoken in favor of new schools because we have been convinced that is what is best for our children and the future of Iola.
That is a newspaper’s job: To build community.
Through thick or thin, we’ll continue to do our best.