The latest episode in the soap opera that is the Huber Heights City Council has been released, this time in the form of a video apparently created by Council Member Nancy Byrge’s husband and given to Member Janelle Smith and then somehow distributed to other council members.
The video pokes fun of Council Member Richard Shaw for being overweight, playing games on a computer during council meetings, and other unpleasant body functions. It also paints Mayor Tom McMasters in an unflattering light while using profanity.
Smith says that Byrge called her to let her know the video was in her city mailbox, while Byrge claims to have played no role in the video’s distribution. One of those statements is false – they can’t both be true.
Byrge claims the video is “political satire” and is one of many her husband makes and shares with friends.
The video is not political satire, however, it is bullying, plain and simple.
Political satire, which typically has some policy objective, has been around since the time of the Reformation, and is an acceptable form of public discourse. Saturday Night Live may be the king of political satire, hilariously so. This newspaper runs at least one political cartoon on its opinion page every week.
The video created by Mr. Byrge had no political merit, no policy angle. It made fun of Shaw’s weight and painted him in a very poor light.
Shaw and Council Member Glenn Otto have filed a complaint asking for Byrge’s removal from office, and Byrge has filed a complaint asking for Smith’s removal from office.
I’m not sure anything here rises to the level of removal, and that decision is currently in the hands of Mayor McMasters.
With that said, if a Wayne High School student created that video about a fellow student and distributed it, they would almost certainly be suspended for bullying, and maybe even expelled.
The video’s creation was shameful and offensive – it gives a real insight to how a person thinks, and its not a good look. The video’s distribution was just as bad because it perpetuated a wrong.
At a minimum, Byrge and Smith owe Shaw, the rest of Council, and the residents of Huber Heights, a public apology without excuses. Byrge should also consider putting the city, and its residents, ahead of her own personal political future and resign.
Absent that, voters can decide in November whether they want someone like Byrge representing them. My vote would be no.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.