SOLON & BEYOND: The day I was “raked over the coals”

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

In last week’s paper I mentioned that I had upset some people with my way of writing the truth. One of the many papers that I have written for was The Carney Brook Chronicle, out of Bingham, back in 1997. I came across the paper that I had written for and on October 24, 1997, on the front page it states: Solon Selectmen Subject Chronicle Reporter To Third Degree At Town Hall. (Editor’s Note: The following is a first person account by Chronicle reporter Marilyn Rogers on a meeting she was invited to by Solon Board of Selectmen.)

One of my favorite past times is trying to hear both sides of every story, so several months ago when I heard a story about our Solon Selectmen I went to the town office and asked them if it was true, and they admitted to it and said it was a big joke. I was put down big time when I said that I thought selectmen should be above such things. What they had done was sign the name of someone who complains a lot to a note they had written. My words were, “This is scary, I’m down here complaining a lot, what are you going to do to me?” Charlie Johnson, First Selectman, replied, “Oh, we wouldn’t do anything to you.” Not true!

Nearly every Monday morning I have either gone to the town office or called to see if there was any news to be printed. A week ago on Monday morning I was busy making cats for a craft fair when the phone rang and it was Robin Judd, Second Selectman, stating that they had some news for me and would I come down and get it. Not suspecting a thing I walked into one of the worst possible scenarios a taxpayer and reporter could be put through.

When I got to the town office I noticed several Chronicles and Somerset Gazettes, all highlighted, laying on a table, and was asked to go to the conference room with the three selectmen. Charlie, with the support of Robin and John (Smiley), Third Selectman, proceeded to rake me over the coals about what they called “negative reporting”. It was a lengthy session of ridicule of my ‘old-fashioned ideas and beliefs’… even an attack about news they themselves had given me the week before. But the statement that brought the worst verbal abuse was one I had made in this paper (Chronicle), I am a firm believer in democracy and I had gone on to say that I thought the people in Solon should have been allowed to vote on the new recently erected town signs. I then went on in my column, to state my opinion on why apathy abounds in America today.

Nobody should have been subjected to the treatment I received in the town office that Monday for stating a difference of opinion. Quite simply it was oppression, suppression, intimidation, and it was awful. I fought back tears for quite awhile but finally they flowed as I hurried out of that office, I do pay my taxes (thanks to GRAMS) and there is still freedom of the press, even in 1990s.

Back in 1765 John Adams made this statement about freedom: “Be not intimidated therefor, by any terrors from publishing with the utmost freedom whatever can be warranted by the laws of your liberty by any pretenses of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.”


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