In searing public speech, BW mayor confuses conspiracy with routine journalism

BLYTHEWOOD – Mayor Bryan Franklin delivered his most chilling verbal attack to date on The Voice’s publisher and Councilman Donald Brock at the end of a joint town council/planning commission meeting Monday night. The subject matter was rambling, with multiple undocumented claims.

Explaining that his speech was in response to The Voice’s editorial in the April 28, 2022 issue of the newspaper, Franklin never mentioned the subject of the editorial – the almost $70,000 the Town’s outside attorney erroneously claimed the Town had spent responding to 6 or so FOIA requests from The Voice. 

Instead, Franklin veered into the weeds, alternately mocking The Voice’s professional awards and accusing the newspaper of pressuring the Town government “to take certain actions”, though he did not identify those actions.

In his 15 minute uninterrupted diatribe, Franklin made numerous random claims that he could not or would not provide evidence for. The speech can be viewed in its entirety above.

Franklin claimed, for instance, that there had “never been an outright vote to hire MPA strategies” [to provide marketing and grant writing services for the Town].

However, a YouTube video of the Feb. 22, 2021 council meeting, posted on the Town’s website, shows Councilman Sloan Griffin making a motion to take a vote, and it shows the 3-2 vote, as each councilman specifies to whom he prefers to award the RFP (Request for Proposal). Franklin and Councilman Eddie Baughman voted for The Blythewood Chamber of Commerce.

Franklin also claimed that he voted ‘Yes’ to enter into a contract with MPA, while in fact he voted ‘No’ in the same Feb. 22, 2021 YouTube video. It was not until three weeks later that he voted ‘Yes’ when a motion was made to execute (finalize) that contract.

Referring to what may have been a campaign pledge on Brock’s part (to become mayor), Franklin claimed it was “a conspiracy to commit fraud against the Town.”

More than once in his speech, Franklin characterized the newspaper’s routine communications with MPA’s attorney as The Voice’s out-and-out conspiracy against the Town. The State, Post and Courier and other newspapers, like The Voice, frequently quote attorneys and their clients in regard to their lawsuits. The Voice also emailed questions (other than FOIAs) to The Town’s outside attorney, David Black.

Franklin also declared, for some unexplained reason, that The Voice “profits three times as much as the other paper [the Country Chronicle].” He did not credit a source for that information or present any proof of his calculations.

Franklin noted, again for an unstated reason, that “MPA submitted its FOIA for my, the mayor’s emails, communications, etc. after the contract was signed.”

 According to records obtained by The Voice, MPA’s attorney submitted the FOIA to The Town requesting Franklin’s documents on April 15, the day before Franklin signed MPA’s contract on April 16, not the day after.

Franklin sought throughout his speech to elevate himself as the authority for determining who’s right and who’s wrong in regard to the Town’s lawsuits with MPA.

“If any citizen wants a balanced argument, you call me directly,” Franklin said. “I’ll return your call … or visit you on your front porch to … clear up these falsehoods…” he stated.

In conclusion, Franklin noted that, “I’ve just disproven 5 or 6 items in the editorial that could have been disproven by picking up the phone and calling somebody.”

However, it was not obvious in the speech what those “5 or 6 items” were, or how he had “disproven” them.   

Franklin has made multiple undocumented claims in the past against The Voice that were proven to be false.

For instance, in the Sept. 23, 2021 issue of the Country Chronicle, Franklin was quoted as saying he had been “informed by [Town Administrator Carroll] Williamson that he had received ‘numerous inquiries’ from Voice publisher Barbara Ball regarding Town Attorney Shannon Burnett’s resignation…”

Franklin was quoted as saying that those “numerous inquiries” amounted to “intimidating and bullying” Williamson.

The Voice sent a Freedom of Information request that same day to town hall requesting copies of the “numerous inquiries” that The Voice allegedly sent to Williamson regarding Burnett’s resignation.

In a Nov. 18, 2021, response to that FOIA, the Town’s outside attorney David Black confirmed that the Town did not possess “numerous inquiries” from The Voice concerning Burnett’s resignation letter.

Comments

  1. “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” These words (from the movie, Tora! Tora! Tora!) remind me of what’s going on in BW. Mayor Franklin miscalculates the memory and thoroughness of Vice publisher, Barbara Ball. Go get ’em, Barbara!!!

    Mayor Franklin should also keep in mind, “Never get in an argument with a person who buys ink by the barrel.” I like attributing that to Mark Twain or Benjmin Franklin, although neither may ever have said it.

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