Weaverville – If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it fall, does it make a sound? I think we all know the answer to this question. Just because no one is there to hear it doesn’t change the characteristics of the falling tree. The same goes for Weaverville Town Councilwoman Michele Wood’s report of a meme on Facebook (see article page 12).
Just a week after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, Wood posted a meme on her Facebook which stated, “I would like all the women in my life to stop for a minute, take a long, deep breath, and burn everything to the f*cking the [sic] ground.”
Indeed, there were people on Facebook who read the post and commented and left reactions on the post. No matter how she meant it, several who commented on the post were ready to take action. “I’ll help,” commented Claire Ritzler. ” I’ve got matches,” stated Marianne Wood. “I’m in…burn baby burn…” replied Monnett Arambula. Even Weaverville Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson gave Wood’s post a “thumbs up,” and Buncombe County Commissioner Amanda Edwards gave it a “heart.”
Now, after receiving backlash from the public, Wood is trying to blame the backlash on the Tribune‘s decision to print her post in the newspaper. That’s like saying that an explosion was caused by someone reporting on the explosion. A little hint Mrs. Wood, we were not stalking your Facebook. We received a tip about your post. So if you think your meme was made in private, why put it on a public forum? No, the Tribune is not the cause of your trouble. You are. You’re an elected official. Please take some responsibility.
My business partner likes to say, “News is anything somebody doesn’t want people to know; everything else is advertising.” So, if this is your first round of being in the political arena, we hope you have found that people are watching what you do as a community leader. Try being more careful about what you post. Try to unite people, not divide them. The newspaper is here to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire and make them accountable for their actions and words. We are not your public relations agent. We are here to report the news. Free public relations advice Mrs. Wood: a public official calling for the women she knows to burn “everything to the f*cking the [sic] ground” is news.
People are looking for an apology for your poor decision, not excuses like “the Tribune made me do it—it’s their fault.” And you said in your response to a call for your resignation, “Those who know me know that I have spent my entire adult life working with non-violent training with non-violent programs.” That’s the problem: not everyone on a public platform like Facebook knows you and might take you seriously. And it sounds like you need to get a refund on that “non-violent” training program.
A few months ago, the Tribune reported that the Weaverville Town Council had incorrectly taken votes during a council hybrid meeting where one council member was voting via Zoom. Each vote taken should have been by roll call, but it wasn’t. Each of these votes could have been challenged in court by anyone who had an issue because of the procedural error.
The reason we pointed it out in our report had a two-fold purpose. The first was to inform our readers about the facts. The second was to inform the town of the error so that they might learn from their mistake and not incur another. Otherwise, the same thing that happened in Woodfin could have occurred, where a town commissioner lost her seat and the town had legal bills to pay.
I don’t believe Wood would have had a problem with our reporting if the newspaper had reported on comments made by another elected official from the other side of her political spectrum. I’ve been covering Weaverville’s government for the last 20 years, and it has only been in the last couple that I’ve been able to see the ugliness of partisan politics starting to rear its grotesque head on the town council.
I also have noticed of late that Weaverville is trying hard to follow in the footsteps of Asheville and Buncombe County, but as I’ve stated before, people live in places like Weaverville because they’re not Asheville. And remember, Mrs. Wood, they’re people in the political forest you now live in, waiting for you to fall. The Tribune doesn’t cause you to fall. We’re only there to report on it when you do.