Nov. 10, 2015 11:35 AM

It seems you and I caused a bit of a kerfuffle on social media over the weekend when you posted to Facebook the personal email I sent to you on Thursday taking you to task for endorsing Chad Leger in the runoff for sheriff. I’m sorry that you didn’t have the wherewithal (or, dare I say, guts) to reply directly to me and instead went crying to Facebook with the rhetorical question, “So, who is bullying who?”

My biggest regret is not so much what I wrote — for those unaware, it was, “So sorry to hear you endorsed the Neanderthal, racist bully in the race, John. I thought you were one of the more sensible candidates in the race. My thinking has unfortunately changed in that regard.” — as the fact that I did it via my work email rather than my private email account. But we know what they say about hindsight. It was Thursday morning, the weather was crappy, I was lamenting a recent death in the family and, frankly, I was just in an unsavory — and obviously impulsive — mood. I also regret the redundancy of that second “in the race” in my email to you.

But it was my opinion, honest and unfiltered. You sat down with the editorial board at The Independent in August and we had a pleasant, hour-long conversation about your aspirations for the job of Lafayette sheriff. We thought you were sensible, especially in the empathetic lip service you gave to continuing Sheriff Mike Neustrom’s vanguard diversion programs. I wasn’t lying in my email to you last week that I thought you were a sensible candidate. But I realize that mortgage and credit card payments can have an unsettling effect on one’s moral compass.

I will confess to a satisfying head rush of dopamine while reading the comments by your Facebook friends under your post of my email to you. I was called stupid, an idiot, un-American, a leftist and much more. A longtime reader and friend of the publishers even emailed us to complain, admitting in the email, “I am supporting Garber in the race and actually agree with Walter’s opinion of Leger, but isn’t a paper’s editor supposed to maintain some degree of neutrality, or at least keep personal opinions private?” The short answers to that are no and no. We rarely keep our opinions to ourselves here at The IND, as we feel an obligation to weigh in on important public matters. Unlike the dailies, we don’t believe our role is to be an impartial referee, giving silliness and substance equal time. It would be further instructive for that reader, assuming that person is reading this, to imagine how it would feel if we posted to social media or theind.com that direct email expressing to us a pained, garbled solidarity with our opinion of Leger.

I suppose emailing you from my private account wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but it was a tactical mistake on my part all the same. I have nothing personal against Leger; I’ve never met the man, although I’ve known guys like him since junior high. Moreover, what I wrote in that email isn’t anything my newspaper hasn’t said about Leger in some form or fashion over the last few months, although I'll admit it: Condensing our dim view of Leger into "Neanderthal, racist bully" does sound harsh in retrospect. But the facts are facts: Leger failed an examination for promotion when he was with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, precipitating his departure from the LPSO to run for police chief in his hometown. His “sanctuary city” campaign rhetoric is implicitly racist and preys on a xenophobic fear of others, in this case Latino immigrants, and it’s well-established that he’s a hot-headed bully. You’ve seen the video posted at The Scott Times right?

Leger is by many accounts a competent small-town police chief. I wish him the best and fervently hope he remains Scott’s top cop for years to come. So, John, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I assume you have a family to feed and that selling your credibility for a (probably promised) job in a “Sheriff Leger” administration was a deeply personal sacrifice. I just hope the closest Chad Leger ever gets to sheriff was in that last sentence.


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