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Leaders Lawyer Up


February 23, 2012 by Steve Winkler

My wife and I enjoy watching teevee police dramas on DVD. We like to give sections of the show a second viewing to find that visual clue that can be overlooked. The shows all stick pretty close to the same formula; find the body, introduce suspects, investigate, throw in a plot twist, have a chase and put the bad guys away.

One of the standard scenes for these shows is the interrogation of a suspect. The detectives are sweating the suspect when he/she suddenly realizes they may be in bigger trouble than they thought and ask for an attorney. This is when Brisco exits the interrogation room and tells Lt. Van Buren “they lawyered up.” Sophisticated police drama fans know what this means; suspect can no longer be questioned. Darn. (But this of course pushes the story forward).

This was the mental image I got when the Observer asked West Fork council members to explain their vote granting spot zoning for Mike Landa’s residential property in a residential zone which created a two acre commercial zone.

Here’s what Observer reporter Renee Reed encountered. Email inquiries were sent to the six aldermen and alderwomen who voted for overriding the planning commission. Three of the ward representatives Anita Lowry, Ward 3, Ed Stout, Ward 1 and Misty Caudle Ward 2 didn’t respond at all. The other three replies follow.

Question: “I am writing a quick follow up article to the rezoning of the Landa property that you voted for at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.  It will be a picture and quote piece.  Would you please take a minute and answer the following question for my article? I would greatly appreciate it.”

“What was it that led you to vote “yes” on the Landa re-zoning appeal? (Please be specific)”

Joan Wright, Ward 4, who made the motion to overturn the planning commission decision: “Renee, I will defer to our City lawyer, Tom Kieklak, who was at the council meeting.”

 Julie Shafer, Ward 2, who seconded Wrights motion, told us “Please refer this question to our city attorney Tom Kieklak.”Rodney Drymon, Ward 1, didn’t lawyer up but offered this reply, “Renee, I would like to know if you’re making these inquiries for an article for the observer??? I f that’s the case my reponse will be no comment, if not let me know and I’ll be glad to answer your question…Thanks Rodney Drymon”We suppose Mr. Drymon is waiting to talk with a reporter from the big-city, out-of-town paper that has a larger circulation.  Why waste time talking to the local rag?

Steve Winkler

Steve Winkler is the publisher and editor of the Observer. Email him at

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