Accusations of slander fly at Opp council meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Last night’s Opp City Council meeting turned a little heated when resident Aaron Bogen addressed the council for a the second consecutive meeting about the police chief and assistant chief appointments, as well as his issues with the local newspaper.

At the previous meeting, Bogen, along with a roomful of residents from District 4, which is Opp’s predominately black district, turned out to voice their concerns over why Capt. Jenkins Logan, a 43-year veteran of the OPD, was not appointed chief or assistant chief.

Monday night, Bogen addressed the council – specifically Mayor John Bartholomew – over why Bartholomew did not respond to his questions last meeting.

“I talked it over among (the council), and you said you were coming back in December,” Bartholomew said. “Our appointment stands. We are satisfied with what we have. So we are going to keep what we have.”

Bogen accused Bartholomew of speaking through The Opp News, Opp’s weekly paper.

“Every time we respond to you here (at the council meeting), you respond in The Opp News. Why you couldn’t tell me face-to-face what you were saying,” Bogen said. “I think The Opp News is running the show.”

Opp News Editor Jay Thomas defended the paper in the open meeting.

“Sir, do you realize you are slandering (the newspaper)?” Thomas asked.

Bogen’s rebuttal was that The Opp News was slandering “us.”

Bogen was referring to his interpretation of The Opp News’ editorial in its most recent edition and an editorial cartoon that published in the same edition.

There was a short exchange between the two before Bartholomew told Bogen his time was up.

Thomas told Bogen that Bartholomew had no say in what went into the newspaper.

After the meeting, Thomas said the paper has “an open door policy. Anyone with issues can come see us.”

On Friday, Bogen told The Star-News that he had attempted to contact officials at The Opp News.

Thomas told The Star-News that he had no knowledge of Bogen attempting to contact his newspaper.

Additionally, resident Janice Brannon said she felt that Bartholomew should have given Logan the “common courtesy” and asked him to be the chief or assistant chief.

“I never got a chance to meet (former mayor H.D.) Edgar,” she said. “But from what I’ve seen, I don’t see any difference other than a face and a name.”

Resident Bill Edwards, who regularly attends council meetings, said that the residents of District 4 just want to be treated fairly.

“District 4 just wants to be treated like District 1,” he said. “I think everyone wants the same thing.”

Resident Willie Daniels said he read in the newspaper about roadblocks.

At the last meeting, Bogen accused new OPD chief Mike McDonald of instituting roadblocks in District 4.

“I welcome roadblocks in my community,” he said. “If they (police officers) want to use my driveway to eat lunch, they can.”