Dale Punch is asking a legitimate question — why was he the lone individual named in a Nov. 26 Downtown Development Association staff report, from Business and Community Development director Brad Guth to Lincolnton city manager Jeff Emory, as a “disappointment” for the organization?
Guth issued an apology in his Jan. 2 staff report to Emory, which the Times-News received on Saturday: “I’d like to apologize to Mr. Punch for using his name in a staff report it won’t happen again.” (sic)
Punch said in an article in Friday’s edition that he believes he drew the ire of the DDA boss as a result of his opposition to, and vocal criticism of, what he views as the waste of taxpayer dollars for Hog Happenin’, the motorcycle festival held in downtown Lincolnton each year.
The reason Punch was singled out doesn’t really matter. He’s not the first person to butt heads with the Business and Community Development department, and he won’t be the last.
But the fact that he was labeled a disappointment in a public document does matter, even if it was a momentary lapse in judgment on Guth’s part, and it has given Punch plenty of extra fuel in his questioning of the DDA’s programs and also, in his eyes, a right to be indignant.
Punch has said he will defend himself at the next City Council meeting, and will have a group of veterans beside him to defend his character. Whether Punch is actually a disappointment to anyone is completely beside the point as well — that label is entirely subjective, and we all know the old adage about opinions. No matter how many character witnesses make public comments to the city leadership on his behalf, the opinion of the one person who (apparently) is of consequence in this case — Guth — won’t likely be changed.
Punch is owed an explanation, and I hope he gets one. The explanation is where this episode should end.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.