The ongoing foolishness at the Manatee Gun and Archery Club has reached a horrific new low.
It seems the club’s executive committee wasn’t content to just force out their longtime manager Gene Pitts.
Now, they want to assassinate his character, since they view him and his legion of supporters as a threat to their positions.
I was stunned — quite literally — when I read a press release issued last week by the club’s new $3,500-per-month PR manager, James Judge.
The press release indicts Gene for all types of trumped-up crimes and bad acts.
Of course, the release didn’t come from a law enforcement officer or a prosecutor. It was written by Judge and Ron Chapman, a health care attorney who was hired by the board’s executive committee to conduct an audit, but who now seems to be running the place.
Of course, the local media pounced on the “missing guns” story and further indicted Gene, even though no one with a badge in their billfold has said anyone did anything wrong.
The most ludicrous? A Bay News 9 story, in which Judge said: “The last thing in the world we want to happen is for these guns to get in the wrong hands and something bad to happen.”
Seventy-five-year-old M1 Garands bought through the Civilian Marksmanship Program at Camp Perry and then sold to members of a private gun club are the most sought after weapon of today’s street hoodlum.
The reporter identified Judge as the club’s “spokesman,” which was an interesting choice of title. Perhaps “paid spokesman” would have been more accurate. After all, Judge hadn’t even been to the club until he was hired just a few short months ago by the nervous executive committee. I doubt he’s even a member.
I wasn’t the only one surprised by the press release.
It raised a few eyebrows at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, too.
You see, just one day after Chapman and a couple board members brought their “allegations” to the sheriff’s office, they told reporters how the detectives were “investigating” the missing guns.
Although it’s a great way to pump up the seriousness of their story, from what I’m told it might be a bit strong.
Many readers have asked why the board, their attorney and their “spokesman” are so desperate to demonize Gene, especially since he devoted 40 years of his life to the club and its membership.
The answer is simple. They have to demonize him before March, when the club is scheduled to hold its next annual elections. If they don’t, the current board members will likely be replaced because of the shoddy way they’ve treated Gene, and Chapman and Judge will both be looking for new groups to torment.
The executive committee may not go gracefully. I’ve been told they may try to postpone the annual elections until after they’ve had a chance to consolidate power.
While I wouldn’t be surprised by the move, it would certainly be a kill-shot for the club.
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