To The Editor:
You made several valued points in your commentary on Oct. 3. However, the attack on John Jennings wasn’t one of them.
I first met Mr. Jennings just a month ago following my own public comment regarding Johnny’s Outback being too close to the elementary school.
I’ve since learned that Jennings spent a 23 year career in San Antonio law enforcement. He’s a devout family man with integrity, intelligence and a passion to follow the law and do what’s right. Like any other citizen in our democracy, Jennings has the right to his freedom of expression/speech and to protect his property rights to every extent permitted by law. Within these constitutional, state and local rights (and laws), he spoke publicly in order to hold elected officials accountable for real or perceived ignorance to ordinances, permits, and zoning rules already on the books.
Now Jennings himself has been vilified and publicly accused of slandering, harassing and lying - though homebuilder Jim Boynton, who spoke immediately prior to Jennings at the 9/19 Aldermen meeting, lodged the exact same public grievance as Jennings, complete with his own supporting documentation.
The bar for slander/defamation of government officials is appropriately high and occurs only if statements were made with “actual malice”. This wasn’t the case for Jennings or Boynton.
Further, it shouldn’t matter whether Jennings has lived here two months or twenty years, or whether he brings two hundred dollars or twenty thousand dollars to the village coffers. Neither he nor his surrounding neighbors’ voices should be diminished or dismissed by their spent time here or money contributed to the tax base. Jennings is a citizen with equal rights under the law and he’s proudly served his community by putting his life on the line to serve and protect for 23 years.
He deserves better…