CAN PASTOR DENNIS WEBBER SERVE TWO MASTERS?
By NWV Staff Writer
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
August 14, 2012
Can a Pastor serve Government and God at the same time?
There seems to be a mounting tide of concern over Pastor Dennis Webber who sits on the Grants Pass City Council, not as an elected Councilor, he's never had the courage to run for office, but as an appointee filling a vacant seat – this being his second appointment to the city Council in in the last couple of years.
In part 1 of this article (City of Grants Pass, Pastor Dennis Webber and Corruption, May 7, 2012) Webber was subjected to a critical and honest scrutiny of his history in Grants Pass city government. Apparently the article offended Carl Wilson of KAJO radio who responded by canceling $750 worth of advertising that NewsWithViews.com had contracted with KAJO. Consequently, questions have been raised as to why Dennis Webber, head pastor and C.E.O of a high dollar church and twice appointed city councilor (remember, councilors are usually elected) is so worth protecting. Why is Carl Wilson giving up precious advertising revenue in order to stand between NewsWithViews.com and Webber?
To answer this question we must think of our town of having its own shadow government. It seems that regardless of elections, news coverage, and attempts at transparency, there is an ongoing impenetrable secrecy as to how things are actually run in Grants Pass. The answer to Carl Wilson's protective stance with Webber (so protective that he's willing to give up $750) seems to be motivated from within the invisible realms of Grants Pass governmental control. Wilson himself is a deeply rooted local radio station owner and former state representative. Wilson inherited ownership of the station from his father who was the hard-working founder.
If one were to harken back to September, 2009, when Mayor Murphy secretly and quietly appointed a temporary council of five – following the infamous recall of five councilors – one might better understand what is meant by "invisible control." It must be realized that the powers-that-be in Grants Pass had unwittingly put themselves in a pickle when the successful recall of five undesirable councilors (meaning fiscally responsible) left a gaping hole in city government that could not be solved by any pre-set legal, constitutional, or City Charter based means. It was as if the city power brokers had shot themselves in the foot by succeeding in the recall. Now, without a quorum of councilors they could not legally conduct business, not even the business of replacing the five councilors that had been voted out. Critical decisions needed to be made quickly – but by whom?
It certainly is possible that a decent outcome could have been arranged, one that took into account that we still do live within a representational form of government, but the opportunity to increase power thru sidestepping common governing principles proved too tempting. At this point, one could imagine back room meetings hastily called, and phone calls abounding while Mayor Mike Murphy, the entrenched city staffers, the three remaining councilors, the city attorney, etc., maneuvered for the right move to make. Two opportunities existed: 1) the opportunity to search out, even create, a solution which did not make mockery of representational governing principles.
This would take time patience, perseverance, and most importantly, caring; or 2) the opportunity to grab power quickly, public be damned; take advantage of this vacuum and conveniently fill it with cronies who would unquestioningly comply with the immediate wishes of the entrenched controllers. This would take a little "teflon" - the public and politically responsible would definitely object. But with the help of our only local newspaper, the Daily Courier (always an ally of insider Grants Pass City politics), and the ever-reliable sleepy constituency of Grants Pass – it wouldn't be a problem.
guessed right. There was very little problem as five new appointees
(a full quorum on a panel of eight) were eased into their chairs without
hardly a ripple in the Grants Pass pond. The glaring fact that could
not be ignored was that this appointing process was 100% back room politics.
It has been told many times that the process was uncouth, underhanded;
not to mention illegal and unconstitutional, flying in the face of the
utmost moral paradigm of our country's ideals, yet the result was handed
to us on a totalitarian platter - five new Councilors, a full quorum
custom-picked by the mayor without a trace of public input. Grants Pass
was up and running again.
Apparently, however, there was a grappling with conscience as the insiders put together the new plan to just brazenly announce, without any due process who the new hand-picked councilors would be. The question certainly must have arisen: How can we soften the ugliness of such an obviously totalitarian move?
first thing that needed to happen was that Mayor Murphy needed to get
government clearance to finalize the political coup. He went before
Judge Lindy Baker (her husband is a well-know local land developer)
with faux-humility and
a half apology, and stated, under oath, to the judge and the public
that this new council would not handle anything but day to day business,
from taking on any major issues. Serious business matters were to be shelved until a voter-chosen council returned to the seats after the upcoming election in three months. Baker went along with the Mayor's stated plan. It sounded good, but it didn't quite turn out that way.
It would be smooth sailing now. In a clever facade of righteousness, the solution to the "image" problem was revealed when three of the five new appointees turned out to be highly church connected. They were two pastors and an officer from highly established local parishes. Seriously, who could question the legitimacy of the new appointment if three of them arrived from churches? (all well-connected of course). Such a fact would soothe any public doubt arising from just how underhanded a political maneuver this really was. God was evidently on the side of backroom politics. Who could question that?
So on board came the five new appointees (the three ecclesiastics surprisingly not wearing robes to their induction). One was Pastor Dennis Webber. They took their oaths and took their seats.
In the three months that followed, the "God squad" council 1) canceled the voters pamphlet (supposedly to save money); 2) approved a huge $92 million park plan outside the city limits and within a couple of miles of the biggest park in Grants Pass; 3) approved Laurel Samson's writing of her own generous City Manager's contract which included a whopping $227 thousand severance package; 3) succeeded in screening out from the Council's executive meetings any news media they deemed undesirable. (NWV was blocked out), 4) suspended the practice of keeping verbatim records of meetings in favor of "edited" notes, and 5) sanitized fired former City manager David Frasher record, allowing him to keep his $197,000 severance pay even though his firing was magically, retroactively transformed into a resignation. Webber voted in favor of all these.
This story has been told many times before, but like a cloud, the further you get from it, the more it comes into focus. It seemed inconceivable that at least one of these five newly appointed councilors didn't throw his or her hands up and cry, "I can't do this any longer, it simply has violated my foundational Christian- American principles!" But not one did, not even one of the three anointed clergy, whom we expected, in all likelihood, would be holding themselves to a higher moral standard – but that's terribly idealistic. Since Mayor Murphy personally picked them, didn't they more or less owe it to him to go along with his pet programs? Wasn't this the exceptional case where God steps out of the room for the sake of political expediency?
Such a history of political behavior is exactly why Pastor Dennis Webber has come under increased scrutiny and criticism. A short time following his three month service on the "God squad" another council chair opened up for appointment and, guess what? Pastor Webber got the nod again. Much like a favorite bench player - the coach puts him in every time a first stringer has to come out – and right up to the present, unelected Webber continues politically to represent, not the interest of the voter, but the whims and wishes of the entrenched power clique in City Hall. Throughout all of this, Webber is taking on the mantle of being "politically experienced" and an "incumbent" though he has yet to be elected to anything.
The above mentioned letter written to NewsWithViews by Carl Wilson contained a check for $750 (refund for the canceled ad) and a short explanation. To quote the letter, KAJO was terminating the contract "due to the attack on Dennis Webber." "We will not be part of such a vicious and unprovoked attack on an honest and respected member of the clergy." The letter went on to say, "Pastor Webber continues the time honored tradition of politically-active clergy that dates to colonial times." Comparing Pastor Webber to Pastors of colonial times is like comparing Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan. Pastors of colonial times did not pride themselves by serving (King George) Government of their day. In fact, they carried muskets and preached against over regulation and excessive taxation. (E-Mail Dennis Webber) (E-Mail Carl Wilson)
Obviously Wilson holds an ideal view of Pastor Webber — the view that good pastor is beyond reproach because he is a man of the cloth. Liberals hold Obama in a similar light. Obama is black, therefore any criticism of him is racist, thus seated in cruelty. What Wilson is ignoring is that the NewsWithViews article is full of irrefutable facts. Yes Webber takes a few editorial "hits" in the article, but they are harmless opinions and nothing a public official should even wince at. Not so with Wilson. Lining up Webber's transgressions and indiscretions in one article apparently had an unsettling effect on him. (An ironic note: Just a few month's back, Carl Wilson took a stand in favor of freedom of speech when KAJO came under public protest over a slanderous statement made by Rush Limbaugh on KAJO. Apparently free speech is not so defensible when it goes against the good Pastor Webber.)
Wilson's letter mentions Pastor Webber as serving "time honored tradition of politically active clergy dating to colonial times." Are we to think that all clergymen who enter politics are desirable characters who are exempt from public scrutiny? A bit optimistic to be sure. Certainly there have been political pastors in the past who were worthy of our praise. But, please let us consider that they were the type who were fortifying Christian and American principles, not destroying them. Pastor Webber is obviously well endowed with political ambition, while the inside power people, (those who engage in the practice of running Grants Pass from the back rooms) are grooming him for future positioning in the political machine of Grants Pass.
In a lofty stroke of finalization, Wilson's letter proclaims: "He (Webber) will prevail – you (NWV) will not." The inference is clear. Pastor Webber has the distinctive position of being a darling of the controlling side of Grants Pass, and it is very likely that he will be ushered into higher positions as time goes on.
The Grants Pass voters need to wake up on this and other critical issues. It was voter laxness that opened the door for Pastor Webber in the first place.
To be continued: Surveillance cameras have suddenly appeared at the intersection of 6th and G streets in Grants Pass. In the next installation of this article, NWV will be looking into the how and why of surveillance cameras; what they cost, who will benefit, and who thinks we need them. If they are truly traffic cameras as has been suggested, then why aren't they placed in an intersection where red light running is truly a danger to the community? Or, is this just the tip of the iceberg of a full scale BIG BROTHER surveillance program of 'THE PUBLIC' in Grants Pass. Article coming soon.
Pastor\City Councilor Dennis Webber at: Parkway Christian Fellowship,
phone # 541 479 2639 or, e-mail Webber at: [email protected]
or, Telephone Grants Pass City Hall, phone # 541 474 6360]
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