Why record the Thompson record?

Why did Mountain X‘s writer [”The Long Goodbye,” Jan. 9] attempt to intimidate Reid Thompson by publishing his official criminal background information?

Who inspired Jonathan Barnard, the writer of the article surveying Reid Thompson’s battle with Greenlife Grocery, to include Mr. Thompson’s criminal-records information? I don’t see that his record is pertinent to his complaints against Greenlife Grocery at any level.

If people at Greenlife Grocery were afraid of him, you would think they would have settled with him and corrected the UDO mistake, OK’d by the Asheville City Council. Instead, the writer has attempted to paint Mr. Thompson as a garden-variety criminal who is simply, obviously, getting into another pushing match.

Instead, what you might want to know is something that a former employee (he was reportedly fired over this) told me: Greenlife does not do the recyclying that you think it does (swoon).

As a mental-health advocate and activist, and someone who is acquainted with the strategy of dragging the skeletons out of a closet in order to intimidate and shut up someone, information is not just information. Rather the parlaying of information serves a purpose—and in this case it appears to serve the purpose of rendering Mr. Thompson, whom I have never met, as a person who is a petty criminal who, by God, should just sit quietly and deal with the tractor-trailer trucks pulling up next to his house at 5 a.m.

Mr. Thompson answered a query to myself and Cecil Bothwell, a former reporter and editor for Mountain X … indicating that he had followed Shannon Tuch, currently the temporary director of the Asheville City Planning Department, down a stairwell after a meeting in order to quickly get to his water-volleyball game, for which he was late. This apparently was the event that prompted Mr. [Bob] Oast, the city attorney, to place an injunction on Mr. Thompson being able to come into the city’s buildings without an escort or calling ahead of time. Yes, he has been very vocal about the violation of his quietude, a matter which is supposed to be protected by the city’s UDO.

I can appreciate that city employees want to feel safe. According to the article, the city should have advantaged Mr. Thompson by utilizing a restraining order that would have given Mr. Thompson the possibility of a rebuttal before a judge. The city chose a more permanent, punitive way to keep Mr. Thompson away and Mountain X has chosen to publish admittedly public information about Mr. Thompson which is an attempt to dismiss him as an irascible, petty criminal who has no right to a quiet household.

— Marsha Hammond

As Senior Editor Peter Gregutt responded last week regarding this story: The intent was not to undermine Mr. Thompson’s credibility but to give readers the full story and then let them draw their own conclusions, as Ms. Mansell has done. Judging by the lively discussion on the Xpress Web site, however, other readers are interpreting this information differently. That includes Thompson himself, who wrote: “I believe the reason for printing the arrest record was to show that over the past three plus years I have been harassed by Greenlife owner [sic] and the city of Asheville for pointing out the obvious violations. … Thank you mountain express”

Journalism necessarily involves a great many judgment calls. In my judgment, it would have been irresponsible not to include this information in the story; readers are free to disagree.

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10 thoughts on “Why record the Thompson record?

  1. Trey

    Okay, this one has been covered too. Must be a really slow week for the opinion/letters section.

    Do people not read the whole article or do they just see what they want to.

    Mr. Thompson himself even understood why, and explained why MXPress published his record.

  2. Brian Postelle

    Hey Trey,

    Obviously, web comments get here and get posted more quickly than letters (and exchanges ensue), so these may seem redundant.

    But we still have a print edition to run, and a policy about printing letters and emails that are sent to the letters section. And there are those who don’t follow us online.

    So by the time we run our entire print edition online, it may seem that these arguments have already run their course. (When regular visits to our letters section prove that is harldy ever the case.)

    -Brian Postelle

  3. Public Enemy #1


    Reid Thompson
    Asheville’s Public Enemy #1

    Prior infractions:
    • Possession of 17 items in Greenlife Grocery express lane.
    • Eating “loose” Thompson’s Seedless grapes.
    • Bakery department backtalk.
    • Simple possession of complex carbohydrates.
    • Unsightly ear bleeding in “truck-noise zone.”
    • Bad ‘tude.
    • Shampoo huffing.
    • Failure to heed saying: “You can’t fight city hall.”

  4. If there is cosmic justice, then city staff should have to listen to the grinding, hissing and beeping of tractor trailers incessantly bawling in their heads for the next three years like an oncoming train (“No quite zones for you!”).

    Perhaps then they would welcome Mr. Reid’s presence in their (our) government buildings once again.

  5. nuvue

    I would like to take a (little) umbrage at a comment made by R. Thompson.
    He said “well a truck has pulled up to the greenlife at 6 am. Bet the folks in Montford don’t have to deal with this stuff”
    Well Reid, how about a Ice Cream truck inccesantly playing “Its a small word after all” Kinda like the panama scheme to get Noriega!!
    The city creates lots of noise….

  6. Nam Vet

    Thompson has been right about this all along. I go to Greenlife almost daily. I have witnessed what he objects to. Trucks driving up Maxwell, the loudly backing into the loading dock while still blocking the street. In this in front of a city sign saying “No Trucks”!

    His arrest record SHOULD NOT have been published. It was not germaine to the situation and a gross invasion of privacy. How many journalists would like their lives put on display as they do with the general public?

  7. Rob Close

    having lived in montford for 3 years recently, i can say that ice cream trucks are heard often enough. but never at 6am. or 8am. though sometimes there is construction at those hours, to my eternal annoyance. and thus i moved out here to the peaceful ETJ (pff!)

  8. Jon Elliston: You spoke about, on another blogspot at MtnX, re: the UDO being reported on and that it was the paper’s intent to continue with this matter.

    However, the reporter in the past, 2007, was Cecil Bothwell, who was released re: vague disagreements between himself and MtnX editorial staff—-and that would include you, I believe.

    Yes, MtnX could cavalierly report on the UDO—ungrounded and untethered by historical knowledge, facts, places, and specific information.

    Such knowledge is not easily found. You discarded it re: Bothwell.

    I submit, and speculate, that Bothwell was fired as he maintained a place of careful research, which oriented your readers to the matter of how power can be overweening: ‘Money doesn’t talk, it swears’m said bard Bob Dylan, and I’ll eat my hat if somehow money, maybe in the form of Greenlife, has influenced the matter of Reid Thompson vs Greenlife.

    I am still remembering sitting in Malaprops for Bothwell’s reading of his book, Prince of War, on Billy Graham, and you adovcating, Jon Elliston, publicly, that the 2 reviews in MtnX were equivalent in scope and value as re: the life and times of Billy Graham. In that issue of MtnX, you outlined how you had bought in an ‘expert’ re: the matter when in fact the expert was an admittedly right-wing guy from Duke. Expert indeed. An expert with a determinedly non-factual inspection of Mr. Graham’s life and behaviors.

    Cecil’s book was a ‘just the facts, m’am’ style of writing—-which I had not realized when I was at that reading—-and it was thoroughly researched and grounded. Indeed, its ‘facts’ redeem the book and place it in a unique place: speaking truth to power—which is more than I am afraid I can say re: MtnX.

    So, where’s all those articles since 2007 when Bothwell left, Jon? Those exposes?

    I am hopeful that MtnX will continue to include articles re: UDO matters. However, I must admit I am not very hopeful.

    There was something sinister (I do not know Cecil well and have no vested interest here) about he being relieved of his post after quite a few years at MtnX. And like one person stated: it would be interesting to know just how much advertising money is associated w/ Greenlife and MtnX.

    No, Jon: it does not matter that, as you say, the advertising department and the newspaper are ‘separate.’ I, for one, do not believe that it does not matter.

    And yes, Jon, it does matter that Worley, former mayor, is the solicitor for Greenlife—if this be true as another reader indicated.

    Peter Gantt: we would like the full story and you stated that to reveal Reid Thompson’s ‘criminal record’ is part of that full story.

    However, the full story also includes:
    Worley as solicitor; statements that the UDO articles were written by now dismissed Bothwell.

    Don’t patronize. It does not suit you well.

    marsha hammond, west asheville

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