The Palmer Post

Joey G. Dauben | Friendship Over Politics by Joey G. Dauben
April 9, 2011, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Palmer Volunteer Fire Dept., The Palmer Post, The Podium

I tire of the Bloods vs. Crips factions in these small towns. That’s why my generation of 21-to-35-year-olds (I turned 30 Feb. 8) are seeking a new way out of all that in Ellis County and virtually elsewhere. But mainly, Ellis County is unique. I own nearly 40 newspapers and one thing that is constant, from big towns (Balch Springs, pop. 26,000) to small towns (Palmer, pop. 2,000), and that is this intra-town warfare between families and political alliances. You dance with one of two groups in these small towns, and I’ve learned that more so by living and establishing Freedom of the Press Group HQ in Palmer. Then, there are the silver linings. I’ve met a lot of very interesting people in all of these towns (some towns, such as Venus, are a bit more public than the rest), some I consider my closest friends. Sometimes, when those friends are related to public officials, it becomes extremely difficult to explain why I have to “expose” wrongdoing — and that sometimes includes writing about the very people my friends are related to. In the 10 years and counting I’ve been doing this business, I’ve not made very many super-close friendships. Then, some people who I’ve let in my inner-circle over the years as either writers, reporters, etc. have turned out to be snakes — John Allen “Jay” Hoskins, Exhibit A.

So, with all of that said, there is and was a story on the Palmer Volunteer Fire Department that I did several months ago. The family that has run the department, the McElhaney family, was the subject of the glaring lights of my media/”TMZ”-like spectacle. I was relentless, but with the power of the press comes an immense measure of responsibility. I could have handled this a lot better than I should, and it explains just half of why I decided not to have the full issue of my “damn the torpedoes” PVFD issue of The Palmer Post printed and distributed. I’m going to apologize for how I handled that story and the coverage of the PVFD, not just here online (and in public), but through a letter and if the McElhaney family wants, in person.


I know this apology right in the middle of my campaign for mayor is interestingly timed. If I cared strictly about politics and playing the “act-like-nothing-is-wrong” game, I wouldn’t do this in public. In fact, if I cared one single ounce for how people would view me as a candidate, I wouldn’t even be in the media business. I wouldn’t apologize in person, at the podium, in the middle of public meetings. On May 14, people are going to vote for a new mayor. If it’s not me, I can handle that. This apologize tour isn’t so that I can pander for votes. I want to mend the fences of some very large friendships that I made with some of the McElhaney family throughout last year, only to see it dissolve in the course of a few weeks through The Ellis County Observer (for the most part, it’s been this Web site that has amplified everything.) So, regardless if I get votes or not, that’s not my point. I want to keep public officials accountable — and that goes for the McElhaney family over PVFD and that goes for me and that goes for everyone in the public eye — but I want to do it responsibly. This Web site is so inflammatory as it is, and my newspapers are not regular newspapers. But, I don’t want this north-vs-south stuff in my town if I can help it.

In politics, like the news media business, 50 percent of your decisions will be automatically wrong. I would much rather have super-close friends than care about some sort of political score I want to settle. That’s why I keep telling people, “stop taking it personal. This is about one’s record, not about one’s personality.” A vast majority of people take the emotional, personal view into political or public life. Like, one cannot be questioned because someone is a nice guy, or a family man, or goes to a certain church. That’s not my role to decipher. It’s my job to keep public officials accountable. And that goes strictly for me and my guys at FOTP Group. If our roles change, and we become the government, then I expect and even demand that the public keep us accountable too. We don’t play by different rules. However, in the course of all of this political stuff, I’ve made some pretty awesome friends. And I want to go back and repair the bridges and mend the fences on some of those that political warfare took collateral damage in harming.


Joey G. Dauben



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