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Letter to the Editor as published in the Chagrin Valley Times on 3-2-2017

Take Geauga back from cruel extremists

I had the very interesting opportunity to attend a Tea Party meeting this week hosted by Geauga Probate Judge Timothy Grendell, former State Rep. Matt Lynch, and Geauga County Commissioner Walter “Skip” Claypool. I’m not sure how many Geauga County residents have ever attended one of these bizarre meetings, so I thought I’d share my experiences.
The first thing that struck me about the meeting was the decidedly mean tone. After starting the meeting with a prayer, Mr. Claypool read parts of a letter from a Geauga County resident in a mocking voice while the crowd laughed. At one point, one of the speakers made a joke about stepping over an immigrant at an airport who had been “taken down.” The audience thought that was hilarious.
One man in the audience asked this question: If his neighbors knew of illegal immigrants, could he have his neighbors arrested for aiding and abetting a criminal? Note - this man lives here - he could be your neighbor - and he wants to send people to jail just for knowing an illegal immigrant.
By far the most disturbing thing I heard all night was from Mr. Claypool about our schools. “Public schools indoctrinate children, and then they go to college, and they turn them into a little pile of snowflakes,” he said.
Mr. Claypool went on to say, “Our universities are disgusting. Go to John Carroll University, a Catholic school where Muslim professors are teaching. Go to West Geauga High School and see what they’re teaching in history.” 
Well, I know exactly what they are teaching at West Geauga High School. I have a degree in history. I used to teach high school history. Seems to me, Mr. Claypool is one of those individuals who prefer his warped version of history, instead of the scholarly work of actual researchers and historians.
Let me add, I didn’t disturb their meeting in any way;I listened quietly and jotted down notes. However, one man pointed me out to the police, as if attending a public meeting in a public place was against the law.
This meeting was fueled by hate. The theme was “I am only looking out for myself. I don’t care about anybody else.” I couldn’t help thinking of the irony – how they started the meeting with a prayer.They forget that, as Christians, they are obligated to help their fellow brothers and sisters, not tear them down. Skip Claypool, as county commissioner, is supposed protect our children, our families, and our seniors, not ridicule and belittle them. 
Mr. Claypool actually asked if “anybody had the cojones” to stand up to him and his supporters. 
Despite what Mr. Claypool believes, I know Geauga County is a compassionate county. We support our excellent public schools. We help our neighbors and those in need. Geauga County deserves better than Skip Claypool.
So, do you have the “cojones” to stand up to Claypool and his supporters? We need to take Geauga County back from these cruel, fringe extremists. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Nicole Mulloy, Russell