City Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. was unapologetic in City Council today as he addressed a television investigation questioning the work habits of a top employee.
Goode indirectly defended his aide, Latrice Bryant, who last week flashed handwritten signs in Council Chambers comparing a Fox 29 news reporter with the Ku Klux Klan. Goode and his aide are African-American; Fox 29 reporter Jeff Cole is white.
Saying he took an oath to defend the U.S Constitution, Goode said the press had the right to tell a story, even if was “inaccurate,” “misleading”, or about “petty politics.”
He then went on to question the diversity of the press, and said many black elected officials feel that they don’t enjoy the same freedom of speech that others do.
“I can look over all the press gathered here each week, and freely state that there is not enough diversity there,” Goode said in a spech at the end of today's Council meeting. “We can look at it for ourselves — but I still defend their freedom of expression.”
Fox 29 on Tuesday aired a report in which they followed Bryant, Goode’s $90,000 a year legislative aide, on 10 days over the summer, documenting her arriving around lunch time on a number of days that she reported starting work around 9 a.m.
Fox also filmed Bryant and Goode leaving City Hall at 12:30 p.m., then going into Goode’s house with a case of beer. Bryant left the house more than three hours later, according to the report.
Goode has acknowledged that Bryant’s time-sheets contained inaccuracies, which he attributed to not filling out time sheets each day. Fox 29’s report claimed that her time sheets apparently did not match her work hours on nine out of 10 days.
Goode also told Inquirer columnist Annette John-Hall this week that Bryant’s actions in Council were “absolutely inappropriate - an inappropriate response to her being rattled.” Bryant has declined comment.
But today Goode was defiant, chiding the press for ignoring his legislative agenda while pursuing the flare up around time-sheets and Bryant.
“If you ask me about time sheet accuracy in my office, I’ll tell you the problem is resolved. If you ask me whether someone has a right to publicly accuse another person of something without knowing that it’s definitely true - even when it’s done to me — I will defend it as a Constitutional right,” Goode said.
“I took an oath of office, I will not betray it, but I will not allow anyone else to judge me, or impose their values on me, or tell me what to do in my office,” Goode said. “I will continue to do what I’ve done for almost nine years, only better.”
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