JACKSON HOLE, WYO – At a regularly scheduled town meeting packed with both curious and furious members of the public, many whose presence at the town hall was as unfamiliar as Washakie’s portrait hanging on the wall, the dialogue was emotional and heated at times—at least from the public. All eyes were on Mayor Pete Muldoon, whose decision to remove the portrait of President Trump, whom he dislikes, and replace it with Chief Washakie has been under tremendous scrutiny all week.
Council member Hailey Morton Levinson suggested the motion right off the bat to begin the evening since there was no formal item on the agenda but an obvious desire from voters to get a little more resolution. Morton Levinson proposed a motion to draft a resolution that would make what hangs on the town hall wall be a matter for the entire town to decide, not just the mayor. Secondly, she proposed that what hangs on the town hall wall be a picture of the sitting President, along with the VP, and a portrait of the current governor of Wyoming.
The encapsulated dialogue of the elected officials went like this:
Bob Lenz was short and sweet. He said he agreed with Morton Levinson and her motion. “Hailey said it very well,” he said.
“I noticed that everyone stood and pledged allegiance to the flag,” Don Frank began, referring to the sincerity and dignity placed on the object of democracy and freedom. He continued, alluding to the traditional aspect of hanging photos. “As I look at all the photos of the mayors on the back wall—I might have agreed with some of them. Some of them not. Some I really didn’t know.”
Frank continued, calling the mayor a man of integrity and courage. He also admitted that he did not agree with him on this issue, tough, and thought the matter was one of respect for the office. He said he supported the “reinstitution of these elected officials.”
Jim Stanford admitted the idea began with him. As far back as last year he was pestering town staff as to why the President’s photo hung on the wall and what could be done to remove it. Staff told him it was historically under the purview of the sitting mayor. So Stanford went to Muldoon.
“I suggested they be taken down and Washakie be put up,” Stanford said. “I apologize to anyone affected by the ruckus. I’m disappointed in the way this blew up. Various entities helped fan the flames.”
Stanford went on to say many of the mayors on the wall in the meeting room Frank referred to were Republican but, due to their staunch resistance and defiance of the federal government, they would have agreed with what Muldoon did. “We live in different times,” he finished.
Muldoon began by saying he wanted to start with an apology—not for what he did but how he did it. He defended the removal of the photo of a man he admitted he did not revere, and for what he believes is correcting the false notion we the people should be pledging any allegiance to the person in charge, but rather all three branches of the government of we the people. Muldoon said the error in his actions was not seeing how partisan politics would be engaged as a result.
The mayor also outlined the “unhinged and vulgar” reactions sent to him via email and phone messages. “Most of which would make a sailor blush,” he said. “This is rage and this is fear. I had one person threatening to come hear and cut my throat.”
Muldoon added that should the council not support him and the town back down on the issue, it would send a message that “you should bully and threaten to murder the Town of Jackson mayor because it works. It’s not a path any of us should go down,” he said.
Both Stanford and Muldoon consented to a vote of the entire council to decide the matter. That was a unanimous feeling of the electeds. Both, however, voted against Trump and Pence being reinstated on the town hall wall. They were the minority opinion on a 3-2 decision.
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