Every town I’ve lived in has its gadflies, those who challenge the status quo but do so in a way that angers even those who might agree that the status quo needs a challenge or two. In Floyd, the gadflies are Dennis and Linda Wagner, two transplants who hit town about seven years ago, restoring a large historic house on Main Street, and managing to find a way to alienate just about everyone they come in contact with.

Every town I’ve lived in has its gadflies, those who challenge the status quo but do so in a way that angers even those who might agree that the status quo needs a challenge or two.

In Floyd, the gadflies are Dennis and Linda Wagner, two transplants who hit town about seven years ago, restoring a large historic house on Main Street, and managing to find a way to alienate just about everyone they come in contact with.

Dennis ran for Mayor in this past election and Linda for town council. Neither made it. The status quo that they despise so much rose up and stomped them with humiliating defeats.

A favorite game at breakfast and lunch at places like Blue Ridge Restaurant, Café del Sol and Oddfellas Cantina is guessing the next business in Floyd that will ban the Wagners from the premises. Hardees has a restraining order barring them from the fast-food franchise (something about abusing the free refills policy). So does a local antique shop and other business owners tell me they are not welcome in their establishments as well. Linda has a case pending for trespass and Dennis has a lawsuit against the city, saying he was injured by a flying rock from a town-owned lawnmower.

Currently, they are firing off letters to a phalanx of state and federal public officials, claiming the town’s new revitalization project is just a shill to fatten the wallets of a few at the expense of many.

Now I’m the first to admit a few things could be changed for the better around here but I have to wonder about the motives of those who seek change through confrontation and alienation. Some that the Wagners claim are crooks are people I’ve known most of my life and I trust them a lot more than folks I don’t know.

Progress is not served by firing off shotgun salvos of letters of innuendo. Floyd, and the people who are working so hard to improve it, deserve better.

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5 Responses

  1. I’d recommend that you be very careful in your wording with regard to your complaints against them. Since they sound very lawsuit-happy, you would be well advised to be tactful in your wording. Keep in mind that the definition of Libel is a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person. It’s a vague definition. If anything you state about them cannot be conclusively proven, it might be consider Libel by a judge and you would be next in line for settling with them out of court 🙂 However, it may be that once they ran for public office they became a public figure and then according to precedent must prove that you had malicious intent. Bitching about someone within a restaraunt is protected by free speech; blogging however is a publication for a mass audience so you must be more careful. Just some thoughts.

    Anyway, they sound like bastards 🙂

    Sean

  2. The pre-emptive strike is never the way to win hearts and minds. Of course, the expansion in law school class size has meant that anyone with a filing fee and a gullible lawyer can file a suit. Not good, but can be filed.

    My advice? Simply characterize them as people with more filing fees than sense. The old saying about flies and honey still works. Of course, if they want to have a career in small town politics, which apparently they do, perhaps they could be coerced, gently, into channeling their energies in productive deeds. If not, simply drop them like a hot rock.

    No nasty, not cutting down, no disparagement. A paraphrase of “Being a bitch takes wit, ingenuity and intellect. Being nasty is common as dirt” could be your theme song. The gender thing doesn’t work to well for the guy type perspective. The message however is not gender based.

    Cheers.

    Elizabeth

  3. Well, Doug, sounds like the
    Wagners are skunks that’ve been sprayin’ the town pretty good.. This column will sure move you up on their “hit” parade..I’m a
    retired lawyer, but you’ve been a journalist for many
    years and you surely don’t need my comments on the law of libel.. And in your column—you cited a court decision where a judge made findings of facts and law after a hearing—not something “specious.” If I could, I would have absolutely nothing to do with the Wagners—ever—in any way whatsoever..And maybe other folks could do the same..
    All the best,

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