In today’s installment of right wing nuts gone wild I offer Grace “Bea” Harrison, owner of The Encore Group, a dissolved Mississippi Corporation and host of the Sunday morning show That’s What I Like About the South, where her wingnuttery goes on full display each Sunday morning. I discovered the show by pure chance and figured out quickly she was buying the time slot from the local Fox affiliate and selling her own advertising. After seeing her coverage of the August 2009 Gene Taylor Town Hall meeting, an event I attended as a member of the local media it did not take long to open my mind to the possibility that ol’ Bea may have a few screws loose to go along with the serious hard on she has for our Congressman, Gene Taylor. I never blogged about ol’ Bea but did resolve to not patronize any of her advertisers including the local italian restaurant Salute (which has good food) as I was not interested in helping Ms Harrison fund her jackassery.
The Moss Point meeting was my first experience with the local TEA Party movement. I want to make sure the Slabbed Nation in Louisiana understands we’re all for political expression here at Slabbed but these right wing nuts on my side of the line are what gives the TEA Party movement such a bad name nationwide IMHO. After reading a poll which appeared in the New York Times earlier this year, I also figured out the local TEA Party here on the Mississippi Coast does not match the demographics revealed in the NY Times poll, which did happen to closely mirror my experiences from meeting the Jefferson Parish based Citizens for Good Government back in June. Simply put Citizen Activists like Margie Seemans show for all the meetings but do not disrupt them.
The gang over here follows Gene Taylor from town to town across the 4th district trying to disrupt all of his constituent meetings. These meeting are important to local folks in places like Waynesboro, Mississippi who get a great opportunity to get help with navigating the federal bureaucracy. At the Moss Point meeting for example, there was an older man on the front row with an adult child that was severely mentally handicapped who attended the meeting for a damn good reason. It sure is easier to help people when there isn’t a group a 15-20 wingnuts acting like asses. This of course explains some of the more biting criticism I’ve levied against the TEA Party movement. Here on Slabbed though, we are all for open exchange of ideas which is why even Dan Triplett has commented here in the past free from personal attack. If I were asked, my advice to the Mississippi coast TEA Party movement would be to go meet Miss Margie over in Jefferson Parish and learn some manners.
With that said let’s visit next with Anita Lee’s story in today’s Sun Herald that illustrates what I’m talking about. To set things up Gene had a Town Hall meeting in Ocean Springs early this year. Bea shows up with her camera and shouts out questions to Gene during his presentation, which he ignores because he has a dedicated Q&A segment. Anita picks it up from there:
Rosato, who is under 5 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds, had to leave her station to take a card to a man in the audience who had asked Taylor a question. Rosato “brushed” back Harrison’s microphone to avoid running into it, the suit says. As Rosato returned to her seat, the suit continues, Harrison told others in the audience she had been assaulted.
Harrison followed up with a complaint to the Ocean Springs Police Department, charging Rosato with simple assault, a criminal offense classified as a misdemeanor. Rosato was arrested in March.
As a point of disclosure we’re Ana Maria positive here at Slabbed, whether it is Anne Marie Vandenweghe or Ana Maria Rosato who I call by her blogging nom de guerre AM. In AM’s case I’ve known her since I was a kid. She chose the political world as her career path and now works for Gene. She came home to Bay St Louis after Katrina to help her 80 something year old mom get her house back in shape after the storm. We would not let her leave after she helped get a roof back over her mom’s head.
I spoke with AM this morning after I read Anita’s story and have spoken with her multiple times since that August 2009 Moss Point Town Hall meeting on the topic of the behavior of the local TEA Party at Gene’s town hall meetings. In today’s day and age of lunatics carrying around guns and blowing innocent folks away en mass it was natural the Jackson County gang’s behavior would be a cause for concern from a safety standpoint. Like a good soldier and public servant AM carried on despite the public displays of idiocy and very bad behavior.
Just like with Shirley Sherrod who Team Obama hastily threw under the bus based on a selectively edited video clip, Harrison evidently took some editing liberties with her copy of the videotape and took it one step further actually using it to support her criminal complaint against AM. Her problem of course is that Gene videotapes his meetings too. Anita picks it up from there:
The lawsuit also says Harrison, possibly with help from others, edited and caused to be posted at YouTube.com a video alleging Rosato had assaulted a “local TV reporter” during the town hall meeting. The video, called “Attacking Assistant,” has since been removed. Members of the police department and the city prosecutor advised Harrison there was no reason to believe Rosato had committed a crime, the lawsuit says.
Judge Matthew Mestayer acquitted Rosato after the April trial in Municipal Court, at which another video from the town hall meeting was played.
AM is not the type of lady that takes such bullshit lying down. Now that she has cleared her name she has sued ol’ Bea for Libel, Slander, Malicious Prosecution among other charges. Her lawyer is none other than Matt Eichelberger, moderator of the Mississippi Litigation Review, a law blog that we think highly enough of here at Slabbed to have it hung in our blogroll. Matt does not strike me as the type of lawyer that would take a case with a poor possibility of winning and frankly, after having read the suit, which is also linked in Anita’s story if Team AM can back what they allege ol’ Bea has got a problem. This is especially important since the Encore Group was dissolved. In most states a corporation that does not file its annual report with the Secretary of State are administratively dissolved and such is the case with Harrison’s company. This has all sorts of implications including the possibility Team AM will be able to get into ol’ Bea’s personal assets to satisfy any legal judgement down the road.
Our readers should remember it was not that long ago Jefferson Parish government threatened us with a lawsuit over our blogging. Free speech is something most everyone in cyberspace defends regardless of race, color, creed etc. There is a difference between free speech and public displays of jackassery. I think ol Bea is fixing to find that out.