Benton responds to comments coverage

Published 7:46 am Saturday, February 7, 2009

To the Editor:

You would do well by the community to tell the whole story, and not just print the words you choose to pluck from people’s comments.

I am disappointed in this recent inflammatory style of reporting by The Tidewater News.

When I was interviewed this week by the City Council for the vacant School Board seat, I said that the surest way to get parents to PTA events is by having free food available. Bottom line is this — if we offer food at school, people come. If we don’t, PTA attendance is (unfortunately) often dismal.

In my comments that night, I spoke of serving chicken or pizza as one of the ways that we are able to encourage parent participation at PTA meetings. As a matter of fact, I helped serve pizza at a PTA function at JP King Middle School earlier this school year. Does that make me a racist?

Your recent article would serve to suggest that my comments during the interview about offering free dinner were racist in nature, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. I have challenged this newspaper to print the full text from the interviews of both school board nominees so that people can read in context all of the comments made by each of us that evening.

Come now, we all need to get past this foolishness before we can even begin to talk about re-focusing efforts to move children forward in their studies. Ask yourself whether this discussion is really about children, or just more of the same adult bickering that continues to paralyze our community?

I challenge everyone involved in our city and schools to be open and honest in discussions, and not let tired arguments and problems from years gone by hinder our desire to help our children achieve success today.

David Benton


EDITOR’S NOTE: The news story to which the letter writer refers (“ ‘Insensitive’ Benton remarks draw ire,” Friday, Feb. 6) reported the full context of each of the comments in question. The complete, unfiltered audio of both candidates’ interviews is available on our Web site at Any reader who does not have Internet access is invited to visit our office at 1000 Armory Drive during business hours and we will offer use of a private conference room to listen to the interviews. Also, all public libraries in the area offer Internet access for the general public.