Brainerd City Council member Gary Scheeler has denied any criminal or improper behavior relating to the termination of Guy Green’s radio program.
Scheeler said Thursday he never threatened to pull his advertisements from the 3Wi radio station and denied using any influence from his newly elected position on the council.
The statements by Scheeler marked the first time he had commented in any detail to the allegations made by Green. The former radio host, whose “The Speakeasy with Guy Green” show was taken off the air Jan. 26, had asked the Brainerd City Council to conduct a hearing to consider removing Scheeler from the council.
Scheeler had been the target of on-air criticism by Green for the council member’s position on a plan to install sidewalks near an elementary school in his ward.
Green, in a letter to the council, had called Scheeler’s actions possibly criminal and alleged Scheeler aimed to “destroy the business of a constituent in retaliation to political criticism, while also endangering the business of another citizen who has a contract with that constituent.”
On Monday, Feb. 18, the council heard City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick’s opinion that it was not obliged to conduct such a hearing. The council then declined to take any action on Green’s request.
Scheeler also denied allegations Green made in a Feb. 21 Dispatch letter to the editor that the council member “uses social media to intimidate, aggravate and generally harass his ‘opponents.’”
In his own letter to the Brainerd Dispatch, Scheeler responded to Green’s characterization of an email contact they had. He said that an invitation to join the Linked-in social network that he sent to Green was an accident.
“I see Mr. Green had a chance to follow his normal practice of making allegations without facts,” he wrote in his letter. “I use social media for business and personal reasons.”
Outlining how the controversy between the two men began, Scheeler said he listened to a January “Speakeasy” show that he described as a “solid two-hour trashing” of himself and his positions. A few days later Scheeler, who paid for and spoke on live radio spots on Lon Schmidt’s 3Wi program, said he talked to staff at the radio station and asked that Green’s comments to be toned down.
“I never threatened to withdraw my ads,” Scheeler said.
Station radio manager Jim Pryor said Friday that his understanding of what Scheeler said to staff members was that he wanted the comments on the “Speakeasy” to be toned down but that Scheeler did not threaten to pull his advertising. Scheeler continues to advertise with 3Wi with taped segments, according to Pryor. The radio executive said there were a few live radio spots that were skipped when Scheeler was on vacation. Pryor repeated that Green did not have a contract at the time of the cancellation and had not had one for nine months.
Green said Friday he did have a contract with 3Wi. When asked to respond to Scheeler’s assertion that the council member did not threaten to pull his advertising, Green referred a reporter to a Feb. 19 letter Scheeler sent to council members.
In that letter, Scheeler wrote: “I did hold off on my advertising.” Scheeler continued writing that he was again doing business with 3Wi; he had paid for the time he missed; and Pryor told him not one advertiser had removed an advertisement from the station because of the controversy.
In a letter to the council, Green said that in the view of some citizens, business people and in the view of articles published on websites Scheeler’s actions were considered “unethical and possibly criminal.”
When asked if he thought Scheeler’s action were possibly criminal, Green referred a reporter to a podcast of one of his shows.
“I’m not here to give you ammo to spin a story on this,” he told a Dispatch reporter. “I’m here to direct you to the truth.”
Scheeler said he never brought up his position as a council member with the radio station. He noted he had only been in office for about 10 days.
“This alderman thing, it’s not even a part of it,” Scheeler said.
After a discussion with Schmidt, Scheeler said that Schmidt felt uncomfortable doing the live spots and Scheeler said he told the station: “Let’s put my ad on hold.”
Scheeler stopped doing some of the live radio spots. He said, however, in January he did two live spots and paid for four. He said he expects to pay $300 for taped ads running in February on the station.
Scheeler’s attorney, Ed Shaw said he occasionally listened to Green’s radio station and he suspected the show’s cancellation was because of what he termed Green’s on-air attacks.
“I suspect the constant, personal attacks had something to do with it,” Shaw said.
Scheeler pointed out the city’s involvement in seeking a grant for sidewalks began predated his election.
“I basically feel like a sacrificial lamb for the sidewalk project,” Scheeler said.
Shaw described Green’s complaint about Scheeler’s actions as “an accusation designed to attract attention, with no basis whatsoever.”
While Shaw speculated Green may continue to call for a hearing to oust Scheeler, the attorney said Green has spoken his piece and has no legal claim that Scheeler did anything wrong.
“Guy doesn’t like it when people don’t agree with him,” Shaw said. “Disagreeing with him is not a crime.