- June 13, 2017

Portraitgate: The Response/Locals, Visitors,Businesses

by Jackson Hole. Media

Just like last year’s election cycle did, politics in Jackson have brought out some strong feelings from lots of people around the country.

The commotion about Portraitgate, where Mayor Pete Muldoon took down the official portraits of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, has come from local residents to those from all over the rest of the nation.

Not unexpectedly, Muldoon’s email account at Town Hall is seeing lots of action. At first glance, the emails and comment posts appear to be mostly against the removal of the portraits, but a many folks are also expressing their support.

Muldoon has said that his actions were not political and only to enhance the non-partisan nature of town government, and he would have done the same with President Obama’s portrait as well.

On comments posted on a story about the matter that appeared on jacksonhole.media, of the Mayor’s supporters said, “Thank God for Mayor Muldoon! We got him elected and he’s following in the tradition of the Old West and the famous all women town council from Jackson’s early days would have taken those pictures down much earlier. Rose Crabtree and the other women would not have put up with the Feds getting their pants in a twist for one minute and neither will Muldoon. You can rant and scream all you want but you won’t change Jackson, Wyoming and neither will Tyler Lindholm’s little voter fishing photo op. Btw Tyler failed to mention Wyoming’s vast number of wind farms while talking about Jackson joining in support of the Paris agreement. How convenient.”

The commenter was referring to a social media post from State House Representative Tyler Lindholm of Sundance. In the video clip, Lindholm takes the Mayor to task over a local resolution supporting the ‘Paris Agreement’ on climate change, as well as the photo fracas. That video has since been viewed over 110,000 times.

Another supporter said, “I applaud our mayor’s decision to remove POTUS photo. History will show soon enough Pete’s decision was just and correct. History has already proved that actions like this one that are done in the name of justice and equality for all are seldom popular and often dangerous. Stay strong Pete! You are not alone and do have more support than not.”

Most comments seemed disapprove of the mayor’s decision, many of them very colorfully.

A typical email that appeared in Muldoon’s official town account was one like this from a local resident said, “As a tax paying citizen of Teton County, I am offended by the recent removal of the above mentioned portraits from City Hall.  It is a government and public building that should not be used by any government official’s political opinion, nor to further any one government official’s personal political agenda.  Although Chief Washakie was a great man of his time, he no longer oversees these modern times.  Please have the portraits returned to their rightful place for the due respect the presidency and democracy our great nation deserves. The Mayor should not have the sole right to decorate a government building with his personal political bias.”

A resident of Florida emailed, “The mayor of Jackson Hole has just removed a visit there from my bucket
list- pathetic!!!!
I was reading the article that JH Mayor removed my president’s photo and called him a dictator! Dictatorship, you know only a dictator would pull history has permeated even our leadership! Dictatorship – really? Stupid man. I have now removed JH off my bucket list.”

Even the relative of a former mayor of Jackson chimed in, “I am deeply disturbed by the action of the Town of Jackson in taking down the pictures of our duly elected president Donald J Trump and vice president Michael Pence.  I am hoping that the good people of Jackson will make a strong showing in the next city council and mayoral races to be sure to elect officials with American patriotic values. May I remind you that you folks are elected to govern the Town of Jackson, NOT push your own political agenda upon its residents?

You might also suggest that the mayor replace his own picture on your web site with one without the cowboy hat. He certain has not earned the right to wear that hat.”

Correspondence to and from elected officials is public information and has been released to media outlets. At least 600 emails have been received as of this afternoon, nearly all negative.

Mayor Muldoon has been able to respond and change the mind of some of the detractors though, “Thank you very much for your quick and thorough response to my concerns. Please express this to all others who might have received my first message as well. Your comments were definitely misrepresented and what you stated does make sense. (As I originally said – if it pertained equally to other political figures.) I apologize if expressing my concerns was disheartening, but I personally am glad I did as your response has left me with a much better opinion of the town of Jackson Hole. I will also be expressing to Fox News that their inability to report a story factually is not acceptable.”

But not everyone was persuaded, “I do not need a lecture on your opinion.  I disagree with your comments.  Yes, it is true everyone knows who the President is, but to make it your decision to remove the portraits does not demonstrate an education moment nor a bipartisan desire to govern. It shows that your decision was made without the Town Council members deciding collectively. I am thankful to have the electoral college as it gives voice to less populated areas of the country such as ours. The City Hall as you point out is not a federal building nor is it your personal residence to do as you please either.”

As the story about the portraits has gone national with many outlets, including MSNBC and FOX, local businesses have expressed concern that the image of the community to visitors could be tarnished.

The chairman of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, Joe Madera, sent a letter to his membership of about 1000 businesses. Madera said that the organization respects everyone to take a point of view on this topic and referred complaint to the Town of Jackson.

“The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has been fielding correspondence from member businesses as well as potential visitors referencing an individual action made by one of our elected officials. While we had no role in this action, we will do everything in our power to ensure our wonderful community, its businesses, and incredible assets are protected and remain the focus of any decision to come visit Jackson Hole and the State of Wyoming. We will continue to monitor and mitigate this situation at the necessary level.” Madera noted in the letter and also reiterated that the chamber is listening to members,  “The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is a nonpolitical organization, but it is important for our small town to operate collaboratively. The Chamber is proud to have a working relationship with our elected officials to help advance our mission, which is to champion the interests of local businesses. We will certainly hold follow up conversations related to this action that protect the business interests of our membership and appreciate any further feedback from members on this matter.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is a diverse group of member businesses that, like our community, has a wide-range of opinions. We respect everyone’s opinions and we want to focus on what we do, advocating for business and making sure our visitors have the best experience while in our community. The Chamber is happy to serve as a resource for visitors from around the world who are planning vacations, businesses trips, and meetings.”

If your business or organization has been affected, we encourage you to reach out directly to the Town of Jackson. Refer to townofjackson.com or contact Public Information Officer Carl Pelletier at 307.733.3932.”

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