In [a letter to the editor] published in the July 28 issue of the Town Crier, Norm Cassen wrote that John Simpson, former president of the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council (ICRC), was guilty of a conflict of interest over the possible building of the new community center because [Simpson] stood to gain financially by having a gym and a heated swimming pool near his inn.

Mr. Cassen knows this because the county stated that, “We’ve discovered irregularities with the use of public funding, some minor and some not so minor.” Could this statement be any more vague? For Mr. Cassen, this statement proves it’s “obvious” that John Simpson’s motivation is money and not the community’s welfare.

To me, what is obvious is that Mr. Cassen has a bad case of sour grapes. And how do I know that? In the same edition, the Town Crier wrote that Mr. Cassen was told that he couldn’t serve on the ICRC board merely because he lived in Pine Cove. So, it stands to reason that he has a bone to pick with John Simpson and expressed it with an unfounded allegation of impropriety.

This whole thing is ridiculous. I can’t possibly know what Mr. Cassen’s motivations are any more than he knows what John Simpson’s motivations are. Neither of us are mind readers.

Without any solid evidence of intent, mind reading is a cheap carney trick. Personal attacks are serious and damaging and should be backed by solid evidence, not innuendo. Mr. Cassen should not have written it; I also question whether the Town Crier should have printed it. This attitude simply might discourage other townspeople from serving on volunteer boards in the future — a “why invite the grief” situation.

I’ve known John Simpson for some time. I count him as a friend, and have found him to be generous, helpful, honest and community-minded.

ICRC has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of years and I challenge anyone who has evidence of intentional wrongdoing to come forward with it. Put up or shut up. When I say wrongdoing I’m not talking about oversights commonly made by volunteers trying to learn a job [with which] they are not familiar.

Volunteers, like John Simpson, make Idyllwild the “idyllic” town that it is. Value them and stop raking them over the coals. Those who can … do. Those who can’t … take cheap shots in the Town Crier.

Conor O’Farrell