Facebook picture sparks debate

Speelman

ASHTABULA — An Ashtabula City Council member’s Facebook profile picture shows him giving the finger and he’s not apologizing for the gesture.

The photo shows Ward 4 Councilman Michael Speelman showing two middle fingers — one on each hand. In a phone interview Tuesday, Speelman said his Facebook page is set to “private” so only his friends can see it.

“If anyone else is seeing it and doesn’t like it, I don’t care; I thought it was funny,” he said. “I’m going to do what I’m going to do.”

People extend their middle fingers as a silent, but effective way of showing their displeasure about something. It’s known by other names, such as “shooting the bird” and “flipping off.” 

Speelman, a Republican who is running for one of two council-at-large seats in November, said his “real friends” love the profile photo.

City Council President John Roskovics, a Democrat who’s running to retain his seat in the election, said he would like to “focus on the progress we’re making and, as president of council, I would highlight the professional and accommodating nature of our meetings.”

Vice President Christopher McClure could not be reached for comment.

Ward 1 Councilperson Kym Foglio said this is a country in which we have freedom of speech and Facebook is a place to do just that.

“I don’t make judgement on what people post,” she said. “If you don’t like it, or it offends you, then simply delete it.”

Ward 5 Councilperson Jane Haines said, “He’s expressing himself.”

Ward 2 Councilman August Pugliese agrees with freedom of speech, but council members should be held to a higher standard.

“When you are a councilperson, you should know how to express yourself in another way,” he said.

 Ward 3 Councilman Richard Quaranta agrees.

“He represents the people and when you represent the people, you have to represent all people,” he said. “To me, it’s not a good representation of yourself or other people.”

Quaranta added that he very much respects Speelman, who’s a Marine veteran, and the service he did for this country.

Speelman’s wife, Chrissy, said she, their 16-year-old daughter and “thousands of Marines” would vouch for his character. 

“People don’t realize he went to war and almost died numerous times; had bombs blow up around him,” she said. “Dear friends of ours have been killed and Michael was the one that went to Dover, Delaware to meet the body and hand the flag to the widow ... we’ve realized life is way too short to be too serious.”