There has been a longstanding history of discrimination against women serving on the commission. In 2010 the local Republican machine made defeating former Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves their top priority. The machine succeeded. She was replaced by Jerome Moon, who is now in his 4th year as Chairman of the Blount County Commission.
This year the local Republican machine made defeating commission candidate and citizen activist Linda King their number one goal. They succeeded. We have to deal with surly Gary Farmer as a result. The man lives with a perpetual scowl on this face. Various comments made to me have made it clear that I will be the number one target of the local Republican establishment if I choose to seek reelection in 2018.
A review of the Budget Committee packets online, dating back to 2001, lead me to discover that only one female commissioner has served on either the Budget Committee or the Purchasing Commission this millennium. Donna Dowdy was nominated by a woman: Mayor, Beverly Woodruff. In reviewing commission minutes at the courthouse, it appears that the last time a woman commissioner served on either of these Committees, absent a woman mayor, was in the early 1990’s. Thus, it’s evident that there is longstanding discrimination against women on the county commission.
I brought the matter to the attention of the mayor. He has responded by taking an unprecedented step while still discriminating against the women on the commission. He is going to nominate an unelected woman to serve on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission since State law allows for non-members of the commission to serve on those bodies.
His nomination will be his friend, Sharon Hannum. Mitchell is trying to save face by doing this, but the thinly veiled discrimination against the three women serving on the commission continues. Mitchell will control Hannum like a puppet on a string, which is exactly what he wants.
Mitchell was against the county seeking the common sense fixed rate financing. Listen to Mitchell’s long hesitation to vote yes on seeking fixed rate financing during the November Budget Committee meeting. The four commissioners voted yes, yes, yes, yes without any delay in time. Mitchell finally caved to save face. He wanted to keep the casino gambling style financing because it left in place balloon principle payments not due until 2030 and 2031. His reason for hesitation is obvious.
Beginning next fiscal year, the county will have to make larger payments on the Series E-3-B debt because it will be paying on the principle and the interest. Mitchell wanted to continue funding the waste in his departments instead of biting the bullet to pay down debt. Commissioners were getting complaints from their constituents, for good reason, that it was absurd to have not paid a single penny on the principle for 13 years. Thus, the commission did the right thing in seeking responsible fixed rate financing.
Putting Hannun on the Budget Committee could give Mitchell a vote in his favor the next time he wants to kick the can down the road. She will answer to him for reappointment and not to the people because she is elected by no one. Allowing the Mayor to appoint someone, who will make critical financial decisions for the County, without answering to the voters is a bad idea.
Mitchell is refusing to end the dark history of discrimination against women serving on the commission. His September nominations did not include a single woman on the commission. Tell him what you think. 273-5700 email@example.com
County Commissioner, District 7 Seat B
853 Marble Lane Greenback, TN 37742
Ed Mitchell Blount County Mayor
341 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804
December 22, 2014
Dear Mayor Mitchell,
Earlier this year, I informed you of the lengthy history of discrimination against women on the commission serving on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission. You have decided to continue discriminating against the people of Blount County, who elected three women to serve as their commissioners, by taking the unprecedented move of nominating an unelected woman, who you will control because she answers to you and not to the people.
It is the people’s business that we are tending to, but rather than honoring the voters’ choices you have invented a new way to perpetuate a longstanding problem of discrimination against women serving on the county commission. This takes the problem to a whole new level because your decision makes the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission a step removed from the voice of the people of Blount County.
During the general election, the Blount County Republican Party gave money to several men facing challengers, but gave nothing to the women facing challengers. Gary Farmer received $5,000. This was such a large contribution that he actually returned over $1,500 back to the Republican Party. Jamie Daly, who faced a well funded opponent in the general election, would have benefited from the unused money given to Gary Farmer.
Furthermore, during the general election at the courthouse, your treatment of the women now serving on the commission was disdainful. You catered to the men running for office; asking them if they needed anything, while scornfully driving past the women without even speaking. And, you were not the only Republican expressing resentment toward the women candidates.
Some Democrats say that there is a Republican war against women. Unfortunately, this appears to be the case regarding the ladies elected by the people to serve on the commission. I hope that you will prove the Democrats wrong; by ending your discrimination against the elected women commissioners serving on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission.
Cc: Blount County Republican Party, Blount County Republican Women, Blount County Democratic Party, League of Women Voters, The Daily Times, Knoxville News Sentinel, State Senator Doug Overbey, State Representative Art Swann, State Representative Bob Ramsey, Chris Devaney Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, Republican National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert, Republican National Committeeman John Ryder, Republican State Committeeman Rob Ailey, Republican State Committeewoman Susan Mills, WBCR AM 1470, The Knoxville Journal, WBIR, WVLT, WATE, The Rude Awakening
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