Commissioner Rick Carver Apologizes to Constituent and Reverses Position by Supporting Free Speech

Today’s guest post is written by Ron Peercy.

So I’m out tooling around Alcoa last week when who do I almost bump into? None other than Rick Carver. He had actually called me the previous Saturday to, first off, apologize for the way he came off after the last meeting, and to see if we might be able to sit down together over the weekend or early in the week. I was caught completely off guard, did have several things going on the weekend, and so I said that it sounded good but I’d need to get back with him. I pretty much decided I wanted to keep my weekend free for family, and that rare but inevitable ‘out- of –the – blue’ party invite, which only comes when you’ve already made plans.

So, I didn’t get back to him. And then we run into one another. Must say, it was not an uncomfortable moment! I did apologize for the weekend; he said no problem, did I have some time right then and there? I made a quick decision and said, Sure!

Short walk to his office and gracious host that he is, offered me coffee, fetched it, sat down, and again apologized for his previous accusatory demeanor. I told him it was forgotten and that I appreciated his willingness to listen to me. Again, my CRS is alive and in full force, and I didn’t take notes, so I don’t have a lot of detail.

First we talked about the proposed ban on applause. I said I could see the need to maintain some level of decorum, but he and his peers had to understand that, due to the popular perception that most Commissioners weren’t listening to constituents anyway, there is a lot of emotion that has to be vented. He seemed surprised at my revelation but said he hoped it wouldn’t be necessary to ban applause. I said that would be insult on top of injury. He brought up the manner in which the message is often delivered. His feeling is that it comes across in a not respectful tone and that he was always taught that when you are speaking to the CEO of a company, you do so with respect. I said that, as someone new to the process, I could see that there does appear to be a barrier and that there is probably work needing to be done. Having said that, we all know that things happen for a reason, right? So is the problem the “chicken,” or the “egg?” Or could there be both?

I said many County residents feel that the Commissioners would rather take the easy way out and pass along a tax increase and that I was one of many who believe that it will be extremely damaging to our credit rating at the least, and to our financial future at worst for the determination to be made that no one is in charge of the SS Blount County. He agreed, but said he felt that his peers are concerned about this important issue, and that he had personally looked into some issues in the SO. He told me that he’d been “hearing a rumor” that there wouldn’t be a tax increase this year, and that there were plans to see where there might be overspending.

He thanked me for sitting down with him, and asked me to encourage others to contact him to arrange to meet with him. All in all I felt that it went well, I will plan to meet with him again and will try to do so on a regular basis. And it will be interested to see what happens in the next few months. After all, the proof is in the pudding, isn’t it?

Comment by Tona Monroe:
Tonight I attended the Rules Ad Hoc Committee and Commissioner Carver voted to remove the previously adopted ban on applause and to allow Commissioners to yield 1 extra minute to constituents residing in their district.

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