Question gets no answer at Cornersville meeting

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

By Poppy Hall

Special to the Tribune

The Cornersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen held their monthly meeting last Thursday, and it was brief as usual. Aldermen approved the financials and the minutes; filled a vacancy on their planning commission; and passed a financial resolution stating the town's retirement contributions were tax exempt.

Then Mayor Amos Davis read the rules and regulations for citizens' comments before turning the floor to Cornersville residents.

"Under what authority can the mayor and aldermen have a town citizen forcibly removed from a meeting?" asked Tommy Upton.

Almost as if rehearsed, the mayor and aldermen bowed their heads in silence until Upton's alloted three minutes had expired. With no one else wishing to speak, the meeting was adjourned.

There were mutterings of disgust as citizens filed out.

The rules read by the mayor clearly state he and the board have the right not to answer questions.

Upton later said he is concerned about other citizens and their treatment. Will other citizens have their questions answered by silence or worse, be forcibly removed from the town hall, as he was the previous month? Upton also expressed concern about whether major town decisions are being made behind closed doors. He pointed out that resolutions are often passed without any discussion at the meeting, leading him to wonder if aldermen discussed them among themselves by phone or email beforehand.

In Upton's view, the BOMA should not make decisions in a vacuum -- the purpose of a town meeting is for the mayor and aldermen to listen to citizens and receive input about changes or potential changes to how their town is run. Upton is not asking questions for himself, he said. As a citizen, he as asking on behalf of all Cornersville residents.

Not content to sit back and complain, Upton has put his name in as a candidate for alderman.

There are four candidates for three seats on the five-man board. Jimmy Wolaver and Melisa Peters were elected two years ago, so they are half way through their terms, but the seats of Doris Arthur and Sheryl McClintock are up for grabs, along with the seat left vacant by the resignation of Lezlie Calahan.

In addition to Upton, the candidates are Mary D. Johnson, Arthur, and McClintock. Of the four, the three with the most votes will get seats on the board.

Cornersville voters will also be asked to vote "yes" or "no" on two questions about the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within the town.