Mayor’s job performance vs. scandal culminates in resignation

William T

William T. Robinson, Jr.

I find quite interesting the different reactions from various people concerning their feelings involving Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s affair with her former bodyguard, which culminated in her resignation. When asking various citizens of Nashville if her scandalous affair warranted an intensive investigation leading to her resignation, I found that many in the predominately Black community were unconcerned and uninterested in her clandestine adulterous affair. They were more concerned with her performance in the community dealing with issues many felt showed she had been unresponsive to their concerns and needs.

Needless to say, Mayor Meagan Barry made a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a class ‘C’ felony (criminal theft). She has agreed to pay back restitution of $11,000. She has been mandated to serve three years of unsupervised probation, with her record being expunged once the time is served. Regardless of how one may feel about the mayor, this is very unfortunate and a sad time for the city of Nashville. Vice Mayor David Briley has assumed the role of interim mayor.

It seems African Americans, as a whole, are not interested in tarring and feathering the mayor for sins they feel many of our elected officials are guilty of—if the truth be told. Many of her most ardent adversaries used the issue to highlight her inadequate, indiscrete actions of the flesh as those of a vulnerable and imperfect person—claiming they were inexcusable and devoid of redemption. We are all human beings capable of making questionable decisions that may harm us and loved ones. In the case of the mayor, it is no different.

The families involved should have had the pivotal position—manifesting condemnation or offering forgiveness, not the public.

If some of the mayor’s most highly sanctimonious critics or judges learned anything in their religious sanctuaries, it should have been that judgment is up to God. If Megan and her lover’s families could forgive them, who are we to judge? Just be cognizant of some of those who were so quick to condemn her and sentence her. They may be the very ones in the future asking for public forgiveness, forgetting that they too live in glass houses.

If nothing else, we must be mindful of the mayor’s candidness and truthiness in addressing her indiscretion. She did not make excuses o blame others. She took full responsibility for her actions, which she felt didn’t diminish her ability to serve the public. She truly appeared to be humble and highly apologetic about her adulterous past. For many, it was about separating her private personal life from her performance on the job.

The real issue for many African Americans in Nashville was that they felt she had been ineffective in recognizing and helping solve problems in the communities of the supporters who elected her. Many felt the mayor had a failing report card at the time of her resignation. This was the area of contention with many Blacks who felt duped and played by the mayor’s actions. A large number of Blacks felt she had shown a lack of sensitivity and concern to key matters predominately related to the African American community. This was only exacerbated when those on the board of some of the entities she was supposed to be working with claimed they were blindsided by her actions.

I am referring to the matters involving the Northwest YMCA and Nashville General Hospital (which is a much needed stalwart in our city whose continuing existence is not debatable). There is also the issue of mass transit. Many in predominately Black communities feel they are being put on the back burner—but are nevertheless expected to support the transit plan during the Transit Bill Referendum.

And why shouldn’t they be concerned, because more ‘preferred’ designated areas will reap the financial benefits? The prominent areas surrounding the light rail will undergo massive infrastructure, increasing businesses and tourism promoting extensive economic growth.

It is not debatable that Nashville needs an effective and progressive transportation plan, but do not expect for predominately Black communities to come aboard if they are economically being ignored.

Around the clock bus services and added bus routes in Northwest Nashville (Bordeaux) and Antioch are good, but not enough. The transit plan needs to be more inclusive in promoting developmental and economic growth in predominately Black communities if taxes from these areas are expected to help foot the bill. It is also a major contention that this proposed transit plan will do very little to combat the traffic congestion in Nashville.

In all honestly, many African Americans in the city felt the mayor was putting the needs and concerns of predominately White areas like the Gulch, Germantown, and downtown above the needs of other areas.

Be mindful that for many citizens (especially African Americans) her private adulterous affair was not the catalyst in considering her competency as mayor. We can only hope that David Briley, as the interim mayor, is more receptive to addressing the concerns and needs of the African American community until a new mayor is elected.