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Fox resigns from TML board amid controversy
Apr 28, 2005 12:00 am
APRIL 27, 2005
Lebanon Mayor Don Fox resigned his seat as a vice president of the Tennessee Municipal League, a move he said comes because of the politics surrounding the Lebanon mayoral race and not recent comments he made on the radio targeting state legislators.
In an April 25 letter to TML Executive Director Margaret Mahary, Fox cited the "political environment" in Lebanon as reason for his resignation as well as the TML recently being named in an effort launched by Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer to oppose a now-failed bill to extend Fox and the Lebanon City Council's terms of office by some 13 months.
Fox on Tuesday clarified the "political opponent" he spoke of in the letter was Farmer, who will likely oppose Fox this fall in the mayors race.
"I have fully enjoyed being a member of the Executive Committee and vice president, however I am also mayor of the City of Lebanon in a political environment where recent issues by a political opponent of City Council action has taken the liberty of dragging the name of TML into his agenda in mail-outs to the public and in political advertisements in the local news media," Fox wrote. "With the same opponent in a political campaign in his attempt to replace me as mayor, I am sure that he and his counterparts would continue to use TML as a pawn in his campaign. This has the potential to do harm to a great organization of immeasurable importance to our cities and as much as I enjoy the work that we do, I cannot allow for this to happen."
Fox's resignation is the latest chapter in a lengthy battle over term extensions and the realignment of the city elections.
The resignation comes on the heals of a radio appearance by Fox last week where the mayor blasted members of the Tennessee General Assembly, refering to the legislature as a "maggot ball."
Fox was critical of legislators, including House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and Rep. Stratton Bone, for the failure of the Lebanon term extension bill.
Bone and State Rep. Randy Rinks had a hand in shelving the bill over concerns about a lawsuit filed against city government and the Wilson County legislative delegation attempting to stop the term extensions.
Fox said while he regreted the "maggot ball" comment, his resignation was not over the furor it caused among legislators last week, though Rinks went so far as to suggest in an interview with The Lebanon Democrat the comments might impact the TML's ability to get legislation passed.
"We have a local legislative body, our City Council, that was not being treated fairly," Fox said Tuesday. "That is why I got very emotional about it and used the wrong choice of words, even for me.
"When the smoke clears, I think the members of the House are big enough to say that was Fox in a passionate moment – a little too long and a little too wordy."
Fox also insisted the "maggot ball" comment did not apply to the entire General Assembly, only to select members and others "working clandestinely" to foil Lebanon's bill.
Farmer, when reached for reaction to Fox's letter, called the mayor's radio comments "inappropriate behavior" and said Fox should take responsibility for them.
"The comments by Mayor Fox in calling the members of the Tennessee General Assembly maggot balls and hypocrits were beyond reasoning or explanation," Farmer said. "I am sure the officials of the TML are relieved that their organization will no longer be blemished by such inappropriate comments from one of their own officers."
Mahary and TML President Bob Kirk did not return telephone calls for this story Monday or Tuesday.
Managing Editor Clint Brewer can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at email@example.com.