This is not the time for political games

Published 8:30 am Monday, June 19, 2017

Throughout my career in the corporate world I managed the daily activities of hundreds of employees. These ranged from hourly workers to salaried exempt highly degreed professionals. There was never a time that I was called to task for not meeting or exceeding the expectations of my employer. Thirty plus years of success directly attributable to the fact that I was always in tune with actual job requirements for each of my direct reports. Without that knowledge one could not assess the overall job performance of these employees; acceptable or not acceptable.
Mayor Alexander’s remarks during the City Council Meeting on Thursday, June 8, as to my inability to lead and manage staff at the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter is totally without merit. First it is extremely important to note that Mayor Alexander has never been interested in the Animal Shelter before and has only been to the shelter twice now in five years, both visits within the past 30 days. He is in no position to assess the day to day operations of the shelter, performance of my staff nor does he have a clue as to the countless challenges and work requirements of that facility. Actually, on a number of occasions he has publicly admitted that he does not want anything to do with the shelter. I ask you, where would the shelter be now if I had chosen that stance in June of last year when it was about to be shut down due to abuse and neglect of the animals not to mention the other matters currently under investigation at my request by the Comptroller’s office.
The City Council led by Mayor Alexander has refused to honor the legally binding contract between the City and County dated September 19, 2011, which automatically renewed for a five-year term on September 19, 2016. Furthermore, Mayor Alexander, acting as head of the City Council, chose to defund the shelter slashing its funding from 50% to 25% with a cap of $100,000. Keep in mind he admitted in November 2016 to the county commission and public that the shelter was severely underfunded at the prior 50/50 funding of a total annual budget of just over $200,000.
It is extremely clear Mayor Alexander, City Council and Manager Jerome Kitchens are of the opinion the City Government has the financial background, corporate knowledge, overall work experience and animal welfare expertise that is required to properly manage the day to day operations of the shelter and that they are committed to do everything necessary to make it a success. With that being said, it is most appropriate for the City of Elizabethton to assume the shelter staffing, administrative support, all payroll and total operation for it is the City of Elizabethton that has Animal Control Ordinances which mandate the shelter. The county has no such ordinances or requirements.
I am certain that under the City’s leadership it will be run as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. I am confident the County Commission will be delighted to pay the City for its fair share of the annual operating cost. Therefore, I acknowledge that the County Commission and City Council made a tremendous mistake when they entered into the joint contractual agreement on September 19, 2011 for the county to manage the day to day operation of the shelter. Thus, I will do everything possible to expedite the agreement and By-Laws being amended to reflect the City as being the Control Authority; NOT THE COUNTY. It is my hope that all parties will likewise do everything possible for a smooth and seamless transition. The keys cannot be passed soon enough for this matter has taken far more time than it ever should have. Our citizens and animals deserve a higher level of service than what the City and County have provided. There are a tremendous number of significantly important matters that both legislative bodies need to be focused on. This is not the time for political games.
Please feel free to contact me at or by phone at 423-542-1801 if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you. My office is located at 801 East Elk Avenue, Suite 201 located in the County Courthouse in Elizabethton. I have an open-door policy and everyone is always welcome.

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