All the King’s MEN

When I ran for alderman in 2016, one of my platforms was to model the selection of LaVergne committee membership to be similar to the way that Nashville selects members. When Nashville has committee openings, members of the council will vocally advocate why someone should serve. They review the qualifications and experience of applicants as its pertains to specific committees in which they are nominated to serve. Nashville’s selection process is so much more than a popularity contest.

Sheesh even in clipart, all we see are men on committees!

Unfortunately for us, this “popularity contest” theme seems to be ongoing in La Vergne. Folks we get what we deserve when our voting is based on who’s loudest rather than actual know-how. Without experience, we get lopsided and this is exactly what has happened in La Vergne.

Here is the gender makeup of our committees.
Board of Mayor and Aldermen – ONE woman, FOUR men
Board of Zoning Appeals – ONE woman, FOUR men
Planning Commission – ZERO women, SEVEN men
Economic Development – ZERO women, SEVEN men
Local Emergency Planning – THREE women, NINETEEN men
La Vergne Housing Authority – ALL women (five) (but no meetings for at least nine years although members have requested meetings to be scheduled repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly)
Parks and Recreation – FOUR women, TWO men, one vacancy (but we’ve been informed that we’re only there to serve as an idea factory and basically to be seat fillers because the charter calls for the committee).
Stormwater Board – TWO women, FIVE men.
Beer Board – TWO women, THREE men (this one is decently even)
Construction Board of Appeals – TWO women, FIVE men
Greenway Committee – FIVE women, TWO men
Historical Preservation – TWO women, THREE men
Library Board – FOUR women, THREE men
Senior Center Committee – FOUR women, SEVEN men.
Industrial Development Board – TWO women, FIVE men (disclosure: this is a new board on which I was appointed)

Are not enough women applying for these positions? What’s the deal? I’d be intereseted in further researching more demographic information about who represents us, but just the gender inequality speaks volumes. We have 37 women serving on various La Vergne Boards, Commissions, and Committees and we have 76 men. That’s more than DOUBLE the number of men on committees than women. On the really impactful committees – those that have the authority to make binding legal decisions (those commissions that have teeth)… TEN women and 33 MEN. Our entire committee membership structure needs to be reexamined to more fairly represent our city’s diversitiy.

Enough of the stacking members based on friendship and favors … I want to see people appointed (and elected) who are fully qualified to serve. We simply must pay more attention to this process. If there are committee or board vacancies, we need to encourage qualified and knowledgeable people to seek the appointment. We need to hold our Board of Mayor and Aldermen accountable… they must advocate for the positive growth of our city and not just put people in place who they happen to go to church with or met on the ballfield. They need to consider a level playing field on behalf of equality.

"All the King's MEN", 3 out of 5 based on 8 ratings.

6 comments for “All the King’s MEN

  1. Rick Autery
    August 21, 2019 at 11:45 am

    It is obvious from your post that you have done your homework on this and I certainly understand your concerns on gender equality. However, one of the things that you did not address in your editorial is the number of applicants for each position Lets use the Board of Zoning Appeals for an example. You state that there is one woman and four men on the board. Now before we judge that as being unfair lets look at the number of actual applicants for the job. Did only one woman apply? If so then there is no case for unfairness here. Did forty women apply? If so then you probably have a valid argument.
    If you want to say that our selection process is based on a ‘popularity contest’ mindset then you need to provide more numbers as to who is eligible and available for this process instead of just the final numbers.
    This applies to each and every board independently. I think that before we reexamine our committee membership structure we need to examine the true numbers that resulted in our committees being what they are.

    • Kathy Tyson
      August 21, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      I agree!! This should be considered…

      However, based on personal experience, I can attest to being passed over for commissions in favor of men where my own experience far exceeded theirs. So yes you 100% have a valid point but I’ve witnessed it over and over. Most recently a friend of mine was ASKED to apply for a board… then she didn’t get the position.

      The Planning Commission members are appointed by the mayor so HE can absolutely do a better job of seeking out a diverse, experienced membership.

      At the very least maybe we’re at least talking about this and making people more aware of the inequities!

    • Kathy Tyson
      August 21, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      So I’ve been thinking more about your statement, Rick. My thoughts go back to the city’s sharing of information and transparency. When I managed the social media platforms, I always shared meeting notices, when the city was hiring, and committee vacancies. The city could be doing that now to attract a diverse group of people. They don’t. I’m not sure why except I had heard years ago that nothing was to be written without approval from the top and of the two at the top: 1) One doesn’t like too much info to be shared (keeping people from doing the jobs they’ve been hired to do) and 2) The other perceives himself as the king of social media so the city shouldn’t have to do anything besides promote events and talk about water lines being flushed. There’s SO MUCH more to share that would keep citizens informed.

  2. Stacy Beyrodt
    August 21, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Like the sign says: I cannot believe we still have to protest this shit. Everybody knows that gender inequality exists even today in 2019. And yet we, as women, get scolded and corrected and mansplained to about the very things we experience. I am so sick of this argument that we “should do our homework”. We ARE the homework so unless you have something meaningful to contribute to the conversation Rick Autery, my advice to you is to walk away from this topic and go watch some Fox News.

  3. Kemyetta Knight
    August 21, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Lavergne Housing Authority? I didn’t know Lavergne had a housing Authority. Where is it located in Lavergne?

    • Kathy T.
      August 21, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      That’s part of the point… right now it’s just an authority appointed by the city (mayor/aldermen). They’ve asked to meet for years but the city won’t schedule a meeting for them and they haven’t been given any resources to self-organize.

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