Letter to the Publisher

In the May 27th edition of the Farragut Press Mayor Ron Williams made two claims that are not correct. First he claimed, “the concern is that there was a failure to follow the “significant public outreach” requirements. This is where we sharply disagree, so a short history is in order.” The second incorrect claim is where Williams said, “If you look at the number of public meetings, the Town Center has had more public outreach than any other project in the history of Farragut.”

You bet the people of Farragut disagree. From March of 2020 until May of 2021 there were no public meetings where citizens could speak directly to the Mayor and Aldermen as is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The citizens were allowed to watch on cable television or YouTube and only allowed to email comments or questions to the Mayor and Aldermen and Planning Commission. Myself and others requested virtual meeting invitations and were denied by Mayor Williams. I have the email read receipt to prove it.

The First Amendment was ratified in 1791. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say a citizen mails a letter to redress the government. Email would not be available for another 200 years. The right to redress the government has always been face to face. Always.

Mayor Williams also claimed that these email comments and questions were answered by the town of Farragut. Nothing could be further from the truth. Myself and many others never heard anything from the Mayor and Aldermen or the Planning Commission from our emails.

On June 19th on Nextdoor Mayor Williams wrote to me, “Mr. Mitchell, I am not going to argue Gov. Lee’s Executive Order, you are more than welcome to do that with him and I will be glad to provide his email if you like. Our decision to follow the EO was based on the number of folks who had underlying health concerns such as Agent Orange, COPD, etc. that could be exposed to COVID in open meetings. Your OPINION is that your civil rights were violated, again you may want to take that up with the one who issued the EO.”

EO stands for Executive Order in the social media post above from Mayor Williams. Governor Bill Lee did not state in any Executive Order that local governments could or should exclude citizens who requested virtual meeting invitations. Yet that is what Mayor Ron Williams did on his own authority. There was no vote by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. This was done by Mayor Williams unilaterally. It is a violation of our civil right to redress our government in person. The person responsible is Mayor Ron Williams.

Mike Mitchell