On March 31, 2009, the duly elected mayor of Pegram TN, Terri Ray, was stripped of her duties as mayor after the Vice-Mayor Rick Roark declared her "unable to discharge (her) duties." The other alderman voted to endorse this illegitimate and illegal seizure of power. This was done after Mayor Ray "discharged her duties" by terminating the employment of the Town Recorder and a public works employee, in accordance with the town charter, state law, and after 6 months of attempting to get these employees to correctly perform their jobs.
Mayor Ray had been the Town Recorder under 3 previous mayors and elected alderman twice. She was elected mayor on a simple platform to bring fiscal accountability for the spending of taxpayer dollars, the town into adherence with applicable laws, and make town hall a pleasant place all citizens could come to for information and assistance. The terminated employees would not conform to these common-sense requirements.
What is strange is that Vice-Mayor Roark and Alderman Carol Crook were elected in the same election, on the same platform. Alderman Eugene Evans had been a voice for accountability, and Alderman Daniel DuBois was appointed to fulfill the same aims. Not only were these campaign promises; also they are the duty of the Mayor & Aldermen.
Mayor Ray had met with stiff resistance to bringing these common-sense changes to the town, much of this from the Town Recorder. "We've always done it this way" was the most often retort, followed closely by charges of "micromanaging." Some former and current town officials told her to trust the staff and not provide any oversight or control to how the taxpayer's money was spent. The other aldermen had proposed ordinances to take away the mayor's duty of oversight, in order to keep the spending of taxpayer money out of view. These aldermen, led by Vice-Mayor Roark, seem to have forgotten why they were elected and who they represent. It's evident they believe they represent the entrenched bureaucracy and the building of town hall - not the citizens. The lure of personal power appears to have been too great.
This move is a political coup, something we would expect to hear about on the news, happeing in a far-off country - not in the USA. These moves are not legal - the law regarding this is crystal clear, as is the will of the voters. For full disclosure, Mayor Ray is my wife. I am assisting her with this fight to restore good government to our small town and end this illegal coup. We have retained an attorney, not something we had budgeted. We have also been in contact with other legal and governmental entities to right this egregious wrong. By the research of our attorney and others, this has not happened in the USA in modern times. This type of political skullduggery can not and will not stand. I am including links to stories from the press regarding this situation.
Pegram Mayor Stripped of Duties
Pegram Mayor Voted Out
Pegram Mayor Ousted from Office
This is the copy of the town charter, clearly detailing the legality of her duties.