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Editorial: Parham, Shupe should examine their own leadership

Staff Report • Jul 22, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Kingsport Aldermen Tom Parham and Jantry Shupe lament what they see as a divided Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and in that respect, they’re correct. As evidenced by the board’s recent vote to elect a vice mayor, the seven-member BMA is indeed divided — 5-2, with Parham and Shupe in the minority.As such, Parham and Shupe are trying to bake a cake to their own tastes. Their desire for the board to heal this division suggests the majority should leave their ship of state and climb on board the Parham-Shupe lifeboat — except Mayor Dennis Phillips.The division of which Shupe and Parham speak seems to center on his honor and results in part from who supported whom during last August’s Republican primary race between incumbent 2nd House District Rep. Tony Shipley and Ben Mallicote. For most, life goes on after an election, but apparently not for all.Says Shupe, “I do feel strongly that there is a difference in direction and focus from the mayor’s leadership and from other board members. Leadership goes from the top down, and it’s been a concern of people in much higher positions than myself.”Parham believes the BMA has been “micro-managing” the city manager and not following the city charter when it comes to the role of the BMA, “starting with the mayor. ... Our job is around strategy, policy and direction, and the CEO of this business is John Campbell.”As to the city charter, perhaps Mr. Parham should dust it off.It makes perfectly clear the final authority in all things is the BMA, not the city manager, and in that respect, the collective members of the BMA comprise the CEO of Kingsport.If the BMA were not managing the city manager in a supervisory capacity, it would not be doing its proper job.The charter states: “The legislative and all other powers, except as otherwise provided ... are hereby delegated to and vested in the board of mayor and aldermen, and the board of mayor and aldermen may ... prescribe the manner in which any powers of the city shall be exercised. ...”As to the city manager?He is managed by the BMA: “The city manager ... shall be the administrative head of the municipal government under the direction and supervision of the board of mayor and aldermen.”Clearly, department heads work for the city manager, and the city manager works under the “direction and supervision” of the BMA — not the other way around.While Parham and Shupe are critical of the mayor’s leadership, they might do well to examine their own.The aforementioned 5-2 vote replaced Parham as vice mayor, but prior to that vote, Shupe had nominated Parham for the position.When no other member offered a second, Parham, himself, seconded the motion — to elect himself.

That’s no example of leadership.And when that vote failed and Alderman Mike McIntire was elected vice mayor, Alderman Shupe rose from his seat and walked out of the meeting in a pout. Nor did he return, despite the serious business facing the board in discussing the city’s 2014 Capital Improvement Plan and issuance of $28.9 million in bonds.That, as well, is hardly an example of leadership.

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