Letter: Councilmen respond to Ross’s Letter

Mr. Ross,

Thank you for reaching out to Council to express your displeasure with Council’s decision that was made regarding the Chamber’s funding request.  It is clear that you remain vested in the town’s business and retain the same passion and drive that you displayed when you were serving as mayor.  As citizens, we thank you for the eight years you served as mayor and for the countless hours you’ve dedicated to causes you feel worthy.  

In this instance, however, we feel that your assessment is shortsighted.  But before we explore that, we want to ask two questions:  Why so angry?  What is it that we don’t know that deserves such a bitter public reprimand?

First, in your letter, you mention that, “we have squandered so much more money on other things in the past.”  Wouldn’t it be fair to say that was under your administration?  And if that’s the case…and past money was truly squandered, wouldn’t it be reasonable to eliminate future squandering and put the taxpayers’ money to better uses?  We would be remiss by repeating sins of the past.  

Secondly, since when has it ever been the Town’s responsibility to provide public financing for rent and utilities for private enterprises?  In our opinion, it makes no difference if these enterprises are for-profit or nonprofit; it makes no difference their mission or goals.  A private enterprise is not entitled to public funding and should be able to stand on its own.

Thirdly, the idea that Blythewood needs a stand-alone Visitor’s Center just doesn’t make sense.  The current Visitor’s Center is housed in Town Hall and operates as expected. No one is visiting Blythewood during the middle of a global health pandemic and, frankly, very few visited the Visitor’s Center when it was in McNulty Plaza. The question was asked directly during the most recent Council meeting, “How many people visited during that time (in McNulty)?” We did not get a clear answer.

To state that we have slapped the business community, arts and cultural societies in the face is just foolish.  During the same meeting, Council agreed to fund the Doko Film Fest, which is the premiere cultural event in Blythewood.  In the past, we have funded multiple Chamber, Artist Guild and Bravo Blythewood events.  To single out last year’s Film Fest as squandering money is uncalled for…we all knew that COVID-19 was on the horizon and continues to wreak havoc globally.  So, yes, the Film Fest was dealt a bad hand, yet still put on an amazing event. And to come back and request a significantly lower amount than we allocated last year tells us they are on the right path.

Mr. Mayor, no one questions your love for the Town of Blythewood.  And we all thank you for your service to the town as our mayor and your continued service on the Chamber and other boards we may not be aware of.  And yes, you were not defeated, but neither did you step down. You simply complied with Administrative Ordinance 2013.019 that requires a limit of two consecutive terms in office – an ordinance passed during your administration, but which you voted against.

Finally, the Town is in good hands.

We have a diverse Council with varying backgrounds and areas of expertise.  We rarely have unanimous votes, which tells us that democracy is working in Blythewood exactly as it should.  And when the meetings are over, we all shake hands and part as friends, never harboring any ill will or animosity towards one another.  We are all working toward a common goal: to make Blythewood a better place. We are on that path.

If you or anyone else disagrees, we invite you to attend meetings, send us emails, call us, etc…and we will all do our best to respond in a timely manner.  Our emails are on the Town’s website.  To that end, anyone who wants to speak to any of us directly should email us and we will be happy to respond with our direct phone numbers.

In your service,

Donald Brock, Jr., Larry Griffin and Sloan Jarvis Griffin, III

Blythewood Town Councilmen

The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not the governing body.

Read Former Mayor Enraged at Current Councilmen


Letter: Former Mayor Enraged at Current Councilmen

Published July 30, 2020 By J. Michael Ross, Blythewood

 I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in your vote last night!  I just don’t get it, $5000 for the year (little over $400/month) to house the cultural groups and the chamber.  Not to mention the “Visitor Center” component! We have squandered so much more money on other things in the past, just look at the Doko Film Fest report from last year and not 100 attendees for either night and you (and we) spent $15,000.  Then approved last night over $6000 for the event this coming year, don’t get it!!

You have slapped the business community, arts and cultural societies in the face.  I will do everything as a former mayor, business owner (in the town), citizen and involved community supporter to make the decisions of Mr. Brock, Mr. Sloan Griffin and Mr. Larry Griffin known to every member of these groups and their supporters.

You totally ignored the 5 to 1 approval vote of YOUR  Atax committee board.  They saw the very positive aspects of this funding and you couldn’t see this.

This is tough to say, but I’m not a mayor that got defeated and removed from office. I stepped down and felt like this was a good group to move this town forward. After tonight I’m not so sure. 

Remember, “it ain’t always about what YOU think, but your constituents, the people that elected you”!

J. Michael Ross

Blythewood