Archived Story

So little spent on youth in Franklin

Published 9:44am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

by Thomas  H. Councill Jr.

Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn and Councilwoman Mary Hilliard lead a black woman majority on the Franklin City Council.

Because they have the majority of the votes, Ashburn and Hilliard run the City of Franklin.

This report is to inform the voters on how Ashburn and Hilliard are spending tax dollars on city recreation programs.

The 2010 U.S. Census indicated the City of Franklin has 2,295 children and teenagers.

According to information given to the Recreation Advisory Committee by the Franklin Department of Parks & Recreation, the primary youth programs that the recreation department’s staff runs for these young people are Bingo, Dominoes and Summer Super Jam. The other programs are run by volunteers and are fee-based.

To provide Bingo, Dominoes and Summer Super Jam to the community, Ashburn and Hilliard paid $289,415 for staff and benefits for 2010-2011, $289,991 for 2011-2012 and $297,419 for 2012-2013.

Their spending for salaries, wages, FICA tax, retirement, hospitalization/medical plans, life insurance, unemployment claims, workmen’s compensation, gifts and bonuses for the three years totaled $876,825.

To provide Bingo, Dominoes, Youth Club and Summer Super Jam to the community, Ashburn and Hilliard spent $9,574 for 2010-2011, $9,881 for 2011-2012 and $7,000 for 2012-2013. Their spending for Bingo, Dominoes, Youth Club and Summer Super Jam for the three years totaled $26,455.

Ashburn and Hilliard spent $289,415 on staff for them to spend $9,574 for 2010-2011.

This means that Ashburn and Hilliard spent $4.17 per child.

The city refuses to give me an official breakdown on its line item spending, but based on what I’ve been given, Ashburn and Hilliard spent 10 cents per child to play Bingo, 7 cents per child to play Dominoes, $1 per child to be in the Youth Club and $3 per child to be in Summer Jam. However the latest Summer Jam figures are harder to discern because the recreation program splits its cost with the Boys & Girls Club.

Fiscal year 2012-2013 was a bad year for recreation programs. Ashburn and Hilliard budgeted $12,000 for Bingo, Dominoes, Youth Club and Summer Super Jam.

But for some reason that no one can explain, Ashburn and Hilliard forced the department to return $5,000 to the general fund. This means that the Ashburn and Hilliard spent 71 cents per child, or stated differently, 2 cents per child for Bingo, 4 cents per child for Dominoes, 15 cents per child for Youth Club and 50 cents per child for Summer Jam.

I’ve taken the time to see what is going on, and I haven’t seen any kids playing dominoes. So, I think the staff have inflated the program list.

We see children committing suicide and mass murder, raping and chasing chaos.

As a community, we have the choice of trying to fix our youth problems, or to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which is paying a lot of money to city staff to do nothing.

The first thing we need to do is get rid of Ashburn and Hilliard.

Maybe we need to lobby the state for a change in the City Charter to allow us to recall politicians when staff-pay and benefits are greater than the department’s services rendered.

THOMAS H. COUNCILL JR. is vice chairman of the Franklin Parks and Recreation Advsiory Committee and can be reached at thomas_councill@hotmail.com.

  • Observer26

    Though I rarely agree with Mr. Councill, here I do to a degree. It does apear to be a good amount of money for such a little return for our city. Where I do disagree is in who should be fired. Not the council persons in quesion but the Dir of Parks and Rec and his senior management. Mr. Davis does always seem to be busy but if what Mr. Councill states is true and no one has disagreed, then what is Ms. Davis busy doing?

    Suggest Removal

  • 2fishy

    if he spent as much time in his department at work, doing his work as he does writing stuff, he would have a great looking department

    Suggest Removal

  • employee2

    What is not mentioned is that part of the responsibility of P & R is to maintain the athletic fields for high schools(football & baseball fields).

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      The Armory Field Complex is owned by the City. The school system has an agreement with the city to use the field.

      Is it a good use of City funds to maintain the field when the schools could maintain the fields that they use?

      Why have rec staff maintaining the field when public works can do this job better?

      Why is the City paying the Director of Recreation a manager’s salary to move trash around?

      Suggest Removal

      • employee2

        I don’t think Mr. Davis considers himself above occasionally moving trash. Also, Public works may have the manpower to do the job, but some agronomy knowledge of turf may be needed.

        Suggest Removal

      • Councill

        employee2, “I don’t think Mr. Davis considers himself above occasionally moving trash.”

        It is a misuse of talent that is being paid to manage the department. The Director should be planning, seeking grants, and making sure that the operation is going as it should. Stated another way, Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard are paying the Director $70,000.00 to do a $7.00 an hour job. In your and their view it is a fiscally responsible thing to do. Although the $7.00 an hour, remove the trash job is being done. I do not agree with you that it is reasonable to leave the full spectrum of the Director’s duties undone, or in the alternate, the $70,000.00 job undone.

        Suggest Removal

      • employee2

        Tommy, there are lots of jobs where the primary duties are sometimes put on the back burner to do other duties. I am not sure of your employment history, but in mine “upper level” managers have taken out trash, decorated Christmas trees, and etc.. These are not their primary functions, but they may do them occasionally. With the attitude that you apper to have about the lesser jobs, I am glad that you are not in management. Good managers do not mind doing the jobs that they supervise. Bad managers have an attitude of that is below me!

        Suggest Removal

      • Councill

        Employee2, “4. Ratio? why does it have to have a ratio that YOU see fit. Whatever happened to parents being responsible for their kids? The answer to everything is not more government. Government operates from taking money from someone else.”

        You are a hypocrite. Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard have a responsibility to serve all the citizens of the city. They have a duty to prudently spend the taxpayer’s money for the greater good. They should not produce sham government to fool the public into thinking that they are meeting the needs of the city’s poor children, while only enriching the city’s staff.

        Hypocrite, you speak of more government, as a verbal cloud to hide the staffs’ failure to supply value for service. You speak of personal responsibility and the problem of taxation. Hypocrite, you are the government. You see no problem with city staff receiving excessive pay, while our most needy are denied services. Our tax money go to you, and you have the offensive nerve to say that parents are the problem. You are the problem. You, Ashburn, Hilliard, and their committing fraud alliance.

        Suggest Removal

      • employee2

        Hypocrite? I stated facts to you and I am a hypocrite? I neither set budgets, pay, nor expenses. It would seem to appear that in your “perfect world” that the poor would recieve everything they WANT. The world does not operate that way. My dad worked two jobs to provide for our family and sacrificed his time to do this. Why does everyone think that someone else is to provide what they WWANT. Needs are a different story and the city helps with these.As far as the comment on city pay, I suppose that you would prefer that they be staffed @ minimum wage? Pay grades in that level will get you what you pay for, very little. I am so sorry that you feel the city is to provide every want and need that YOU see fit. What is provided by the city for other children (not on the southside)? Your comment “Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard have a responsibility to serve all the citizens of the city” I haven’t read about a bunch of services being provided on the northside or am I missing something?

        Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Employee2, — “Tommy, there are lots of jobs where the primary duties are sometimes put on the back burner to do other duties…, but in mine “upper level” managers have taken out trash, decorated Christmas trees, and etc.. These are not their primary functions, but they may do them occasionally.”

      Employee2, What is your name, and which city department are you managing?

      I also don’t know your history, and it is clear that you are unaware or totally disinterested in the city staff operating in a cost effective and efficient manner. Maybe because you are benefiting from the government waste, and misuse of taxpayer money.

      1. I’ve been informed by city management that the rec director trash collection duties is a permanent change.

      2. It should be clear to a reasonable taxpayer that this change is distracting the Director from doing more important duties.

      3. As a city manager, do you believe that the rec department is operating at its full potential?

      4. As a city manager, do you feel the dollars spent in rec salaries to youth program ratio is a problem worthy of consideration?

      5. Do you believe that poor Southside children should have a functional recreation department with youth programs that will keep them off the streets and out of trouble?

      Employee2, you do not appear from your past comments to be concerned with the quality of any city department service, the mission of the recreation department, or the department’s quality of service. You seem to be concerned with just taking your benefits, and letting the community fall into a dilapidated state.

      Suggest Removal

      • employee2

        1. I don’t manage a department, but I see what management does.
        2.Explain the trash collection duty.
        3.Is the department working at it’s potential. i would have to read its goals, which I have not.
        4.Ratio? why does it have to have a ratio that YOU see fit. Whatever happened to parents being responsible for their kids? The answer to everything is not more government. Government operates from taking money from someone else.
        5. I grew up in the same era with you, we did not have programs that were free, we went to the YMCA. Yes there is a cost, but if it is so important to you, then I am sure you can find an area that you can cut to make a way.
        6. I am concerned about the quality of the service given by city departments. What you fail to understand is what the city departments are supposed to provide.

        As for the dilipidated state, there is a thing called personal responsibility!

        Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Employee2, “…Why does everyone think that someone else is to provide what they WANT. Needs are a different story and the city helps with these.”

      The way the Alliance operates the recreation department, we neither get what we want, or what we need. We only have exorbitant salaries.

      Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Employee2, “Your comment “Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard have a responsibility to serve all the citizens of the city” I haven’t read about a bunch of services being provided on the north side or am I missing something?”

      Mayor Ashburn and Councilwoman Hilliard and their do nothing alliance have not done anything for the north side or the south side. My column was about spending too much to do too little. However, it seems that the alliance believes that the white children go to the country club and the YMCA, and that the city’s recreation is for the poor black children. Since the city’s rec in their mind is for the poor blacks and the white children don’t need anything from them, they just pay staff to have the “look” of operating.

      Employee2, “As far as the comment on city pay, I suppose that you would prefer that they be staffed @ minimum wage?”

      I don’t even think the city needs a staff under the current system. The city could eliminate the Director’s position for a savings of $70,000.00. We can also eliminate two program aid positions for a savings of around $110,000.00. I would retain the secretary position, and a rec aid position for working with the volunteers. Maintenance duties would be handled by public works.

      Suggest Removal

  • Ol Skinny

    If Mr. Councils numbers are correct and I have not seen anyone dispute them… then…SOMEONE NEEDS TO GET FIRED or ARRESTED!This is terrible. Mr. Council, this is probably one of the most enlighting articals I have read. If you did your homework and these numbers are correct then YOU should be in “investigative journalism”!

    Suggest Removal

  • SandMan

    Thomas….please explain to us how Mrs. Hilliard (1 vote) & Mrs Johnson-Ashburn (only votes in tie breakers) have the “majority” of votes?

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Ashburn and Hilliard attend meeting, vote on all issues. They lead the alliance which is a super majority. They have control of the sub-majorities.

      As of today, Don Blythe is not attending council meetings due to his illness. Greg Mclemore is not attending on a consistent basis, that leaves Ashburn, Hilliard, Murphy, Burgess, and Cheatham to run the city.

      Votes by sex.

      Women — Ashburn, Hilliard, Murphy, 3 votes
      Men — Burgess, and Cheatham, 2 votes. Women run the city.

      Votes by race. Black — Ashburn, Hilliard, Murphy, 3 votes White — Burgess, and Cheatham, 2 votes. Blacks run the city.

      Votes by wards. Southside — Hilliard, Murphy, 2 votes
      Northside — Burgess, and Cheatham, 2 votes. Deadlock.

      =============================================

      When Greg Mclemore attends the meeting.

      Votes by sex. Women — Ashburn, Hilliard, Murphy, 3 votes
      Men — Mclemore, Burgess, and Cheatham, 3 votes. Deadlock

      Votes by race. Black– Ashburn, Hilliard, Murphy, Mclemore, 4 votes. White– Burgess and Cheatham, 3 votes. Blacks run the city.

      Votes by wards. Southside — Mclemore, Hilliard, Murphy, 3 votes Northside — Burgess, and Cheathum, 2 votes.

      Southside can decide.

      Suggest Removal

      • SandMan

        “southside can decide”…isn’t that what you pushed for so many years, Thomas?
        “Greg Mclemore is not attending on a consistent basis”….why is that, “Doubting Thomas”? Since you were his “mouthpiece” for so long…get him back in the meetings. Could it be because the camera doesn’t get him in the picture, since the Mayor readjusted it?
        Now it’s no longer about race, but gender? Oh well…that should give you a couple more years of complaining!

        Suggest Removal

      • Councill

        SandMan — “southside can decide”…isn’t that what you pushed for so many years, Thomas?

        No
        ————————-
        SandMan — “Greg Mclemore is not attending on a consistent basis”….why is that,

        I don’t know.
        ————————-
        “Doubting Thomas”? Since you were his “mouthpiece”

        That’s incorrect. I have my own agenda. Greg speaks for Greg.
        ————————-
        SandMan — for so long…get him back in the meetings. Could it be because the camera doesn’t get him in the picture, since the Mayor readjusted it?

        That’s not my interest right now. His ward should address that if they find it to be a problem.
        ————————-

        SandMan — Now it’s no longer about race, but gender? Oh well…that should give you a couple more years of complaining!

        Are you blind? They are spending on salaries 43 times what they are spending on service. Take the time to think this through…real slow…so you can get it. Pretend you hired a person to buy you a used car that cost $7,000.00. And your accountant paid the person $297,419 for doing the job.

        You don’t think we need to complain? Why not?

        Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      Mrs Johnson-Ashburn (only votes in tie breakers) have the “majority” of votes?

      This is not the case. Tie break votes for the Mayor was done when Dr. Harrison was mayor. They would placa a Black on committees and make them chairman. Blacks could only vote to break ties. The mayor votes on all motions now.

      Suggest Removal

  • ahartagain

    First let me say that the opinion of Thomas Council is not that of the opinion of all others who serve on the Advisory Board for the Parks and Rec. You really should be a shame of yourself for this article. The last time I checked the City Council has more than two people on it and I thought that a vote had to have the majority and if I am counting the way that you are that would be 2 yea’s and 5 nay’s but the yea’s win, if this sounds crazy it is because it is.. As a former member of Parks & Recs and served as Ward 4 Representative I have to speak, Mayor Johnson-Ashburn prior to becoming mayor asked me if I would serve on the Board in which I gladly accepted. At that time we discussed various programs that we both are interested in implementing. Mayor Johnson-Ashburn, Mrs. Hillard nor any of the other members of Council did not put in place (playing dominoes, etc.) Money was allotted and Advisory Board sets the programs. The Current Advisory Board has been working diligently to put in place better programs. (Thomas you know this) Programs cost money and we also have to have the acceptance from the Parks & Rec Director. Tommy, please stop pointing your fingers at these to ladies and STOP addressing your OWN opinions as the opinions of the entire Advisory Board. Remember, the programs that are currently in place ie: playing dominoes, was developed by the Advisory Board and I think you have been a member for many years so if finger pointing is needed, point at yourself. This is absolutely RIDICULOUS.. Audrey Hart – Former Ward 4 Representative- City of Franklin Parks & Recreation Advisory Board

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      ahartagain — “First let me say that the opinion of Thomas Council is not that of the opinion of all others who serve on the Advisory Board for the Parks and Rec.”

      I never said that anybody else shared my opinions; on the committee or off. However, I think that you and everyone else who is concerned about municipal fiscal responsibility, and our youth having adequate recreation should agree with me, or at least check out the numbers and become advocates for positive change.
      ————————————–

      ahartagain — “You really should be a shame of yourself for this article. The last time I checked the City Council has more than two people on it and I thought that a vote had to have the majority and if I am counting the way that you are that would be 2 yea’s and 5 nay’s but the yea’s win, if this sounds crazy it is because it is..”

      Raystine is your friend, and you want to deny that the Mayor and Councilwoman Hilliard are the leaders of the city council. But no matter how you try to deny their power and positions, at the end of your rant they are in charge.

      Audrey you should be ashamed of yourself for defending this imbalance in spending to service. You should be ashamed to defend them for how that have mismanaged the recreation department.

      Suggest Removal

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