Archived Story

Council members respond to reported call for picketing businesses

Published 1:03pm Saturday, June 8, 2013

FRANKLIN—Franklin City Councilman Greg McLemore said he had no comment when asked by The Tidewater News to confirm an email that stated he, “has called for picketing of council members Barry Cheatham and Benny Burgess’s job and business. He also called for a boycott of Mayor Raystine Ashburn’s business.”

The email came to the newspaper from Thomas Councill Jr., who told Managing Editor Lucy Wallace that he believes he’s performing a public service to the newspaper in offering news tips.

Included in the email, which was sent Friday morning, are items regarding the Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills. The group is upset that Franklin City Council and staff have not done enough to address what they perceive as an inequality in electric bills.

Linwood Johnson, spokesman, confirmed that Councill attends meetings on the issue.

“Our group is not doing any such business [as picketing],” Johnson said. “We respect their businesses. Their businesses have nothing to do with the issue. I wouldn’t want anyone to picket my business. We have no personal beef with anyone. Mayor Johnson-Asburn runs a respectable business and so do the others.”

“We’re working for solutions so Franklin can move forward,” he continued. “Some want to wreak havoc.”

The mayor said she had recently learned of a call to picket her business, William Johnson and Sons Funeral Home in Franklin, through The New Journal and Guide, a Norfolk-based weekly newspaper.

If McLemore indeed has called for picketing, “It’s his right,” Johnson said. “I’m mindful that I can’t infringe on his right, and I remain prayerful about the matter.”

Franklin Councilman Barry Cheatham said the call from The Tidewater News is the first he’s heard about it. He is a certified public accountant for Sherman, Spero & Safarino Ltd., Virginia Beach.

“That’s up to them, just so long as they get a picket license,” Cheatham said, adding that he doesn’t know why McLemore or anyone would want to picket his business.

“This is very out of line for a councilman, but I guess that’s his business,” he said.

“That’s their problem,” Cheatham said. “I think he ought to serve his constituents. He’s not attended one budget work session.”

Benny Burgess, fellow Franklin City Councilman, confirmed Cheatham’s remark that McLemore has not attended any of the budget work sessions.

“As long as they don’t interfere with my employees coming and going, they’ve a constitutional right,” said Burgess. He has a branch of Burgess & Co., PC, CPAs in Franklin, as well as Emporia and Richmond.

Regarding the Concerned Citizens group, Burgess said that council has been having many meetings about high electric bills.

“We’ve referred anyone specifically to meet with the city manager to look at their specific case. Our research has shown it’s not a systemic problem, but an individualized problem with each person.”

He added that the mayor has been quite respectful of the people’s citizen time at council meetings.

“I’ve not heard from Greg personally,” said Burgess, “but I have a concern of a fellow councilman taking this to a personal level. This is not conduct becoming a city councilman.”

  • scottseddon

    Unbelievable

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  • FromHere

    Sounds like the rantings of an idiot.

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  • rdarden

    Mclemore is a total embarassment to the City of Franklin

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  • beachgirl

    Yeah and even back then he was a… well I will not say…he was arguing with everyone at the party…He was even arguing with the dog…good grief.

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  • SandMan

    Hold on, beachchick……didn’t I see you at a party in 1985, at which McLemore was in attendance? Remember….”What gives YOU the right”?

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  • beachgirl

    McLemore speaks for all the citizens of Franklin?? It will be a cold day in well you know, before McLemore speaks for me….I don’t want that kook even speaking to me.

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  • Makalani

    Re: “… “Death and taxes” “Goldie” has avoided one…now boycotting the other!”

    Just about anyone with a gift of gab/can tell a lie with a straight face/has a few $$s for the filing fee can become a small-town councilperson.

    But how many people can claim to have turned Ben Franklin’s age-old axiom on its head? “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

    AND — put an exclamation mark on another of Ben’s sayings: “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle!”
    These two accomplishments may surmount Councilman McLemore’s political legacy!

    Seriously — if Councilman McLemore — Dr. Johnson and Mr. Councill were not spearheading this protest movement — would it have any more credibility with those opposed?

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  • employee2

    Not sure which was more amusing, McLemore getting escorted away or Dr. Johnson’s statement about the electric departments profits getting harpooned. Dr. Johnson has shown repeatedly that he does not have a clue…and they have him as a leader?

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    • TaxMax

      Anyone know what he is a Dr. of??? And I can’t believe “doom” was wished upon Councilman Gloom…

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  • Typhoon

    Your comment has not been removed it is in another article that you had responded too.

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  • Dakota01

    why did they remove my comment???did it piss somebody off because i said for them to take responsibility for their problems???new windows,doors,insulation??????hold landlords and owners responsible for getting things rite????

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  • beachgirl

    If you were watching the City Council meeting tonight..I would give it 2 thumbs up…just seeing McLemore escorted from the podium by the Police Officers surely made my night…Right on Mayor Johnson!!

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  • oobuc79

    Greg McLemore is not a real councilman. McLemore and Thomas Councill Jr. are the problems in Franklin. These people with high bills probably do not have their house insulated right. Its time to run McLemore out of office.

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  • spider68

    Well, it now seems that Councill and McLemore are at odds with each other. Councill outed McLemore to the TN. Great. I’ve always thought if you give those two enough rope, they will eventually hang themselves.

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  • boomercitizen

    And I might add that “picketing” this issue is ridiculous. Again McLemore is just trying to start trouble. He is not part of the solutions, he is part of the problems.

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  • boomercitizen

    There is no smoking gun regarding electric bills in this city. Sounds to me like those that overuse do not want to pay for what they used.
    In other words they want something for nothing. The City seems to have taken the proper approach which included educating the citizens, investigating the reasons for the high bills from the unhappy customers, recommending how they can reduce their bills, etc. Problem here also is some of those not happy once again seem to want something for nothing. They don’t seem to want to make their properties energy efficient stating “they don’t have the money”. Well…welcome to home ownership. It’s the same for all of us who own property.

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  • SandMan

    okay..I get it, Mak Mak. “Death and taxes” “Goldie” has avoided one…now boycotting the other!

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  • Makalani

    RE: “…how does one “boycott” a Funeral Home?”
    Evidently — you never heard of the movie: “The Walking Dead!” If this boycott catches on — you will see zombies walking down Main St. lol

    Seriously — boycotts — protests and picketing are as American as baseball — apple pie and the vehicle “Built Like A Rock!” The American colonists got sick of the British jerking them around. Tea Party members are sick of Prez Obama jerking them around. Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills are sick of the City jerking them around!

    The issue is not about the personalities involved. They are only incidental to the protests’ validity/merit! Although having Bart Simpson leading the protests would probably have less gravitas than say — Ralph Nader! Lol

    100% of the colonists did not agree with the Revolution. 100% of Americans have not joined the Tea Party.
    100% of Franklinites do not support this protest. However — unanimity certainly didn’t invalidate the concerns of the aggrieved colonists — quell or dissuade their zealotry. Ditto for the Tea Party and CCAHUB!

    We have the jury’s verdict on the colonists’ concerns. We’ll have to wait and see what verdict our system of checks and balances delivers for the other two aggrieved parties!

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    • handkusp45

      It remains to be seen if the city is jerking them around. Many believe they just want something for nothing. We shall see.

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  • SandMan

    Hey “Goldie”…..how does one “boycott” a Funeral Home?

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  • TaxMax

    I just think it is funny that he (McLemore) is trying to “help” this group and then in the article they say they have someone lined up to run against him in his ward. As far as the boycotts, guess Cheatham, Ashburn and Burgess need to go pee on the floor in his area at PDCCC!

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  • handkusp45

    I know you won’t believe this but I am speechless. How low can he go?

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