Just call Steve Godsey ‘Mr. Sensitive’ …
Apparently, Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey is thin-skinned. Who knew?
A recent article in the Kingsport Times-News (http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9029774), about Sullivan County’s purchase of a new Ford Explorer for the Mayor, was greeted with a few comments – nothing untypical for the Times-News website.
The story, published February 11, detailed how the county purchased a $24,828 vehicle. And it further mentioned that this cost was coming from the county’s Solid Waste account, something that elicited curiosity from Commissioner Ed Marsh. That is, indeed, curious. But not what we’re posting about today.
Michael Gilly, a Sullivan County resident, was one of the people who made a comment about this story. His comment was:
“Good to know we get to buy our glorious leader Steve Godsey a birthday gift.”
This brief statement could hardly, in this supercharged era of commentary by citizens and political pundits, be considered anything to become worked up about. In fact, the next comment used a fairly common, yet very pointed, word to describe the Mayor that would be considered far more inflammatory than Mr. Gilly’s entire statement.
We’ll let Mr. Gilly take it from here:
My Call From Steve Godsey
By Michael Gilly
On Saturday, February 12, my phone started to vibrate to let me know my sister was calling me. My sister, who was living with my dad, had phoned me to let me know that I had a message from a woman named Julie Godsey.
This news was a surprise for me – I had never given out my phone number to anyone by this name, and I certainly did not give out my dad’s phone number. I had not lived with him for many years, and I always give out one of my cell numbers for business purposes… I had a suspicion that the name “Godsey” was related to the Sullivan County mayor, Steve Godsey [so] I decided to give the number a call.
I was right, it was his wife on the other end of the phone call. At first, she thanked me for calling her back, and I explained that I only felt it proper. After the first seconds, she started to ask multiple questions. She wanted one answer – did I post a comment on a recent Kingsport Times-News article about Mr. Godsey being approved (by the County Commission) for a brand new Ford Explorer for county purposes? The answer was yes, and I explained this… to her.
Mrs. Godsey had then explained in a very firm (almost infuriated) tone that the vehicle was necessary, and the Times-News had failed to report that multiple vehicles had been approved that same night. She said that I did not understand the need of the vehicle, and that I should do more research before I post on articles.
I wasn’t too fond of the idea of buying a brand new vehicle for the mayor, a sentiment that was, according to a Kingsport Times-News poll, echoed by roughly 1,300 “Daily Poll” voters. I explained that if I had upset her or the mayor, I would gladly request the comment be removed.
I asked her a few more questions, and as we were making small talk (as I’m not one for trouble, I did not want to upset the mayor), she suddenly seemed rushed and said her goodbyes.
[My friend]… Tim had a very good question – where did they get my phone number? … I wasn’t sure of the answer. He mentioned that I should call them back, and I decided that I should.
After the phone rang once, I heard a gentleman pick up. Confused, I said “Mr. Godsey?,” to which I received a positive reply. I explained that I was sorry to bother him, but I wanted to know where he had gotten my phone number. He said that his wife went through the phone book, and “figured out” what my phone number was… [however] I don’t have a personal home phone, and my phone numbers aren’t listed in the phone book.
Mayor Godsey then explained that he needed the vehicle to handle the snow and ice that Sullivan County gets from time to time in the winter, and that he lived at the bottom of two hills – a trek that I also face in the winter. He went on to explain what his wife had previously told me, but he used a more subtle manner to explain that the Kingsport Times-News did not like him, and he mentioned his recent lawsuit with the company over hiring an EMS director. Again, I told him that I would request for my comment to be removed (a request that was not filled as of this writing).
The phone calls were only about 11 minutes combined, but they speak a lot about Mr. Godsey –
• Why, for example, does he call citizens to let them know they are mistaken? Why not make a press release to reach the other 1,300 viewers?
• Why would the County Mayor – or his wife – feel the need to call a constituent to defend an action by the County Commission?
• Why was I singled out, or was I singled out?
• Why does Mr. Godsey need a new vehicle when, according to a November 2006 article in the Times-News, Godsey received a used vehicle for roughly $8,000 less to the taxpayers?
• What has happened to the 2006 Chevy Trailblazer that Godsey was driving?
These are legitimate questions, and taken in the context of some of Mr. Godsey’s positions of late – especially in his handling of such recent issues as the Allan Pope controversy and the lawsuit with the Times-News regarding the release of the names of applicants for director of Sullivan County ambulance services – call into question Mr. Godsey’s ability to handle the job.
If Mr. Godsey is willing to, essentially, harass a citizen over an innocent comment on a public forum, what else would he be willing to do?