Johnson City Press: Letters: Board member bites back
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Letters: Board member bites back

Johnson City Press • Apr 26, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

Board member bites back

In the March 26th issue of the Johnson City Press on the Opinion page, there was an article titled, “Ballad, its board and accountability,” by Dr. Marty Olsen.

The article is well written and he makes some good observations. I agree with some of them.

However, in the last paragraph of the first column, this statement is made: “In the past when I held a leadership role in health care, I studied the deliberations of the former Mountain States board of directors and felt that too often the board rubber-stamped the decisions of the administration. Hopefully, the board of the new Ballad organization will do better.”

I am totally offended by that statement!

I served on the Johnson City Medical Center board for nine years and on the Mountain States board for eight years. I was chairman of the Johnson City Medical Center Board for two years, on the executive committee and served on the executive committee of the Mountain States board, among other things.

Since Dr. Olsen was not on either of these boards, I don’t understand how he felt he had enough information to make such a broad statement critical of those who were there.

I did not “study deliberations.” I participated.

What the above statement about a rubber-stamp board says is that I wasted 17 years rubber-stamping administration decisions. Not true!

In my career, I served on several boards, some of which I got paid, and the Medical Center and Mountain States boards were as professional as any board I served on.

I could say more, but I will not. I just could not let Dr. Olsen’s comment go unchallenged.

WILLIS E. HAWKINS JR.
Johnson City

Don’t weaken gun permits

As a resident of Johnson City and a volunteer for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, I am concerned with actions in the Tennessee Legislature aimed at weakening the firearm permit system in Tennessee.

Tennessee currently has public safety laws that ensure people in our state pass a criminal background check and complete gun safety training before they are permitted to carry a loaded handgun in public. Unfortunately, lawmakers have introduced bills that are designed to dismantle the permitting system. Lawmakers are doing this at the behest of the gun lobby, which wants to move Tennessee closer to being a permitless carry state.

One such bill, HB 1264/SB 705 would create a new permit that removes the requirement that an individual practice firing a gun before being issued a permit, instead requiring training that can be satisfied with as little as a 90-minute online class. Who benefits from having less trained people carrying hidden, loaded guns in public? Unsurprisingly, the few states that have completely eliminated their permitting system have seen a substantial increase in gun crimes. After Arizona enacted permitless carry in 2010, the rate of aggravated assaults with a gun increased by 39 percent by 2017! In the past few months in our area, we have seen several terrible shootings involving domestic violence victims and even a respected law enforcement officer. Does this seem like a good time to weaken our permitting system and make it easier for untrained people to carry a loaded firearm?

The vast majority of Tennesseans, including the vast majority of gun owners, support maintaining the current permitting system. I urge all elected leaders in Tennessee to listen to their constituents and reject HB 1264/SB 705 that chips away at our permitting system and oppose any attempt to weaken it.

VICKI POWERS
Johnson City

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