The chair of the Board of County Commissioners has now offered her apology for the use of the racial and ethnic slur spoken on record in a public meeting during a recent salary discussion and controversy. The residents and taxpayers of Franklin County deserved no less than that “heartfelt” apology.

Although I am not Jewish, a dear and special Franklin County friend is, and he first alerted me to the troubling use of the offensive word carelessly and thoughtlessly used by the county chair. As a practicing Jew himself, the use of the stereotypical term was very offensive to him, and to his family as well. I respected his sensitivity and wrote to the commission and chair stating my concerns about the public incident.

But now, I believe it is important to inform other county voters about my own letter of concern and objection, which was sent electronically to the five commissioners and the director of administrative services. Neither I, nor my letter or my comments have been acknowledged or answered. I never even received the polite courtesy of a form saying “We have received your comments.” 

In my letter to the commissioners, I not only cited my strong objections to the chair’s derogatory and inappropriate use of that slang term, but I further objected to the public failure of any of the other commissioners – or any of the other paid public officials present - to hold the chair accountable for the ignorant use of that careless word. I was offended that none of the other elected officials saw fit to immediately raise their own objection to the use of that careless racial and ethnic slur, in that way holding their leader accountable for the inappropriate word used.

As a resident, property owner, taxpayer and regularly active member of the Franklin County community, my Jewish friend and I were offended by the chair’s use of the term ‘jewing’ in the unmanaged and irresponsible chaos of those salary discussions. (By the way, in the midst of that bizarre attempt to justify a newly appointed department head’s proposed new salary, I was flabbergasted when Commissioner Parrish seemed proud to announce that “I don’t look at anybody’s salaries.” Shouldn’t he be one of those who helps SET those salaries? ) That entire salary discussion proved to be a personnel farce and doubly embarrassing when it included the slur!

I find it offensive that my personal letter of objection, properly and privately directed to the commissioners, has been ignored by all ‘my’ elected officials as of this date. Why did you decide that my comments/opinions didn’t deserve the respect of your attention? Why didn’t my personal communication - which was directed to each of you - receive the courtesy of a polite acknowledgement from at least one of you? And why doesn’t the county bother to respond to communications from its voters? Have you all become so far detached from your constituents that you forget I help to pay your salary? As does my Franklin County Jewish friend.

Shame on you all for ignoring the legitimate words of comment and complaint from this voter. As your constituent, I deserved some respect from you.

And shame on you all for ignoring the racial and ethnic slur when used publicly by your chairman. All the members of this county deserved more and better respect from you, no matter what their ethnicity.


Mel Kelly