Monday, April 22, 2024

Ethics Complaint filed against Carol McCoy by Arts Commission Employee, dismissed.

Carol McCoy

by Rod Williams, April 18, 2024- Things just seem to not improve at the Metro Arts Commission. I don't see how they could get much worse, but they are not getting better.

The last thing to occur is that an ethics complaint was filed against Carol McCoy, a member of the Metropolitan Arts Commission. The way it looks to me is that she was doing nothing but doing her job as a conscientious member of the Arts Commission. 

Carol McCoy is the former Davidson County Chancellor, who served two decades on the bench. She was first elected Chancellor of the Chancery Court, Part II, Davidson County Tennessee in August 1996 and re-elected Chancellor in 1998, 2006 and 2014. She has an impressive resume and has served on various boards for nonprofit organizations in Nashville.  She was the first female President of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and a founding member of the Lawyers Association for Women. 

Carol has served as a Commissioner on the Tennessee Arts Commission as well as Trustee for Watkins School of Art, Film, and Design. She was appointed to the Metro Arts Commission by Mayor Freddie O'Connell in April 2023, along with three other new commissioners. 

The ethics complaint is that McCoy discussed and voted on matters not on the agenda of Arts Commission meetings thus violating open meetings rules, publicly humiliated a Black female Arts Commission employee by questioning her qualifications and made racist and classist remarks concerning certain members of the arts community.

As to humiliating a Black employee, the employee was the new Director of Finance for the Arts Commission introduced to the Commission during the meetings of November 16, 2023.  The complaint says McCoy "aggressively" asked, "You’re the director of Finance? What qualifications do you have?”. The Complaint says she challenged the qualifications of the Black female employee but not the qualifications of the two White female employees, and this caused the Black employee to become visibly upset and exit the room in tears.

As far as making racist and classist remarks, one of the examples to support that charge is that during a meeting she said the following:

I have been a member of many nonprofits. I don't think I've ever been on a micro agency that has a budget of $25,000. That is not even enough to pay one staff person, so it occurred to me that if you give money to a micro agency or to an individual, how do you do it in such a way it can be accounted for and properly used.

The other evidence to support the charge of racist and classist remarks is that she said this:

People who come in who just want to start a new venture. Their application is woefully poor, you wouldn't award anyone that money until you thought it would be handled properly... The one I remember was the Chinese New Year's festival, it was a little group of people getting together and I think they asked for $5,000 but the grant was just so poorly written, maybe if they'd gone to the center for nonprofits they might have gotten some help.

I can't believe it. In the above examples it sounds like someone simply doing their job. Those are the kinds of questions and comments I would expect from a responsible board member. 

The Metro legal department concluded the complaint, if true, did not violate ethical standards and should be dismissed. On April 5th, the Board of Ethical Conduct unanimously voted to dismiss the complaint (1). 

This is just the latest in the drama that has been going on at the Arts Commission for years. For more on the topic, see the following:


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