Time to right a wrong

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Franklin City Council owes Jennifer Bernocco three things: an explanation, an apology and immediate reinstatement to the Historic Preservation Board from which she was unceremoniously dumped.

The Aug. 13 power play by Councilmen Charlie Wrenn, Joe Scislowicz and Mark Fetherolf and Mayor Jim Councill flies in the face of the principles upon which our great country was founded. The notion that speaking freely, sparking dialog about one’s community and government, and holding elected leaders accountable renders one unfit for community service should be reserved for imitation democracies in Third World countries, where weak politicians cling to power by snuffing out dissent.

Here in Franklin, we’re better than that. We have competent, smart leaders who should welcome - in fact, encourage - a passionate, involved citizenry.

Instead, a council majority, three weeks after appointing Bernocco to the city’s new Historic Preservation Board, reversed course and gave her the boot. Not coincidentally, the vote came a day after a letter to the editor from Bernocco expressed concern about Franklin’s future. If the act of retribution was not outrageous enough, the council lacked the courage to even inform Bernocco of her dismissal, much less give her a reason.

We’re prepared to chalk up the council foursome’s action to a temporary lapse of good judgment - a snap, thin-skinned reaction when a simple deep breath was in order. We’re all guilty of that on occasion.

The beauty of our political system is the opportunity for redemption. Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson and Councilwoman Mary Hilliard opposed Bernocco’s dismissal in August and would welcome, we predict, the opportunity to join at least two of their colleagues in righting a wrong.