Cheryl Gilmore, chairperson of the Animal Services Advisory Board (ASAB) appointed by the Fort Smith Board of Directors, is angry, and she doesn't care who knows.
Gilmore sent an email to Fort Smith Director Kevin Settle on Wednesday (July 11), characterizing the vice-mayor as chauvinistic, thanking him for the "spanking" that he gave her in public at the board's Tuesday (July 9) study session.
The email fumes at Settle for reprimanding the ASAB, specifically Gilmore, for what Settle believed was an attack on the Sebastian County Humane Society (SCHS) Director JoAnn Barton in June.
At the meeting, Gilmore admitted she had "apologized" numerous times to Barton over the "tone" of the interrogation Settle was referring to. But on Wednesday, Gilmore had no sincere apologies to Settle. "I should have known my place (especially as a woman)," the letter fumes.
The letter strikes a sarcastic tone throughout, going on to "thank" Settle for "reining" in Gilmore. (The complete letter from Gilmore is at the end of this story.)
"I promise and swear to you that I will spend absolutely no time doing any research for the ASAB or the city to find solutions to the tiny problem of so few animals here in Ft. Smith," Gilmore mocks.
"I know my boundaries now, but I made a tiny mistake at tonight's ASAB meeting. I first of all wore shorts and no makeup and looked like a hick from a farm. But I was extremely pleasant just like Pollyanna!" Gilmore wrote.
To close, Gilmore continued: "Again, I can't thank you enough for showing me the error of my ways. I respond very well to punitive action like a public spanking. And feel free to do it again if I ever step out of line or color outside the box or try to use my brain! I am so grateful for yesterday and all that time you spent giving me that public spanking."
In contrast to Gilmore's initial email, ASAB vice-chair Nichole Morgan was "deeply sorry" for the "uncalled for behavior" and "an excessively immature and petty reaction" from Gilmore.
In a Thursday (July 12) letter to Settle, Morgan writes: "I want to assure you that, including myself, there are at least four members (and I believe three others who feel nearly the same) who vehemently disagree with the recent behavior that has been exhibited by certain board members and promise that there are those of us who are trying desperately hard to follow the tasks you have given us in the manner that you originally intended and not to serve any agenda besides what is best for the City of Fort Smith, its citizens and our animal population."
Morgan "implores" Settle and the board to not "consider scrapping the whole project or feel as though the board (ASAB) is a failure to the original intentions because I know we are doing and will continue to do good things."
Morgan continued: "What hasn't been relayed to you all is that we are going to great lengths to try and have completed some updates and simplifications to the current and any proposed ordinances regarding the animals while giving our animal control officers all the legal support/backup possible where it may have been lacking in the past." (The complete letter from Morgan is at the end of this story.)
In the initial letter from Gilmore, she said she would not allow her letter to be used by the media without prior consent. However, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), any correspondence sent to a City Director regarding government business is open for use.
Settle said he hopes the board can continue its work.
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Gilmore has decided to launch a personal attack on me rather than work cooperatively towards the goals of the Fort Smith Board of Directors,” noted Settle in a note to The City Wire. “The Board of Directors adopted 11 items in March 2012 that we feel is necessary to improve animal services in the City of Fort Smith. The Animal Services Advisory Board (ASAB) was established to assist the Board of Directors with these issues. It is my sincere hope that the ASAB will continue working to fulfill the goals established by the Board of Directors.”
Fort Smith Director George Catsavis differed from Settle in that he wants to see the process end." Catsavis said he "personally…would like to scrap this whole process," adding there will be "no solution in the near future considering the events that have taken place," though he admits that "all involved have good intentions as to the well being of our pets, as do I."
Fort Smith Director Philip Merry Jr. was sympathetic about Gilmore’s position.
“Cheryl is passionate toward her work and means well, for sure. She felt somewhat attacked by our board. She is very knowledgeable and can be of tremendous help if allowed to continue,” Merry wrote. “It is a hard task that she and the ASAB are doing the best that they can. … It is a sensitive subject and the ASAB, I truly believe, is progressing toward obtaining the facts needed to make solid recommendations to the city.”
CHERYL GILMORE NOTE TO CITY DIRECTOR KEVIN SETTLE
Dear Director Settle,
I can't thank you enough for your calling of the meeting between the ASAB and the BOD yesterday. I know how busy you busy directors are and to request a report and my presence. Well, I just feel so blessed.
I want you to know that the public "spanking" you gave me yesterday was exactly what I needed. And the public spanking I got on the front page of the SW Times Record today, well it just proved I needed to be reined in. They made sure to only give your side of the story, so everything I said, must have been totally incorrect and way beyond my capabilities as a woman. Oh my, I have been such a bad person doing independent research and really trying to understand the issues that face the not so badly treated animals in our city. I have come to see the error of my ways. Again, thank you for publicly humiliating me and the other members of the board (they are just housewives) that showed up. I should have known my place (especially as a woman). I should have known better than to spend probably 100 hours working on the ASAB doing research and presenting such a long and torrid report to you. You said it was too long, so it must have been boring and totally inaccurate huh?
Again, you have my most sincere greatfulness (oops I misspelled that – it must be the sub par education I received at the University of Texas) gratefulness for showing me how to act as chair of a committee here that reports to the city of Ft. Smith. I promise and swear to you that I will spend absolutely no time doing any research for the ASAB or the city to find solutions to the tiny problem of so few animals here in Ft. Smith. I guess having to euthanize 79% (5,882) of the animals that are taken into the shelter is just fine. It is only about 39% over the "supposed" national average. I guess my certification in Market Research and statistics have mislead me as to what a variance is and what a trend is. How foolish of me to actually think that this little old country girl who was raised on a farm and raised cattle, horses, pigs and chickens could know anything about animals or statistics. And gosh I guess I wasted my time on that education at the University of Texas and those Critical Incident Stress classes I took that gave me 12 hours of college credit and not one but two certification. Gee I could have saved all my money and donated it blindly to the Sebastian County Humane Society. It really doesn't bother me that they lost over $550,000 in just three years in 2007, 2008 & 2009. I am sure it would have been spent so wisely. And working in animal rescue for the past twenty years, well with that I guess I am only good at scratching them behind the ears and picking up their poo and piddle cause I surely could never train them or emotionally understand them or give them a better life.
Again, thank you so very much for reining me in. I feel so much better now. I know my boundaries now, but I made a tiny mistake at tonight's ASAB meeting. I first of all wore shorts and no makeup and looked like a hick from a farm. But I was extremely pleasant just like Pollyanna! But I just wanted to let you know that I said an ugly word tonight at our meeting. I didn't mean to and I put my fingers in my ear so I couldn't hear what the other board members were saying. By the way, per your suggestions we rubber stamped several things from the Ad Hoc Committee tonight just like you wanted us to. We got so much done. Also, it wasn't my idea but they wanted to add, spay and neutered animals only on tethers and trolleys if not constantly supervised. I tried to tell them. They asked why I had my fingers in my ears and humming and I was honest and said, "I sure don't want to piss off Director Settle. He told us not to talk about anything outside of those recommendations – especially spaying and neutering. Well, they didn't listen to me. I tried Mr. Settle, I truly did, I am sorry I said the ugly word "pissed" but they voted and put it in anyway. I didn't raise my hand or nod my head yes, no sir. But you know how those majorities are. I made sure that Dr. Remer and Tammy did most of the talking tonight. I did very little. But I did ask Joel Culberson if he had anything to add, as he was such a valuable member of that task force. He replied, "Nothing at this time." So I did try to do you proud. I promise not to color outside the lines again. I will just facilitate and be the Sgt at arms to make sure we follow Roberts Rules of Order. We even got to take a break and ended early. But I reminded them we need to get done with the ordinances so we can rubber stamp the rest of the recommendations and be done. You want us finished soon!
Again, I can't thank you enough for showing me the error of my ways. I respond very well to punitive action like a public spanking. And feel free to do it again if I ever step out of line or color outside the box or try to use my brain! I am so grateful for yesterday and all that time you spent giving me that public spanking. I am sure it was the best use of the City Directors and the Mayor's time and it certainly did spice up and put spring in the step of the SCHS board member's step. I am sure they were thrilled beyond measure. They have to get back to their board meetings of dealing with the real problems. Money!.
Forever your humble servant and good luck with that run for Mayor. I will be singing your praises every step of the way as to what an exemplary leader you are.
Cheryl Gilmore, the not so bright Chair well now Sgt of Arms – Probably asked to Step Down Chair – You know really, I am not sure I am smart enough for this position but I do have that YES rubber stamp made and handy, Animal Services Advisory Board
Yoo hoo, any of you media out there. You may not use this information without asking my permission. This is not written on behalf of the ASAB but personally don't cha know. I can't speak on their behalf. But I can put you in touch with them if need be. (CELL PHONE INFO REDACTED.) You know I have a real job in the Legal Department of my company, but they don't mind if I get a personal call or too. And I do absolutely nothing of importance, all day long. Why I am surprised they have kept me for 13 years!. Thank you soooooooooooo much! They don't take me very seriously either.
NICHOLE MORGAN LETTER TO FORT SMITH BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mr Mayor, Board of Directors, Officers, and Chad,
I am deeply sorry for the email that was sent to you yesterday by one of the ASAB members. It was uncalled for behavior and an excessively immature and petty reaction following the similar behavior towards Chad Hunter during the meeting.
I want to assure you that, including myself, there are at least four members (and I believe three others who feel nearly the same) who vehemently disagree with the recent behavior that has been exhibited by certain board members and promise that there are those of us who are trying desperately hard to follow the tasks you have given us in the manner that you originally intended and not to serve any agenda besides what is best for the City of Fort Smith, its citizens and our animal population.
I am not going to write in length, I just wanted you to know that, as a whole, the ASAB does not feel this way and I wanted those of us who have not had the chance to be represented in this ordeal. I also implore you to not in any way consider scrapping the whole project or feel as though the board is a failure to the original intentions because I know we are doing and will continue to do good things. What hasn't been relayed to you all is that we are going to great lengths to try and have completed some updates and simplifications to the current and any proposed ordinances regarding the animals while giving our animal control officers all the legal support/backup possible where it may have been lacking in the past. I have been asked to be the board member who kept the working copy with all of the recommended changes and will gladly show it to any one of you who would like to see it at any time so you will see not only what we have been doing but that the two meetings prior to July 4 were not typical occurrences.
Again, I apologize for what you received yesterday.
Vice Chair, Animal Services Advisory Board