For the first time in at least 35 years (possibly much longer) the City of Rolla, stands
without an elected female official.
Here is a list of the women who have served on the Rolla City Council
over the past 20 years:
Donna Hawley 2008-2010
Susan Eudaly 1996-2002, 2006-2010
Judy Jepsen 1998-2008
Charlotte Wiggins 1999-2007
Bettye Sheffield 1998-2000
Julie Turley 1998-1999
Carolyn Trundle 1997-1999
Robin Kordes 1995-1998
Mary Daily 1994-1998
Gladys Light 1991-1997.
And let's not forget Lou McFarland who served as Rolla's mayor from 1978
to 1982 and Joanne Mayberry who served as our Municipal Judge from 1975
until her retirement in 1996.
After Judge Mayberry's retirement, the penny-wise-pound-foolish
chauvinists at City Hall attempted to deny her a pension of $278.50/Mo,
spending, as Lois Ann
Marler noted in the No Standing News,
"many times more than it cost the city to fund her pension." Robert
Nash has reproduced a tribute to
Judge Mayberry in the No Standing News,
remarking that "none of the penny-pinching grumps in city hall will
ever have a tribute like this written about them!"
Why does Rolla have an all white male mayor and council?
In 2010, Donna Hawley lost her bid for reelection to the Rolla City
Council. No other woman ran for election in the City of Rolla in 2009 or
2010, leaving Rolla now with no female representation.
During the two years that Donna Hawley served on the Rolla City Council,
the City of Rolla has gone to tremendous lengths to threaten,
intimidate and discredit her.
In December, 2008, Council member, Terry Ruck left a threatening message on
Ms. Hawley's telephone. Mr. Ruck has problems with alcohol and anger
management and carried a not very well concealed firearm to Council
meetings. The City Council chose to ignore this incident as a personal
matter between two council members.
On June 15, 2009, three male members of the Rolla City Council
motion to censure Ms. Hawley for "unprofessional conduct,". The
motion to censure included eight points and lacked even a single example
of any of them. During Citizen Comment period, I offered several
reasons, including specific examples, of why
the Rolla City Council should go censure itself instead of Ms.
Hawley. The council voted ten to one to censure Ms. Hawley, with Ms.
Hawley abstaining and Jim Williams voting Nay after remarking that he
would not give Ms. Hawley the satisfaction of voting for the measure.
In March, 2009, Ms. Hawley tried to attend what should have been an open
meeting according to the
Missouri Sunshine Law. Dennis Roberts, an employee of
Rolla Municipal Utilities prevented her from attending, according
to Ms. Hawley, by blocking her way, pushing her twice, and later calling
the police to remove her. Dennis Roberts who appears to be a healthy
male then accused Ms. Hawley, who is disabled, of assaulting him. Phelps
County Prosecutor, Courtney George, has charged Ms. Hawley with felony
assault against Mr. Roberts, Case
10PH-CR00911. (If you are wondering why violent criminals go free,
while we have the largest prison population in the world and our system
of justice is in shambles, perhaps it has something to do with
prosecutors who use their office for political purposes and personal
On December 21, 2009, Council member, Jim Williams, cut Ms. Hawley off
in mid-sentence during open council meeting, saying
"She needs to shut her mouth."
Donna Hawley is not the only woman who has been treated in a disparaging
manner in open council meeting. When Tracey Watson questioned a
contract which Rolla Municipal
Utilities had entered into,
Dr. James Stoffer, president of the Rolla
Board of Public Works, the governing body of RMU, stated
disparagingly, "...She's a beautician. Maybe she's seen a bunch [of
contracts], I do not know."
(click here for column
One would think a city official who would speak of women in such a
derogatory manner would at the very least apologize; but not in Rolla.
Ms.Watson's official response is posted on the City website.
Rolla Board of Public Works, which consists of four white males
appointed by the mayor has long been a bastion of male supremacy. Mayor
William S. Jenks III, who gave up his seat on the Board when elected
mayor has had five opportunities to integrate the Board. Each time he
appointed a white male.
One has to ask: Why would a woman want to serve on the Rolla City
Council under such conditions. In each of the above five instances, not a
single member of Council stood up and objected. Indeed, the other
female member of Council, Susan Eudaly, stood with the men aiding and
abetting their chauvinism. Phelps County's female prosecutor, Courtney
George, also stood with the men charging Ms. Hawley with felony assault.
The public also failed in its duty to defend Ms. Hawley against her
tormenters. I attended meeting after meeting in which nobody from the
public stood up in defense of Ms. Hawley. Rolla has many women's groups.
Some purport to stand for the Rights of women. But none of these groups
spoke out against this ill-treatment of a female council member by a
predominately male power structure. Rolla also has a branch of the Civil
NAACP. They too were absent.
Why do all these Councilmen act as they do? Simply, because they can get
away with it. Because so few in Rolla have the courage and the will to
stand up and say that this behavior is unacceptable and we will not
stand for it.
Tracey Watson, in her
response to Dr. Stoffer, gives a clue, noting that "by far the
majority of citizens [that I talked to] are afraid to say anything to
any of you [City Council members] for fear of being verbally attacked."
But I must ask: Why is it that the people of Rolla can be intimidated
into silence so easily? Can the people of Rolla really be that afraid of
Rolla's white-male-dominated power structure? Can they really be that
afraid of being verbally assaulted by a bunch of "stupid
The City of Rolla was 89% white in year 2000 according to the
Census Bureau. Statistically, one would expect that every other
year an African-Americans, Asian-Americans or other racial minorities
would be elected to public office in Rolla; but to my knowledge, and the
knowledge of others who have lived in Rolla far longer than I have,
this has never happened.
1998 was the last time an African-American ran for public office in
Rolla. Robert Nash's candidacy for city council was treated very
unfairly in the Rolla Daily News, as was
the candidacy of another racial minority, Dr. Shaw Wan, who was running
for election to the Phelps County Hospital Board in the same year.
For much of the past decade, the Rolla Daily News has been publishing
editorials by Dave Weinbaum, who speaks disparagingly of numerous
racial, religious, national and ethnic groups: African-Americans,
Muslims, Chinese, Mexicans, Hispanics, Germans, and Japanese. I have
documented this in A
Commentary on an article by Dave Weinbaum. The Rolla Daily News
still publishes Mr. Weinbaum in its online edition.
While our nation has a president of African descent, Rolla's city
council still lacks minority representation.
And so, dear reader, now you know the history behind this cartoon. And
now you know how the women of Rolla, Missouri have effectively
disenfranchised themselves through their failure to stand against
injustices committed against one of them. And, to paraphrase
Edmund Burke, now you know all that is necessary for injustice to
triumph is for enough good people to do nothing.