Rolla City Council Cartoon

About this Cartoon

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 introduced a 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 vendettas.)

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 2)

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.

The 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 Rights organization, 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 white men"?

Racial minorities

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.