Markli targeted by BOMA over anti-tax letter in fp

Editor’s Note: farragutpress apologizes to Bob Markli for the misunderstanding concerning thoughts he submitted about the proposed Hotel-Motel Occupancy Tax, which he said was not intended to be published. Those thoughts became a Letter to the Editor in our Jan. 16 issue.

Prior to the publication, however, Markli and editor Alan Sloan did discuss the possibility of him submitting a letter. But greater care should have been taken by the editor to assure the document was to be published.

This statement reflects neither opposition nor support by farragutpress for the tax in question.

Former Farragut Alderman Bob Markli was taken to task Thursday, Jan. 9, regarding remarks he had made in a farragutpress Letter to the Editor published as part of the paper’s Thursday, Jan. 9, issue.

Markli, who has long expressed opposition to the proposed Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax the Board of Mayor and Aldermen considered and voted on during the meeting (see story beginnging on page 1A), had written a letter not only opposing the tax, but also questioning BOMA’s motives.

Among many accusations alleged in the 648-word letter, Markli stated about tax supporters, “Or perhaps even more ominously, does it mask an entrenched bigotry and disdain for our Indian community?”

Farragut resident Joleen Dewald spoke during the discussion portion of the meeting, in support of the tax, but also denouncing the letter.

“I’ve been following the Hotel Motel Tax since it started in 2013-14,” DeWald said. “I’ve been here about 15 years … I’m very much in support of a Hotel/Motel Tax. I’m not sure what percentage it should be — maybe a lower rate until you get a better plan, but as a resident I would much rather see a Hotel Motel Tax as opposed to a special assessment or property tax.

“The other reason I came tonight — I understand the author is in the audience — I was horribly offended this morning when I read the farragutpress, and read the editorial,” he added. “I thought it was demeaning to the Board, demeaning to the mayor, and as an individual who does support this I thought it was very offensive to me, for some of the allegations of possible discrimination and bigotry. I just wanted to address that.

“I don’t think that has any role in Farragut politics or issues, and I expect better from both our past and our current board members.”

Markli spoke during the meeting about his opposition to this tax. Alderman Scott Meyer then addressed the letter.

“Bob, I have the utmost respect for you, but I have to say that your article today, and the information you included in that — and that you included in the personal e-mail you sent to me — in some ways broke my heart,” Meyer said. “... I wish that you would have the opportunity to talk to my 20-year-old nephew, Josiah, who was adopted from an orphanage in Haiti, and ask him if his Uncle Scott is a bigot. ...”

“Scott, everybody, everybody in the audience, listening, I want to apologize for that remark,” Markli replied. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody; this whole discussion has gotten pretty emotional, pretty passionate. … I wanted to make people think; I apologize for that remark; to anyone who is offended by it, I don’t believe it of anybody, I don’t want to believe it about anybody.

“I think you offended everyone Bob,” Mayor Ron Williams said. “I think it’s pretty much consensus across the Board, and across the neighborhoods. I have had a multitude — just about all day, I’ve fielded calls about this article you put in the paper.”

“First of all, I want to say I never intended for that to be in the paper … it was a letter to you all,” Markli said. “I just copied the editor on that.”

“It doesn’t make it any less hurtful,” Alderman Drew Burnette said.

Both Meyer and Vice Mayor Louise Povlin thanked Markli for his apology.

“I appreciate you coming up here and talking, and I appreciate your apology,” Povlin said. “I appreciate you are very passionate about this subject. You love this town — we do too.”