Danville’s mayor has exhibited ‘pattern of bad behavior’

Published 11:28 pm Thursday, October 3, 2019


Contributing columnist

The City of Danville’s “mayor,” Mike Perros, has been in the news a lot recently. He seems to have forgotten that he is a representative of our city and our community. Here are the highlights:

  1. Perros, thinking he was making a joke, made an inappropriate AND harassing comment about the Executive Director of the Danville-Boyle Convention and Visitors Bureau while she was making a presentation to the fiscal court. He had an accomplice in his bad behavior, but Perros instigated the incident.
  2. An article in last week’s Advocate-Messenger told about Perros making an inappropriate comment about a city employee. He then repeated the same comment to another city employee.
  3. In that same article, it was related that Perros called two city employees “cafeteria girls” when, in fact, they were both administrative assistants.

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This is a pattern of bad behavior which Perros has directed specifically toward women.

I happened to be at the event where he called the two employees “cafeteria girls.” I saw the administrative assistants standing in a group looking upset. I asked what was wrong. They explained that Perros had introduced them to a member of our community. Instead of being a grown up and saying they worked in the city office, or that they were administrative assistants, he introduced them as “cafeteria girls.” When I confronted him about it, he said he didn’t say it. He also said it didn’t sound like anything he would ever say. Right.

Instead of acting like a fully mature, self-aware adult, he chose to stay in his comfy “mayor” chair and continue his chat with a city commissioner when he could have gone to the women, owned up to what he said, and apologized. The next day he gave the employees each a rose, because that’s how one makes up for demeaning people in public.

Perros, apparently not learning from the “cafeteria girls” incident, thought he was being funny when he stepped in it again. One of the same employees he had previously disrespected, Joyce Collins, was introducing him to a new employee. One of the ladies said that the new employee would be the new Joyce. Perros, channeling his inner-Don Rickles, said, “You can’t be the new Joyce because you don’t wear wigs and your skin isn’t as dark as hers.” He thought it was so funny, he also said it to the other new employee in the city office. He was referring to the period of time Ms. Collins lost her hair due to treatments for breast cancer and wore wigs to work.

He has spent a fair amount of time groveling these past couple of weeks (and making non-apologies more about himself than the people he offended.) I watched the video of the scheduled city commission meeting that was after the fiscal court incident. He said, and I quote: “We are past the days of accepting demeaning comments or actions aimed at others. Men or Women. We are equal. We should be treated equally and with respect to each other.” Does this mean as of Monday, September 23, 2019, when he made the statement, he would stop his abhorrent behavior?

The city commission had an easy job to do after Perros made his statement. They had the opportunity to say something like, “We condemn what you said and are appalled by your lack of awareness.” They could have said, “We feel, as a group, that the “mayor” embarassed our community and brought disgrace to this governing body.”

But no. Three of them made extremely weak statements and basically said, “It’s over; let’s move on.” The fourth literally said, “Let’s move on.” The problem with this is that the commission already knew what Perros said to Ms. Collins. They knew (verb tense) he has no filter or use of good judgment. But it’s much easier to let these things go and disappear into the ether. There is less conflict to deal with and no requirement to actually solve the problem. They failed Ms. Collins, Ms. Kirchner and the other women who work in city hall who have been on the receiving end of Perros’ “jokes.”

One more thing: In the article about Ms. Collins, the city manager, Ron Scott, said that citizens don’t understand our form of government and that the “mayor” wasn’t acting in his official capacity as such. I call “bull” on that explanation. When my husband and I are out at dinner and a citizen comes to our table to complain or discuss city business, he’s a city commissioner. When someone calls his personal cell phone while he is sitting in our house to discuss a city concern, he is a commissioner.

Perros might not have been acting in his official capacity as “mayor” but he is also the fifth commissioner. He was in city hall and was being introduced to a new city employee by another city employee. He was at the very least still a commissioner. Weak. Very weak.

City Manager Scott also said that the city commission upholds the personnel policy. He is the administrator, but it’s up to the commission to resolve difficult situations. I’d like to see Perros suspended for a month without pay. Losing the pay and not running two meetings is probably no skin off his nose, but SOMETHING needs to be done. He might not *legally* always be “mayor”, but he is always an employee of the city. There must be a consequence to Perros’ pattern of harassing, inappropriate behavior.

A member of our community has organized a meeting in which issues at city hall will be discussed. Change happens when we make noise and hold our elected officials accountable.  The meeting will be Monday, Oct. 7, at the Boyle County Public Library. It will begin at 6 p.m. in the Mahan Gallery.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead