UPDATE: Mayor vetoes bathroom ordinance

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UPDATE 5/21/16 @ 10:40 a.m.
FLATWOODS, Ky. (WSAZ) -- An ordinance saying people in Flatwoods, Ky. would have to use bathrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate, has been vetoed by the town’s mayor.

Mayor Ron Fields says he issued the veto Tuesday evening, officially shooting it down.

The ordinance passed 5-0 during a special meeting on May 21, with one council member not voting.

Despite the veto, Mayor Fields tells WSAZ he still believes the ordinance has good intentions.

"I think it's a good ordinance, it's at the right place at the right time," said Fields. "The financial implications from the impending lawsuits are just too great."

Fields says the ordinance does not include any language for emergencies, something that is near and dear to Fields' heart.

"My wife died of cancer just last year, but before that, she would have seizures," said Fields. "On our many trips back and forth from Columbus, I would have to stop at a rest area and take care of her. Under this ordinance, I would be breaking the law.”

The councilman who introduced the ordinance, Gray Tomblyn, recently resigned from the position to take a job with the Kentucky state government. Tomblyn was not available for comment Wednesday.

Tomblyn previously said the ordinance was in response to the Obama Administration's federal mandate on public school bathrooms.

According to Mayor Fields', the bathroom issue is a state and federal fight, not a city one.

"The state has picked. This is not the city's fight."

The ordinance would have applied to bathrooms and locker rooms at government buildings in Flatwoods, including the city's municipal building, as well as the city park and city pool. It would not affect private businesses. Tomblyn also wanted it to apply to all schools in Flatwoods.

City Council has the ability to override the veto.



UPDATE 5/21/16 @ 10:40 a.m.
FLATWOODS, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The Flatwoods city councilman who introduced a new rule countering the federal government's move on transgender bathroom use is no longer even on the job.

Saturday council held a special meeting and voted to adopt a new ordinance saying people in Flatwoods have to use public restrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate.

This week Councilman Gray Tomblyn, who introduced the measure, turned in his resignation letter.

Councilman Ray Sloan says Tomblyn resigned because of a conflict of interest with another job he recently accepted.

"It's a lot of trouble to my notion he caused," Sloan said. "That's kind of dirty to drop something on the citizens here to raise our taxes and stuff and battle with God knows where it's going to go to. I think it's the wrong thing for him to do knowing he was going to pack up and leave."

Sloan says several groups have already threatened to sue the city over their new ordinance, which taxpayers may end up having to pay for.

Sloan says he's asking the mayor to veto the ordinance.

Tomblyn and the mayor have not returned our request for comment.



UPDATE 5/21/16 @ 10:40 a.m.
FLATWOODS, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A city ordinance saying people in Flatwoods would have to use bathrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate passed in a special vote Saturday morning.

Members of the Flatwoods community attended the meeting speaking to the council on their stance for or against the ordinance before council voted to pass the ordinance 5-0.

One council member, Ray Sloan chose not vote on the ordinance.

Councilman Gary Tomblyn introduced the ordinance in a special meeting last Thursday.

The ordinance only applies to bathrooms and locker rooms at government buildings in Flatwoods, including the city's municipal building, as well as the city park and city pool. It will not affect private businesses, but Tomblyn also wants it to apply to all schools in Flatwoods.

UPDATE 5/19/16 @ 10 p.m.
FLATWOODS, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A councilman in Flatwoods, Kentucky is one of many across the country appalled by the federal government's move last week saying public schools must allow students to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.

At a special council meeting Thursday night, Flatwoods city councilman Gray Tomblyn introduced an ordinance saying people have to use bathrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate.

"President Obama has opened the floodgates," Tomblyn said. "He's created a problem that didn't exist."

Those in attendance who chose to speak directly to council members had split feelings about the measure.

"When society tries to run these godless lifestyles down our throats, we need to stand against them," Doug Spillman said.

"It's cowardly to do this," Russell High School senior Sophie Quesenberry said, "to take away someone's rights, and to go against something Obama has put forth."

Russell Independent Schools Superintendent Sean Horne says regardless of what city council does, it won't lead to any changes at schools in Flatwoods, because they're governed by the board of education, not the city government.

"It's not going to change how we conduct business in this school district," Horne said. "My board and I are on the same page. We believe we need to do what's best for our kids."

"My response to that is I expect the ordinance to be adhered to," Tomblyn said. "If there are legal concerns that have to go through the courts, so be it."

Flatwoods city council will have their second reading of the ordinance at 9 a.m. Saturday.

That vote will determine whether the ordinance gets adopted.



ORIGINAL STORY
FLATWOODS, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A city councilman from Flatwoods, Kentucky is calling for a new ordinance banning transgender people from using a bathroom or locker room based on their gender identity. Gray Tomblin plans to unveil his plan at a special city council meeting scheduled for Thursday night.

The ordinance would only apply to bathrooms and locker rooms at government buildings in Flatwoods, including the city's municipal building, as well as the city park and city pool. It would not affect private businesses, but Tomblyn also wants it to apply to all schools in Flatwoods.

While he declined speaking on camera, Tomblyn did give a statement reading: "President Obama has chosen to fire the first shot with his unconstitutional directive. Tonight, Kentucky will fire back."

Russell Independent Schools Superintendent Sean Horne says no one on Flatwoods City Council even told him about the proposed ordinance.

"We was kind of caught off guard and not really prepared for that because it's already a hot button issue," Horne said. "It's caused more confusion in the community. I have fielded phone calls today of concerned parents and folks wanting to know what is your stance and how do you feel?"

Horne says no matter what city council decides to do, it won't lead to any changes at schools in Flatwoods.

"I'm governed by the board of education," Horne said. "That's who I answer to. I don't answer to Flatwoods city government. We've always been good community partners, and I hope that's what we continue to do. But it's not going to change how we conduct business in this school district. My board and I are on the same page. We believe we need to do what's best for our kids."

Horne says neither he, nor any board members will attend the special council meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Flatwoods Municipal Building. Thursday night's meeting is only a first-reading of the ordinance. However, council could pass the ordinance as soon as this weekend when it's expected they could have a second reading, possibly as early as Saturday morning.



 
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