Will Murfreesboro hire an anti-trans fire chief?

In August 13, Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department (MFRD) Fire Chief Cumbey Gaines, a thirty-five year veteran, will retire from his post. For a number of months, the city has been engaged in a search for Gaines’ replacement. So far, the results have some firefighters worried.

According to Michael Browning, Murfreesboro’s public information officer, “The city is conducting a national search to replace Fire Chief Cumby Gaines, who will retire on August 11.  The city received 80 applicants and it is hoped that the position will be filled prior to Chief Gaines’ retirement.”

Given that timeline, a concerned veteran firefighter in MFRD reached out to Out & About Nashville to report that Mark Foulks, fire chief in Greenville, Tennessee, was among four finalists. He declined to identify himself for fear of retribution, but noted that a number of firefighters have raised objections to the city over Foulks’ candidacy. Browning declined to identify Foulks as a candidate for the position, but an independent, anonymous source within Murfreesboro city government did confirm Foulks' standing as one of four finalists.

Formerly the assistant fire chief in Knoxville, Foulks was the subject of a grievance filed with the city of Knoxville’s Civil Service Board by transgender firefighter Captain Jaime Faucon in early 2006. Then-Chief Carlos Perez was also named in the grievance.

According to Faucon, who had begun her transition under the previous chief, the work environment changed once Perez came to Knoxville. After comments by Foulks and other leaders that displayed anti-trans bias behind measures taken against her, O&AN reported, Faucon complained, maintaining “that her office was moved to deliberately hinder her abilities to perform her duties with regard to stocking emergency-related supplies at various fire stations.

Faucon’s office was moved to a location distant from the supplies in an effort to create a more stressful work environment, according to the plaintiff. Faucon also cited loss of on-call pay and drive-home vehicle in her formal grievance.”

By June of 2006, Perez had resigned over the issue and the Civil Service Board ruled in favor of Faucon’s complaint. Further, a job performance evaluation that Faucon felt was an attempt to retaliate against her was pulled and rewritten at the behest of the Board.

The Board’s report, according to an article originally published by the Knoxville News Sentinel, also centered in on comments made by witnesses during the investigation. “Finally, I am concerned by statements made by several witnesses indicating fear of retribution by Mark Foulks and Mike Brown," Civil Service Director Vicki Hatfield wrote, citing one fire officer who said he'd "never seen such a vindictive group in his department and that 'if you make waves, you get punished by these people.'"

Similar fears were echoed by the Murfreesboro firefighter who contacted O&AN. “I contacted you guys because no one’s listening to us. The Fire Department is a hard place, and I know most LGBT people are in the closet here, but does anyone want this kind of guy as chief? The people of Murfreesboro deserve better than a bigot, and the firefighters of Murfreesboro deserve someone they don’t have to be afraid to serve under.”

For his part, Foulks continued to maintain that his behavior was appropriate, even after the Board’s determination. Foulks' attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs, said "Mr. Foulks denies any wrongdoing as it relates to the discharge of his duties as a member of the fire department and was surprised by the tone and tenor of the report."

Foulks left Knoxville’s fire department shortly after the Faucon controversy to become fire chief in Greenville, Tennessee, but his time there was, early on, marred by issues with top officers. In 2007, Foulks suspended veteran Greenville fire captain Jack Tilson for 20 days for "insubordination and willful disregard of a direct order" for continuing “to respond to fire scenes although he was told not to do so, and had been assigned to administrative duties only,” according to the Greenville Sun.

Through Browning, the city of Murfreesboro declined to comment on specific applicants, merely adding, “The city has a record of conducting systematic and equitable job searches.  As an equal opportunity employer, the City of Murfreesboro embraces diversity and the fair and equitable treatment of its employees.  The city strives to identity qualified minorities and females in the creation of a more diverse workforce that is reflective of the diversity of our community.”




Photo at top courtesy of Philip Shofner, via Creative Commons License

Mark Foulks photo via Greenville Fire Department

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less