After 220+ days of protests against Ballad Health the city of Kingsport recently passed a “no camping” ordinance to make the encampment of protestors a violation of city law. Newly obtained emails reveal the ordinance came at the request of local businessman Bob Feathers – who was previously a Ballad board member.
For those who haven’t been following the Kingsport Ballad saga closely, here’s the back story we posted a while back, but the bottom line is Ballad Health is a state-sanctioned hospital monopoly that resulted from a merger enabled by state legislature cronyism, and the merger resulted in a limiting of vital resources for the Kingsport area. Ballad has also now become known for overcharging for services, and suing thousands of low-income Tennesseans for outstanding hospital bills.
It’s also worth noting that Alan Levine, the CEO of Ballad, previously made headlines in a 60 Minutes interview where he came to the defense of HMA, a company that was committing MASSIVE amounts of Medicare Fraud.
Levine denied the allegations despite being presented with irrefutable evidence, and the company ultimately ended up paying out $260 MILLION in penalties – but nobody went to jail, and now Levine is in Tennessee quarterbacking Ballad Health’s doings in Kingsport.
The 220-day+ Ballad protest has been led by Dani Cook. Dani and other citizens recently spoke up at a city meeting about the proposed ordinance, but the “no camping” law passed anyway and just took effect this week, which has led to the police putting a notice on the encampment of the protesters letting them know they’re now in violation.
NEW: After a 188 DAY PROTEST of state-sanctioned monopoly @BalladHealth gutting their hospital, KINGSPORT attacks citizens’ rights with a bogus ordinance, may charge @Danithepoet with “Felony Vandalism” because of the GRASS ?
WATCH their heated meeting??pic.twitter.com/t84YEdwzIb
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) November 6, 2019
Emails shared with the Holler reveal the ordinance came at the behest of Bob Feathers, president of Workspace Interior, who was previously a Ballad board member and currently owns a furniture supply store we’re told supplies Ballad with much of its furniture.
Below are the email exchanges between Feathers and local officials who passed the 0rdinance. The first is from Feathers, who complains condescendingly about the “pathetic mob instincts” of the protestors and requests a “no camping ordinance” from mayor Pat Shull:
Mayor Shull then responds to clarify that what Feathers wants is a “no camping ordinance”:
Feathers agrees: “A no camping ordinance designed to prevent harm against all of us”
At which point Miles Burdine of the Kingsport Chamber chimes in to express his support:
That the city was doing Ballad’s bidding with this ordinance comes as no surprise, but it still always clarifying to see who’s pulling the strings and making the laws right there in black and white – which is probably why the city doesn’t want to talk about it:
Protestor Dani Cook took to Facebook last night to discuss the situation in a post about “The Kingsport Mayor’s email trail, Unconstitutional Ordinance”, and has made a post today showing the protestors are still out there for their 225th day.
Feel free to holler at Dani to express your support, and if you have anything to say to Feathers, Burdine, Mayor Shull, or any of those who voted for the ordinance, their emails are below:
Mayor Shull: PatShull@KingsportTN.gov