Nashville’s deposed mayor would have avoided her troubles had she stayed single. Too bad that doesn’t fit most people’s idea of a suitable candidate.
I was driving down the 10 Freeway in early February and was astonished to hear that the mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry, was a topic of conversation on L.A.’s No. 1 talk radio station. I have a home in Nashville, so I’d already heard the news, but I was surprised it was deemed important enough for a radio chat show on the West Coast.
If you haven’t heard, the 54-year-old married, first-female mayor of Nashville was caught having an affair with the head of her security detail, Sgt. Robert Forrest, Jr., a city police sergeant whose boss, the chief of police, answers to the mayor. That alone could have qualified her for sexual harassment charges since her lover was also a subordinate.
The sordid tale (which became even more sordid as details unfolded) came to light when her lover’s wife filed for divorce and it became obvious that the affair would soon be part of the public record. Trying to get ahead of the story, Barry made a public announcement admitting to the two-year-long affair, apologizing, and stating that the relationship was over. That same day, Forrest filed for retirement from the city’s police force.
At first, Barry, a rising star on the Democratic stage, maintained she would not resign. But as more details were uncovered, particularly how city money was used to pay for her lover’s overtime when not on official business and then the announcement that photos of a nude woman, who looked a lot like Barry, were found on his police department issued cell phone, it all “went south” fast.
Particularly ironic was that this all played out in Nashville, a city often called the “buckle of the Bible belt.” Barry’s husband is a Vanderbilt professor who teaches classes on deviant behavior. Barry herself, prior to becoming involved in politics, was an executive who specialized in ethics and corporate social responsibility. When she became mayor in 2015, she required staff members to sign a morality contract.
Who needs a soapy TV show like “Nashville” when you have your real-life mayor providing such a gossipy backstory for an extramarital affair?
The kind citizens of Nashville wasted no time sharpening their pitchforks – and maybe rightfully so. Comments posted in The Tennessean sizzled with allegations that Barry’s husband knew all along about the affair and how they were “swingers,” along with every possible suspicion and allegation, some of which proved to be true, such as the misuse of public funds and nude photos of Barry on Forrest’s cell phone. (That latter alone makes you wonder if Barry had the sense to be Nashville’s mayor in the first place.)
Despite Barry’s initial resolve to never resign, she did exactly that in early March. She pleaded guilty to felony theft of $11,000 (city money spent unlawfully on her boyfriend). She agreed to pay it back and will be on probation for three years. Perhaps worst of all, her career is over. Where do you go with this on your resume?
Forrest didn’t escape unscathed. It was revealed that he earned more than $170,000 in overtime pay as Barry’s bodyguard, more than the combined amount of other officers on the security detail. He also pleaded guilty to criminal theft and must repay $45,000 in salary earned while canoodling with the mayor and is on probation for three years.
Now wouldn’t it have been a heck of a lot easier if both Barry and her lover had just stayed single in the first place? Or got single when it became obvious that marriage wasn’t something that suited them? Oh yes, there’s just one problem with that. It’s very unlikely that Megan Barry, had she been single, would have ever been elected mayor of Nashville in the first place.
Copyright © 2018 Kim Calvert/Singular Communications, LLC
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.