Roy Exum: Some Good And Some Bad

Saturday, December 07, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The trustees at the Girls Preparatory School believe they have a phenomenal new Head of School in Autumn Graves, who will become the first female in over 40 years to lead the highly-acclaimed prep school, but let me let you in on a secret -- the new “Mr. GPS” is also quite a guy.

Nini Davenport, who chairs the Board of Trustees, was obviously delighted on Thursday when she made the announcement, explaining, "We looked for a person who would build a strong sense of community on campus and champion GPS locally, nationally, and globally while upholding our high level of academic standards. (In Autumn) We found all of this, and more.”

But listen to this: Autumn’s husband Vann, once a Fulbright Scholar, is one of the top advertising executives in New York. He worked his way through Howard University and got a master’s at Pratt Institute to become the executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup, which is a huge agency with many global accounts.

The bigger thing you need to know is that right after 9/11 horrors, Vann asked for a leave-of-absence  and, intent on serving his country that had just been attacked, immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army. He fought in Iraq, earning the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and the rank of captain.

Both Autumn and Vann are from Richmond – Vann’s family dates all the way back to 1752 in Powhatan – but didn’t meet until after he had resumed his advertising career. In 2008 he was in New York and friends arranged a blind date. They fell in love almost immediately and a huge crowd attended their wedding two years later.

“We wanted to have the reception at the Jefferson Hotel,” he told the New York Times’ wedding editor. “It was so poignant – two black kids celebrating at a place where my grandfather W. Oscar Ford had  been a doorman at a time when African-Americans were not allowed to be guests. We ended up staying in the Presidential Suite!”

* * *

There is nothing funny about sexual assault but don’t tell that to Willie Meggs, the Tallahassee district attorney who announced on Thursday that his office would not pursue rape charges against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston after a Dec. 2012 case was reopened. Meggs came across during the news conference as the biggest jerk this side on San Francisco when he laughed and joked his way through the announcement.

During the packed press conference ESPN’s Sam Ponder, wife of former FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, tweeted, “Anyone else uncomfortable with the amount of smiling/laughter in this press conference?”

By Friday the state attorney was roundly castigated by the nation’s media for a glaring lack of sensitivity. An angry tweet from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said it all: “As former prosecutor [and] advocate for rape victims I'm disgusted at the frivolity of Meggs press conference announcing no charges on Winston. The press conference was just wrong. No time to joke."

USA Today columnist Christine Brennan wrote yesterday, “Everyone seemed so incredibly happy to be talking about an alleged sexual assault. (When a reporter asked) "Was there a sexual assault?" Meggs (laughed as he replied) "Well, that's kind of why we're here."

At another point a reporter asked the state attorney, "Any idea why (the victim) was hesitant to tell you who her boyfriend was?" and the boorish man replied, “Well, tell us about your girlfriend!"

My heavens, is it any wonder that victims of sexual abuse are hesitant to come forward?

Royexum@aol.com

Autumn Graves, who was just named as the new Head of School at GPS, married her husband at a lavish Richmond wedding in 2010 and since Vann was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in Iraq, the two entered the ballroom under crossed sabers. Today Vann is a leading advertising executive in New York.
Autumn Graves, who was just named as the new Head of School at GPS, married her husband at a lavish Richmond wedding in 2010 and since Vann was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in Iraq, the two entered the ballroom under crossed sabers. Today Vann is a leading advertising executive in New York.

A Haven For Small Business Owners

With the latest incentive recently announced by the City of Chattanooga, the community is becoming a haven for small business owners and entrepreneurs.     The small business incentive program is a win-win for both business owners, while at the same time promoting an incentive for hiring full time employees. We all know that small businesses represent the primary ... (click for more)

Is A Hotel In The Arts District A Good Idea?

This design certainly looks somewhat better than what was presented before on the new hotel by the Walnut Street Bridge, and I can understand why the developer would want that site. But I just question whether a commercial entity such as a hotel in a residential and arts district is the best option. John Fricke (click for more)

City Receives $400,000 Federal Grant To Study Passenger Train Service

The United States Department of Transportation has announced Chattanooga has received a $400,000 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to study the potential use of existing railways for a passenger rail system in Chattanooga. There were 72 awards announced in 46 states and Washington, D.C. Out of numerous grant applications across Tennessee, ... (click for more)

Former Assistant Police Chief Eidson Not Charged In Shooting Of Stepson On Englewood Avenue

Former Chattanooga Police Department Assistant Chief Kirk Eidson was not charged in the shooting of stepson Robert Ingle, 18, on Sunday morning in North Chattanooga. However, Ingle was charged with domestic assault and vandalism. In the incident shortly after 9 a.m. at 1049 Englewood Ave., Mr. Eidson said Ingle came to the house asking him to take him to their other house ... (click for more)

Moc Golfers Finish 10th At Tar Heel Intercollegiate

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s golf team finished 10th at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate today. The Mocs shot 871 over their 54 holes to end up ahead of Charlotte and Mercer in 11th and 12th, respectively. “We’re not pleased with this finish, but we are making progress,” said coach Mark Guhne. “We just didn’t get the low round on the second or third day. If we get that low round, we ... (click for more)

Lady Mocs Soccer Loses 6-0 At Vanderbilt

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman keeper Hannah Dunn (Cookeville, Tenn.) made 16 saves in the Mocs 6-0 loss to Vanderbilt Sunday afternoon at the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex. “Hannah was amazing,” UTC head coach J.D. Kyzer “There may have been just one or two shots that came right to her, but every other one she had to make the save and she showed up big.” ... (click for more)