Phillips speaks: Bill Phillips explains resignation

6:07 PM, Jan 25, 2010   |    comments
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Bill Phillips

More positive side of Bill Phillips' image

Bill Phillips' image and impact on the school board have been tarnished by the assault case against him. However, there is another side of Phillips' public image, from high-profile instances of charity in the past.

Phillips, the former president of Heartland Transportation, helped the Mission of Hope to recover from its slowest Christmas drive in 2007, by donating the use of four trucks to extend the Christmas drive. Phillips also donated $3,000 to the cause that year.

Phillips also helped bring relief to Bay St. Louis in 2005, after it had been battered by Hurricane Katrina. Phillips' Heartland Transportation partnered with WBIR to bring relief donated by East Tennessee.

Embattled Knox County School Board member Bill Phillips has resigned his position representing the 8th district, effective immediately.

Phillips said his reason for resigning was for his family.

"It's been a very stressful situation with the family. I have 3 boys, wonderful boys, and a wonderful wife. This is what it's about. It's about family," Phillips told 10News.

He's also speaking out against what he sees as a rash of abuses of recall efforts.

"This is part of doing what's right for my family right now. And this is the best time for me to do it. I defeated the recall effort. The recall effort did not happen. They were not able to get the support of the community, and that's what I was trying to relay to county commission. Knox County does not want to go down this route with recalls," Phillips said.

"In 2008, you had 11 recall efforts nationwide. In 2009, you had 160. Don't tell me that people are not using this recall petition as a tool to win or reverse elections, because they are."

As for why he's resigning effective immediately, Phillips said, "Because the mood hit me right then and there. And in business, I never hesitated. In politics, I don't know why you hesitate so much. Because you're trying to please either one side or the other. And I'm not about that."

As for what he wanted to communicate to the citizens of Knox County, Phillips said, "You've got a wonderful school system. You've got a wonderful superintendent. You have an absolutely impeccable school board that does a good job."

As for what he'll do now, Phillips said he'd likely get back into transportation. He is former president of Heartland Transportation.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre released a brief statement on Phillips' resignation, saying "I appreciate the service of Mr. Phillips on the Knox County Board of Education, and respect his decision to resign his seat, as announced at today's County Commission meeting."

Background

Phillips pleaded guilty in February 2009 to misdemeanor assault in a confrontation with his wife at their home on December 26, 2008. That was a lesser charge than the felony assault charge he faced. A report by Knox County deputies indicated he made a threat to his wife, involving a gun. As a result of that confrontation, his permit to carry a gun was also revoked.

Phillips said then he pleaded guilty to put the incident behind him and so his family could move on. Phillips' wife later said the incident was a misunderstanding. An order of protection against Phillips was rescinded.

But it wouldn't be the end of the consequences for Phillips.

A movement to recall him from office formed, and he resigned from the school board's ethics committee at Chair Indya Kincannon's request.

Last March, the Board of Education voted to publicly censure Phillips and to ask him to resign. At the time, he refused.

As for what exactly led to that confrontation, Phillips said last February he accepted blame for the situation, saying "I'm 100 percent to blame. Not the medication, not my wife, nor the Knox County Sheriff's Office, nor the Knox County District Attorney's Office."

He did say then that he and his wife had been married nearly 20 years and that a combination of prescription Ambien, Pepcid, and complications from gastric bypass surgery had been part of the run-up to the confrontation.

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