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Former Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth removed from Tennessee Valley Authority Board

Former Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth has been removed from the Tennessee Valley Authority board along with TVA chair Skip Thompson.

The news came Monday after President Donald Trump announced that he had fired Thompson and Howorth. 

Howorth, the owner of Square Books, believes that the reason he was fired was because the Republican party wanted to seize the opportunity that was created by the president to refill the position with a Republican appointee.

“President Trump saw the value in the headlines,” Howorth said. “I was used for the purposes of the president and his party.”

Howorth joined the TVA board in 2011 after he was appointed by former President Barack Obama. He began his second term in December 2015. He was appointed TVA board chair in 2017. During his time on the board, he served on all of the board committees, including External Relations, People and Performance, Nuclear Oversight, Finance, Rates and Portfolio and Audit, Risk and Regulation. 

“The justification was that we were overpaying the CEO of TVA,” Howorth said. “It’s sort of like football coaches. Everybody agrees that these salaries are too high but none the less they keep hiring people and giving them huge salaries because they want a winning team. It’s somewhat the same way in the utility industry.”

Howorth admits that CEOs get paid a lot of money to run an organization that is extremely complicated. He also added that while some people believe that  TVA is just giving people jobs, that is not the case.

“We did hire an external company to perform some of our tech services because the cost was the lowest,” he said. “But TVA is not unique to this. The Department of Homeland Security, the US Navy, and the Department of Justice, they all use the same company that TVA used. I don’t see anybody getting fired at those places.”

Howorth said that all of the work that they outsourced was mandated that it be performed by US workers and that all of the data be kept in the US.

“Trump is using the opportunity to create headlines,” Howorth said.

According to Trump, the authority was replacing many of its in-house technology workers with contractors who rely heavily on foreign workers under the H1-B visa program for highly skilled workers. The president threatened to remove other board members if they continued to hire foreign labor.

In place of Howorth, Trump has nominated another Oxford businessman to the TVA board to serve a five-year term, Charles William “Bill” Cook Jr.

Cook came recommended by two of Mississippi’s GOP U.S. Senators, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith. They recommended Cook for the post earlier this year.

“Bill Cook is a terrific choice for the TVA board and would represent our state well as the only Mississippian on the panel,” Wicker said. “Bill has built a successful career managing complex networks of data and information and advising businesses to help them grow and prosper. I know he will bring the same vision and leadership to this position, which is critical to economic development and reliable energy in our state.”

The TVA was created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hit hard by the Great Depression. The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. 

A correction was made to the last paragraph which was supposed to read, “The TVA was created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hit hard by the Great Depression.” Before correction it read “The TVA was created in 1993 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hit hard by the Great Depression.”

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