KLC cancels Christmas party

Day after scathing audit, league to give to Salvation Army

ralessi@herald-leader.comDecember 19, 2009 

The Kentucky League of Cities canceled the Christmas party that was planned for Friday night at the Mansion at the Marriott Griffin Gate and, instead, will make a $4,000 donation to the Lexington Salvation Army.

KLC had budgeted $9,600 for the party, to which between 200 and 250 people were invited. Based on RSVPs, the League was preparing to spend about $6,000 on the evening party that promised food, dancing and karaoke, KLC spokeswoman Terri Johnson said.

League officials were negotiating the cancellation fee with the Marriott early Friday afternoon but were planning to have at least $4,000 left to donate to the Salvation Army, Johnson said.

The party would have been paid for with money from vendor companies, which donate between $1,500 and $25,000 to be considered Cornerstone Partners with the League.

KLC employees made the decision to cancel the party Friday morning at a staff meeting with deputy executive director Neil Hackworth, one day after a scathing state audit criticized the League and its officials for their spending and giving themselves extra perks.

"Given the circumstances of the last few days, we felt better doing something to help those in need," Hackworth said in a statement. He has overseen the League's operations since its executive director, Sylvia Lovely, stepped down in August.

Johnson said the staff will celebrate the holiday season next week with a potluck lunch.

Lovely, who has declined to discuss the audit, said in an interview Friday that she was pleased to hear about the move to cancel the party and make a donation to charity.

"I think that's a great decision," she said.

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