Morehead to KLC: Clean house

lblackford@herald-leader.comApril 22, 2010 

Morehead City Council members want the Kentucky League of Cities to fire its top two executives and reconstitute its executive board. If it doesn't, the city says it will cancel its membership and the $180,000 a year it pays the League in insurance premiums.

On April 12, all six members of the council voted in favor of a resolution to that end. The resolution names acting executive director Neil Hackworth and insurance services chief William Hamilton and board members, who brought "great discredit on the Kentucky League of Cities by their violation of public trust," and "failure to be good and responsible shepherds of public monies," paid to the League by Morehead and other cities.

"This has been a real disappointment to me," said council member Alan Baldwin. "We need a state organization, but we need one we can have some trust and confidence in."

Morehead is among several cities that have officially called for new leadership in the League's executive staff in recent months. But Baldwin said the last straw was earlier this year when the League's insurance services extended a contract with a claims adjustment firm that a state audit in December identified as being part of numerous conflicts of interest with Hamilton.

Hamilton rented office space to Collins and Company, which hired Hamilton family members and provided yearly trips to the Caribbean for Hamilton and other staff members.

Articles in the Herald-Leader and the state audit also found high salaries, hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses and questionable loans to employees. Executive Director Sylvia Lovely resigned last year.

The Morehead resolution comes on top of a recent lawsuit by the city of Cold Spring in Northern Kentucky, which is suing to get back hundreds of thousands of dollars it paid to the League over the past 10 years.

Baldwin says he hopes Morehead will join that suit, but that has not yet been discussed by the entire council.

In addition, the League also is being investigated by the state attorney general's office.

Jackson Mayor Mike Miller, chairman of KLC's executive board, said he had not seen the resolution but would present it to the board. "I will make sure the board sees it and it will be included in our conversation."

The League is continuing to make numerous policy changes in the audit's wake. It is also searching for a new executive director.

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