Overdue change at League of Cities

Maybe it's just a coincidence:

A Lexington controversy puts the Kentucky League of Cities back into the public spotlight, and the league fires the conflict-of-interest-ridden head of its insurance operation.

Or maybe not.

We await findings from two investigations into the Urban County Government's dealings with the league's insurance arm.

Also under investigation: whether there's a link between the administration's plan to eliminate a city official's job and the official's resistance to an administration drive to award Lexington's insurance business to KLC.

We don't need an investigation, though, to know that the doubts raised by the official, risk management director Patrick Johnston, about the ethics of KLC's insurance operation turned out to be well founded.

Johnston raised his questions in 2007, a couple of years before an investigation by the Herald-Leader awakened KLC executive board members, including Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, to serious abuses within the organization.

A subsequent investigation by state Auditor Crit Luallen confirmed extravagant misspending by league officials, along with numerous conflicts of interest by the league's director of insurance services, William Hamilton.

The league's top two executives have retired or are on the way out. The league's leadership has been under pressure from member cities to also get rid of Hamilton, which it did late last month.

KLC still has not released the details and conditions of Hamilton's departure.

But the league's incoming president, Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker, said the reason for the decision was "a sense from the executive board that changes needed to be made."

Continuing the cleanup of KLC probably wasn't a motivation for anyone involved in the dustup at city hall.

But if this controversy had the unintended consequence of bringing this latest change to KLC, it has served a useful purpose.