Turns out Mayor Jim Newberry's administration did have something to hide.
Maybe not much. Since the special committee of the Urban County Council investigating the administration's handling of fraud allegations had limited ability to look into the allegations themselves, the extent of what there was to hide will be placed in better perspective by a forthcoming report from state Auditor Crit Luallen's office.
Maybe what there was to hide wasn't even enough to justify the magnitude of the administration's stonewalling and cover-up efforts during recent months.
But it was at least enough to be embarrassing.
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Start with the perception, mentioned in the report committee members finalized Thursday, that the Newberry administration decided to shift the Urban County Government's workers compensation insurance contract to the Kentucky League of Cities prior to any bidding process.
While such activity may not rise to the level of fraud, it most definitely qualifies as another "F" word that has no place in the conduct of the public's business — favoritism.
As to the fraud allegations themselves, the committee report makes it clear city officials simply chose to ignore them.
Internal Auditor Bruce Sahli "did not interview the affected persons and did not report the allegations to the entire Internal Audit Board," the report said.
One of the allegations made by Patrick Johnston, the city's director of risk management, involved conflicts of interest involving KLC — conflicts later verified in investigations by the Herald-Leader and Luallen's office.
It's worth noting Newberry was a member of the KLC board at the time his administration was ignoring these allegations. He remains a board member.
Although Sahli did not share the allegations with the full Internal Audit Board, he did share one of them — along with Johnston's name — with senior members of the administration.
A reorganization plan subsequently put forward by the administration proposed the elimination of Johnston's job.
So, not only did the Newberry administration ignore a whistle-blower's complaints, it followed up by doing the one thing that almost guarantees the city gets slapped with a pricey retaliation suit.
Talk about your stupid government tricks. As part of its report, the investigating committee recommended referring this possible retaliation attempt to the city's Ethics Commission. It also recommended reorganization of the Internal Audit Board.
Both seem appropriate steps for the council to take.
No doubt, other needed changes will become obvious once Luallen's office finishes drilling down deeper into the insurance purchasing process and the subsequent fraud allegations.