Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 27, 2013

‘Leadership vacuum’ concerns legislative leaders

FRANKFORT — Legislative leaders want to address the “leadership vacuum” created by the resignation of their staff director at a meeting of the Legislative Research Commission next week.

The LRC is governed by 16 party leaders from both parties and both chambers of the General Assembly and co-chaired by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. The term is also widely used to describe the staffing arm of the legislature which was headed by Robert “Bobby” Sherman for 14 years before he resigned last Friday.

Sherman’s resignation came in the wake of a growing list of allegations of sexual harassment and other alleged inappropriate behavior by lawmakers toward LRC staff.

Friday, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, signed a letter to the other 13 members of the LRC requesting the group meet next Wednesday, Oct. 2, to discuss two items related to Sherman’s resignation.

“First, the resignation of Bobby Sherman on September 30, 2013 has left a leadership vacuum within the administrative staff,” the letter states. It goes on to say there are four deputy directors but none has the authority to assume Sherman’s duties.

Friday’s letter from the three legislative leaders said Sherman “designated Robert Jenkins the administrator in charge.” But that is temporary, the letter says, until the full commission can meet and take action.

The letter goes on to say the commission needs to “immediately begin to address the process to find a permanent successor to Mr. Sherman. This is a critical position and will not be easy to fill. The last time the organization conducted a search was in 1988.”

Sherman, 61, took over after that search, beginning in 1999.

Stumbo did not sign the letter but later Friday issued a statement saying he agreed with the other three leaders’ call for a meeting.

‘I think it is a good idea,” Stumbo said. “We need to appoint an interim acting director and lay the groundwork for conducting the search for a replacement director.”

Sherman’s resignation followed allegations by three LRC female employees that they were sexually harassed by former Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, who resigned on Sept. 13, proclaiming his innocence.

The three women filed complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission and also allege their prior complaints to Sherman and LRC staff weren’t taken seriously. An attorney for two of the women, Thomas Clay, has indicated the women are considering filing suit as well.

On Sunday following his Friday resignation, Sherman returned to his office and shredded papers and documents while Jenkins and LRC employees Roy Collins, Steve King and Rita Ratliff were present. Jenkins later informed Stivers and Stumbo that no documents pertaining to the investigation of sexual harassment were destroyed.

But that nonetheless prompted Hoover to ask for an investigation into the shredding by Kentucky State Police.

Then on Thursday, Clay — the attorney representing two of the LRC staff alleging harassment — revealed yet another female staff person, Nicole Cusic, claims Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, acted inappropriately toward legislative interns. Coursey and his attorney have vigorously denied the allegations.

Palmer, the Senate Minority Leader who signed Friday’s call for an LRC meeting next week, said a final agenda for Wednesday’s meeting hadn’t been approved, “But obviously we’re going to have to discuss the leadership of the LRC.

“And I’d think at the very least we’d also ask the deputy director (Jenkins) for a list of the items they destroyed on Sunday,” Palmer said. “And then we need to have a discussion on who we want to be interim director.”

The meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT, Wednesday in room 125 of the Capitol Annex.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News in brief, 07/31/14

    About 450 marijuana plants were confiscated during an eradication effort in Lawrence County on Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014

  • 0731facelift1.JPG Painters finishing up work at ACTC

    When Ashland Community and Technical College students return to campus Aug. 18, they will find fresh paint, clean windows and pressure-washed brickwork on the college’s original building on College Drive.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Night Moves on tap for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairview school district being investigated

    State education investigators were scheduled to arrive in the Fairview school district this morning to interview school officials.

    July 30, 2014

  • Advisory committee on landfill to meet

    Members of the county’s new advisory committee regarding Big Run Landfill enforcement are encouraged to attend the group’s first meeting next week.
    Committee facilitator Mike Clevenger of Cannonsburg said the panel will meet the first Monday of each month, starting next week. For now, all meetings will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Boyd County Community Center.

    July 30, 2014

  • Highway dedicated in Morehead man’s name

    During Wednesday morning’s highway dedication ceremony for late airman Daniel N. Fannin, 30, of Morehead, the man was honored as a Kentucky hero for dedicating his life to the U.S. Air Force until his untimely death last year.

    July 30, 2014

  • Stumbo questions Noah’s Ark incentives, backs off on expanded gambling

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of state incentives for a Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Grant County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Night Moves for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August in downtown Ashland from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Arts in the Vines’ will be in conjunction with U.S. 60 Yard Sale

    Offering a different taste of life in Carter County, the owners of RockSprings Winery are inviting locals and visitors to the U.S. 60 Yard Sale to spend some time in their vineyards during the first “Arts in the Vines” from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Grimes zeroes in on women’s issues with latest ad

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is out with a third television ad posing questions from Grimes’ supporters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    July 30, 2014