Thursday, June 18, 2009

League of Cities invites Herald-Leader to tomorrow's board meeting

UPDATE: Sylvia Lovely has resigned as executive director of the league.

The Kentucky League of Cities board has agreed to open its meeting tomorrow, at which directors are expected to discuss spending and other management issues in the wake of Lexington Herald-Leader stories about the organization that lobbies for cities and in the last 20 years has become their major insurer.

"Our board must be aware of all aspects of our business, including but not limited to compensation policies and guidelines," KLC Executive Director Sylvia Lovely, right, said in an op-ed article in the newspaper today. "And, while we hold to the belief that we are not subject to the open-meetings statutes, we invite the Herald-Leader to come to our meeting on Friday."

Herald-Leader Editor Peter Baniak told the Kentucky Open Government Blog, “We’re pleased that the Kentucky League of Cities has decided to open the meeting because what the league does is of vital public interest to cities, their employees and citizens. We hope the league will continue to be transparent.”

While the league is not covered by the state Open Meetings Act, it appears to be covered by the Open Records Act, which applies to any entity that gets at least 25 percent of the money its spends in Kentucky from state or local authority. The league fulfilled the open-records requests of Herald-Leader reporter Linda Blackford.

Lovely wrote that Blackford's articles "portray an executive with a sense of entitlement to rewards that are beyond the reach of public-sector leaders in our state. None of my compensation would probably have been written about if the paper accepted the League's position that we are in a competitive insurance business and have generated revenues during my tenure on the order of private companies. The insurance program was offered as a replacement for private insurance companies which stopped offering coverage to cities in the late 1980s. We now compete with these companies for city insurance business. The CEOs of those private companies typically earn much more than I in compensation and benefits, work no harder than I do, and do the same kind of business travel for similar purposes." (Read more)

UPDATE, June 19: The KLC board voted today to create a committee to review policies and procedures. It suspended expenditures at Lexington’s Azur Restaurant, which is one-fifth owned by Lovely's husband, Bernard Lovely; suspended travel for spouses of the executive staff; and decided to replace the sport-utility BMW that is part of Lovely's compensation.

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