Commonwealth Journal

News Live

July 25, 2013

Somerset City Councilors: It’s OK for employees to talk to us

Somerset — Somerset City Councilors made it clear with a resolution this week that city employees are welcome to talk to them at any time.

Councilor John Ricky Minton during Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting said he had concerns after he’d spoken to several city employees within the last two weeks.

“They’re like ‘Hey I shouldn’t be seen talking to someone on the council. I’ve been told that I could lose my job,” said Minton.  “... I’ve heard that, and I’ve heard it under other administrations.”

Minton, when reached by phone on Thursday, said he’d run into city employees around town, at local stores, and he said they were hesitant to speak to him and other councilors because they’d been discouraged not to.

“They’re all looking over their shoulder,” said Minton on Thursday. “They have been told not to be talking to a councilor or they could lose their job.”

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler during Monday’s meeting denied such a statement came from his office.

“That has never came from me, because I have encouraged people to come to me,” said Girdler. “I encourage them to tell the council because I’m only one person.”

Councilor Jerry Wheeldon suggested that the perception that city employees are not to approach councilors may have begun in prior administrations, but he noted he hadn’t heard of that lately.

“No, it’s been said lately,” Minton replied. “I’m not saying it came from the Mayor, but maybe department heads or supervisors.”

Minton said he’d discussed the issue with Girdler before.

“Any employee of the city, if they want to talk to a council member, they have the right to,” said Minton during the meeting. “I don’t think they should have to be afraid to talk to their council person.

“They work for the city, we’re apart of the city, and I’d like to see an end put to this,” Minton added.

Councilor Jim Rutherford said he was told “point blank” not to go to certain councilors’ homes while he served as an officer with the city.

“You were encouraged to stay away from certain people,” said Rutherford.

Rutherford said he’d like those ideas to change.

“I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable talking to me,” Rutherford said.

Minton asked that the council pass a resolution that would encourage any city employee to speak to their councilors without fear of losing their jobs.

“Make it clear they’re not going to be retaliated against if they’re seen talking to somebody,” said Minton.

Several councilors stated that they would be glad to speak to any employees, as long as it wasn’t over issues such as personnel, discipline, real estate matters, or human resource concerns such as hours worked.

“We don’t have the authority to be involved in personnel issues,” said Councilor Tom Eastham, who noted he’d been contacted about those issues before. “They still should be able to communicate anything outside of that to anyone they want to communicate to.”

Minton, on Thursday, said he’d never been contacted by a city employee over personnel issues.

Those issues, the councilors agreed, are best presented to Girdler himself, or Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese.

“I know there’s some things ... that shouldn’t be spoken out loud,” said Rutherford. “ ... We all understand that and I don’t think anybody’s going to be gossiping about it, but just casual conversation about their day or how their work’s going, they should feel free to do that.”

But other issues, such as equipment issues, questions about upgrades and new purchases, and more, would be appropriate for the council, said Rutherford.

“We can help them at least ... allocate money to fix the problem,” said Rutherford.

Councilor Jerry Burnett said he’d visited Somerset-Pulaski County EMS and the Somerset Fire Department recently, and he said everyone seemed very welcoming.

“Making yourself seen around these areas, these employees are glad to see you,” said Burnett.

Councilor Jimmy Eastham agreed.

“We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t know something that was going on in all these departments,” said Jimmy Eastham.

The council voted unanimously to pass the resolution encouraging city employees to contact their councilors — and to not feel as if they shouldn’t have a casual conversation with the councilors.

“This is America,” said Minton during the meeting. “We’re not building nuclear bombs here or something we need to keep secret.”

Text Only
News Live
  • Elaine Wilson.jpg Law targeted local board member

    A local official currently serving on multiple boards capable of levying taxes could find herself having to resign from one of those entities due to a recently-passed law in Frankfort.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • carrie dixon-wiese.jpg Local housing facility subject of $349,000 lawsuit

    A local housing facility is the subject of a lawsuit in U.S. Eastern District Court, with several major entities named as defendants — though the Somerset city attorney notes that’s actually more for their protection.
    The defendants listed included the City of Somerset, Somerset Independent Board of Education, and Pulaski County government, as well as the company Somerset East Mt. Vernon Associates, Ltd.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brenzel and LCRH sign cmyk.jpg Brenzel steps down as LCRH CEO

    Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (LCRH) has announced that CEO Mark Brenzel has decided to step down from the top leadership position.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Science Hill elementary students promote recycling

    For one group of Science Hill Independent students, taking out the trash isn’t something they avoid.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Last rescue adopted pic.jpg Last of dogs rescued from Nancy kennel is adopted

    The last of 27 dogs housed at a Louisville animal rescue center after they were taken from a western Pulaski County puppy mill in a January raid has found a permanent home.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mayor Girdler.jpg Bill puts freeze on occupational tax funds

    An addition to the late-passed Kentucky Transportation Cabinet budget contains an Easter egg of sorts that could have a substantial impact on Pulaski County — although Somerset’s mayor is downplaying it.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pulaski gets small share of road money

    Some $200 million worth of road-building projects in Pulaski County during the past decade likely is the reason this county got only a tiny share in the two-year road plan hammered out by the General Assembly during the session that adjourned late Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • LaDonna Hurd.jpg Local firefighter dies from injuries suffered in fall at skating rink

    The community’s move to rally around a local volunteer firefighter, nurse, and single mother injured while roller skating has taken on a more tragic note.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAKE-FISHING FOTO.JPG Rising lake levels are improving area fishing conditions

    The rising level of Lake Cumberland is covering banks that have been bare for seven years and increasing habitat for game fish such as bass, bluegill and crappie.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebenstein, Jacob.jpg Local man receives 12 1/2 years in DUI death of teen

    An entire courtroom on Thursday was moved to tears by parents who spoke of the loss of their 19-year-old son during a sentencing for the man who pleaded guilty in his death.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

News Live
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide