Pulaski County Deputy Judge-Executive Dan Price has been suspended pending the completion of "court-ordered procedures" following his DUI conviction last Friday.
According to Judge-Executive Steve Kelley, Price's suspension was to go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and would be unpaid. He made the announcement through a press release rather than during the morning's Fiscal Court meeting.
"Mr. Price was previously suspended for related actions," Judge Kelley wrote, "but in light of recent court proceedings, and after consulting with legal counsel, I feel further discipline is necessary."
Price's status was not addressed at Fiscal Court, which he did not attend, until District 1 Magistrate Jason Turpen asked as the meeting came to a close what Kelley's plans were in regard to the deputy judge.
"We're working with the county attorney on that," Judge Kelley responded. "There's a lot of discussion that we've had, a lot of legal issues that we have to consider so we've got to work through those and I will be taking some action. I will let you know as soon as we have decided."
Though he didn't make a motion — the deputy position is one of a handful which serves at the judge-executive's discretion — Turpen recommended that Price's employment be terminated.
Kelley responded that he appreciated Turpen's view but it would ultimately be his decision then proceeded into a defense of Price's work beyond what was included in the press release, which referenced the deputy judge's ability to manage projects, write grants and accomplish tasks.
"I just want you to know that this is probably the most difficult decision that I've faced because Dan Price is a close friend of mine," Judge Kelley said during the meeting, "and Dan Price is a valuable asset for our county. He's done a lot of great work for this county and [we] couldn't have done half the things we've done without Dan. You all know how hard he's worked. His work ethic is unquestionably the best that I've seen. His understanding of all the aspects of county government is very good; his project management skills are excellent so it's a difficult decision but I will be letting you know something shortly."
Kelley continued that was conferring with counsel because the issues involved "could affect the county if we're not careful."
The meeting adjourned with no further discussion.
Last Friday, Price was convicted after a day-long trial in Pulaski District Court of Operating a Motor Vehicle under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (.08, first offense), Careless Driving and Failure to or Improper Signal. The charges were in connection to a December 2019 traffic stop and arrest while Price had been driving a county-issued Chevrolet Tahoe.
A five-women, one-man jury recommended that Price pay fines totaling $540, which must be paid by October 11. District Judge Katie Slone also ordered that Price pay a $425 DUI service fee and complete an alcohol driver education course. His driver's license is suspended for up to six months, but the actual term will be evaluated by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Judge Kelley didn't specify the "recent developments" prompting the deputy judge's suspension in his press release or at Fiscal Court.
"I was elected to serve this county, and to make it a better place," Kelley wrote. "Each day I strive to improve some area of your government to move us forward. Dan Price is integral to the successes we have experienced in just a few short years.…While we have made tremendous progress forward, this is a small step backward. We will rectify the situation, and move forward in serving the citizens of Pulaski County. It is an honor to serve, and a responsibility I do not take lightly. I truly believe that as good as things are in our county, even better days are ahead."
Price himself is also looking to move forward.
"My family and I are wanting to put this behind us and move forward as they have been through enough," he told the Commonwealth Journal Tuesday afternoon. "I'm very appreciative of Robert Norfleet's law firm. In life a person must have 'grit, strength of character, perseverance, and passion.' Strong people stand for others and themselves. I dislike the ugliness of 'politics' but truly enjoy the real nature of my work — helping as many people possible while serving my community as long as I can. As my Mom told me, 'Youngin', this too shall pass.'"