OP-ED: A local citizen files multiple complaints with the City of London’s Ethics Board, does not attend meeting.

Doug Phelps is a former educator in Laurel County who pled guilty to possession of child pornography in 2013. In 2019, Phelps was pardoned by outgoing Governor Matt Bevin. Doug Phelps filed multiple complaints with the City of London Ethics Board regarding nepotism. His complaint extensively quotes the ordinances and timeline of events regarding the action of the current mayor, Troy Rudder, his stepdaughter, and other members of the city government.

Phelps's specific complaints include:

● Mayor Rudder - the stepfather of a Tourism Commission employee

● Michael Holt - Tourism Commissioner and Utility Commission is the father and brother of tourism commission employees

● The City Clerk Marcy Berry secured her position when her father-in-law was a council member.

● Phillip Smith – Uncle of a Tourism Commission employee and in violation of by-law 4 which talks about Commission Employees living within the London City Limits

Much of this is public knowledge, extracted from the State Auditor's report released earlier this year.

Fully 25% of the City's employees are related to someone else in the city in some way.

At the time that most of these staff members were hired, there was no clear ordinance regarding nepotism, favoritism, etc., in the City of London.

When those ordinances were added in the past couple of years, it was decided to grandfather in all of the employees it would otherwise affect rather than terminate over 50 employees.

Interestingly, Phelps wrote two paragraphs about the need for and lack of whistle-blower protection for city employees. However, there is no evidence that he is a city employee and would, therefore, not be shielded by a whistle-blower ordinance. To further increase the confusion, Phelps states, "some of your committee seem more hung up on the identity of the complainant than the complaint. Investigate the complaint as opposed to the complainant."

It is unclear why a non-city employee would care about a whistle-blower ordinance unless these complaints were filed on behalf of a city employee or elected official who did not want to come forward.

Phelps did not show up for the meeting, although many of the accused were there. Several had hired attorneys to represent them in this hearing. There was a significant expenditure of time and money that was all for naught, as the Board could not investigate the situation any further without the complainant in attendance. While several members of the Board and other officials stated that they were certain Phelps knew when the meeting was, no public statement has been made available by Phelps.

A Motion was made by Jim Hayes and seconded by Derek House that based on the advice of Counsel and its own inquiry, the Ethics Board has determined based on a preliminary inquiry that the complaint that has been made is not within its jurisdiction and fails to allege a minimal factual basis to constitute a violation of the Ordinance. The issue is that the Tourism Commission and its employees are no longer employees of the City, therefore outside the jurisdiction of the Ethics Board.

Based on City of London Ordinance 2022-05, the Ethics Board has decided to ask their attorney to reduce to writing and transmit her decision to the named parties, and that will conclude the Board's inquiry.

Billy Mosley, Lead Reporter for The Kentucky Daily

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