Cburg Council looks at fairness

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

One week after another Henry County city declined to consider a fairness ordinance, the Campbellsburg City Council asked their city attorney to draft a similar ordinance.

Campbellsburg resident Punkin Burk approached the council about the ordinance, pointing to Pleasureville, where a similar ordinance died for lack of a second on a motion to adopt.

“I’m asking all of you, please, as a group,” Burk said. “I think it’s only fair. It’s only right. Everyone as a human being deserves equality, no matter what. I’m just asking you to do this.”

Council members Shelley Noe and Lorraine Hawkins both indicated they had no problem with the idea, while Sharon Clem said she “thought it was in the Constitution.”

Five other Kentucky communities have fairness ordinances, which make it illegal for employers and landlords to discriminate against employees or tenants because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to classes that are already protected at the federal level, like age, gender, religion and race. Those communities are Covington, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville and Vicco, the smallest community to pass such an ordinance.

Campbellsburg Community Center

Tensions rose when Campbellsburg Mayor Rex Morgan asked the council, again, to approve the hiring of Andrea Johnson as the city’s Recreation Director.

After a lengthy discussion, the council approved Johnson’s hiring, which will be effective on Dec. 1.

But Clem expressed the strongest concern about hiring Johnson before the center — which has been plagued by setbacks — is even open.

“I’m worried about (the) people’s money,” Clem said. “This is a big black hole right now.”

Morgan, who developed the idea for the community center two years ago, said he feels, perhaps, more keenly aware of that perception, looking at the center every day. Later in the meeting, he stressed that he wasn’t trying to downplay anyone’s concerns, and that “this is (either) my saving grace or my Achilles’ heel. I probably think about this community center about a dozen times a day.”

“Everybody drives by and they don’t see the inside and they think we’ve wasted money,” Hawkins said.

Council member Jason Stanley agreed, saying “my biggest concern is just not having it open. I don’t need it landscaped and all blacktopped when we have a gravel parking lot.”

While the interior of the building is finished and ready for use, the building’s exterior remains a sticking point, as contractors attempt to deal with drainage issues around the building.

The city has been waiting, in part, on CSX for permission to address the drainage issue. Word on that came Monday, when CSX requested the city pay a $4,000 encroachment fee.

City attorney Bill Brammell said the city had little bargaining room.

“I don’t think there is any negotiation when you’re talking about the railroad,” he said. “(The agreement) does do a lot of overreaching. (CSX) outlined the costs… (the agreement) also provides that if it is later determined that this project and what is in place (are incompatible), they can come back and make us make a change to our design and our construction at our cost.”

Clem decried the CSX situation as “despicable,” and Hawkins said that “CSX is not a good neighbor.”

Excavation to deal with the drainage issues could take place at any time, but paving of the parking lot would be dictated by weather.

Morgan argued that with the CSX agreement, the city was “that much closer” to being able to open the center. As such, he gave council members copies of Johnson’s proposed duties and responsibilities in advance of the center’s opening. “I do firmly believe there’s probably a good three months worth of work,” he told the council.

Stanley urged the city to consider creating temporary handicap parking spaces, which could allow the center to get its certificate of occupancy.

“I want to make sure that when we do open the doors over there, that we have everything in line,” Morgan said.

Council member Andy Murray echoed Morgan’s concern in part. “There’s an awful lot of work to be done, and I still see the concern of ‘I don’t know when it’s going to be open…’ but there is still a lot of work to be done (just) to be ready to open.”

Clem countered again, saying she saw “no purpose in spending a bunch of money so far in advance,” particularly in regard to hiring the recreation director.

Morgan went on to say that Johnson could start working on community center activities now, holding some events in city hall.

“Let’s say if she coordinates to have a yoga class over there, we have space in here,” he said. “(There are) some classes and some things that could eventually be done at the community center, but that could be done here at city hall, just to get the ball rolling.”

Clem was the lone dissenter in the 4-1 vote to approve Johnson’s hire.