Fairness Ordinance proponents ask council for gay rights law
The Versailles City Council meeting July 2 turned into an unscheduled opportunity for backers of a Fairness Ordinance to state their case. (Because of the July 4 holiday, the meeting occurred after last week’s deadline.) Five speakers took a total of about 23 minutes to explain why Versailles should join Midway as a city with a Fairness Ordinance. Melissa Bane Sevier, who was pastor of Versailles Presbyterian Church for 11 years, said the timing was good, with Pride Month just having passed, Henderson recently becoming the 11th Kentucky city to pass a Fairness Ordinance, and Lexington just having marked the 20th anniversary of its law. She answered her own question of “Why do we want to do this?” with “Because we love our community and want to move forward.” Steve Osborne said he lives with his partner of 40 years in Nonesuch, but spends plenty of time and money in Versailles. He asked the council to imagine how the parents of a lesbian daughter would feel if a restaurant owner in Versailles refused to serve her. Isaac Batts described himself as trans, and said a Fairness Ordinance would help other young people who, as he did, don’t feel supported in the local school system. Dan Brown, like many of the others, a member of the Woodford Fairness Coalition, handed out documents explaining what such laws do and don’t do. Also like several others, he thanked the council for recently including gay rights protections in the city employee manual and a franchise agreement with Metronet. However, he added, “As a gay man, that’s still not enough.” Council Member Laura Dake, who’d invited the people who filled the council chamber, thanked them for coming. She said she supported a Fairness Ordinance and hoped the council would consider it soon. Mayor Brian Traugott said if such a conversation is to take place, he hoped that everyone would be respectful, which wasn’t the case the last time the issue arose. “I’m aligned with Laura on the issue, but it is hard to take a stand against intolerance when you’re intolerant (of) people who disagree with you …” Traugott said. Backers said the Woodford Fairness Coalition had recently voted to request they be put on the agenda of Woodford Fiscal Court in the near future. Ledvance Woodford Economic Development Authority John Soper III briefed the council on the situation at Ledvance, which will close in September. Soper said finding a client or clients to take over the buildings and property is “on the radar” for the state Cabinet for Economic Development and that the company has been very helpful. The 260 Ledvance employees who’d probably like to continue working on the property might be its biggest advantage, he said. Most likely, the 813,000 square feet of building space and 42 acre-property will be split up into three or four entities, he said. House-keeping A series of ordinances, most of them aimed at the working of the council and city government, passed unanimously. Among them: Ordinance 2019-17 reschedules council meetings falling on a holiday that causes the Versailles Municipal Building to be closed for the following Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Ordinance 2019-18 requires people asking to place items on the council’s agenda to identify themselves or the organization they represent and the topic of discussion. Ordinance 2019-19 changes the annual consumer price index-related adjustment of the mayor’s $66,500 salary from April to July 1. Ordinance 2019-22 modifies training requirements for volunteer firefighters, keeping the requirement that they take training courses prescribed by the fire chief and removing the requirement that they undergo twice-monthly training. The measure also substitutes “year” for “month” for the period of time in which the minimum hours of training are required. Ordinance 2019-23 repeals what Traugott called “very arcane” language prohibiting persons from entering fire stations. Ordinance 2019-24 allows the police chief to appoint a civilian or sworn officer as property clerk/ evidence custodian and substitutes gender-neutral language for the position. Ordinance 2019-27 amends city law requiring council members and appointed officials to attend at least two-thirds of meetings in a year to include meetings held out of council chambers. Ordinance 2019-29 adds emails as a “permissible method” of making open records requests. Ordinance 2019-30 substitutes gender-neutral language to references to the city clerk/treasurer/tax administrator. Police reimbursement The council voted 5 to 0 for a municipal order that will allow the Versailles Police Department to be reimbursed for training and other expenses when an officer leaves before three years. Council Member Gary Jones abstained. Sewer change order The council voted unanimously for a $18,674 change order for the sewer upgrade and rehabilitation project, which Public Works Director Bart Miller said would be finished this month. Miller also gave council members a copy of a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency for its success meeting state and federal water turbidity standards. Appointments Traugott introduced Kristen Wilson, the city’s new part-time minority empowerment liason, who taught at Simmons Elementary School for nine years and has been a guidance counselor at Woodford County High School for six years. His nomination of Paul Schreffler for a new four-year term on the EDA passed unanimously.