Stanford mayor fires city clerk, but won’t confirm action

Published 3:16 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

By BOBBIE CURD

bcurd@amnews.com 

STANFORD — City Clerk Dana Taylor came in to a surprise at work Wednesday at Stanford City Hall. After being asked to meet with Mayor Eddie Carter by the city attorney, Carter asked Taylor to resign. When she didn’t, he fired her.

“All I can say is that I hope whoever they hire, they have a guardian angel — because they’re going to need it,” Taylor said.

Taylor was in the middle of getting her things loaded up and taken out of her office of six years with help from her family, and asked if she could call back to discuss the situation.

“In my opinion, there’s been some bad behavior …” Taylor said later, her voice still a bit shaky. “I’ve already brought my concerns to the city council. It’s been brought up at several meetings.”

But Wednesday, Taylor was told she was being fired due to a personality conflict.

“There’s a lot of things that have gone on — I have a journal of incidents, and it may have to come to light. I have documentation, times and dates on all of this.”

Taylor has been clerk since 2011. She came from Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, where she worked for several years. The evolution of her “personality conflict” with the mayor has happened over time, she says.

“All I’ve done is advise the mayor, whenever I knew he was doing something illegal or unethical.”

After a voicemail and two phone calls, Mayor Carter said he’d rather not make a comment on anything right now. When asked to simply confirm if the city clerk was terminated, he refused to.

“We have a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) night. I’d rather wait and talk about it after tomorrow night.”

When asked why he couldn’t confirm that Taylor was fired, Carter said, “My attorney told me not to.” When questioned, he said it was the city attorney — Chris Reed — who advised him to keep mum.

Carter was told others had already spoken on the firing; he asked what they had to say.

“People are going to say what they’ve got to say,” he said. “The city attorney said not to make a comment for right now.”

City Attorney Reed did not return a call for comment.

Councilman Ronnie Deatherage said Wednesday afternoon he was just made aware of the firing.

“It wasn’t discussed with us, no. The first I’ve heard of it is today. I haven’t talked to Eddie, and I don’t know anything about it. I’d rather wait and talk about it after tomorrow night,” he said, referring to after the regular city council meeting.

Deatherage was asked about Taylor’s comment that she has given information to the council in the past about improper behavior by the mayor, and what his thoughts were about the claims.

“I know a gentleman — Jim Jarrett — came to a meeting with some claims. Those were things I think need to be turned over to the ethics board. They will conduct an investigation and bring it back to the council. I’ve talked to attorneys with the Kentucky League of Cities about some things, so I think that’s what we need to do, bring the ethics board in. Or that’s the process Jarrett needs to go through.”

Deatherage was pressed further to speak specifically to Taylor’s concerns she’d brought to the council, but he preferred not to. “What have I got to be nervous or scared about? I’m not scared of Eddie. I’ve had issues with him before that I’ve spoken about during council meetings. But I’d rather wait until after tomorrow night to speak about this.”

During a recent portion of a Stanford City Council meeting where citizens are invited to comment, resident Jim Jarrett brought a list of accusations against Mayor Carter and asked for his resignation. Jarrett is also a Planning and Zoning commissioner.

According to The Interior Journal archives, Jarrett said the mayor had acted improperly or illegally many times, including directing city employees to enforce ordinances against some residents and not others.

He also claimed Carter instructs city employees not to speak during council meetings; had told certain business owners they didn’t need a license; wrongly informed people they didn’t need a permit approved by P&Z; and had changed minutes from city council meetings. Jarrett said Carter had cost taxpayers by causing a mistrial in a city property court case, as well.

Jarrett continued his list, accusing the mayor of loaning city equipment to contractors working at Logan’s Fort and allowing them to live in the Ice House building while working there, which is against city ordinance 39.18.

In an interview with The Interior Journal, Carter admitted to several things, saying he had the right to do them, but denied he’d instructed employees not to speak.

Carter told the newspaper, “The place to vote me out, if I do run again, is at the ballot box. Trying to get me to resign over something that I have not done intentionally…I’m not above making an honest mistake. No one is perfect in this world.”

Wednesday, Taylor said she knows the mayor was upset with her about Jarrett using city records to put his case together.

“He (Jarrett) was in the office reviewing public documents. Those records were open to review, according to the open records law, but it has to be supervised,” Taylor says. “I had to keep him in the front office because I had to be able to supervise it. The mayor thought it didn’t look good, and he made the implication that something was going on between me and Mr. Jarrett.”

Taylor previously brought this concern to the city council, even distributing copies of the public records Jarrett had requested, as well as any relative state laws regarding the Open Records Act.

During the meeting, Taylor told Carter she didn’t appreciate the implication that she and Jarrett were “doing something improper.”

Carter responded to her by saying, “I said it didn’t look good. I’m just saying, it needs to be at a separate table.” Taylor told him she’s not there because something looks good, she’s there because of what the law says — she’s the keeper of the records.

Taylor said she has never been written up at her job nor received any complaints. “Eddie Carter is Eddie Carter. He doesn’t think before he does things. He’s not stable.”