Thursday, September 07, 2000

County group has new leader

Former manager agreed to resign after staff complaints

By Tom Loftus
The Courier-Journal

        FRANKFORT — Bob Arnold, commissioner of the state Department for Local Government, has been named to replace Mike Magee, who resigned last week as executive director of the Kentucky Association of Counties. Mr. Magee's resignation, which was accepted Thursday by the KACo board, followed complaints about his management by several employees.

        Mr. Magee, a former Ballard County judge-executive, was brought in to head a new management team in 1997 when the organization was beset by financial problems, including the insolvency of one insurance program.

        But in late June, KACo President Sandy Watkins announced Mr. Magee was put on paid leave pending an internal investigation of employees' complaints about matters that Mr. Watkins de scribed as sensitive and personal.

        On Wednesday, Mr. Watkins said Mr. Magee had offered to resign immediately if the KACo board would agree to pay his salary — about $90,000 — and benefits for the one year remaining in his contract. “He felt it was in the best interest of KACo and the best interest of his family to pursue other interests and get out,” Mr. Watkins said.

        He declined Wednesday to elaborate on the employee complaints about Mr. Magee, who could not be reached for comment.

        Mr. Watkins said, however, that the resignation was not requested by KACo's board or executive committee. Mr. Watkins said attorneys who conducted the internal investigation reported their findings Aug. 23 to KACo's executive committee.

        After that report the executive committee voted 3-2 to allow Mr. Magee to return “with some restrictions on personnel issues,” Mr. Watkins said. The two dissenting members wanted Mr. Magee to leave, Mr. Watkins said.

        But Mr. Watkins said that later that same day, Mr. Magee contacted him with his offer to resign.

        “This whole investigation and everything had pretty well worn on him and he just felt like it was time to move on,” Mr. Watkins said.

        He said the full KACo board last week accepted the resignation and passed a motion offering the job to Mr. Arnold.

        Mr. Arnold is a former Franklin County judge-executive who has been commissioner of the Department for Local Government since Gov. Paul Patton's administration began in December 1995.

        “I'll probably start with KACo around the first of November. I've got stuff I need to wrap up here and give the governor some time to do what he needs to do in finding a replacement for me,” Mr. Arnold said.

        He said he knows and respects the members of KACo's board and the offer is a good opportunity. “This is a natural progression for me to stay dealing with local government,” Mr. Arnold said.

        He said he makes $89,500 as local government commissioner. His salary is being negotiated with KACo, and he expects to make a little more in the new job.

        The KACo board also voted last week to hire Gil McCarty, who as state insurance commissioner in the 1980s during the term of Gov. Martha Layne Collins worked to oversee KACo's insurance programs.

        Mr. Watkins said: “We're looking forward. We're getting a good management team with Bob Arnold's experience ... and the insurance background of Gil McCarty.”


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