Wednesday, January 17, 2001

One-man show

Villa Hills situation deplorable

        VILLA HILLS — This is how badly the increasingly sad and alarming situation in Villa Hills has festered.

        Police Chief Michael “Corky” Brown is not only fired by Mayor Steve Clark, but for some reason the mayor has chosen to publicly humiliate the chief as he is shoved out the door after 16 years on the beat.

        The same can be said of City Clerk Sue Kramer, who the mayor also fired last month.

        Neither they nor anyone else has been told, at least publicly, why the dismissals took place. Mr. Clark has gone out of his way — which is his right under the law — to not give any details about the reasons for the purge, which if you're counting also includes longtime City Attorney Lawson Walker.

        If this is how Mr. Clark strives to get along with people — which is what he pledged to do late last year — I'd hate to see what happens if he decides to get back at people.

        Three people have lost their positions with the city, but it is Mr. Brown who seems to be bearing the brunt of Mr. Clark's vitriol.

Cut loose
        Let's start with Dec. 28, the day Mr. Brown and Mrs. Kramer — whose husband, Bob, is a city councilman and no friend of Mr. Clark's — were cut loose.

        That was also the day a state audit was released that questioned $44,000 in spending by some city officials. There were no allegations that any laws were broken or money taken. But by firing Mr. Brown on the same day the audit was released, Mr. Clark appeared to be trying to cast aspersions on the chief.

        Face it, the average person hears about the audit, learns the chief has been fired; and guilt by association takes hold. If Mr. Clark was trying to manipulate that situation, he succeeded.

        Mr. Brown is mentioned in the audit for spending city money on meals and trips. State auditors said there should have been better documentation about how the money was spent, but no one — the mayor included - has said the spending was illegal.

        So is that why Mr. Clark fired the chief?

        Well, if it is, Mr. Clark should remember that people who live in glass city halls shouldn't throw stones.

        He, too, is mentioned in the audit for spending money, some of it on big-ticket items like a computer, without properly documenting it.

        And does Mr. Clark remember that his wife, Donna, used a city credit card to charge materials for some remodeling of the city building that the mayor authorized?

        How about the city-owned car Mr. Clark used to cruise around town in? Sorry, the mayor of a tiny place like Villa Hills needs a city car like the mayor of Phoenix needs a snowmobile.

        Surely Mr. Brown did some things right during his years in Villa Hills.

Tacky and cheap
        Even as the mayor demanded the chief return the uniform he had planned to be buried in or face criminal charges - one of the all-time most tacky and cheap political moves I've ever seen - hundreds of residents have come out in Mr. Brown's defense.

        They plan to be out in force for tonight's City Council meeting.

        They know what Mr. Brown did right as chief of police of their community.

        It's time for Mayor Clark to stop hiding behind the law and let people know what, if anything, the chief and the others did wrong to merit such public dismissals.

        But we've seen Mr. Clark in action. So that could be a long wait.

       Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for
The Kentucky Enquirer. He can be reached at 578-5581, or by e-mail at


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