Wednesday, May 02, 2001

Ludlow mayor stepping down

Stacy cites health reasons for decision

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LUDLOW — Under pressure because of health and legal concerns, Mayor Tom Stacy is resigning, effective Friday.

        In an April 26 letter to council — released Tuesday — Mr. Stacy, who is diabetic, wrote that he wants to “turn the reins over to someone with a little more energy,” so he can concentrate on improving his health. His term was to expire at the end of 2003.

        “Upon advice from my physician, I am making this decision to streamline my obligations,” the 39-year-old mayor and father of two wrote. “Work and family also make it difficult to attend regular council meetings, and this is unfair to council and its residents.”

   Mayor Tom Stacy's political history:
   • September 1996: Appointed to a vacancy on Ludlow City Council
   • November 1996: Was top vote-getter among those elected to the six-member City Council
   • January-July 1997: Served as mayor pro tem
   • November 1998: Elected to a four-year term as mayor
        Mr. Stacy did not return phone calls Tuesday.

        However, his lawyer, Eric Deters of Fort Mitchell, described his client as “a good person who cares deeply about Ludlow.” He said Mr. Stacy has long battled health problems and a previous council's open hostility.

        Last summer, the majority of Ludlow City Council — since voted out of office — tried to remove Mr. Stacy from office because of excessive absenteeism after the mayor missed four regularly scheduled council meetings and three special meetings in 2 1/2 months.

        However, a lawyer hired by council determined that Mr. Stacy was fulfilling his city duties via e-mail and other means.

        Since the present council took office in January, Mr. Stacy has attended only two or three of eight regularly scheduled meetings, Councilwoman Cindy Schachere said. Because the mayor rarely stops in the city building, she said Ludlow police often have had to deliver official papers to his house.

        During their four months on council, Mrs. Schachere also said, she and the other members did not receive regular financial reports as required by state law or answers to their questions about city spending that appeared to exceed budgeted amounts.

        Mr. Stacy, a former councilman who became mayor in January 1999, said in his letter that he felt Ludlow was “in good hands” with the City Council that took office four months ago, and he agreed to serve in an advisory capacity to the city for 30 days, health permitting.

        In a statement issued Tuesday, Ludlow City Council wished the mayor and his family well.

        Covington lawyer Chris Mehling — hired several months ago to defend Ludlow City Council in a year-old lawsuit the mayor filed seeking to invalidate the 1999-2000 budget — said he has agreed to continue advising council as its members choose the next mayor in this Ohio River city of 4,409.

        Through a statement released by Mr. Mehling, council members said they “will immediately call a special council meeting to accept (Mr. Stacy's) resignation and to appoint an acting mayor.”

        “We will also determine at that time the procedures to use to appoint an individual to serve the remainder of Mayor Stacy's term,” council said in its statement. “We wish the mayor and his family well during this difficult time for them.”

        As part of his defense of council in that lawsuit, Mr. Mehling recently subpoenaed 20 records from the mayor on city procedures and financial operations.

        Among items subpoenaed:

        • Records on a city credit card issued to the mayor.

        • Cell phone records.

        • All records relating to the repainting of a city police vehicle said to be in the possession of Mr. Stacy, and any equipment installed on that vehicle with city funds.

        In March, as Mr. Mehling began interviewing Ludlow employees, Ludlow City Council passed a resolution stating that all city employees were covered under the Kentucky Whistleblower Act, which prohibits retaliation against public employees who disclose wrongdoing.

        Mr. Mehling said his investigation turned up “nothing criminal” on the mayor's part. However, he said he will recommend that council enact several procedural changes, aimed at “tightening up how they handle their financial system.”

        Those changes include:

        • Adopting an executive order designating the official depository for the city.

        • Hiring a permanent clerk/treasurer for the job that's been filled on a temporary basis for more than a year.

        • Making the clerk/treasurer responsible for all accounts in the city, including the police grant accounts.

        • Having the clerk/treasurer issue monthly financial statements.

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