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Covington to Hire Firm to Investigate "Wrongdoing"

The Covington City Commission will have a special meeting on Thursday afternoon to retain a law firm to investigate what the agenda refers to as "allegations of wrongdoing".

Beyond that, the scope of the investigation is not clear.

However, in recent weeks, the city commission has met in closed "executive" session repeatedly to discuss personnel matters.

While speculative to suggest that the investigation could be related to the code enforcement department, the City of Covington recently lost three employees from the City Hall office, all on the same day, all within minutes of each other, and all via email in the early morning hours.

Emails obtained The River City News following those resignations indicated that there were mounting problems with code enforcement personnel, with one departing employee calling the work environment "hostile" and another referring to it as "caustic" in their resignation emails.

The department's manager also resigned.

Screen shot of the agenda for Thursday's special meeting

On Tuesday night, the city commission voted to hire an interim manager in the department, and though the vote was unanimous, Mayor Joe Meyer expressed concern about the promotion of Walt Mace to the role of code enforcement manager since the city - amid an inordinate number of resignations at City Hall - declared an emergency and approved a $45,000 contract, without soliciting bids, to Phoenix-based Municipal Solutions to evaluate the organizational structure at the city building.

Municipal Solutions is also leading the search for the new city manager.

"I am concerned about permanent promotions with a study underway," Meyer said. "I think it would be best if this were just an interim promotion because I don't want Mr. Mace to get the idea that this is going to be business as usual going forward.

"As long as he accepts this position knowing full well that there may be changes in the not-too-distant future, I'll be willing to support this."

Meyer voted with the rest of the commission, offering a "cautious yes".

The special meeting has been called for Thursday at 5:30 p.m., with just one item on the agenda: to retain the law firm of Lexington-based Fogle Keller Purdy and attorney Scott White "to investigate allegations of wrongdoing".

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Covington City Hall (RCN file)