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Email Shows Commissioners Were Notified of Frye Hiring

A debate at Tuesday's Covington City Commission meeting included claims by two commissioners that they were simply told that Ivan Frye would be hired as the interim finance director and that they were not directly involved in the selection process.

An email obtained by The River City News contradicts those claims.

Frye, a 27-year veteran of government finances and a retired Kenton County Treasurer, was hired by a vote of 4-0 with Commissioner Michelle Williams offering herself as "present, not voting". Commissioner Mildred Rains also expressed displeasure with the process of hiring of Frye but voted in favor of it.

Jerry Avery, Chairman of the Covington Board of Education, took to the podium during public comments and questioned whether all commissioners are properly involved in the the decision-making at City Hall.

"The answer is, no, Mr. Avery," Williams said in response. "Some of us were not involved in any of the decision-making."

Rains agreed. "I was called and told we were hiring Ivan Frye," Rains said.

City Manager Larry Klein said Tuesday that he had contacted each city commissioner by telephone or email about his recommendation to bring on Frye, a claim supported by the email obtained by RCN.

On August 31, four days after the city commission voted to hire Accounting & Operations Manager Jerome Heist as interim director, Klein wrote to the mayor and commissioners, "I am recommending that we make a temporary change in the management of the Finance Department."

"I am recommending that we engage Ivan Frye to manage and oversee the Finance Department for the next few months while the search for a full time permanent Finance Director is going on (anticipated to be 3 months)," Klein wrote. "I think that having an outside, objective, credible and experienced set of eyes and ears managing the department will not only assure the public it is in competent and objective hands if there is any doubt about that now, but also allow the current staff their to continue to do their jobs effectively without unnecessary or undeserved criticism. The past week has been traumatic for each of them, and I don't want to add their worries the burden of unfair or uninformed criticism."

Former Finance Director Bob Due was fired on August 27, four days after his arrest on suspicion that he embezzled what is now believed to be roughly $600,000 from the city coffers. 

Klein, who worked under Frye from 1988-1998 in the County Treasurer's office, asked for feedback from the mayor and commissioners in the email. The recommendation was supported by Mayor Sherry Carran and City Commissioners Steve Frank and Chuck Eilerman.

Rains did not respond to the email. Williams did.

"I would like to say that I am opposed to this decision,"Williams wrote back. "I believe we should take more time in coming up with a solid plan, instead of making hasty decisions that we regret later. If we do this we would have will have (sic) three finance directors and one interim in less than 6 months. Lets take the time to hire a permanent replacement instead of adding yet another hand in the pot."

That message was similar to other comments Williams made at Tuesday night's meeting.

Frye started on the job eight days before Tuesday's vote but was not officially put on the payroll until he was approved formally.

The issue of who knew what and when was raised in the middle of Seventh Street  on Wednesday night when Williams was seen shouting at Eilerman, asking him to "stop lying" about what what she knew.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Covington City Commission/RCN file