Danville city manager acknowledges letter complaining about mayor

Published 8:26 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019

City Manager Ron Scott wanted “to spend a little time going over the question of ethics in our community” on Monday night. During his report to the city commission, Scott acknowledged an email sent to him on Sept. 10, which was previously reported by The Advocate-Messenger after being obtained through an open records request, inquiring how an ethics concern could be brought forward regarding Mayor Mike Perros.

The email was an inquiry from Ben Nelson, former chairman of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors, in reference to the Sept. 10 incident involving Perros during a Boyle County Fiscal Court meeting. Nelson said he was writing on behalf of concerned citizens to suggest Perros “should be formally censured/disciplined up to and including termination for his misconduct.”

During that meeting, Perros pointed out that the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jennifer Kirchner, wasn’t wearing socks as she stood in front of the court. The comment was in response to Magistrate Phil Sammons, who had teased Perros for not wearing socks. Sammons responded with an inappropriate comment about Kirchner’s legs.

Email newsletter signup

Scott told the commission Monday that he acknowledged the email as a request that he, as city manager, act to review the actions of Perros “in light of all applicable sections of the city’s personnel policies and the city’s adopted ethics code.”

“I also advised the sender of the email … that my understanding was that he did not in his email additionally request that I refer the matter to the city’s Ethics Board,” Scott said. He said he told “the sender” that if he or anyone else wish to refer the matter to the Ethics Board, “it would be necessary that he or another person prepare a signed letter of complaint and file it.”

Scott explained that the Danville Board of Ethics was created pursuant to state law and is vested with the responsibility and authority of enforcing the requirements of the city’s code of ethics.

“The Board of Ethics can initiate investigations under its own initiative or investigate written complaints filed with it,” he said. “If the Ethics Board investigates and determines an individual is guilty of violations, it can levy fines and/or recommend an elected or appointed official be removed from office by the Board of Commissioners (city commission).”

Scott said the Ethics Board can also “simply make the determination that a section of the ethics code was breached … and refer back to the governing body. The city commission could take action.”

He said it’s “inappropriate for me as city manager to comment on those events, because I wasn’t at the courthouse that day, and it’s inappropriate for me to comment on any matter that could be subject …” to an investigation by the Ethics Board.

Scott said to his knowledge, no complaint alleging violations of the city code of ethics has been filed with the Ethics Board.

The city last updated its existing personnel policies in July, which are administered by Scott and overseen by the city commission. “The city’s adopted personnel policies place emphasis on progressive discipline, rather than first providing more severe sanctions for initial violations … depending upon the specific violation that occurred,” Scott said.

Scott said the city’s “longstanding personnel policy requires we operate an … environment that is non-discriminatory on a whole range of measures. It’s nothing new for us to say, ‘You shall not discriminate or shall not harass’ — we’ve had those policies for years.”

He said while most sections of the city’s personnel policies do not apply to elected officials, the sections pertaining to workplace harassment specifically do.

“The prohibitions in these policies apply to all officers, elected officials, appointed officials, volunteers, vendors, contractors and employees of the city,” as well as all who are outside of city employment and interact with city officers and employees.

Scott said the remedy for those within city employment who feel they’ve been subjected to workplace harassment or sexual discrimination is to file a written grievance with him.

“The city manager is then required to conduct an investigation … to resolve any grievance if possible by imposing disciplinary measures on the offender if warranted,” he said. “… To date, a grievance has not been filed with the city manager regarding this incident.”