West Buechel mayor sends letter to residents warning of city's 'demise'
On Tuesday night, the West Buechel city council is slated to fill a vacancy created by the death of councilman Joe Spencer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The mayor of West Buechel sent a letter to his residents warning of the "demise" of the police department, the community center and the city as a whole.
On Tuesday night, the West Buechel city council is slated to fill a vacancy created by the death of councilman Joe Spencer. He died last month after a long health battle. Mayor Rick Richards' concerns stem from who gets to choose the person filling Spencer's seat.
"The city council now has four members that will not vote for any agenda item that I present for the betterment of our city, " wrote Richards in a letter hand-delivered to homes Friday. "I cannot express how critical it is that we stop them from handpicking one of their cronies to fill Joe Spencer's council seat."
Richards described the notice as a call to action asking neighbors to attend Tuesday night's meeting. He said residents will get a say in who fills Spencer's seat with a secret ballot vote, and the council will then either approve or reject the public's selection.
"The mayor is being a hysteric," Councilman Tom Fox said. "He does not have the authority to set the process. That's up to the council."
Kentucky law is clear on how to fill a vacancy. It says the legislative body -- in this case the West Buechel City Council -- makes an appointment to fill the remainder of the open term. Fox was appointed in January through this same process. He has threatened to file a criminal misconduct charge against Richards if he goes forward with this new plan.
"My colleagues on the council are only interested in the best interest of West Buechel, and Mayor Richards is the problem," Fox said.
If the majority gets a fifth vote, Richards loses his veto power.
"I cannot stop the action I believe they will take that could lead to the demise of not only the city's police department and community center but ultimately could even lead to the demise of the city of West Buechel itself..." Richards wrote.
Richards said he's concerned about the city being consolidated and governed by Metro Louisville.
"It was very surprising," West Buechel resident Kisha Marshall said. "Those are some pretty nasty allegations."
Continuing WDRB investigations have uncovered bad audits, questionable spending, missing money and criminal investigations into West Buechel officials. Marshall has lived a few doors down from city hall for ten years and plans to attend her first city council meeting Tuesday night.
"It's alarming," she said. "I need to see what's going on in my city."
Richards did not return WDRB calls for comment in this story.
With little fireworks at Tuesday night's meeting, John Campbell was chosen to fill Spencer's seat with a 4-1 vote.
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