Citizens group serves notice to Danville commission

February 10, 2004|HERB BROCK

Danville City Commission was served notice Monday night that its actions will be monitored closely by a citizens watchdog organization.

Citizens for Good Government-Danville/Boyle County has been a severe critic of the commission, having last year brought charges of ethics violations against Mayor John W.D. Bowling and commissioners Ryan Owens and Chester Kavanaugh and pressing the commission to investigate the charges. Only the charges against Owens were upheld by the city's ethics panel.

However, a spokesman for the group indicated Monday night that it won't just be doing Tuesday morning quarterbacking of commission decisions and behavior. Erin Avery said the group plans to be on the sidelines as those decisions are made - and would even like to be considered not just a watchdog group but a player in commission business.

"On behalf of the citizens of Danville and Boyle County, and the organization Citizens for Good Government-Danville/Boyle County, I hereby announce the permanent presence of a commission observer at this and subsequent city commission meetings," Avery said in a prepared statement he read to the commission.


The role of the observer will be to report to the organization on what the commission does at its meetings and to present to the commission the views of the organization on the issues that the commission is considering, Avery said.

In order that the "faith of the citizens of Danville and Boyle County" can be "restored" in the commission, the group will "hold you accountable in the press, our own publications and on our forthcoming Web site (," he said. "This is a reasonable course of action, considering the controversies surrounding this current city administration."

One of the goals of Avery's organization, he said, was to "encourage the commissioners to avoid the very appearance of impropriety." Another goal is to "help you fulfill your primary duties of public safety and the efficient management and provision of public works."

Avery said he hopes the commission does not regard his group as "merely an advocacy organization that primarily stands in opposition with your own concerns for the betterment of Danville and Boyle County but as a valuable resource for the viewpoints and concerns of your constituencies."

In what he described as the organization's "first official act," Avery welcomed Darrell Blenniss Jr., the new city manager, to Danville. Bowling had earlier in the meeting greeted Blenniss, an administrator in the city government of Grays Lake, Ill., who will start his new job here on March 1. Blenniss' parents, Darrell and Darlene Blenniss of Louisville, were in the audience during the meeting.

After reading his statement, Avery was briefly peppered with questions from Bowling. The mayor asked Avery when and where the organization meets, if the meetings are open to the public and if the mayor could join.

Avery said the organization will be meeting once a month at the Old Crow Inn with the next meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. He said the meetings are open to the public and welcomed the mayor to attend the meetings and to join the organization. Avery said a non-voting membership is free but it costs $35 a year to be a voting member and, thus, be eligible to votes on organization business.

In an interview, Avery, who identified himself as a writer who currently makes ends meet working with computers, said there are 25 to 30 members of the organization. He said the acting president is Ron Jackson.

Other business

In other business, the commmission:

* Approved a Heart of Danville application for a $396,820 grant from the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century program. The city's match would be $99,206. Heart of Danville Executive Director Julie Wagner said the money would be used to build new sidewalks, plant trees and pay for other landscaping projects in connection with the construction of a downtown parking garage near the Hub-Gilcher building.

* Heard Wilma Brown of the Community Arts Center committee report that plans for renovating the old Federal Building had been approved by the federal government. The commission said it needed more time to review the plans before taking action on them; that action likely will come at the next commission meeting on Feb. 23. The plans include several studios and offices, a gift shop and a coffee shop.

* Assured local skateboard park proponent Paul Sirimongkhon that the city is still considering the idea of constructing a park somewhere in Danville. Commissioner Jamey Gay said $50,000 for planning and first-phase development for the park is in the city budget for this fiscal year.

* Directed acting city manager Bridgette Milby to inform Bill Fowler, who is building townhouses on Waveland Avenue, to construct a screening fence "as soon as possible" along the north side of the project. Resident Irvin Jones has been asking for the fence for more than two years, saying the trash, brush and scattered building materials have been an eyesore.

Central Kentucky News Articles