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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Cold Spring City Council Censures Member After Discrimination Complaint

The city of Cold Spring voted to censure a councilmember after a discrimination complaint was filed against her.

By Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Cold Spring City Council members voted last night to censure member Cindy Moore in response to a complaint filed against her last spring for an incident that happened in December 2019. A contractor for the city said she treated him unfairly and made him fear for his future work for the city.

The city also agreed to pay $5,000 in legal fees for Darryl Beasley, owner of a Jani King franchise as part of a recent negotiated agreement.

Beasley, who has worked with the city for seven years, filed a formal complaint with the city stemming from an incident at the city’s annual holiday party. His complaint included three letters of support by city staff members including Public Works Director Ron Hitch who was present at the event.  

The contractor said he was approached by Moore and questioned repeatedly about his presence at the event. He said Moore assumed he was a participant from an inmate work-release program in which the city has participated.

He said he felt the assumption was made because he is African American and that Moore’s questioning made him feel unwelcome and threatened his business relationship with the city.

Moore does not deny the particulars of the incident but said her questioning was not racially motivated and that she did not presume Beasley was a work-release participant. 

The decision to censure

Through his attorney, Steve Megerle, Beasley initially asked that Moore apologize and resign from council. Further, if she refused to do so, he asked the city to remove her from office or face legal action.

After discussion and negotiation with Mergerle over the summer months, city council voted to censure Moore. Council member Michael Ruscher, who is resigning from council, did not vote. Moore voted against, and all four remaining members voted for the censure.

Censure is a public statement of disapproval. It does not affect Moore's ability to participate in council discussion or decisions.

City officials issued a resolution condemning Moore's behavior. This action completes the city's involvement in the case. Further personal litigation between Moore and Beasley may occur.

The city resolution outlined the events of the December holiday party and the charges against Moore. The remainder of the resolution read in part:

 "...The Cold Spring City Council believes that council member Moore approached Darryl Beasley with insensitive motivations not indicative of the values shared by members of the Cold Spring City Council.

"... this Resolution is adopted to Censure Councilmember Cindy Moore for her conduct, to serve as an action by City Council to Darryl Beasley and seek to establish standards of civility for members of the Cold Spring City Council.

"...Be it resolved by the city of Cold Spring, county of Campbell, commonwealth of Kentucky that the Cold Spring City Council, adopts this Resolution and Censures Councilmember Cindy Moore for her actions..."

"The Cold Spring City Council expresses its apology to Darryl Beasley and that the insensitive actions of Councilmember Cindy Moore are not indicative and/or reflective of the beliefs of the Cold Spring City Council and residents of Cold Spring."

Moore's response

When asked for comment, Moore denied the claims against her and said, "The Cold Spring City Council decided last night to appease a meritless threat of litigation by censuring me for an allegedly "insensitive" two minute encounter. This decision advanced certain city office holders’ political agenda of tarnishing my reputation, even though it meant wasting $5,000 of taxpayers’ money."

Moore said she made a decision to participate in the censure vote. "By law, I am not required to recuse myself on such a vote. I would not want my failure to oppose the Council's unjustified action to be perceived as agreement with that action," she explained.

The mayor's statement

In response to the decision to censure Moore, Mayor D. Angelo Penque issued the following statement. 

“Last night in an effort to move the city forward, as well as make a public statement regarding the morals and values of the city of Cold Spring and it’s residents, the Cold Spring City Council censured Councilmember Cindy Moore for her insensitive comments directly towards a valuable member to the city of Cold Spring, Darryl Beasley. 

"Upon receipt of the complaint, numerous Cold Spring employees were contacted and collaborated Mr. Beasely’s complaint, including providing background regarding Councilmember Moore’s motivations. While Councilmember Moore denies her conduct was racially motivated, the facts establish the following. Councilmember Moore repeatedly followed and harassed city employees regarding the Inmate Work Program. That Councilmember Moore operates a private Facebook Group where she seeks to distort the truth and engage in reckless and false disparagement of people. 

"That I believe, as the members of the city staff do, that Councilmember Moore approached Mr. Beasley because she was trying to identify who the inmate workers were at the Christmas Party and approached Mr. Beasley based on the color of skin. The actions of City Council were unanimous, except for Councilmember Moore who voted no regarding her censure. 

"I concur with both the action of Council, as well as their confirmation regarding the conduct of Councilmember Moore. 

"Cold Spring is a welcoming community, that graciously accepted my wife and me when we moved here. Councilmember’s Moore’s actions are not representative of the city of Cold Spring." 

Moore, who is serving her first term on council, is up for re-election in November. 

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