Mr. Lee Hillman last week pronounced himself to be “distressed” at my concerns recently aired in this paper regarding the Perry County ambulance service. Well-spoken by Mr. Hillman, and I would gamble significant levels of stress.
In my letter, addressing our state legislators, I pointed out the need for legislation prohibiting the appointment of county employees to boards of county governmental agencies for the reason that such appointments put employees in potentially compromising situations, jeopardizing their continued employment in the event of votes or positions taken that displease the employer, in this case, Judge Noble.
Mr. Hillman is a classic case in point. He did indicate that he is a county employee. He did not reveal that he recently, voluntarily or otherwise, accepted an appointment to the ambulance service board of directors, one of the two positions filled by Judge Noble when former Deputy Judge Derrick Bowling and Stewart Fugate were not reappointed. Both have expressed concerns regarding the Tahoe driven by Assistant Director Wanda Noble.
Derrick Bowling, according to him, found himself in a hostile environment and recently departed the judge’s office — another classic demonstration of why employees should not sit on those boards. Mr. Hillman speaks rather authoritatively on the ambulance service topic in spite of the fact that his appointment is so recent that he has yet to attend a meeting of the board. In fact, in spite of by-laws requiring quarterly meetings publicly announced in advance, the board meets sporadically and rarely. Let us wish Mr. Hillman a long and successful career as a member of the board, good job security, and many restful nights on his pillow.
Mr. Hillman also opines that I offer criticism on “school superintendent, school overall operations, and more things than most of us can remember, filing for office, withdrawing and filing again along with disrupting board meetings, etc. Mr. Campbell spends too much time criticizing… “
To Mr. Hillman, I would respond that I am just one parent, grandparent, retired school employee, businessman taxpayer whose tax bills paid last year realistically probably exceeded his annual income as a county employee. For some years I have been a very vocal critic of the leadership of Perry County Schools. During that time we have seen student achievement literally bottom out, a test-cheating scandal unmatched in the annals of Kentucky history, our major high school go under state management, principal evicted, central office personnel declared incompetent, and feeder elementary schools go on notice that incoming secondary students are so unprepared that catching up for many is impossible.
Lloyd Engle and I began to express our concerns for Perry Schools several years ago. At this point many of us know the saga: the superintendent’s continuing contract and exorbitant salary, school board member Chester Jones’ vote-buying imprisonment, Jerry Stacy’s gaining a seat, his defeated effort to abandon post and leave for a fiscal court seat, and John Paul Amis’ subsequent forced resignation for a host of obvious reasons.
Hillman suggests that school problems can be better addressed than standing on a soapbox and “hollering,” which I admit to having done now for several years, and to which I submit the following: Lloyd Engle and I were in attendance at many board meetings in the face of threats, hostility, ridicule, and attempted evictions. Many weekend nights I spent preparing to meet this editor’s Monday morning deadline. I did indeed file for a school board seat very early, withdraw, and refile with the understanding with Jerry Stacy and the entire board that I would occupy his seat in January if Amis were still there, or if he left with his $150,000 demand. I withdrew as agreed after Amis was terminated without meeting his money demands. My gratitude to the 444 people who voted for me in my absence from the ballot.
We currently have an interim superintendent and will shortly begin to take applications to fill the seat on a permanent basis with a seasoned, experienced superintendent with a record of accomplishment in academic and administrative leadership. I have no aspirations to be a politician and no need for undue attention. I spent 24.5 years with the children. Evil is evil, whether you abort children, murder them with an AR-15, or willfully condemn them to a life of ignorance, dependence, and general misery. At his departure, former UK athletic director C.M. Newton summed up well: “I tried to leave it better than I found it.”
In closing, to Mr. Hillman, Perry countians have long since made up their minds as to whether I am part of the problem or part of the solution. They will make up their minds about you as well. Your vitriolic diatribe was somehow remindful of a setting hen whose nest has just been threatened. You would have been a much more credible critic had you yourself not been a county employee and a recent appointee to the ambulance service board. The one remaining question: Will you use your voice on the board to push for much-needed corrections and clean-up, or for continuing job security for yourself?
Eddie N. Campbell,
Lost Creek, Ky.