Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces Members of Blue Ribbon Task Force to Review Kentucky’s Merit System

Press Release Date:  Thursday, July 14, 2005  
Contact Information:  Carla Blanton
Michael Goins
Jodi Whitaker

FRANKFORT, Ky.- Governor Ernie Fletcher announced today the members of a Blue Ribbon Task Force to review and make recommendations regarding Kentucky’s Merit System.  Erwin Roberts, secretary of the Personnel Cabinet, will chair the 20-member panel. 

“This task force represents my commitment to have strong bipartisan representation examining our merit system,” said Governor Fletcher.  “I applaud their willingness to serve on this task force and charge the members to evaluate past practices, present concerns and future recommendations for Kentucky’s Merit System.”

“It was not entirely evident to most people that the merit system is outdated until recently,” Governor Fletcher added.  “Given that the 1993 report on quality and efficiency commissioned by then Governor Brereton Jones called the merit law “obsolete and ineffective”, it is now apparent that Kentucky’s Merit System is in serious need of substantial changes.”

The members on this task force represent both current and former office holders within state government and members of both the House and Senate.  The task force is made up of 10 Republicans, nine Democrats and one Independent and includes two merit employees and two minorities.

“My experience with the merit system goes back to when it was first established in 1960,” said Fontaine Banks, Jr., former chief of staff to Governors Bert Combs and Ned Breathitt.  “I’m convinced that changes need to be made to Kentucky’s Merit System, and I am honored that Governor Fletcher asked me to serve on this task force.”

“The merit system could be an issue certainly in the House State Government Committee in the 2006 session,” said Representative Mike Cherry, Chairman, House State Government Committee.  “My approach will be looking to see if there are areas in the merit system that we can strengthen and improve, particularly as to protecting the rights of employees.”

Other members of this task force include representatives from the Personnel Board, merit employees and those with backgrounds in law and business.

“I’m flattered and appreciate the invitation by Governor Fletcher to serve and represent the merit employees,” said Karen Neeley, manager, Counseling Branch, Division of Staffing Services with the Personnel Cabinet.  “Hopefully my years of personnel experience within the merit system, specifically in employment counseling, will be of benefit to the task force as we examine ways to possibly improve Kentucky’s Merit System.”

The members of the task force are:

  • Erwin Roberts, secretary, Personnel Cabinet
  • Greg Stumbo, Attorney General
  • Senator Dan Kelly, Senate Majority Floor Leader
  • Representative Mike Cherry, Chairman, House State Government Committee
  • Representative Jeff Hoover, House Minority Floor Leader
  • Senator R. J. Palmer, 28th District
  • Laura Babbage, former president and CEO of Urgent Treatment Centers
  • Fontaine Banks, Jr., former chief of staff for Governors Bert Combs and Ned Breathitt
  • John Y. Brown, III, former Secretary of State
  • Vickie Yates Brown, attorney and secretary, Health Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Tim Coleman, Commonwealth’s Attorney, 38th Judicial District
  • Sarah Hall, assistant general counsel, Commerce Cabinet
  • Todd Hollenbach, IV, member, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
  • Bill Lear, attorney and former five-time state representative
  • Joy Moore, attorney and former member of Personnel Board
  • Barbara Jane Moores, president and CEO, BJM & Associates, Inc.
  • Karen Neeley, manager, Counseling Branch, Division of Staffing Services, Personnel Cabinet
  • Juan Rodriquez, World War II veteran, chapter commander, American Ex-Prisoners of War & professor emeritus, University of Kentucky
  • Jack Smith, member, Personnel Board
  • LaJuana Wilcher, secretary, Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet

Earlier this week, Governor Fletcher announced the formation of the task force to study the state’s personnel system.  During that announcement, Governor Fletcher cited a 1993 study commissioned by then Governor Brereton Jones that identified several problems with the 45-year old merit system.

Governor Fletcher has requested the task force submit a preliminary list of recommendations by Oct. 1, 2005 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2005.