Governor Ernie Fletcher delivered the following statement via teleconference from Asia:
Earlier today, after getting much of the materials regarding the personnel issues, I’ve sent (Chief of Staff) Stan Cave home. We got him on a flight, and he should be there around 3 p.m. today.
In addition, I’ve send out directive that all cabinets cooperate, making sure that they do everything they can to cooperate with any questions or concerns that arise regarding this issue.
First, I do want to make sure everyone recollects and remembers that when we came into office we elected not to have any layoffs and not to fire anyone, even though we were faced with substantial fiscal challenges. And that’s because we had made some commitments to the state workers, and we continue just to make sure that we treat them with the respect that’s due them and within the merit system as it is appropriate.
One thing I will say is that, as I’ve reviewed all of this, it does point out a shortcoming that we’ve had -- that we did not have a formal policy on how to handle the recommendations that come in to the administration.
And after 30 years of Republicans not being in here, we have been flooded with recommendations of folks feeling like in the past they had absolutely no opportunity, and now they did have an opportunity of being part of state government and moving the state forward.
Second, regarding those recommendations, my new policy will be reviewed to make sure that it’s all appropriate, but it will include the provision that all recommendations on merit employees go to the Personnel Cabinet.
The Personnel Cabinet will establish the need to go to each individual cabinet as needed, then go to the personnel departments of each of the cabinets.
Three, the recommendations then will be forwarded based on qualifications, which includes the basic requirements – the ability to do the job, any recommendations on their work ethics, and certainly the visions and values shared by the individuals, which are part of the qualifications.
At that point, lastly, we would expect feedback to those individuals who make those recommendations regarding any appropriateness or inappropriateness of the recommendation based on other issues rather than qualifications.
And always, and I felt like that certainly, the message has always been that we hire based on merit. It’s also important that we have a level playing field, and make sure that we give those who share our vision of moving Kentucky forward an opportunity and chance to participate in state government.
Next, I would encourage anyone who has a complaint – and we’ve had very few complaints in Personnel so far because I think we have tried and attempted to treat everyone fairly. But if there is a sense of mistreatment, they need to report that to the Personnel Board – that’s according to the statutes and policy that have been established, and that’s according to law.
And they need to realize that the Personnel Board is a very capable, very appropriate and led well by individuals who will be objective.
Next, I would still encourage anyone who desires a job to not be intimidated by all of this, whether they’re Republican, Democrat or Independent. And we’ve hired many of all of those categories.
And I would also say to the Republicans who have felt like they’ve been cut out for 30 years, certainly -- and I think clearly if you look at the registration of the employees of state government, you will find out that they probably have been cut out over the last 30 years -- that they should feel like that they have an opportunity and that we have attempted to make a level playing field based within the law of the merit system.
Next, as you all know, I placed a hiring freeze, and I have stressed this to my cabinet that they should only hire new employees if we have a compelling reason to do so. I’m going to reaffirm that. One of the things I realized from reviewing everything, which I’ve done on a regular basis, is clearly we have let that slide somewhat.
Next, it really saddens me to see the focus on (Deputy Chief of Staff) Dick Murgatroyd because I’ve known Dick Murgatroyd for a number of years, and Dick doesn’t have a dishonest or illegal bone in his body.
And I know, in conversations that I had previously, that when he worked, he wanted to make sure -- and in conversations with some individuals whose names are on these emails within the cabinet that were in the administration before -- that he was assured by them that he was working within the rules and regulations of the merit system to make sure that, once all those recommendations came in, wherever they came from, that they hired the people according to the merit system, so I’ll defend Dick on his work. I know him to be a most honorable individual.
One of the things that we are doing -- and that I directed the Lieutenant Governor to do that as well -- is to make sure that everyone knows that we are seeking the unvarnished truth and that we do get it – that people want integrity, and I think we’ve worked very hard to do that. We’ve cleaned up much of state government. Certainly, we’re not perfect. We will make mistakes. And with this we’ll review and we’ll correct any mistakes that we’ve made, and part of that I think is putting together a better policy that makes sure that we do vet these things properly.