Frankfort City Commission Considers Fairness Ordinance

FRANKFORT, KY, – Frankfort City Commissioners are currently considering a Fairness Ordinance similar to ordinances currently in place in Lexington, Berea, and Vicco, Kentucky.

Frankfort Fairness Logo

Pushing the ordinance is Chris Hartman of Louisville’s Fairness Campaign. Sources close to the Bluegrass Conservative reveal that Hartman has been working with the mayor, Bill May, to consider the ordinance. The Fairness Campaign is a state-wide lobbying organization that seeks to “dismantle oppression and build an inclusive community where all individuals are valued and empowered to reach their full potential.” Mayor May has met with Hartman and discussions have continued up until this day.

Implementation of this ordinance sets up for the city a “Human Rights Commission”. Passing this ordinance would establish a board growing the size and scope of the City government.

Passage of the ordinance is problematic, not just from a social standpoint, but from a policy and governmental perspective. It is bad politics, and it’s bad policy. The City Commissioners of Frankfort should not consider this ordinance.

Bad Politics

The purpose of Government is to represent the people of a specified district or entity. Those people vote for representatives to represent them in the various halls of government whether it is in City Hall, Fiscal Court, or higher. The reason why Frankfort is considering a Fairness Ordinance is not because a citizen or a Commissioner has thought it a good solution to a problem that is commonly known in Frankfort.

lobbyist

We are considering a Fairness Ordinance because a person from Louisville and indeed an Organization from Louisville is pushing this ordinance. In fact, when you look at the Fairness website you’ll see that they are also pushing this ordinance in places far away from Louisville like Morehead, Elizabethtown, Shelbyville, and Bowling Green.

Yes, lobbyists are sometimes necessary, but Mayor Bill May, Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Roach, and Commissioners Tommy Haynes, Lynn Bowers, and Katie Flynn-Hedden represent the people of the City of Frankfort. They do not represent Louisville Lobbyists with an agenda. Sadly, the people of Frankfort have been ginned up by Chris Hartman and his Fairness Campaign Associates.

Frankfort Residents man booth by Louisville Organization to push for Frankfort Change

Frankfort Residents man booth by Louisville Organization to push for Frankfort Change

This story would be entirely different if someone within the city asked that such an ordinance be considered, but an out of town lobbyist should not be coming in to Frankfort to change policy. This ordinance is bad politics from the start.

Bad Policy

Despite the fact that the Fairness Ordinance is bad politics, the Fairness Ordinance is bad policy.

First, the ordinance is not needed and is not necessary. To date, Frankfort has not had a real problem with discrimination of homosexuals and transgendered.  One could see that an ordinance would be necessary if there was a consistent problem of our community in terms of landlords discriminating against gay and lesbian citizens and employers discriminating for employment. In fact, the Fairness Campaign’s own studies show that based on the population of Frankfort, we can expect to see one complaint per year. Statistically, one in ten of those complaints will be found to have probable cause for a hearing. Currently, the Fairness Ordinance is a “solution in search of a problem”.

Dollar-tekenSecond, the expenses and costs to implement the ordinance would unnecessarily grow the size of our city government to include a board for a “human rights commission” and for staff to manage the claims that would be made and the bureaucracy that would be needed. When our local governments are strapped for cash to just provide the basic necessities for cities like roads, police, and fire, we should not be focused on human rights commissions and adding to the size of governments. State workers, who make up a significant if not majority of employees in the city, are already protected from discrimination via executive order. Citizens can also bring a complaint before the EEOC.

Third, while the Fairness Ordinance is billed as an inexpensive part of the city’s budget, and that it would only cost on average $3,300 per hearing (Fairness Campaign Study) we know what happens to budgets in government. They increase mightily. The study also concludes that while there are varying amounts every year the city would expect to pay around $1500 per year for upkeep. There is no guarantee that the cost would stay the same. In fact, it would probably grow. Can the city afford to pay the the combined $5,000 a year for the hearings and the administrative costs?

lawsuit

Fourth, while the Fairness Ordinance may seem like a trivial matter for the city’s government it will not be a trivial matter for the many businesses in Frankfort. In Lexington, T-Shirt Printer Hands On Originals is embroiled in a lawsuit for discriminating against a gay and lesbian organization.  Not doing business with them according to the company’s religious beliefs has put them into the “cross-hairs” of a legal battle. Similar scenarios are in play in other parts of the country. These businesses who employ lots of people and pay taxes and produce goods and services are being targeted by these groups unnecessarily. In some cases the resulting court battles and collateral damage from protestors and others cripple the business.  In the case of Elane Photography v. Willock Elane Photography was ordered to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees for refusing to provide photographic services to a lesbian couple in New Mexico.  Studying other cases like Elane Photography and Hands On Originals, it would stand to reason that if a Fairness Ordinance would be passed in Frankfort the city commissioners would be opening up businesses to lawsuits and damages to both companies and individuals. Businesses would also be opened to lawsuits based on employment decisions. The same could go for landlords.

Conclusion

The Fairness Ordinance is bad politically because it’s not representative of the people of Frankfort. Further, the Fairness Ordinance is bad policy, it’s a solution in search of a problem, the costs associated could be spent on necessary things for the city, there is danger in unexpected inflation of budget figures, and most importantly the consequences of opening businesses up to potentially devastating lawsuits and protests should prevent the City Commission from passing the ordinance in Frankfort.

Further, I’d like to know what the Fairness Ordinance specifically want? Finally, if you are a resident of Frankfort, I would ask you to call your city commissioners and tell them why you are against the Fairness Ordinance.

Mayor Bill May:
(502)875-8500
william.may59@gmail.com

Commissioner Robert Roach
(502)545-2965
clefford@aol.com

Commissioner Tommy Haynes
(502)352-2078
thaynes@frankfort.ky.gov

Commissioner Lynn Bowers
(502)352-2160
lbowers@frankfort.ky.gov

Commissioner Katie Flynn-Hedden
(502)320-2565
katieflynnhedden@yahoo.com

Jonathan Gaby is the Editor of Bluegrass Conservative. He has worked in New Hampshire and Kentucky in campaigns at all levels and is the former Vice-Chair of the Franklin County Republican Party. Previously he's been the National Committeeman of the Kentucky Young Republican Federation.