News in Brief

Clerk sues governor over gay marriage directive

ASHLAND (AP) — The Kentucky clerk sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has filed a lawsuit against the governor, claiming he violated her religious freedom by telling all clerks that they must either issue licenses or resign.

On June 26, the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay marriage bans unconstitutional, Gov. Steve Beshear directed the state’s 120 county clerks to comply and begin issuing licenses to all couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis filed the lawsuit against Beshear Tuesday, alleging that the directive violated her “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Davis refused to issue licenses, and four couples sued her last month. The lawsuit filed by the conservative firm Liberty Counsel on her behalf says that the governor should be liable for the couples’ claims against Davis and accommodate her faith.


Lawsuit accuses abuse, sleeping by 911 dispatchers

BURLINGTON (AP) — Two Boone County emergency dispatch workers have filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the county, accusing a supervisor and co-worker of using abusive language to minority callers and sleeping on duty.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports that Kelly Preston and Jeanne Fleek say they were mistreated, told to stop reporting the behavior and suspended after complaining about the unidentified dispatchers.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday, says a supervisor fell asleep on the job several times and racially harassed both callers and Fleek, a Native American.

The lawsuit is against the Boone County Fiscal Court, which pays for and manages the dispatch center. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and any improper disciplinary marks to be removed from their personnel files.

Boone County dispatch officials did not immediately return the newspaper’s calls for comment.


Shackling video ignites debate on school discipline

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The boy sat in a chair, the sound of his whimpering interrupted briefly by the clank of metal handcuffs closing around his arms.

“You don’t get to swing at me like that,” a deputy says to the 8-year-old child, the interaction caught by a video camera. “You can do what we asked you to, or you can suffer the consequences.”

The video — entered as Exhibit A in a lawsuit the ACLU filed against the school, the sheriff and the officer — rocketed across the Internet on Tuesday and was shown again and again on cable news, reigniting a fierce debate over aggressive policing in public schools.

The sheriff defended his deputy while experts insisted that children shouldn’t be treated like adult criminals and bemoaned the lack of standardized regulations for restraining children.

“It was hard to breathe,” David Shapiro, who leads the National Juvenile Defender Center’s campaign against child shackling, said of his reaction when he first saw the video. “As someone who has acted out in class before, I really felt for that child. That’s not the way to treat any child, in school, in court, or anywhere.”

“Oh my goodness. Oh, no, this is not good,” groaned Steven C. Teske, a Georgia juvenile court judge who has led the charge to reduce restraints in schools, as he watched the video for the first time while on the phone with The Associated Press.


In Ky., local governments test limits of labor laws

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The battle over whether a company can force its workers to pay union dues landed in a Kentucky federal courthouse Tuesday as a handful of labor unions sought to persuade a judge to throw out a series of local laws designed to end closed shops.

States have had the ability to outlaw mandatory union dues as a condition of employment for decades. Twenty-five states have passed so-called “right-to-work” laws while the rest, such as Kentucky, have had political battles raging for years. In Kentucky, after the state’s largest city passed a law increasing the local minimum wage, at least 12 counties in the western part of the state passed local right-to-work laws.

The local laws prompted a lawsuit from a band of labor unions, making Kentucky the center of a legal battle that could impact hundreds of thousands of workers.

“There is no legal answer right now. Whichever legal argument prevails will be making new law,” said Jenny Oldham, the elected county attorney for Hardin County whose local right-to-work law is being challenged in federal court.

Labor unions say the issue has already been settled by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The court overturned Shelbyville’s local right-to-work law in 1965. But Hardin County’s attorneys argued that ruling came before the Kentucky state legislature enacted a home rule law, delegating some powers to local governments that up until then had been reserved for the state.

“I just cannot believe … that in 1947 Congress intended to allow every county in the country … to enact their own right-to-work law,” said Irwin Cutler, a Louisville attorney representing the labor unions. He argued that a hodgepodge of labor laws at the local level across a state would create regulatory chaos.


8 cities win open-data contest from ex-NYC mayor Bloomberg

NEW YORK (AP) — Jackson, Mississippi, and Mesa, Arizona, aim to make troves of data about city operations available online for the first time. Tulsa, Oklahoma, plans to make its data releases more useful for the public. Seattle wants to use contract data to help ensure vendors deliver on their promises.

They’re among the first eight winners, set to be announced Wednesday, in a $42 million, 100-city data-use contest sponsored by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation. Winners so far also include Chattanooga, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and New Orleans.

Winners of the “What Works Cities” competition get expert help to make data publicly accessible, incorporate it better into decision-making and evaluate programs.

“Making better use of data is one of the best opportunities cities have to solve problems and deliver better results for their citizens,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Unveiled in April, “What Works Cities” is the latest in a series of Bloomberg Philanthropies competitions promoting innovation in city government. It’s open to U.S. cities of 100,000 to 1 million people. Over 110 have applied so far, and applications are still being taken. More winners will be chosen through 2017.

The New York-based foundation said it doesn’t break down what percentage of the $42 million total goes to each city.


Attorney to revisit county’s dog ordinance following attack

STANFORD (AP) — Lincoln County attorney says he plans to revisit the county’s dog ordinance after seven Presa Canario dogs managed to escape their kennels and attack a 46-year-old woman.

The Advocate-Messenger reports that Daryl Day said he wants to take action to avoid a similar incident from occurring.

Day plans to propose changes to the county’s current dog ordinance that would require kennels to be better maintained, stricter licenses for kennels and inspections by animal control and law enforcement to keep kennels up to standard, particularly for breeds of dogs known to be large and aggressive.

Police say Loretta Stevens sustained severe injuries after being mauled by the dogs on July 27. The owner of the dogs, Chris Pope, has been charged with harboring vicious animals and animal cruelty.


Board of Education to review commissioner candidates

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Board of Education is meeting for its annual retreat and plans to review candidates for a new state education commissioner and discuss appointment of an interim commissioner.

The board meets Wednesday morning in Frankfort. The Education Department said in a news release the board plans to spend much of the morning in closed session with the firm hired to conduct the search for a new commissioner.

Commissioner Terry Holliday is retiring Aug. 31.

After returning to open session, action on an interim commissioner will be considered.

The board’s regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

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