Press Release: Kentucky State Senate Passes House Bill 189

Legislation Assures the Integrity of a Community’s Vote On a Plan for Unified Government

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (March 27, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Kentucky State Senate passed House Bill 189 by a vote of 36 – 0. House Bill 189, which was introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown), and was supported by State Sen. Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown) was passed earlier by the House of Representatives by a vote of 93 – 0. The language of House Bill 190, which had been previously introduced by Rep. Lee was rolled into the broader HB 189 which includes provisions pertaining to both unified government and charter government.

HB 189 was supported by Hardin County United and the Kentucky League of Cities.

Following-up on concerns initially expressed by several local elected officials, HCU pledged to work with the General Assembly to both clarify and strengthen existing statutory language pertaining to how a county can unify with one or more cities located within the county. Highlights of HB 189 include:

HB 189 strengthens the language and gives voters considering a plan of unified government the assurance that the integrity of their vote will be respected; if a majority of a city’s voters vote NO, then that city remains a free-standing city as before, even if the other cities’ voters vote to unify

HB 189 also specifies that the majority of voters in the unincorporated area of a county must also vote YES in order for merger to occur

HB 189 also calls for merger to occur only when the county and the largest city in the county agree to merger, or, the county and a combination of cities which represent at least 50% of the municipal population agree to merger

HB 189 provides protection for ALL voters

“I am pleased that the General Assembly agreed with our position on the need to strengthen and clarify the language,” said State Sen. Dennis Parrett. “HB 189 achieves all of the goals that we set at the beginning of the session on this issue. Voters can rest assured that if they are asked to consider and vote on a proposed plan of unified government that the wishes of the majority of voters in their community will be respected, regardless of the overall outcome,” said Parrett.

“Hardin County is growing and this legislation provides a path forward for the community to enter into a careful and deliberate dialogue about the potential benefits that unified government might provide,” said State Rep. Jimmie Lee.

“Each legislator that I met with on this issue quickly understood the need and the importance of protecting the integrity of any vote which might occur on unified government, not only in Hardin County, but throughout the Commonwealth,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and consultant to HCU. “This legislation will have a positive impact across Kentucky,” said Schmidt.

Speaking for Hardin County United’s Governance Subcommittee, Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard thanked legislators for their leadership on this issue, “In addition to Rep. Lee and Sen. Parrett, HCU appreciates the support of Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), Rep. Jeff Greer (D-Brandenburg), Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington), and, Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon).”

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Proposal Would Clarify Merged Government

The Associated Press
Posted: 1:43pm on Mar 21, 2012; Modified: 1:48pm on Mar 21, 2012

FRANKFORT, KY. — The question that comes up in discussions about the merger of city and county governments is, “How would it work?” The Senate State and Local Government Committee has passed a bill that would attempt to answer that question.

Rep. Jimmie Lee and Sen. Dennis Parrett, both Elizabethtown Democrats, brought the bill before the committee Wednesday, where it was unanimously approved. They said it was prompted by discussions in Hardin County about possible merger of local governments.

Lee explained that the bill would clarify how the process would occur. Parrett said the question would ultimately be left to residents. If, for example, a city council voted to join a merged government, but the residents voted against it in a referendum, it would fail.

The legislation is House Bill 189.

Luke Schmidt Interviews with WFPL

Hardin County Merger Proponents Say New Bill Should Ease Residents’ Concerns

This article originally appeared on WFPL.org

Proponents of a merged government in Hardin County hope to put the issue on the ballot this year.

Advocates say combining Elizabethtown, Vine Grove and Radcliffe with Hardin County’s unincorporated areas and other cities would be a boon to economic development. The governments can merge under the same state law that allowed Lexington and Fayette County to consolidate in 1974. (The law that allowed the Louisville-Jefferson County merger applies only to first class cities.)

But, to assuage any concerns from residents, merger proponents are championing legislation in Frankfort that would allow individual cities to opt out of the merger if a majority of residents oppose consolidation. If that happens, the cities would seemingly either fall under the governance of an entity they opposed or exist without a county. Before the public can vote on the matter, officials will have to figure out how an independent city would interact with the merged government that surrounds it.

“At this point, it’s kind of hard to say exactly,” says Hardin County United spokesman Luke Schmidt. “For example, how would emergency medical services be provided? Today, county government provides emergency medical service throughout the county.”

Schmidt says the merger agreement should spell out any questions about independent cities.

“We’d like to have it on the ballot this November,” he says. “This being a presidential election, we’ll have a high turnout of voters to begin with and we think that’s important. But we want to do the plan the right way. If that requires more time and we can’t make it, we’ll push it to the next election.”

He expects the document to be finalized in time to have it on the ballot in November, but says there’s no official deadline, and the vote could happen in a following year.

Press Release: Kentucky House of Representatives Passes House Bill 190

Vote of 94 – 0 Indicates Broad Support for Measure to Strengthen Unified Government Statute

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (January 18, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today recognized the action taken by the Kentucky House of Representatives in passing House Bill 190 by a vote of 94 – 0. HB 190 was introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown) and is co-sponsored by State Representatives Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), and Arnold Simpson (D-Covington).

“I am pleased to report to the citizens of Hardin County who have been following the issue of unified government that their concerns about how an individual city’s citizens’ vote on a unified government plan will be treated have been heard loud and clear by the House of Representative,” said State Representative Jimmie Lee. “Voters can rest assured that HB 190 clearly states that if the majority of a city’s voters vote no on a plan for unified government, then that city will remain free-standing, even if other jurisdictions should vote yes for the plan,” said Lee.

“Passage of HB 190 by the House of Representatives represents another major step forward in HCU’s initiative to bring a plan on unified government to the citizens of Hardin County,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “HCU is following up on its commitment to address this issue,” said Schmidt.

“HCU appreciates the leadership that our Hardin County legislative delegation is bringing to this issue,” said Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, Chair of HCU’s Governance Subcommittee. “We look forward to turning our attention to the Kentucky State Senate in moving this issue through to final passage” said Howard.

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Press Release: Legislation Introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly to Assure the Integrity of a Community’s Vote on Unified Government

House Bill 190 and Senate Bill 78 Seek to Assure Communities that the Votes of their Citizens will Count When it Comes to Determining Final Participation in a Unified Government Plan

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (January 6, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that legislation has been filed in both the Kentucky State House of Representatives and the Kentucky State Senate. The companion bills – House Bill 190, introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown) and State Representative Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), and, Senate Bill 78, introduced by Senator Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown) – are designed to affirm the intent of the majority of voters participating in a community-wide referendum on unified government.

HCU launched its unified government initiative on August 4, 2011. The process, as specified under existing state law, first requires county government along with city governments that wish to participate in the process to pass an ordinance which creates the Unification Review Commission. The Commission, once established, will include between 20 and 40 citizens appointed by the various participating governments. It is the Commission’s responsibility to develop a plan for unified government which will include county government and the participating municipal governments. Once the plan has been completed, it is to be submitted to the voters in the participating jurisdictions for review and approval.

As HCU presented its findings to the community on the potential benefits of unified government, concern was expressed by several elected officials about how an individual community’s vote on unified government would be handled in relation to the votes in the other jurisdictions. In other words, and, hypothetically speaking, if voters in the county and say five of the six Hardin County cities voted to unify, what would happen to the city who’s voters voted not to unify?

“Hardin County United has been clear from the beginning that the intent of the majority of a community’s voters must be respected,” said Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, Chairperson of HCU’s Governance Subcommittee. “If a majority of voters in a given city vote no on unification, even though the other jurisdictions vote yes on unification, then it is our view that the community that voted no should be allowed to remain a free-standing community.”

“Existing state law is not as clear as it needs to be on this issue,” said State Representative Jimmie Lee. “The intent of our bill is to clear up any ambiguity that exists in order to provide voters in a given community complete assurance that the majority view on unified government as expressed by the voters in that community will be upheld.”

House Bill 190 and Senate Bill 78 were introduced during the first week of the Regular Session which convened in Frankfort on January 3, 2012. “This is an important next step in HCU’s initiative to bring a plan of unified government to the voters of Hardin County and its cities,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “Many good questions have been raised by citizens during our 25+ community presentations on this issue. Most of these questions can’t be answered until the Unification Review Commission is appointed and it drafts its plan, which will be submitted to the voters for their careful review and consideration.”

“I have consulted with local elected officials and believe that new legislation is necessary to clarify existing statutes.  With the passage of this bill, any city council that chooses to approve the establishment of a Unification Review Commission can do so with the confidence that the voters in their respective community will have the final say as to whether they participate in a unified government,” said Representative Tim Moore.  “City Councils will have the authority to allow participation.  And, if the unification process is initiated by their locally elected officials, the majority of voters in a given community will determine the outcome for each community.”

“I look forward to raising this important issue with my colleagues in the Senate,” said State Senator Dennis Parrett. “Voters voting on a plan of unified government need to feel confident that their community’s wishes on the issue will be respected – passage of Senate Bill 78 will make this happen.”

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to unifying local government in Hardin County, including:

1. The attainment of a new level of clout as Kentucky’s third largest community that will assist the entire community in the creation of new jobs,

2. The ability for the community to speak with one voice and more efficiently target grants and appropriations which will benefit the entire community while improving the community’s standing and stature in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.,

3. Streamlined government which will result in the more efficient delivery of government services to all citizens, and,

4. The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars).

“We view this as positive legislation,” said Schmidt. “This legislation impacts only those communities in Kentucky that are considering unified government and there is no fiscal impact on the Commonwealth – meaning no new taxes will be required in order to implement this legislation.”

More information on HCU’s unified government initiative can be found by visiting HCU’s Web site: www.hardincountyunited.com.

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Press Release: Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation Endorses the Establishment of the Unification Review Commission

Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation Endorses the Establishment of the Unification Review Commission

EIF is the Fifth Organization to Opt to Learn More about Unified Government

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (November 23, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation Board of Directors recently voted to endorse the establishment of the Unification Review Commission. The Foundation is the fifth organization in Hardin County to step forward and state its support for the development of the Commission.

“HCU is pleased to have the support of the Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, and consultant to HCU. “The Foundation recognizes the value that the Commission brings to the table regarding the development of a comprehensive plan that can be presented to the voters concerning how unified government might work in Hardin County,” said Schmidt.

Under Kentucky law, local governments can unify under the Unified Local Government concept by combining county government with one or more participating city governments. Participation is optional and in order for a local government entity to potentially participate in unified government it must first pass an ordinance which establishes a Unification Review Commission.

Once established, the Commission, which will consist of between 20 and 40 citizens appointed by the participating government bodies, will draft a unified government plan which will be presented to the voters for final approval. Passage of the ordinance does not in itself create merger, nor does it mean that any city council, or fiscal court, is approving merger.

“Hardin County has always been one of the most progressive communities in Kentucky,” said Ken Howard, HCU Governance Subcommittee Chairperson. “HCU appreciates the recognition on the part of the Foundation’s Board of Directors that it is important for the community to take the next step to actually develop a plan which will detail how unified government might be structured in the community. Only then will we know the answers to the many good questions which have been raised about this issue,” said Howard.

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to be gained by unifying local governments, including:

1. The attainment of a new level of clout that will assist the entire community with economic development, the creation of new jobs and which will create Kentucky’s third largest community,

2. The ability for the community to speak with one voice and more efficiently target grants and appropriations which will benefit the entire community while improving the community’s standing and stature in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.,

3. Streamlined government which will result in the more efficient delivery of government services to all citizens, and,

4. The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars)

The Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation joins the Hardin County Library Board of Trustees, the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Cecilia Ruritan Club and the Glendale Lions Club in calling for the creation of the Commission. Interested citizens can learn more about unified government and its benefits by visiting the HCU Web site: www.hardincountyunited.com.

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Kentucky Enquirer: NKY forum focuses on merging gov’t services

The following article by Scott Wartman appeared in the Kentucky Enquirer on October 11, 2011. The full, online version can be seen here: nky.cincinnati.com/article/AB/20111011/NEWS0103/110120339/NKY-forum-focuses-merging-gov-t-services?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

COVINGTON, KY – In 1872, Covington and Newport considered merging.

That’s the first newspaper reference to local government mergers in Northern Kentucky, according to Northern Kentucky University history professor Paul Tenkotte.

Most cities have opted to remain independent – Campbell County has 15 cities and Kenton has 18 – but the idea of consolidation never left the minds of local leaders.

Tenkotte and other experts at a forum Tuesday night at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center discussed the economic benefits and challenges of merging governments and services. Some said other areas, such as Louisville, gained economic development advantages by consolidating governments.

The answer to why Northern Kentucky has so many cities lies with the Great Depression and World War II, Tenkotte said.

The leaders of many Kenton County suburban cities in the 1920s, such as Fort Mitchell and Park Hills, envisioned being annexed by Covington, he said. But the Works Progress Administration in the Great Depression built infrastructure in these cities, and the World War II generation’s volunteerism sustained the small cities.

“The WPA … provided funds on a cost-sharing basis to build city buildings, school sidewalks, sewers, water treatment plants, you name it, and the suburbs took advantage of that and got great infrastructure built,” Tenkotte said. “So then we go into World War II. After World War II, the suburbs can take advantage of what Tom Brokaw and others called the Greatest Generation, a generation that was very involved with civic engagement … and they looked and said we don’t need Covington anymore.”

Rising pension costs for cities has many looking at ways to save money. That might mean the merging of services, Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier said.

“If something drastic doesn’t happen with that pension system, we’re going to have to look at least at the consolidation of services,” Meier said. “That’s one of the things our city has done. We don’t have our own fire department. We contract that out. We contract the police department. I think you will find that in a lot of places going forward.”

The consolidation of city and county governments doesn’t happen often in the United States, Suzanne Leland, a political science professor with the Urban Institute of the University of North Carolina, told the audience Tuesday night.

Only 40 city-county consolidated governments exist in the United States, she said, including Lexington and Louisville. When they get proposed, 85 percent get defeated at the ballot box, Leland said.

Most city-county mergers happen with areas that have a populations of 100,000-300,000, she said, and succeeded when the campaign stressed the economic development value over the government efficiency, Leland said.

The forum Tuesday night featured people who worked elsewhere in the state on consolidation.

Some leaders in Hardin County, which has a population of 105,000, have proposed consolidating the government of the county and the cities, which includes Elizabethtown and five other municipal governments.

In addition to less duplication, the merging of governments would give Hardin County more clout, said Luke Schmidt, a consultant who is working on the proposed Hardin County consolidation. A unified government in Hardin County would make it the third-largest city in the state.

“Because of that, economic development will be more focused – more singularly focused – and we expect good job creation to come from that,” Schmidt said.

The News-Enterprise: HCU plan pitched at chamber luncheon meeting

Speaker says listeners are open-minded

The following article by Amber Coulter appeared in The News-Enterprise on October 13, 2011. You can see the full, online version here: www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/hcu-plan-pitched-chamber-luncheon-meeting

Ken Howard learns more about what residents think about unified government and what it might look like every time he speaks to a civic organization.

Howard, circuit judge and Hardin County United’s governance committee chairman, addressed a Hardin County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown. He talked to members about potential advantages of unification and reasons to support creation of a commission that would further explore the issue. Howard said the best ideas related to unification tend to come from people offering ideas in small group settings.

“I know that we have not thought of all the good ideas yet,” he said.

The most consistent sentiment Howard hears when he discusses potential advantages of a unified government with residents is that it’s an interesting idea, maybe a good idea, but it never will be put into place.

Howard tells them that the idea could become a reality if enough people support it.

Most people are open-minded about the idea of unification and are willing to listen and think about it, he said.
For now, the goal of Hardin County United is to gain approval for creation of a commission that would draft a plan for how a unified government would operate.

The commission would consist of 20 to 40 residents appointed by participating governmental organizations and provide voters with a better idea of how unification would impact the area. Howard said people often say there should be more information available about unification.

“They’re exactly right,” he said. “We need more information.”

Howard said the trouble is that he and others who support creating a commission can’t give many details about the impact of unification because it’s impossible to know what plan the commission would draft.

The commission would not enact unification and being part of a commission wouldn’t be a sign that a participating organization supports unification, he said.

Enacting the change would require a vote, and state legislation is planned to make sure that a city would only be part of a unified government if that city’s residents approve the measure.

Unification isn’t an issue of governmental entities performing badly, Howard said.

“Our current government is at least good,” he said.

Howard said it’s important to make sure residents periodically evaluate whether their governmental entities are the most effective they can be or whether they continue to operate the way they do because that’s how things have always been done.

“Do we want to think about, do we want to know about, do we want to decide about our own government,” he said.

Potential advantages include showing off the area’s population to make it more attractive for businesses, Howard said. What businesses now see as Elizabethtown, the state’s 11th-largest town, and Radcliff, the 17th-largest, would join with other parts of the county to become the third-largest community in the state, he said

Already, about 85,000 Hardin County residents live in the same geographic area as Bowling Green’s estimated 54,000 residents, he said.

“The reality is that we do not have two populations,” he said. “We have one population.”

Unification also would give the area one large voice and increase how often state and national officials consider Hardin County in their plans, Howard said.

“What would our community look like if we worked well together on every project, not just the large projects?” he asked.

Howard doesn’t know how likely it is that a commission will be approved. He encourages residents to let officials know what they think about the idea of forming a commission.

The News-Enterprise: Motion to opt out of unification fails in Vine Grove

The following article by Amber Coulter appeared in The News-Enterprise on October 5, 2011. You can read the full, online version here: www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/motion-opt-out-unification-fails-vine-grove.

Vine Grove City Councilman Garry McCoy proposed drafting a resolution to opt out of the unification process during Monday night’s city council meeting. Mayor Blake Proffitt had asked if any council members had comments to make before adjourning.

“People have come to me, and I told them I’d listen to them and I hear what they’re saying, and I felt compelled to make a motion,” he said.

None of the other five council members seconded the motion and it didn’t go to a vote.

Councilwoman Donna Spangenberger told McCoy she thinks other council members feel the same way about unification he does, but they want more information.

Opting out now means that Vine Grove loses the option for good, she said.

Councilwoman Donna Betson said she doesn’t support unification, but wants to give promoters a chance to answer questions about it.

“I really hesitate to do it right now,” she said. “I feel there needs to be more discussion.”

Betson said it’s too soon to firmly decide against participating in the process.

“There are way too many questions to join right now,” she said.

Proffitt said he wants to know how much forming a commission to draft a plan for unification would cost Vine Grove.
He also wants a state law that is in the works to be passed before the city seriously considers unification. The law would ensure a county vote couldn’t include Vine Grove in a unified government if city residents vote against unification.

McCoy, who has voiced opposition to unification during two previous meetings, said he thought he had to make the motion on behalf of constituents who have told him that they oppose unification.

“I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere,” he said.

Proffitt laughed and said, “I didn’t.”

Carl Swope Column: Leadership Required for Unification Decision

The following guest column from Carl Swope appeared in The News-Enterprise on September 20, 2011. You can view the full, online version here: www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/leadership-required-unification-decision

Carl Swope News Enterprise Column hardin county government unification review commissionShould Hardin County and the cities within merge their governments? I wish I knew the answer to that question. In some ways, I also wish I could ignore that question; but today there are compelling reasons why it is important for all of us who live here to answer it and to get it right.

Change is taking place throughout our region. More and more, industry is looking to the Midwest for expansion because of the available workforce, the price and availability of energy, and our central location to population centers across the country. Locally, BRAC has brought significant changes to our population and demographics. These changes are happening whether we recognize and engage in them or not.

I know from my experience in business that change is difficult no matter how large or small. I also know that, despite the difficulty of change, ignoring the need to change can be disastrous. If you would like examples of what I mean, visit the Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum. There are many beautiful examples of vintage car brands that no longer exist in the market. The companies that built them ignored what was happening around them and became chapters in history rather than staying relevant. There are other brands in our museum that kept up with the changing world, and the cars they build today are for sale in our showrooms.

Getting the unification question right will take leadership. When faced with difficult decisions, good leaders don’t allow emotion and nostalgic tendencies to cloud the facts and the situation before them. In many cases, especially when the issues are fundamental and will have profound implications, good leaders will bring in consultants to help them assess and decide.

In 2006, Bill Ford, grandson of Henry Ford, was leading the Ford Motor Company as president and CEO. He knew Ford was at risk. The world was changing. The Ford Motor Company was not changing with it and become irrelevant. After gathering all the facts, fully assessing the situation and exploring options, Bill Ford came to the conclusion that he was not the right guy to make the necessary changes; so he brought in Alan Mulally to run the company.

What a difficult decision that must have been. What leadership it took for a man whose name was on the building to step aside and recognize the need for change. I have deep respect for Bill Ford and his leadership.

I believe he saved the Ford Motor Company and in so doing, protected thousands of jobs in our region and perpetuated the Ford name for the future.

I call on my city council representatives, mayors, magistrates and the county judge to be the same kind of leaders as Bill Ford. We have a very important question to answer; and it can only be answered correctly if we gather the facts, push emotions and nostalgic feelings to the side, and fully trust the democratic process.

~~

Carl L. Swope of Elizabethtown is president of the Swope Family of Dealerships.