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Leadership: No bullies or cowards need apply

How many years of failed on-the-job training is too much?

By Jeff Jobe

CEO Jobe Publishing, Inc.


In the world of true managers and strong leaders, it is common thought that through adversity is where the greatest opportunities lie.

We need local officials to understand this and do all they can to encourage cooperation and respect for one another during these difficult times.

True leaders don’t need all the answers or all the credit. Savvy managers understand that the stronger my employees look the better I do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “You know, I don’t know about that, but I can find out.”

We have watched Judge/Executive Micheal Hale move into his seventh year of on-the-job training, and he still can’t seem to grasp the simplest mandates or basic management, motivation, and leadership concepts.

We saw him attempt to politically pressure a position in regards to using property owned by the City of Glasgow. His tone was arrogant and condescending toward other elected officials.

He pushed the city to spend hundreds of thousands – if not millions of dollars – not realizing they are operating at a current $1M shortfall annually. What is unbelievable is that he did this without even having the support of his own magistrates.

Hale is making decisions, never discussing them in open meetings, and pushing magistrates to support whatever he says without a single question. He even attempts to manipulate attendance when critical votes are taken, having votes he knows supports him being told, “You need to come back.”

He has now been exposed to be alone in support of building a downtown city park in association with the federally funded courthouse project. Yet, he doubled down by saying, “People should call Judge Hale if they have issues, not wait until the mics are hot to complain.” Judge Hale additionally stated, “If you don’t call me, then it means you don’t care.”

Tim Coomer, Carl Dickerson, Jeff Botts, and other magistrates felt betrayed when Hale, in an interview with a local radio station, attempted to spin their vote for clarity and transparency of the New Justice Center as being against it altogether.

“We have a small group, mainly spearheaded by a former Judge/Executive who doesn’t want a new judicial center,” Hale told an out-of-town newspaper.

Hale confirmed he was referencing David Dickerson.

“He knows this isn’t true,” Dickerson responded. “I am on the record saying we simply need transparency…I don’t know anyone who isn’t in support of building this judicial center.”

I disagree with Hale. I believe these open meetings are the exact place for discussion to happen. And when it does, we see better government as long as we have access to unedited or trustworthy coverage. It appears Hale is having some of his comments removed from public meetings prior to posting them and does all he can to manipulate media releases.

He released a video in which he states that “low bids” were given to renovate the courthouse, and we find out he ignored the county procurement policy in requesting open fair bidding. This newspaper reported this fact and he shows up at a local coffee shop in some effort to “bully” me in public by attempting to spin an argument in which he said, “quote” not “bid”. I taped the 8 minute and 41-second public belittling, and not only do I have proof he said bids several times, but also Coomer discussed in open meetings that the bids were given to him.

When asked, Coomer said, “This is what I was told by Judge Hale, and I assure you I will make sure anything I say in the future is true.”

Nor was the amount awarded the actual lowest bid, there were lesser amounts provided to renovate the building back to the original architectural footprint, but Hale wanted to cover it in metal and vinyl. Therefore, he took the lowest amount for work he wanted.

Hale chose to rush a redesign of our most prominent historical building in Barren County with no public input or advice from Kentucky’s Historic Preservation Council. If private property owners must adhere to exact renovation standards and comply with historic district guidelines, those same standards should be honored by our elected officials as well.

Hale claims he asked over a year ago to renovate the Courthouse, but the Administrative Offices of the Court (AOC) denied the work. The AOC said no requests had ever been asked, but it seems some door repair had been requested and turned down during the pandemic.

The county itself confirmed that no major request has been made in well over a decade, and never has a request been made for a historical review. But instead of saying, “I messed up,” Hale seems to instead be saying, “It’s not my fault. The AOC made me do it. Not a single magistrate checked to see if what was being shared was accurate, and some have even repeated the spin.

The most recent power grab involves a term called “premium pay.” Hale pushed a plan to give a $5 an hour bonus to county employees who showed up to work during the pandemic.

He said he wanted to get this done early because, “I know other judges are doing this already.” When asked to identify those individuals, Hale said, “Maybe Warren County, but I don’t know the amount.”

When asked to explain his push for more than $36,000 while Warren County only gave $5,000 Hale said, “Because I care more about our employees than they do.”

Hale’s initial plan came very close to issuing one-time payouts far in excess of what the federal regulations permitted, of which was only reported in this newspaper. This move would have placed this county’s full $8M in jeopardy.

My quiet attempt to bring these concerns to the attention of Hale was greeted with open disrespect and accusing me personally of politics.

“Everyone knows you are only doing this because I am a Democrat,” Hale said to me.

He was so determined to push this through as presented that he attempted to rally county employees to swarm the Fiscal Court chambers during the vote to support his plan. When asked about this, he said, “The sheriff’s people, the jailer’s people, and Helena’s people don’t work for me, but I did tell my people if they want to clock out, take lunch, or even use a vacation hour to come show support, I would be okay with it.”

Magistrates Carl Dickerson, Tim Coomer, Trent Riddle, and Kenneth Sartin took the reins from Hale and coordinated a new premium pay plan compliant with federal regulations and saved our county $1M.

I’m pleased when any family in Barren County has an opportunity to receive a bonus or recommendation for the work they perform. And whether it is the $6,500 amount quietly approved for Glasgow city employees or the $9,900 negotiated amount for county employees, I support our government workers getting a bonus.

My biggest concern has always been this: Why is it we aren’t hearing our elected officials discuss the fact that this money has guidelines specifically saying it could be used to feed hungry people, help low-income people, unemployed people, assist non-profits, offset small business losses, improve internet access, expand water-lines, or establish community projects to help any of the above?

We need leadership who will pull us together, not mislead or bully. We need leadership strong enough to demand truth, admit their mistakes, and put the community’s needs above political posturing.

If elections were held today, I would seriously consider voting for a new magistrate, all new Council members, a new Mayor, and a new Judge/Executive.

Fortunately, Election Day is a year out, and it is possible my magistrate will start doing his job instead of worrying about losing customers. It is possible some of our Council members will stand their ground and not allow a few big mouths to get their way if the city can’t afford it. It is possible Mayor Harold Armstrong will tell Hale to stay in his own lane, and there is even a slim chance Judge/Executive Micheal Hale’s eighth year of on-the-job training will be the one that sinks in.

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