News from June 24, 2003 issue

Kirk suspended from state police
Robbie Kirk, the Democratic candidate for Crittenden County judge-executive, has been suspended from his job with the Kentucky State Police.

Cpt. Brad Bates, a spokesman for the Kentucky State Police, said that Kirk was suspended with pay on June 16, pending an internal investigation. Bates would not disclose the nature of the investigation; however, Kirk said Monday that his suspension was because of his candidacy for judge-executive.

"I don't think it will hurt (my campaign) in the long run. If anything, I think it will help me," Kirk said Tuesday after radio stations and newspapers picked up on the story. "It just gives me another month to campaign."
Kirk, a 16-year veteran of the state police, is assigned to the West Drug Enforcement Branch in Bowling Green as a detective. He also spent several years as a road trooper.

After the Democratic Executive Committee selected Kirk to be the party's candidate for a special election this fall, Kirk filed papers May 24 at the Crittenden County Clerk's office formally signifying his candidacy. According to Kentucky law, state troopers are prohibited from certain aspects of politics while they're active officers.

According to text of law 16.170 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, "No officer of the (state police) department shall take any part in political management or affairs or any political campaign further than to cast his vote and to express privately his opinions. Violations of this provision hereof shall be grounds for removal."

"When I filed to run for office after getting the nomination, I contacted an attorney and we looked at the statute. In our interpretation, merely filing did not violate any kind of KRS," Kirk said.

Although candidates have until August to file for election, Kirk paid his $50 fee and filed four days after the local Democratic party picked him to run.

Kirk said a superior with the state police called him last week and asked if he'd filed to run for political office. Kirk said he told him yes and was put on suspension.

Kirk is seeking the judge-executive position vacated by another former trooper, Pippi Hardin, who accepted a job with the Kentucky Parks Departments in April.

Kirk said the suspension is actually "administrative leave."
Bates, the state police spokesperson, said Kirk is on paid suspension until the internal investigation is complete. He said that generally takes about 30 days, after which time KSP would make public any action that is taken.

Kirk said he was originally going to retire from state police July 31. Now, Kirk said he will retire June 30.

The suspension does not affect Kirk's candidacy for judge-executive, according to the Kentucky Board of Elections office. Kirk will face Republican Fred Brown in the Nov. 2 election.

City looks at scooter laws
Defining a motor scooter and deciding what, if anything more, needs to be done to control their operation in town was addressed by the Marion City Council during its regular monthly meeting Monday.

Introduced for the council's consideration was a set of lengthy revisions to an existing city ordinance. Amendments to the current law would tighten up some alleged loopholes and stiffen the penalty for riding on public roads without the proper license.

The ordinance amendments under consideration by the city council would also put part of the burden on parents to keep their unlicensed children from riding illegally on city streets.

Operating a motorscooter, motorcycle or moped ­ whether it be powered by gasoline, battery or some other device ­ is illegal on city streets unless the driver is at least 16 and has a valid operator's license.
Attorney Zac Greenwell said many of the proposed changes to the local ordinance are already covered under Kentucky Revised Statutes.
"While this ordinance is repetitive, it adds more terminology about defining what a scooter is," he said at Monday night's city council meeting. Greenwell was sitting in for law partner Bart Frazer, who is normally the city's legal counsel.

Among the changes under consideration is beefing up the penalty for violating the scooter laws, including making it a misdemeanor and doubling the fine to $50. Currently, illegal operation of a scooter, under the city ordinance, is considered a traffic violation and not a misdemeanor, which stays on a person's criminal record.

Several council members spoke out about the proposed plan. Janet Pierce, who has a young boy who operates a scooter near the home in Greenwood Heights, questioned the proposed amendments to the ordinances.

"Does this mean my son is going to get fined $100 every time he crosses the street?" she asked.

Councilman Dwight Sherer asked why the law is needed if state law already covers it.

Neither question received a clear answer although Mayor Mickey Alexander said he's been concerned about the speed at which he's witnessed several young boys riding scooters through Marion's downtown streets.

Councilman Allen Lynn said he doesn't think the kids should be completely knocked off their bikes, pointing to one place where the ordinance amendment restricts riding scooters even at the park.

"We don't need to have it where they can't do anything," Lynn said.

The new regulations would require formal approval from the council, a process that generally takes two months.