The Richmond City Commission unanimously voted to reduce the number of seats on the city’s Human Rights Board from nine to seven at its Tuesday night meeting.
Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes said the reduction was necessary because maintaining a quorum had become an issue with nine members.
“Seven is a better balance, I think,” Barnes said. “We had trouble finding people to serve.”
With seven members, the board will have a quorum if four were present. When there were nine members, five were needed for quorum, which Barnes said the board had difficulty meeting at times.
Barnes also said maintaining sufficient diversity on the board had become difficult.
Commissioner Jim Newby, during discussion about the change, said a resident, Robert Hicks, had called him requesting a position on the board. According to Newby, Hicks said he spoke to the mayor but never got a response.
Barnes acknowledged he had talked to Hicks previously but didn't seat him.
“I've talked to Rob before,” Barnes said. “One of the things is maintaining a balance.”
The mayor said he has been trying to balance the members of the board based on gender, ethnicity and occupation.
“It's always an issue,” Barnes said. “If you don't keep it in balance then a human rights board doesn't work.”
Board members are appointed by the mayor with approval from the city commission.
The commission also accepted the resignation of Interim Human Rights Chair Nicholas Duvall at Tuesday’s meeting.
Duvall was serving as chair after the resignation of the previous chair. According to the resignation order, Duvall will continue to serve as an ex-officio member of the board and representative of the Richmond Police Department although he will not have voting rights.
A new chair will be appointed by the mayor's office and will require approval from the city commission.
In other business, the commission:
• Hired Shelby Fullerton as a seasonal employee for the Gibson Bay Golf Course
• Accepted the resignations of Robin Stephens and Sara Rittenhouse from the finance department.
• Hired Aaron Gaughn as a full-time employee in the recycling department.
• Accepted the resignation of City Manager Jimmy Howard from the Richmond Industrial Development Corporation Board, effective Tuesday. Howard will remain on the board as an ex-officio member without voting rights as well as serve as the representative from the city manager's office. Howard's seat on the board will be filled by Bradley Paul Sowden.
• Passed a resolution authorizing Mayor Barnes to execute and furnish all required documentation to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security for a project involving the Department of Homeland Security. Barnes said there was no specific project yet.
• Entered into a contract with Melissa Cook, wife of city IT Director Ken Cook, allowing her to use city software to identify, coordinate and work with local charity organizations. The order states Cook will help accomplish intercharity coordination.
Seth Littrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6623.