LRC approves two-year, $135K contract for new director

09/23/2015 04:33 PM

FRANKFORT — The Legislative Research Commission unanimously approved a two-year contract for incoming LRC Director David Byerman on Wednesday, officially naming him the full-time replacement for former Director Bobby Sherman, who retired amid a sexual harassment scandal.

Byerman, who did not attend the meeting, will assume the new role Oct. 1 at a $135,000 salary, plus a 5 percent increase after six months’ employment and a one-time $20,000 moving stipend. He had previously worked as the nonpartisan secretary of the Nevada Senate.

In Kentucky, he will inherit an agency in which auditors with the National Conference of State Legislatures found poor staff morale lacking personnel policies.

Senate President Robert Stivers noted that the most recent interim directors — his Chief of Staff Becky Harilson and House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s Chief of Staff Steve Collins — routinely briefed legislative leaders on a number of topics, such as personnel actions and unexpected expenditures, every week. He said that will continue under Byerman.

“We’re the board of directors, and very rarely do we get a full, in-depth report in our periods of being on the LRC as the respective chairmen or participants, so we think this is a new day in the way we’re going to proceed,” said Stivers, R-Manchester, “and by far more transparent than it has been in the past.”

That was a theme both Stivers and Stumbo continued in speaking to reporters after the meeting.

Both said they believed Byerman would enact positive changes at the agency in light of the NCSL audit.

After Sherman’s retirement in September 2013, reports by The State Journal and The Courier-Journal also surfaced that the former director had granted a number of raises to a subordinate romantically linked to him. Sherman also shredded a number of documents in his office after his retirement, which may have prompted a provision in Byerman’s contract pertaining to records preservation and surrender.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, called the audit’s findings of poor staff morale “justified.”

“There needs to be, I think, some structural changes to that,” he said. “You know, one of the criticisms that hasn’t been refuted is that, you know, Mr. Sherman favored people, not necessarily for their abilities but just because he had personal preferences. That’s not a way to run a business.”

“To keep employee morale high, you have to have a fair and adequate review system so that they know they’re going to be reviewed fairly,” he added.

Byerman is aware of the NCSL audit and plans to call an agency-wide staff meeting to introduce himself to LRC employees “to introduce himself, talk about his style and bring it in, the fact that he’s aware of the report,” said Stivers, R-Manchester.

“I feel very comfortable with what he’s trying to do at this point in time,” he said.


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