New LRC Director David Byerman seeks to bring "swagger" back to agency

10/07/2015 12:53 PM

Newly minted LRC Director David Byerman is in the middle of his first week in the position that was vacated by the previous permanent director two years ago.

Byerman is promising to provide a “clear direction,” objective standards, transparency both to staff and taxpayers, as well as fairness in personnel policies.

“This change cannot be immediate, and I think anyone who is looking for me to come in and wave a magic wand is going to be disappointed because we have a session to prepare for first and foremost,” Byerman said. “That’s only three months from now, and we are right now in the throes of preparing for that.”

The Legislative Research Commission staff includes 390 full-time employees and swells to more than 600 full- and part-time staffers during legislative sessions.

Once the General Assembly adjourns sine die next year that’s when, Byerman says, “We can take a step back and start accessing ‘OK, how are things operating? Where can we make changes, and when can we make the kinds of systematic changes that were specified in that NCSL report?’”

While systemic changes likely won’t begin to take shape until the summer of 2016, Byerman says there are some quick changes he can make to address the “low morale but high performance,” within the agency.

With the competence in place, Byerman said he has already started working on the issue on his first day in the job. Calling an all-staff meeting as reported by CNHI, Byerman said he brought everyone together to “hear the same thing at the same time” to tell them they’re doing great work and establish a “new direction” for the agency.

Byerman was hired after a two-year job opening following the retirement of former LRC Director Bobby Sherman, who left the agency amid a sexual harassment scandal in 2013.

Recently, Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, the running mate of gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Jack Conway, told a moderator during a debate that she and Conway would work to address the “culture in Frankfort,” which was the underlying heart of the sexual harassment lawsuit in the state Capitol.

Byerman said he’s not been in the state long enough to be aware of any widespread pattern of harassment in Frankfort, but he did say the issue is a priority.

“Respect for all employees starts at the top,” Byerman said. “If I can express that this is a priority for me as director. If I can make it clear from the outset we have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment, and if I can walk the walk as well as I talk the talk, then I think that will very quickly change the culture.”

Hear more from Byerman and his mission in the full interview below:

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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