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Copeland’s personal use of iPad questioned

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Copeland says it's retaliation for 'Trailergate'

By Randy Patrick

Bardstown Police Capt. McKenzie Mattingly told the City Council Tuesday he wants City Attorney Tim Butler to determine whether Councilwoman Kecia Copeland’s personal use of her city-issued iPad violated any state laws.

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In a press conference after the meeting, Copeland called the acting police chief’s inquiry “retaliation at its best” in response to her raising questions about his personal use of a stolen trailer that the Bardstown Police Department seized.

“This is a personal attack,” she said.

Councilman Fred Hagan said he also personally used his city-issued iPad, and Francis Lydian said that if it was against the rules, he and other members should have been told. 

Mayor John Royalty said later they were told the tablets were for city business only.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mattingly read the city’s response to an open records request he filed “as a private citizen.”

On Oct. 26, Mattingly asked for records of Copeland’s iPad use from January 2015 through Oct. 26. What the search revealed was that of 93 emails sent from the iPad, 14 were city business, and of 76 deleted emails, only one was related to city business. Of 10,600 emails in her inbox that were received, 41 had to do with her job as a council member. Forty-seven videos were taken on the device; none were city-related.

In his “humble opinion,” Mattingly said, there is “a disproportionate amount of personal use on this city-owned iPad.”

He said it’s his understanding that “the city pays for the data use” on the devices.

“I’d personally like to know what the content is of this large amount of personal use on the iPad. I’d like to see those records as well,” he said.

Royalty said he had looked into the open records request in detail, and in his opinion, it was disturbing.

The mayor also referenced copies of records in envelopes discovered on the back stairs of the council chambers by City Clerk Barbie Bryant before the meeting. Except for a 16-year-old tax lien against Lydian, which the councilman said has been cleared up, they all pertained to Copeland and included traffic tickets, documents pertaining to small claims cases and reports on two house fires.

In light of what was in the envelopes, Royalty said, he did not want to discuss the iPad use “because this could turn into a criminal investigation.”

“Well, I think I have a right to address it,” Copeland responded.

“My emails are together, so the 10,000 emails are on my personal email account, which is synced to … the business iPad,” she explained.

Copeland said she uses her personal email account for city business.

After the meeting, Copeland said the videos were taken by her young grandson, and she assumed that function was blocked.

Hagan said at the meeting that he takes videos with his city-issued iPad and does not recall there ever being any policy that prohibits personal use.

“I hope you investigate mine too, because I use mine for personal. … I had no idea I couldn’t use my personal iPad to take pictures. Where is that rule?” he asked.

Councilman Roland Williams said he has thousands of personal emails in multiple accounts because he never deletes anything. However, he doesn’t use his iPad to send and receive email from those accounts.

Lydian said he couldn’t remember there ever being any rules about using the tablets personally.

According to City Attorney Tim Butler and the city clerk, there is no such policy in regard to council members. Butler said, however, the mayor may propose one.

Butler was not at the meeting because he isn’t required to attend work sessions, and earlier that day, the only thing on the agenda was a discussion of long-term planning for the Fire Department. The open records report was added before the meeting.

“If I had known about this, I would have been there,” the city attorney said.

That night after the meeting, Royalty said that some of Copeland’s emails included invoices for her cleaning business, and it appeared she was using the device in her campaign.

The city took Copeland’s iPad from her, loaned her another one, and has had her original one since it began the open records search.

“I believe this is retaliation at its best,” Copeland said during a press conference after the meeting.

Copeland recently raised questions at a council meeting about Mattingly’s use of a stolen trailer to haul a boat. It was attached to a city-owned vehicle. Royalty later reprimanded the acting police chief.

As for the mysterious packets, Royalty said he didn’t know who placed them by the back door. There was one for him and each council member and two labeled for the news media.

The packets contained information about Copeland’s personal history, including traffic records and information on the Internet about her prior employment. 

“What does my personal history have to do with me doing my job as a city councilwoman?” Copeland asked. “People make mistakes, but this is malicious.”

She said she doesn’t believe that Royalty didn’t know about the packets of material distributed to council members and reporters.

When Lydian said during the council meeting that he was going to call for a broad investigation of city government, the mayor grinned and told Lydian he was a step ahead of him.

RELATED:  Royalty wants policy on iPad use