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Royalty claims he is victim of racial bias

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By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

Bardstown Mayor John Royalty blamed a “racial divide” with black City Council members for much of the past two years’ controversy, especially a call to investigate his administration in May 2016.

“There was three — three blacks voted for it and three whites voted against it and it’s been a separated council and I was the deciding factor and I voted against it. I wasn’t wasting taxpayers’ money,” Royalty said during a recent deposition.

Royalty was describing his version of events surrounding the first call to investigate his administration following his unilateral reorganization of the Bardstown Police Department. Part of that April reorganization resulted in the demotion of former BPD Capt. Tom Roby, who was fired in May on accusations he destroyed police files as he cleaned out his office. Roby has filed a wrongful termination and defamation against the city, and Royalty testified under oath in a deposition in December.

The first call for investigation came from Councilwoman Kecia Copeland in the spring. During a heated City Council meeting April 26 where residents chastised the mayor for his actions with the Police Department and his push to break away from the consolidated emergency dispatching center. That first call failed on a 3-3 council vote on May 3, with Copeland, Francis Lydian and Roland Williams all voting in favor and Bobby Simpson, Bill Buckman and Fred Hagan voting against. The mayor broke the tie vote.

Royalty blamed the three African-American council members who voted in favor of the investigation of harboring a grudge that dated back to Royalty’s defeat of former Mayor Bill Sheckles in November 2014.

“I don’t think they liked me in office. Their person didn’t win,” he said, referring to Sheckles, who is also black.

It was a unanimous vote, though, in November, when the council voted to investigate the origins of a group of packets that were left anonymously before a council meeting that contained personal information about Copeland and Lydian. That investigation has recently expanded beyond the packets and into unspecified areas of Royalty’s administration.

That investigation is still proceeding, and a report is expected by mid-April.