The Bowling Green City Commission approved Tuesday the second and final reading of an ordinance that limits the power of the mayor to order U.S. flags to be taken down on city-owned property.
No further details about the events in June that precipitated the ordinance, however, were made public during Tuesday’s meeting held via teleconference. The commission, including Mayor Bruce Wilkerson – whose controversial decision last month inspired the development of the ordinance – had unanimously voted to approve the measure on first reading July 7.
The ordinance was sponsored by Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash and resulted from Wilkerson’s decision to take down U.S. flags from city properties June 19 as a precaution against what Wilkerson described at the time as “outside groups” that were potentially coming to the city to take down the flags.
The vote on the ordinance Tuesday was once again unanimous, although Nash was inadvertently dropped from the teleconference immediately before the vote occurred, meaning it was recorded as a 4-0 vote.
Wilkerson declined to offer a more specific description of the apparent threat at the time and during the July 7 meeting, despite questions from Nash. The flags were put back up June 20 on city properties, but not before several private citizens raised their own flags on city property.
The ordinance prohibits any Bowling Green mayor from lowering the U.S. flag without the approval of the entire city commission or unless the mayor is otherwise following an order of Kentucky’s governor or the U.S. president.
Nash said Tuesday the “intent (of the ordinance) is to ensure this doesn’t occur again.” And while he said he is glad the city is moving beyond the issue, he is still concerned by the mayor’s actions.
“I have grave concerns about the unilateral action of any commissioner,” he said.
Nash asked Wilkerson at the July 7 meeting to provide information about the purported threat, but the mayor declined to do so and again did not address the issue Tuesday.
Nash and Commissioner Dana Beasley Brown indicated that in written responses to commissioners, Wilkerson said he hadn’t been authorized to share details on the information that led to the decision.
Beasley Brown asked City Attorney Gene Harmon if the commission could hold a closed session to discuss such information.
Harmon said he was unaware of any provisions to open meeting laws that would allow for a closed session, or for commissioners as a group to confer outside of an open meeting.
Also Tuesday, commissioners approved a $118,00 bid from Bacon/Farmer/Workman Engineering of Paducah to build a multi-use path along Smallhouse Road. The path will extend to Scottsville Road the multi-use path previously built as part of Smallhouse Road widening.
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