Richmond city commissioner accuses mayor of discrimination during meeting

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - The Tuesday night meeting of The Richmond City Commission included a heated exchange between a city commissioner and the mayor. While discussing the removal of a softball field Commissioner Laura King accused Mayor Jim Barnes of discrimination.

The comments started with discussion of the removal of one of the girls softball fields from Irvine-McDowell Park.

Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes says the field was closed so the city could move all of the softball fields to the Lake Reba Sports Complex, to be near the other youth fields. That didn't sit well with City Commissioner Laura King.

"All of us sitting here are shocked to hear what the mayor just said," King said.

King went on, saying the decision to close the field would be a violation of Title IX, which gives men and women equal opportunities in sports.

"Girls will be treated just the same as the boys, but since our mayor likes to discriminate against women and I have personally felt it myself," King said.

"Yeah, I was surprised, shocked." Mayor Barnes said on Thursday. "I've been in government six and a half years and I've never experienced this kind of government in my life."

King said she was standing up for her constituents. At the meeting she continued to criticize the mayor.

"He sits right here and he says 'We have decided.' We have not decided, we haven't even discussed it. That's a lie, a boldfaced lie," King said.

Eventually commissioner Donna Baird interrupted King, before Mayor Barnes brought down his gavel, saying both commissioners were out of order.

"I asked you a long time ago to put cameras in that back room because you would stand there and double your fist up," King said.

"Oh that's not true, Laura," Baird interrupted.

"Don't go there Donna, don't try to save your man," King replied.

"My what?" Baird asked.

At that point the two commissioners began speaking over each other and Mayor Barnes hit his gavel and told the commission they should move on.

"I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry for our community, I really am." Barnes said referring to the incident.

The mayor says softball league officials had welcomed the move to Lake Reba, however King said the fields being prepared weren't adequate when compared to the old field.

"She's an elected official and I respect her for that and I hope we can work together but we haven't started out real good," Barnes said.

Commissioner King said she will present a new motion to rebuild the Irvine-McDowell softball field at the commission's next meeting.

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