Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
June 25, 2002
AN OPEN LETTER TO JUDGE-EXECUTIVE REBECCA JACKSON AND THE JEFFERSON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
I have recently become aware of a campaign targeting Art Williams for removal from his current position as Director of the Jefferson County Air Pollution Control District.
I am writing, as director of the Kentucky Resources Council, as a parent of three school-age children who are lifelong residents of this city and county, and as an individual who has for almost a decade been volunteer chair of a recreational sports league and has been responsible for the health and safety of over 700 children playing spring, summer and fall outdoor sports in this city, to urge you to reject this effort to target for removal from office this dedicated and effective public servant.
I have had the privilege of knowing Art, professionally and personally, for some twenty years. At the urging of local government officials, I encouraged Art to consider leaving a lucrative private legal practice to return to the work he had always found most fulfilling ? implementing environmental and public health policy as a public servant. During his exemplary career of service, as an attorney for the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, as Commissioner of Environmental Protection, and now as Director of APCD, he has frequently been responsible for implementation of policies unpopular to certain interest groups.
There will always be disagreement over how best to meet clean air goals, and there may be those who disagree even that those goals are appropriate. Debate over means is to be expected, particularly since among various sources of pollution there is a natural tendency to seek to shift that burden elsewhere. But there is no room in legitimate public discourse for attacking individuals who are employed to implement laws, regulations and goals adopted by a community, and it is the responsibility of this body, and of the many beneficiaries of these clean air policies, to resist openly, vocally, and without hesitation, targeted efforts to punish governmental employees for doing the work that has been entrusted to them.
Art's advocacy for retaining and modifying the VET program was in direct furtherance of the policy adopted by the APCD Board after extensive discussion and consideration by the State Implementation Plan advisory panel, and supported by this Fiscal Court. His efforts through STAPPA/ALAPCO to advocate the concerns of local government in the development of national clean air policies has benefited this community and is fully consistent with his current job. Any implication that his role in that organization of state and local government air pollution officials has detracted from his performance as APCD Director is fundamentally incorrect.
We have been blessed in this community with a quality of civil servants in the areas of environmental health, planning and zoning that has been better than we have deserved, given the short pay and long hours we expect of them. The least, the very least, that we can do is to support them against efforts to target them as individuals for implementing policies adopted by the community.
I urge you to send a clear message that personal attacks on public servants for doing their job will not be tolerated nor enabled. Art deserves far better than this, as an individual, as a professional, and as a dedicated public servant. You, and we, are better than this.