January 20, 2014

Ethics board reviews radio contract

By Rob McDaniel
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The London City Ethics Board met Tuesday morning to hear information regarding the business relationship between the City of London and London Radio Service, owned by London Police Chief Stewart Walker.

“No complaint, written nor verbal, has been filed in regards to the business relationship between the city and London Radio Service,” said Larry Bryson, City Attorney.  “We are approaching this board asking for an advisory opinion.”

According to Bryson, the business relationship was reviewed after a LEX 18 investigation questioned the ethics of payments made by the city to London Radio Station for radio towers and for the purchase of radio equipment.

According to reports acquired by The Sentinel-Echo, since 2009, as far back as records have been kept, taxpayers have spent more than $90,000 on  radio equipment from Walker’s business.

The report says that since mid-2011, the city has bought $16,846 worth of equipment from his business, including radios, batteries, antennas, as well as service and repairs.

Walker said the majority of purchases made from 2011 to present were for new radios in nine new police cruisers, totaling $12,000.

“I’ve been a city employee since 1996,” Walker said.  “My company has been in business since 1983.  I became an official dealer in 1992 and have been honoring government prices ever since.”

Walker’s London Radio Service Inc. was officially added to the state contract price list in 2001.

In October, the city council advertised for bids for radio services and, after a month of accepting bids, the only bid received was from Walker, which the city council voted to accept.

“We chose to use London Radio Service because of the price and quality of service is in the best interest of the city,” Mayor Troy Rudder said at that time.

Rudder went on to say Walker is not the only city official the city does business with.  According to Rudder, if the city needs an electrical product, they buy from London Electric (owned by Danny Phelps, city councilman) and, if they have a catered lunch, they often buy from Weaver’s Hot Dogs (owned by Judd Weaver, city councilman).

“There are now safe guards that the mayor has put in place,” Bryson said.  “There’s another person who is reviewing any requests for radios or radio repairs who is not a member of the police department but works directly under the authority of the mayor. (This person) is reviewing all purchase requests or repair requests, anything that money has to be expended on.”

Walker then went on to explain how doing business with London Radio Service is in the best interest of the city.

“I pride myself on focusing on service to local governments,” Walker said.  “I started in Clay County and now provide service to six counties.  I don’t advertise, my service does that for me.  I do however go the extra mile to provide excellent service and to get things fixed and online like as quickly as possible.  I keep spare parts on the shelf and provide service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

After discussing the subject in executive session, ethics board members Donna Harris, Judy Nicholson and Beth Wilson came to an agreement; however, their opinion on the ethical relationship between the city and London Radio Service was not released and will be published at a later date.