Central to their discussion of further cutting the budget for Kentucky Capital Development Corp. (KCDC), Franklin County Fiscal Court magistrates mentioned concerns brought to them by constituents.
Of note was a lengthy letter by two citizens critical of KCDC’s performance, particularly that of President/CEO Terri Bradshaw. The letter was sent to all six Franklin County magistrates on May 11. Magistrates Sherry Sebastian, Marti Booth and Scotty Tracy all mentioned the letter as cause for their concerns about the economic development agency.
Though Booth did not support cutting KCDC’s budget, Magistrates Michael Mueller and J.W. Blackburn also expressed displeasure with the agency's performance and voted to cut its budget for a second year in a row.
Last year, the city commission opted to keep funding KCDC at $115,000 annually. The city's fiscal 2021-22 budget has not been finalized.
The letter, penned by James Inman, a former KCDC board member, and Jim Daniel, covers KCDC’s productivity, direction and integrity — as well as a response to accusations by Bradshaw against a writer that The State Journal has elected not to publish at this time because they have not been substantiated.
The authors state that their letter was written on behalf of a group of “concerned citizens.” No other citizens are named in the letter, nor is it signed by anyone else.
They acknowledge a recent success of KCDC and the overall community — a total of 200 jobs coming to the area, most of them from the recently announced Proclivity Senior Center and a youth residential treatment center — but say that its overall performance is lacking.
Daniel and Inman have previously written guest columns published by The State Journal in which they shared opinions about local politics. Both have criticized KCDC in the past.
Daniel is a retired enforcement agent for the state’s Department for Environmental Protection; Inman is retired from the state's Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Development programs.
Bradshaw, in a response sent to The State Journal, denied most of the pair’s claims and pointed to letters in support of her work written by business representatives with whom she has worked.
Last month, she also responded to the fiscal court’s decision to cut her organization’s budget by stating that she has received little to no commentary from elected officials on her day-to-day work aside from some criticism during the budget process.
Purpose and production
Inman and Daniel write that KCDC has strayed from its purpose: promoting economic development in Frankfort and Franklin County.
Job creation is of primary interest to Daniel and Inman in their letter. They argue that Bradshaw has distorted the agency's mission to more heavily favor industry and manufacturing.
The letter highlights numbers from the Quarterly Census of Employment Wages stating that Franklin County lost 436 jobs from Bradshaw’s mid-2015 hire date to December 2019 — from 33,322 to 32,886. Meanwhile, all other surrounding counties except Owen gained a significant number of jobs in the same period.
“Productivity should be the ultimate measure of this job, and the data indicates that Bradshaw has failed to produce in her prime directive (i.e., bringing full-time, good paying jobs to Franklin County),” they wrote. “We must ask: are Frankfort and Franklin County taxpayers getting their money’s worth?”
Bradshaw has pushed back against this argument before, stating last year that KCDC has been involved in the creation of about 1,000 new jobs during her tenure, as well as the Proclivity Senior Center project and a proposed youth residential treatment center.
Proclivity President Stephen Bolt wrote a letter to the fiscal court praising Bradshaw. He said he “could literally not have asked for more,” from Bradshaw in helping him get his company's project off the ground.
“Terri Bradshaw’s name and reputation preceded her throughout our dealings and dialogue as we began learning more about our Frankfort project,” Bolt wrote. “Once she became formally involved in our efforts she has been nothing but a professional joy to work with. Her depth of knowledge, departments, liaisons, and entities is enhanced by her ‘can do’ engaging personality.”
Bradshaw shared a previous letter of support written by the KCDC Executive Committee last year in response to the fiscal court’s first round of budget cuts.
The KCDC president/CEO also uses a different set of figures to quantify job growth and economic development in Franklin County. She pointed to numbers provided by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development on the website selectkentucky.com. Per the cabinet’s figures, Franklin County has 43,682 total workers.
Its numbers also differ on unemployment and the number of manufacturing jobs. Inman and Daniel show December 2020 unemployment rates, while Bradshaw calls to a more recent and lower number. Both figures, however, are the highest of any surrounding county.
Reflecting on Inman’s tenure on the KCDC board, Bradshaw said she didn’t perceive that he was dissatisfied with how she carried out her duties.
“As for Mr. Inman’s disappointing review of my job performance, I can only say that I received a 24 out of 25 on my evaluation every year, including during Mr. Inman's tenure during my employ (2015-16) on the KCDC board,” Bradshaw said. “According to our minutes, he actually made the motion to accept my evaluation and give me a $3,500 raise on June 21, 2016. Apparently he was not terribly dissatisfied with my work.”
The writers also raise questions about whether Bradshaw is responsible for some projects to which KCDC’s name has been attached: the recruitment of Hayashi Telempu, Frankfort’s Second Street TIGER Grant and Frankfort’s regional COVID-19 vaccination center.
Hayashi Telempu, a major manufacturer in southeastern Franklin County, moved during Bradshaw’s tenure but was first announced two years prior by her predecessor, Kim Smith.
For the TIGER Grant, a more than $12 million project to revitalize Frankfort’s Second Street corridor, Bradshaw said that she gives all the credit for writing the successful grant application to city Grants Administrator Rebecca Hall and consultant Andrew Seth. She did point out that KCDC has organized trips by local leaders to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the grant’s approval.
Bradshaw also said that Inman and Daniel falsely claim that she was not involved in the site selection for Frankfort’s regional COVID-19 vaccination center.
‘Questionable pattern of behavior’
A significant portion of the critics' letter questions Bradshaw’s conduct — particularly concerning her credibility and use of her position.
“Bradshaw has displayed a pattern of behavior that includes plagiarism, misrepresentations, a baseless and fabricated personal attack on a critic of the CEO, and involvement in issues outside of the statutes/interlocal agreement establishing KCDC,” the letter reads.
Bradshaw has pushed back against all of those allegations, saying that her work is well within her organization’s mission — calling back to strategic plans she has published in the past — and that she has carried out her duties in service of that mission.
With regard to Inman's and Daniel's allegations of plagiarism, Bradshaw asserted that she received permission from the entities whose words she used in a State Journal guest column. The State Journal is continuing to look into the alleged plagiarism.
The pair also said that Bradshaw has inappropriately delved into political matters. Bradshaw defends these actions, either claiming that the writers exaggerated her actions or that they were justified given her directive.
Bradshaw responded in each instance stating that her involvement in different issues was not made public by her, and was the right move given the circumstances.
One instance was Bradshaw’s involvement in matters related to the Frankfort Plant Board. She shared a report about then-FPB director candidate Jeff Bradshaw’s background.
“I reported that to my employers, the commission, because I thought it was extremely important that they know that prior to appointing him to a board that oversaw a multimillion-dollar budget,” Bradshaw said. “I only reported that to the commission in a private email. The commission decided to discuss the information in a public meeting.”
Bradshaw also said that she had no control over Commissioner Kyle Thompson, then a candidate, using her testimony obtained by a State Journal open records request for his appeal to the Attorney General regarding the previous commission’s compliance with the Open Meetings Act.
Another was Bradshaw’s mid-2020 letter regarding Inman’s comments about her sent to Inman’s wife: now-retired Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carmen Inman. The topic was James Inman’s comments, which Bradshaw said introduced a combative dynamic between the two economic organizations.
“It seems that Ms. Inman’s husband has become extremely obsessed with some competition that he has imagined between said organizations and continuously compelled to express his displeasure with my performance,” Bradshaw wrote at the time.
Bradshaw said there were no false statements in that letter.
The writers also questioned whether Bradshaw deserves her salary.
According to a W-9 Bradshaw shared with The State Journal, she makes under $100,000 — less than Inman and Daniel claim.
“I have never been paid $100,000 a year by KCDC,” Bradshaw said. “I am given no car allowance and I am reimbursed for mileage only. However, as I have also stated to the fiscal court each time they choose to compare my salary to others … I make less money and have fewer benefits than every other man who has had this position prior to me. The men employed by KCDC were paid well over $100,000 as far back as 2002. It is nearly 20 years later and I am still not equally compensated even though I do the exact same job and my evaluations are higher.”