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'Abhorrent allegations' Louisville mayor, TARC board address sexual harassment allegations and next step in the investigation

One action item from Monday's meeting: The TARC Board of Directors will establish a tip line that employees and customers can use to raise concerns.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mayor Greg Fischer was at a TARC Board meeting Monday to address allegations of sexual harassment by former director Ferdinand Risco. Risco resigned on February 12 but the investigations are just beginning.

"The former executive director had in his short tenure created an unacceptable and wholly inappropriate atmosphere," Fischer said at the meeting.

The mayor's office is working with the law firm Dinsmore Shohl, which will continue to be contracted through the county attorney's office to investigate the several allegations of sexual misconduct directed at Risco. 

Fischer said had Risco not stepped down, he would have fired his former appointee. He also warned any other people complicit in the allegations would be removed.

"I want to be real clear. We will not tolerate any kind of workplace that has harassment or intimidation in it," Fischer said. "Anybody that participates in that will be removed swiftly and justly."

Last week, the council passed a resolution to hire an attorney and to move forward with a separate investigation, though both Fischer and Council President David James have said the two investigations will work together.

Louisville Metro Council approves resolutions to investigate allegations of misconduct at TARC

After the meeting Monday, it was agreed upon that TARC Board of Directors will establish a tip line that employees and customers can use to raise concerns. Employees will receive diversity and inclusion training.

The mayor and the board of directors also approved the addition of the mayor or a representative to the board with full voting powers.

The scope of the mayor's office's investigation will also look at the financial transactions that took place under Risco, who took over as permanent executive director last April.

"The board will conduct a transition review of transactions to take a close look at all contracts, payments, and reimbursements which occurred during the tenure of the former Executive Director,” TARC Board Chair Mary Morrow said.

Margaret Handmaker and Laura Douglas are currently serving as interim co-executive directors of TARC.

"We are unified. We all agree on next steps and we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to return TARC to normalcy," Laura Douglas said.

Also addressed at Monday's TARC board meeting were the issues concerning its TARC3 para-transit services. Shortly before Risco's resignation, TARC was facing controversy surrounding its services to disability riders. Currently, TARC3 services are transitioning from its old service provider, First Transit, to a new one, MV Transit. The contract dispute, and subsequent employee strike of cab drivers, caused some TARC3 riders to be stranded. 

"2/2 through 2/5 we apologize. We knowingly had some service disruptions that did not service our community well," TARC Assistant Executive Director Randy Frantz said Monday.

Mayor Fischer said the problems would be resolved soon.

"The folks that are vulnerable in our community, that have disabilities, that are reliant on public transit, for them to be left out in the cold, literally, in some of these things is very, very disturbing to me and obviously to them," Fischer said. "They deserve better just like everybody else so you can see improvements are being made there but they need to be made immediately so these folks can get the kind of service they deserve."

The board also stated a national search for the new executive director will begin soon. 

 Two women named interim co-directors of TARC following sexual misconduct allegations against former director

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