James Island Public Service District Commissioner Kay Kernodle resigned her position over criticism that the District’s continued use of her husband Trent Kernodle’s law firm for outside legal services constituted nepotism.
The JIPSD made a major decision at their last Commission meeting held last Monday, July 27, but it wasn’t on the issue many in attendance expected them to.
The five-member PSD Commission voted unanimously on a measure to introduce security personnel to their upcoming meetings, but did not come to any decision regarding what law firm will be representing the District in the months and years ahead.
In balking at the decision to select one of two legal firms, the Commission in effect punted the decision on what to do with former and still interim JIPSD outside attorney Trent Kernodle of Kernodle, Root, and Coleman. Kernodle resigned in January after being asked by then Commission Chair Donald Hollingsworth to apologize to Commissioner Carter McMillan, who he called a “pain in the butt,” for questioning whether he should remain the District’s attorney, even after his wife and alleged employee at Kernodle, Root and Coleman, Kay Kernodle was voted on to the Commission.
The Commission agreed to let Kernodle stay on as their official legal representation, but only until he wrapped up the District’s then current legal cases. And while what were three cases have been carried through to their logical end, Kernodle reapplied for the position.
The Commission’s Ways and Means Committee held a July 23 meeting in which the body heard presentations from both applicants it had for the job, Kernodle’s firm and the Pope Flynn Group, a Columbia-based firm with a stout resume representing special purpose districts and other municipalities. A pair of speakers at the July 27 meeting who were present for the two proposals noted that they were as impressed with the Pope Flynn Group’s proposal as they were unimpressed by that of Kernodle, Root, and Coleman.
“They had a really nice presentation, and each of them took the time to talk. With the other firm Trent did all the talking,” said June Murray.
Last Monday’s meeting attendees were frustrated towards the latter part of the meeting, stymied by the privacy of executive session. More time was spent during the meeting in executive session than in the public eye, and when it did let out, the Commission announced they had taken no votes or actions on hiring legal representation.
Joining the waiting members of the public were five members of the James Island Fire Department, required to be there as the JIPSD Commission now mandates EMS-trained staffers to be on hand at meetings. Off-duty policemen or County Sheriffs that the Commission will hire now as a result of last Monday’s vote, will un
doubtedly join crowds like this in the future.