Attorney's service now questioned

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By Laura Hagan

A man nominated by the mayor but not approved by city council as La Grange city attorney is already handling city business.

Mayor Elsie Carter nominated Graham Whatley to fill the vacant city attorney seat Sept. 2.

Former city attorney Wade Helm resigned July 23.

The council approved Whatley’s service as city attorney under the condition that he begin his service after ending his involvement with a lawsuit against the Oldham County Property Valuation Administrator.

During the October city council meeting, Whatley sat with the council and mayor until council members complained he still hadn’t separated himself from the PVA suit. City Council member Jason Taylor claims Whatley is a tenant at a house on Acorn Lane owned by Carter.

In a letter obtained by The Oldham Era, Whatley corresponded with a resident on letterhead listing him as the city attorney (appointed).

In the letter, dated Oct. 21, Whatley writes, “I have only today begun to act upon the business of the City of La Grange, and your letter is one of the first items I am handling.”

Whatley represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the PVA, and Carter said the judge presiding over the suit hasn’t given a ruling, but “the case is through.”

She said they are just waiting for the final judgment. He has been appointed by the council, she said, but is waiting for the council to confirm it.

As far as his involvement in city business, Carter said Whatley is working as the city’s attorney.

“I have him doing some city business that we have to have done,” she said, “because we need an attorney.”

She said he will be paid for his services, but hasn’t been yet.

“If he asks for money, then he will be paid,” Carter said.

The council didn’t discuss Whatley’s recent arrest. Three days before his nomination for city attorney, Oldham County Police arrested Whatley on charges of reckless driving, improper signal and DUI.

According to court records, Whatley failed to appear for his Oct. 15 arraignment, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

A district judge scheduled a new hearing Oct. 29.

Carter said the arrest is part of Whatley’s personal life and doesn’t think the charge interferes with his position. She said she has investigated the issue, and the charge isn’t something usual for him.

“I don’t have a problem with it unless it’s a habit,” she said.

E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com.