An Owensboro man resigned from the City Utility Commission and two other public boards Thursday due to a misogynistic comment on Facebook about Vice President Kamala Harris. The comment, written by Ted Lolley, was made on a local woman’s Facebook post celebrating Harris’ inauguration.
Lolley, who runs local engineering firm Ted Lolley & Associates, was a board member of the City Utility Commission, the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport and the Owensboro-Daviess County Building Code Appeals.
He resigned from all three on Thursday.
The initial Facebook post read: “Hear that sound? That’s the sound of Kamala Harris breaking the glass ceiling!”
Lolley replied in the comments with: “Vice whore.”
The comment was deleted afterward and according to screenshots sent to Owensboro Times, Lolley later wrote on his own Facebook page: “Yesterday in the mist of the emotions of yesterday’s events I made a crude and inappropriate comment on Facebook that may have insulted women. I truly do not feel this was the correct thing to do for many reasons. After thinking back on my actions I wish to apologize to any one who I may of offended and want those persons to know I am truly sorry and regret my actions.”
Owensboro Times was unable to reach Lolley for comment Friday.
Though he deleted it, the initial comment caught the attention of several City and County leaders — including Mayor Tom Watson, who said he was the first City official to see what Lolley had written.
“I called him and asked for his resignation,” Watson said, noting Lolley did not answer the call. “I sent an email to the City Commission, City Manager Nate Pagan and our Human Resources Director Josh Bachmeier. Ted called me back and told me he was going to resign [from all three boards].”
As an appointee of both the City and County, the rhetoric used by Lolley had crossed the line, Watson said.
Bachmeier said there were not any City policies that prohibited a board member from specifically using misogynistic language, adding that City-appointed board members are not City employees.
However, Bachmeier said, all board appointees are required to sign a joint City/County Code of Ethics in assuming their roles.
Though the Code of Ethics does not go into specific detail about inappropriate language or jargon used by a board member via social media, it does state that “a member of the board may be removed by the City Commission or County Fiscal Court depending upon which body approved the appointment for misconduct, inability or willful neglect of duties.”
Following this incident, Watson said the City Commission may create an ordinance in the near future pertaining to misogynistic or racist language deemed inappropriate for board members to use via social media and other public outlets.
Watson said Lolley’s resignation is not an example of “cancel culture,” as Lolley admitted to his own wrongdoing.
“He crossed a line and he admitted that. I talked to the OMU Board and OMU General Manager Kevin Frizzell about it too,” Watson said. “I hate it for his family because he’s been a good soldier in the community for a long time. But he said [those words], basically, at a time when everyone is at each other’s throats. There’s no time for a comment like this, ever.”
Watson said asking Lolley to resign over one ill-judged comment posted in response to another person’s Facebook was not too harsh. However, he said Lolley deserved a second chance.
“If we can’t forgive, we ought to get out of this business,” he said. “I think, honestly, we should all just let it go because he’s really suffering. There are no hard feelings. If an opportunity came up for him to serve again, I’d take it under consideration.”