Here are the topics covered in this edition of Byline (full audio link below):
At the top – For quite some time now, it’s been reported that the Kentucky Retirement System, the pension plan for state, city and county workers—doesn’t have the money to pay its obligations. We’ve followed the public debate about the state’s inability to solve that problem. But in the meantime, Jim McNair of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has been looking at another side of the issue. He reports that it’s impossible for pension holders to know where much of their money is being invested: in potentially very risky hedge funds. He speaks with WFPL’s Gabe Bullard about the story.
4:45 – U.S. Senator Rand Paul has been courting African-American voters as he continues to mull a run for the White House in 2016. The first-term Republican from Kentucky has been meeting regularly with constituents in west Louisville and with African-American groups in other parts of the country. Paul is also co-sponsoring legislation that, among other things, would restore the voting rights of certain non-violent felons. The senator’s efforts to reach out to minorities has been praised by some local leaders, and criticized by others. WFPL political editor Phillip M. Bailey spoke to the senator this week about his record on civil rights and other matters.
15:40 – Kentucky’s longest-serving prison inmate is Willie Gaines Smith, who’s been behind bars for 54 years, mostly at the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange. He’s serving a life sentence for murder, but some say he should have been paroled decades ago. Now there’s a possibility that Smith could gain his freedom another way: under a test program approved by the general assembly. WDRB’s Jason Riley has been reporting on Smith’s case and his incarceration, and he joins us with the story.
24:30 – Years ago a rumor began circulating that some of Louisville’s popular, local coffee shops were run by fervent Christians, with some of the businesses doubling as wings of a church, and where employees might try to convert customers. WFPL’s Gabe Bullard has an in-depth story on our website that looks into these rumors. He found that while they aren’t true, there is a connection between religion and coffee in Louisville. He speaks with WFPL’s Rick Howlett about the story.
29:00 – It’s been three years since Kentucky banned texting while driving, and the number of citations issued has gone up every year since. As WFPL summer intern Michael Homan reports, while most drivers are aware of the risks of impaired and drunk driving, they’re willing to walk the line when it comes to driving distracted.
33:40 – Two years ago, Las Vegas real estate investor Jared Weiss purchased the boyhood home of Louisville boxing legend Muhammad Ali for $70,000. Weiss, an avid fan of Ali, bought the home with plans to transform it into a museum. But as WFPL summer intern Gail Faustyn reports, little has been done to the Parkland house during the last two years. As the paint continues to chip away and the roof begins to cave in, neighbors are hoping some changes will come soon.
37:05 – We check in with WFPL’s arts and humanities reporter Erin Keane about some choice activities in the local arts scene this coming week. Then Erin welcomes her guest, Christen Boone, the new president and CEO of the Fund for the Arts.