89.3 WFPL http://wfpl.org Louisville's NPR® News Station Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:00:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 What To See at the Humana Festival of New American Plays http://wfpl.org/see-humana-festival-new-american-plays/ http://wfpl.org/see-humana-festival-new-american-plays/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:00:41 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32661 Never-before-seen theatre productions, by both emerging and world-renowned playwrights, are debuting next week at Actors Theatre of Louisville as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays—just as they have been since 1976. With six full-length productions and a … Read Story

]]> Never-before-seen theatre productions, by both emerging and world-renowned playwrights, are debuting next week at Actors Theatre of Louisville as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays—just as they have been since 1976. With six full-length productions and a night of three 10-minute plays, deciding what to see can be a bit of a challenge. But we’ve got you covered, matching your tastes with the theatrical offerings.

Here is the essential guide to navigating Humana Festival 2015.

An “odd couple” story with a feminist twist.

“The Roommate”by Jen Silverman takes the tired tale of seemingly grossly mismatched roommates and updates it in a smart, culturally relevant way. It centers around the relationship between Sharon, a recent divorcee in her 50s, and her new roommate, Robyn. The differences are evident: Sharon is a Midwestern lady whose comfort zone includes her local book-club, whereas Robyn is a smart-talking vegan from the Bronx. Silverman uses this familiar dynamic to explore questions of self, culture, aging and femininity.

Family drama (the heartfelt, emotionally inciting kind) is your kind of drama.

Colman Domingo’s “Dot” opens on the Shealy family in their West Philadelphia neighborhood. It’s holiday time, which is stressful enough, but this year is different. Dotty, the mother of three adult children, has begun struggling with dementia. This wild and dark comedy—which crackles with the kind of humor that only families can provide—grapples with aging, midlife-crisis and the heart of an inner-city neighborhood.

A modern ghost stories would make your night.

Human life is inevitably haunted by death—a motif that playwright Erin Courtney chose to explore fully in “I Will Be Gone.” After her mother dies, 17-year-old Penelope goes to live with her aunt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Everyone in the small town, which is right next to a ghost town, is haunted by someone or something. “I Will Be Gone” is filled with apparitions, strange behaviors, and odd attempts at mourning, leaving the audience to grapple with their own beautiful, awkward knowledge that everything eventually comes to an end.

 History brought to life.

Charles Mee sixth Humana Festival play, “The Glory of the World” sparks into action after a series of toasts to Thomas Merton on the occasion of his 100th birthday erupts into a raucous party. Inspired by myriad points of view on the Kentucky-based Trappist monk, writer and social activist—or pacifist, Buddhist, Catholic, Communist, and more, depending on who you ask—Mee’s exuberant play considers how we can live fully in all our contradictions, and leap into the unknown. A theatrical meditation on happiness, love, the values of solitude and of engagement with the world, and seeking heaven on earth.

You’ve always wondered what would have happened if the creators of ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Cabaret’ and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ collaborated.

In “I Promised Myself to Live Faster,” members of the collaborative troupe Pig Iron Theatre Company and Gregory S. Moss are letting loose with the tale of Tim, a guy just out looking for a good time, when suddenly he is approached by an order of intergalactic nuns. They charge him with a quest: retrieve the Holy Gay Flame from the clutches of the evil emperor to save the race of Homosexuals and restore the balance of power in the universe. But when he’s captured by the fabulously androgynous Ah-Ni, Tim’s chances look bleak.

Bluegrass holds a special place in your heart.

Playwrights Jeff Augustin, Diana Grisanti, Cory Hinkle, and Charise Castro Smith trace the winding history of bluegrass music in “That High Lonesome Sound.” From Scottish ballads to African-American work songs, from Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys to the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, the writers put forward scenes that explore the poignancy and playfulness of sounds and cultures that have affected American culture—particularly Kentucky’s—in a profound way.

Your attention span is questionable.

“The Ten-Minute Plays” is for you; a trio of selections culled from the National Ten-Minute Play Contest will have you in and out of the theatre in the same amount of time as a sitcom episode (though you’ll likely feel far more culturally enlightened).

You want it all.

Festival packages are still available—including special discounts for students, locals and industry professionals. They can be purchased here. Productions begin March 4 and run through April 21.

]]> http://wfpl.org/see-humana-festival-new-american-plays/feed/ 0 KentuckyOne Opens Downtown Louisville ‘Health Lifestyle Center’ http://wfpl.org/kentuckyone-opens-downtown-louisville-health-lifestyle-center/ http://wfpl.org/kentuckyone-opens-downtown-louisville-health-lifestyle-center/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:34:39 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32632 KentuckyOne Health on Thursday opened its third center providing medically supervised exercise, nutrition counseling, stress management and other services to help people live healthier. The downtown location,  at 250 E Liberty St., will serve Louisvillians who live in the West End—where rates … Read Story

]]> 20150226_101421_Richtone(HDR)Ja’Nel Johnson | wfpl.org

KentuckyOne Health on Thursday opened its third center providing medically supervised exercise, nutrition counseling, stress management and other services to help people live healthier.

The downtown location,  at 250 E Liberty St., will serve Louisvillians who live in the West End—where rates of heart attack, diabetes, obesity and hypertension are extremely high.

“It’s usually not a knowledge deficit, that people don’t know that they should eat right, exercise, stop smoking or stop drinking. People are using those as coping skills to react to life,” Stephens said.

The center offers a fitness membership program called Lifestyle Medicine, which offers personal health coaching by nurses and exercise physiologists.

People who have a qualifying lung or heart condition can receive cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation at the center using their insurance. Also available are massage therapy, meditation, acupuncture and more.

Stephens said she feels that the programs offered at the center are on the cutting edge of bringing traditional and non-traditional medicine together to treat the whole person.

“We’re not dictating what you should do, we’re finding out what you want and what you want to achieve and helping to bring that plan together. It’s a very collaborative approach to your healthcare,” Stephens said.

Unlimited membership is $75 per month or people can pay $40 per month for four visits.

This location joins Healthy Lifestyle Centers at Medical Center Jewish Northeast and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentuckyone-opens-downtown-louisville-health-lifestyle-center/feed/ 0 NRDC Targets McConnell’s Environmental Record in New Campaign http://wfpl.org/nrdc-targets-mcconnells-environmental-record-new-campaign/ http://wfpl.org/nrdc-targets-mcconnells-environmental-record-new-campaign/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:07:04 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32634 A national group has launched a campaign to highlight Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s environmental record. The video released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund highlights the money that “corporate polluters” spent in political contributions to McConnell … Read Story

]]> A national group has launched a campaign to highlight Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s environmental record.

The video released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund highlights the money that “corporate polluters” spent in political contributions to McConnell and other members of Congress. In the first 50 days of McConnell’s leadership, the ad points to McConnell’s support of projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and opposition to federal restrictions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

“The point is really all about accountability,” said NRDC Action Fund Director Heather Taylor-Miesle. “Capitol Hill is not Las Vegas. What happens there should not stay there. Americans need to know what their representatives are doing to their air, their land, their water and kids’ health.”

Taylor-Miesle said the campaign hopes to inform Kentuckians about McConnell’s environmental record. She said the senator’s overwhelming victory in November over challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes doesn’t mean the state’s voters have signed off on his environmental views.

“This isn’t about election season, this is about votes and making sure people know what their politicians are doing,” she said. “Mitch McConnell got elected, but it wasn’t because he was a climate denier.”

Instead of focusing on rolling back environmental protections and passing legislation to permit large oil pipelines, McConnell should look toward moving the country and Kentucky toward the future, Taylor-Miesle said.

The campaign is largely via social media, though Taylor-Miesle said it does include some television airtime in the Washington, D.C., market. A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment.

]]> http://wfpl.org/nrdc-targets-mcconnells-environmental-record-new-campaign/feed/ 0 Former Louisville Cardinals Player Chris Jones Charged With Rape http://wfpl.org/former-louisville-cardinals-player-chris-jones-charged-rape-sodomy/ http://wfpl.org/former-louisville-cardinals-player-chris-jones-charged-rape-sodomy/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:54:22 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32574 Updated 2:54 p.m.: Not Guilty Plea Former University of Louisville basketball player Chris Jones was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sodomy. He pleaded not guilty in court Thursday. University police … Read Story

]]> Updated 2:54 p.m.: Not Guilty Plea

Former University of Louisville basketball player Chris Jones was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sodomy.

He pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.

University police allege that the incident took place early Sunday morning in a private student apartment complex adjacent to the Belknap campus. Both victims came forward and filed charges this week.

Two other men were also charged. Both defendants—Jalen Tilford, 21, and Tyvon Julah Walker, 19—were charged with first-degree rape. Neither were U of L students.

Jones, 23, turned himself in to police Thursday morning and soon after appeared before Jefferson District Court judge. He was later released to home incarceration. Tilford and Walker also pleaded not guilty—Tilford’s bond was set at $100,000 and Walker’s bond was set at $75,000. granted home incarceration.

Lt. Col. Kenny Brown of university police told reporters during a press conference Thursday that Jones was not getting any special treatment.

“We take each case and treat each case for what it is,” he said. “If it’s an investigation, we try to be as fair and [im]partial to all parties in the case.”

Kenny Klein, a spokesman for University of Louisville athletics, said in a written statement that Jones was “immediately dismissed from the team” when news of the charges was brought to the university’s attention Sunday afternoon.

Brown said that the school was assisting in the on-going investigation.

“The university takes these types of allegations very seriously and we are committed to conducting a very thorough investigation concerning these allegations,” Brown said.

Just a week ago, Jones had been suspended from the basketball team but was quickly readmitted.

In his statement, Klein said:

On Feb. 17 while at a team dinner, Coach Rick Pitino was informed of a text message sent by Chris Jones to another individual.  Chris was removed from the dinner table, immediately suspended from the team.  After the matter was addressed within the university and Chris surrendered his cell phone, he was permitted to return to the team on Feb. 19 with strict internal disciplinary measures attached, among which included a curfew.

UofL Dean of Students Michael Mardis said Jones was not removed from campus when this first incident took place. But he said the university could have if they thought Jones was a threat.

“The university has protocols in place that if we believe somebody is an immediate threat of harm to others we can take interim administrative action,” he said.

Mardis said university officials did not exercise its right to remove Jones from campus after the incident on Feb. 17.

University police said Jones has been cooperating with officials throughout the investigation.

Earlier: Former University of Louisville basketball player Chris Jones has been charged with rape and sodomy, The Courier-Journal reports.

The newspaper reports that a warrant was issued Wednesday for Jones, who was kicked off the team Sunday. The crimes, involving two women, allegedly occurred Saturday night, after Jones led U of L to victory over Miami.

Jones had just been reinstated after being suspended earlier in the week for a violation of team rules.

He’s expected to appear in court Thursday morning.

—Staff

]]> http://wfpl.org/former-louisville-cardinals-player-chris-jones-charged-rape-sodomy/feed/ 0 Amid Federal Pressure, Kentucky Drug Courts Look Into Expanding Addiction Treatment http://wfpl.org/amid-federal-pressure-kentucky-drug-courts-look-expanding-addiction-treatment/ http://wfpl.org/amid-federal-pressure-kentucky-drug-courts-look-expanding-addiction-treatment/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:08:16 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32615 The state’s drug courts might allow addicts to receive medically assisted drug therapy as part of court mandated treatment. The move comes after White House drug czar Michael Botticelli said in February that drug courts that prohibit medical treatment would stop … Read Story

]]> The state’s drug courts might allow addicts to receive medically assisted drug therapy as part of court mandated treatment.

The move comes after White House drug czar Michael Botticelli said in February that drug courts that prohibit medical treatment would stop receiving federal funding.

Kentucky’s drug courts currently receive almost $12 million in federal grants.

Kentucky Court of Justice spokeswoman Leigh Ann Hiatt confirmed that the state was looking into allowing medically assisted drug treatment but said it was too early for the court system to have an official position.

“Kentucky Drug Court is evaluating the very recent news regarding federal funding and does not have any definitive policy changes to announce at this time,” Hiatt said in an email.

Kentucky’s drug court program is abstinence-based. Participants are required to wean themselves of all drugs, including physician-prescribed drugs intended to ease addicts off of opiates like heroin.

Judges are allowed to assign convicts to “medically supervised detoxification” for six months. However most drug courts require participants to quit treatment drugs like suboxone and methadone while they’re in a diversion or probation program.

One Kentucky circuit judge, David Tapp, who serves Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties, has been running a pilot project that uses the drug vivitrol as part of medically assisted treatment. According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, vivitrol is an opioid-inhibiting drug that can be administered once per month and doesn’t interfere with drug tests.

Tapp is trying to enlist support among drug court judges in Northern Kentucky, The Courier-Journal reported.

The state government provides most of the funds for the state’s drug court programs.  The Administrative Office of the Courts gets federal dollars to partially fund drug court programs in 12 counties. The court system currently receives $7,327,781 in funding from the Substance Abuse Health Services Administration and $4,593,055 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

According to the Kentucky Court of Justice, drug courts in the following counties receive federal funding: Clark/ Madison, Fayette, Floyd, Hardin, Hopkins, Jefferson, Knott/ Magoffin, McCracken, Muhlenberg, Perry, Pike and Warren.

]]> http://wfpl.org/amid-federal-pressure-kentucky-drug-courts-look-expanding-addiction-treatment/feed/ 0 Remembering Louisville’s Glorious Movie Row http://wfpl.org/remembering-louisvilles-glorious-movie-row/ http://wfpl.org/remembering-louisvilles-glorious-movie-row/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:19:57 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32603 A few weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, I found myself on the stage of the Brown Theatre interviewing a distinguished filmmaker about his new movie. All of the sudden, as I sat there looking out at the audience of … Read Story

]]> A few weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, I found myself on the stage of the Brown Theatre interviewing a distinguished filmmaker about his new movie. All of the sudden, as I sat there looking out at the audience of nearly 1,000 people, I was swept back 50 or 60 years ago to the days when the Brown was just one of a whole cluster of theatres in downtown Louisville that screened movies.

When it opened in 1925, the Brown, which was the brainchild of hotel mogul J. Graham Brown, was something of a marvel. It was modeled on the Music Box Theatre in New York—the theatre owned by songwriter Irving Berlin, which playwright Moss Hart’s brother Bernie called “The Money Box”—and initially was the home of vaudeville and legitimate theatre. All that changed in 1929 with the coming of talking pictures and the collapse of the economy. Mr. Brown saw the importance of movies and converted the theatre to show them.

An aside: I remember Mr. Brown well. He was a compact little man, impeccably tailored, with Stetson hats and a little Pekingese dog on a leash. When I was young, he lived in the Brown Hotel, had his breakfast every morning in the coffee shop there, and then walked out to Fourth Street to await his limousine. On more than one occasion he greeted me, when I was a youngster. Today, there is a statue of him, and his dog, in front of the hotel that still bears his name.

The Brown was one of downtown Louisville’s movie palaces, but it was not the only one, and despite the A-1 pictures it screened over the years (“The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “South Pacific,” “The Absent-Minded Professor” and others), it wasn’t the grandest.

That honor, I should think, would go to the Loew’s United Artists, known today as The Palace. That rococo showplace (and it is one) opened in 1928, just after Al Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer” upended the making of movies (in much the same way the Internet has thrown newspapers into disarray). “The Jazz Singer” played across the street at the Rialto Theatre, always my favorite, and more on that in a bit.

The Loew’s was one of a few dozen theatres across America managed by the chain of movie palaces that also owned the fabulous film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Before a 1948 Supreme Court decision broke up the monopoly, theater chains and movie studios were joined at the hip. In Louisville, that meant that pictures from MGM went to the Loew’s, pictures from RKO went to the Rialto, and pictures from Columbia and Warner Brothers landed at the Brown, the Kentucky or the Ohio. Walt Disney pictures almost always were at the Rialto.

The Loew’s was big, and its lobby was busy. The concession stand was one of the best ever, with long freezers filled with frozen malted milks and “Drumsticks,” those ice cream bars dipped in chocolate and chopped nuts. For a time they also sold chocolate covered frozen bananas. Popcorn flowed from a popper the size of a cotton gin, and if you wanted it buttered, the concessionaire pushed the brown and yellow cup of popcorn under a dispenser. I don’t know if even then it was real butter, but the concessionaires called it “Reel-Butter Popcorn.” If the movie was a blockbuster, like “The King and I” or “Oklahoma!” concessionaires also hocked souvenir programs, most of which I collected and still have in my possession today.

In my memory, the glorious end of Movie Row came in a short period in the mid-1960s.

Louisville was a certified big city in my childhood; in the 1950s and 1960s it was among the nation’s top 25 or 30. But rarely did we have a Hollywood premiere with Klieg lights, tuxedos and the like. It did happen once in my childhood, on the eve of my seventh birthday, when Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and the cast of “Raintree County” assembled for the premiere of that movie at the Brown. My little family climbed into our new Oldsmobile and drove downtown to observe it all. My younger brother and I were told that (a) “Raintree County” was set in Danville, which was just down the road from Louisville; and (b) Elizabeth Taylor was a major movie star. I have a vague memory of a raven-haired woman in a silk gown riding in a convertible. Of course, our family just took a few turns around the block and headed home to St. Matthews.

Of all the theatres on Movie Row, however, none surpassed The Rialto for beauty, elegance, comfort or (as our 1930s movie makers boasted) “class.” Built in 1920 by the Louisville architectural firm of Joseph and Joseph, its classical façade was a dazzling assemblage of white-glazed terra cotta tile from Cincinnati’s legendary Rookwood Pottery (which also lines the Rathskeller of the Seelbach Hotel). The Rialto cost a million dollars (in 1920-dollars) to build and seated 3,500 people. When it opened in 1921, it boasted a magnificent marble staircase and a huge pipe organ. I climbed those stairs many times.

Its name was steeped in history. “The Rialto” in Venice was the financial and commercial center of Venice. Remember Solanio’s line in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”?: “So, what’s the news on the Rialto?” For decades The New York Times called its theatrical gossip column, “News on the Rialto.” Playwright-extraordinaire George S. Kaufman named the column.

Our Rialto was a special place. In the 1930s, it was the venue for all of Katharine Hepburn’s great films. While “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” opened across the street at the Loew’s, “Gunga Din” packed in weeks of crowds at the Rialto. Move forward into the 1950s and the Rialto was the site for all the Disney revivals (“Bambi,” “Pinocchio,” “Song of the South” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”)

But by 1960 or so, the competition was getting stronger. Disney’s “Swiss Family Robinson,” which ran for almost six months at the Ohio Theatre, a cheapie place next to the Brown Hotel, was setting records. The Ohio, which smelled of rancid butter and whose floor was sticky with semi-dried sodas, also was the venue for other Disney films.

The Mary Anderson, named for the sort of great actress, was right across the alley from the Rialto. It was the home for Warner Brothers pictures. The seats weren’t comfortable, but films were good. By the 1960s, it was changed to the Mary Anderson Towne Cinema, and the décor instide was changed to reflect the current picture being shown. Some of the best? “April Fools” with Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuvre, “The Sterile Cuckoo” with Liza Minnelli and Wendell Burton,” and “How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying)” with Robert Morse, Rudey Vallee and Michelle Lee.

By the early 1960s, Theatre Row was in its final stage, but those of us who trooped downtown for lunch at Stewart’s or the California Orange Bar, or the Blue Boar had no idea. At the Rialto, they installed projectors first for “Cinerama,” and then for “Todd-a-O”. My fifth grade class in 1961 all trooped downtown to see “This Is Cinerama” at the Rialto. What I remember best is the roller-coaster ride, as well as the choir singing at the Vatican. All black-and-white.

In my memory, the glorious end of Movie Row came in a short period in the mid-1960s. “My Fair Lady” opened at the Penthouse in early 1965, and the dazzling recreation of the Broadway success played for more than a year. (The Penthouse had been created in 1962 by dividing the balcony of the Loews—now Palace—into two theatres. The United Artists was downstairs; the Penthouse, reached by a seemingly endless escalator was upstairs.) Downstairs, at the United Artists, Julie Andrews opened in Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins” in January 1965. Across the street, at the Rialto, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” opened that same year. It played in Louisville—either at the Rialto or the Penthouse—for well over a year. Todd-a-O was an amazing film format. It was a combination of wide-screen and 3-D. When Julie Andrews walked through the brooks as they tripped and fell, it was truly like being in the hills above Salzburg.

The last time I went to the Rialto was in the spring of 1968. My Aunt Lucille, who had been my guide to downtown theaters for many years, arranged for me to see the revival of “Gone With the Wind” with an elderly aunt, Minnie. We saw the four-hour film, and then went for refreshments at the Brown. It was a last gasp from the 1950s for me. There would be more moments at Theatre Row movies in the next few years, but their time was ending.

Our city looked eastward—to the Showcase Cinemas on Bardstown Road, then to the Oxmoor Cinemas. They are now long gone. Now we go to Stonybrook, Baxter and Tinseltown.

For me, however, the grand era of motion pictures in Louisville is in my memory. And how marvelous it is.

Keith Runyon is a longtime Louisville journalist and former editorial page editor for The Courier-Journal.

 

]]> http://wfpl.org/remembering-louisvilles-glorious-movie-row/feed/ 0 Louisville Man’s Life and Death Highlights Plight of Homeless http://wfpl.org/louisville-mans-life-death-highlights-plight-homeless/ http://wfpl.org/louisville-mans-life-death-highlights-plight-homeless/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:04:15 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32372 On many days, Kenny Winfield found comfort in alcohol—typically tall cans of Olde English. He’d drink just about anything, said his sister, Arleathiea Winfield. Last Thursday, on a bitterly frigid day amid the city’s extreme cold snap, Winfield started drinking early. By … Read Story

]]> On many days, Kenny Winfield found comfort in alcohol—typically tall cans of Olde English. He’d drink just about anything, said his sister, Arleathiea Winfield.

Last Thursday, on a bitterly frigid day amid the city’s extreme cold snap, Winfield started drinking early. By late that night, neighbors of the St. John Center for Homeless Men found him dead outside the building, where he spent many days warming up.

Like many other homeless men and women, Winfield fought his own personal demons, struggles that were exacerbated when the thermometer dropped to single digits.

“Being that he was drunk, he didn’t feel no cold,” his sister explained.

The preliminary cause of Winfield’s death was hypothermia, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. A toxicology report won’t be completed for about two months.

Winfield, 49, spent the last 12 years of his life on the streets, without a home, his sister said. He had a job many years ago, a home too. But personal tragedy, some brushes with the law, and alcohol abuse led him to a life on Louisville’s streets, according to friends, family and court records

“He didn’t choose to be homeless,” his sister said. “It fell upon him.”

And the fall came hard and fast.

Kenny Winfield moved in 1999 from Brooklyn to Louisville, where his mother and older brother, James Carter Jr., lived.

In those first few years, Winfield’s life was pretty good.

“He kept a job, kept a roof over his head and did his thing,” Carter said.

He worked in warehouses, Circuit City, Kroger and Brown-Forman, to name a few, his family noted. He lived in a home near Manslick Road.

In 2003, his mother and father died,  just a few weeks apart.

“It drove Kenny to that drinking consistently and he couldn’t stop,” Arleathiea Winfield said. “He couldn’t cope with that.”

Arleathie Winfield, Kenneth Winfield's sister, holding a photo of him outside of the St. John Center for Homeless Men, where her brother died less than a week earlier in frigid cold temperatures.

Arleathiea Winfield, Kenneth Winfield’s sister, holding a photo of him outside of the St. John Center for Homeless Men, where her brother died less than a week earlier in frigid cold temperatures.

The once close sibling who shared in practical jokes and childhood squabbles quickly drifted apart from his brother and sister.

She said Kenny developed “demons” inside him and he sought solace at the bottom of a beer can or bottle of gin. Sometimes both.

Winfield was soon out on the street. He stayed mostly in encampments near Campbell Street and River Road, according to his longtime friend Alvin Cooper, 51, himself homeless until recently.

Winfield weaved in and out of jail, racking up dozens of criminal charges for disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication in a public place, and DUI, among others, court records show.

Traumatic events like the death of a loved one mixed with substance abuse is a “toxic soup” that can lead someone to neglect the factors that attribute to their stability and end up on the street, said John Gilderbloom, the director of University of Louisville’s Center for Sustainable Neighborhoods.

Gilderbloom said there is a relationship between the “forces that shape and cause homelessness”—such as addiction, mental illness, a lack of education—and circumstances that lead someone to living on the streets.

“But some prefer just to live their lives and have that kind of privacy,” he added.

Cooper, Winfield’s pal, said Kenny valued his privacy. Like many others without homes, Winfield didn’t like to stay in shelters.

“It’s a lot of pride, too,” he said. “Kenny, as a person, he wanted to do things on his own.”

Related Story

IMG_0035What It Sounds Like In a Louisville Homeless Shelter On a Frigid Night

This meant nights in a tent or on the street, instead of a shelter.

Shelters, Gilderbloom said, aren’t always the most welcoming place for people.

“It’s hard enough for two people living together to figure out how to live together, let alone 50 strangers who might have mental health problems, drug problems, a history of violence—they might even be wanted by police,” he said.

Louisville has about 650 emergency shelter beds available year-round for residents, said Natalie Harris, director of the Coalition for the Homeless. Each bed is occupied every night.

On especially hot or cold nights, shelter occupancy can increase by about 300 people. On these nights people sleep in chairs or on benches. Mats line the floor side-by-side.

Winfield turned down numerous invitations to stay with family. His friend, Cooper, recently landed permanent housing and moved into a one-bedroom apartment. He said he often extended an invitation to Winfield to stay, but he declined every time.

“It makes me mad that he did this when he didn’t have to,” said his brother, James Carter Jr. “Sometimes it’s OK to ask for help.”

Addiction Kept Him Out on the Streets

Cooper said he had never seen Kenny drink as much as he did during the last eight months.

The stress of homelessness, coupled with mental health issues weighed heavy on Winfield, Cooper said. Winfield was prescribed a handful of medications for his ills, but Kenny went for pints—not pills, Cooper recalled.

It’s “what kept him out here on the streets,” Cooper said. “It’s what kept him from calling his brother, kept him from calling his sister.”

Winfield wasn’t alone. Nearly a third of all homeless people in the U.S. suffer from alcohol addiction, Gilderbloom said. Many other battle with drug addiction, he said.

“Drugs and alcohol fuel mental illness to a great degree,” he added.

Arleathiea Winfield said her brother had a “good heart.”

He also had a girlfriend, Stacy Cunningham, who goes by the nickname “Dash.”

20150225_103831Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Stacy “Dash” Cunningham inside the Louisville Rescue Mission on weekday morning. She touched her cheek when she describes Kenny’s cheekbones.

Cunningham, 34, said Winfield would often eschew the shelter so he could be with her. Only one emergency shelter in Louisville allows couples to remain together overnight.

Cunningham said she was with Winfield the night he died. They were drinking together with a friend near the BP gas station at East Broadway and Hancock Street. The friend had just bought a pair of boots for them.

Winfield and Cunningham got in an argument on their way back to a homeless encampment near Liberty Street, she recalled. He hung back and sat for spell on the steps outside of the St. John Center, she said.

“The last words I heard from him were, ‘I’m on my way, just give me a few minutes.’”

Cunningham went on to their camping spot on Liberty Street, herself so intoxicated she nodded off before Winfield arrived. She woke up the next morning alone and cold, a sheet of ice across the blankets.

She believes Winfield passed out on the steps during the night.

“It didn’t matter hot, cold, rain, dry, when that man got too much in him he would pass out on the sidewalk, in the middle of the street, everywhere,” she said. “He would just shut down that quickly.”

And on this night, the thermometer plunged to about zero.

Winfield was also a father. His sister said he had 12 children spread across four states.

Considered Vulnerable, But Not Vulnerable Enough

Winfield was among nearly 1,200 other homeless Louisville residents who last year took part in a common assessment program that aims to find permanent housing for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Men and women in the assessment are asked a series of questions in effort to determine how likely it is for them to die on the street. Residents receive a score from 1-20 and a score of 10 or above makes an individual eligible for a housing voucher, said Mary Frances Schafer, director of community coordination for Coalition for the Homeless.

Maria Price, the executive director of the St John Center for Men, said Kenny “was considered vulnerable” following his assessment, but others, like Alvin Cooper, were considered for housing first.

Cooper said he scored a 16 on his common assessment and after nearly 14 years on the street he now has an apartment.

Despite his good fortune, Cooper wants more from the program.

“You can’t put a number on a person, a homeless person,” he said.

Schafer said there simply aren’t enough vouchers, not enough housing for everyone.

According to a quarterly report released in January, there were just 12 housing vouchers available to the homeless in Louisville for permanent housing, Schafer noted.

“The biggest reason for homelessness is a lack of resources,” she said.

Winfield’s sister learned of her brother’s death by watching television news.

“It just made me go crazy,” she said. Her last conversation with him was two weeks earlier. He told her he was going to stop by her house. He never showed.

Today, she wonders how long it would take for her brother to be considered for permanent housing. And if  given the option, would the stubborn 49-year-old, take it?

Arleathiea Winfield hopes his death will be a wake-up call to the public. More resources are needed for the homeless community, she said.

“It might be a blessing, he might be singing praise right now, that it took his life to help everybody else that’s homeless and suffering out here,” she said.

For the once-homeless Cooper, his friend’s death will forever sting.

“I love him,” Cooper said. “I’m going to miss him to death.”

]]> http://wfpl.org/louisville-mans-life-death-highlights-plight-homeless/feed/ 0 Commission’s Meeting to Consider Natural Gas Deep Well in Kentucky Lasts 15 Minutes http://wfpl.org/commissions-meeting-consider-natural-gas-deep-well-lasts-15-minutes/ http://wfpl.org/commissions-meeting-consider-natural-gas-deep-well-lasts-15-minutes/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:36:12 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32585 A state commission is considering allowing Kentucky’s first horizontal deep well for natural gas. The commission met yesterday for the first time since 2006, and heard a brief testimony from the company interested in drilling the well. But the commissioners … Read Story

]]> A state commission is considering allowing Kentucky’s first horizontal deep well for natural gas. The commission met yesterday for the first time since 2006, and heard a brief testimony from the company interested in drilling the well. But the commissioners asked no questions, and members of the public who attended were limited to questions about the company’s brief testimony.

The Kentucky Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is required to sign off on any oil and gas permits that deviate from the traditional deep vertical wells, like the proposal from Horizontal Technology Energy Company. If it’s approved, this would be the first horizontal deep natural gas well in Kentucky.

Earlier this week, we reported:

“When operators drill for natural gas horizontally, they drill down deep into the earth, then begin traveling laterally into the formation. In this case, Horizontal Technology Energy Company is proposing what’s known as a “wildcat horizontal well.” This means it’s a deep well that’s drilled at least 25,000 feet from another deep well. [Kentucky Oil and Gas Division Director Kim] Collings said wildcat wells are generally used as test wells, for operators to determine whether the area will be profitable and if so, the best method for producing the natural gas.

Collings said operators will be looking for answers to questions like ‘If this shale has potential, is it better to produce it vertically or horizontally? With a horizontal well, there’s going to be considerably more cost to drill it. Is there considerably more profit to make up for those costs?’”

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Horizontal Technology Energy Company is affiliated with energy giant EQT, and was represented by George Heflin of EQT at the meeting yesterday. Heflin’s lawyer asked him several simple questions, like the targeted depth of the well (11,200 feet). The commissioners declined to ask Heflin any questions, and two citizens were shut down when they tried to ask Heflin questions about EQT’s environmental record.

Jim Bruggers of The Courier-Journal was at the meeting, and wrote:

The commission members, who have final say on the permit, were not curious in the least bit about the proceedings. None of them asked any questions.

It didn’t help matters that the commission chose a small room only large enough for a single row of chairs around their board table, which forced some in an overflow crowd to listen from a hallway.

After the meeting, which took about 30 minutes, Kentucky Natural Resources Commissioner Steve Hohmann said the citizens should have focused their questions directly on the permit that was up for approval. Instead of a general question about water quality, the question should have asked something specific about any provisions in the permit that dealt with water quality.

When I asked Sloane about that after the meeting, he nodded in agreement.

However, that’s not how some in the audience heard Sloane during the meeting, who had said the cross examination needed to be based on the testimony that was presented by the company, which was very limited.

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1280px-Water_tanks_preparing_for_a_frac_jobCommission to Consider Permit for Kentucky's First Deep Horizontal Natural Gas Well

Residents are concerned about speculation in the Rogersville shale in Eastern Kentucky, where the proposed well would be drilled. If the shale proves profitable, it would be the first time large-scale hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is used in Kentucky. The practice is effective for releasing deep oil and natural gas reserves, but studies have raised questions about fracking’s links to water contamination, health problems and earthquakes. A bill to regulate fracking is moving though the Kentucky General Assembly.

Yesterday’s meeting was videotaped by fracking opponent Sellus Wilder. It’s only 15 minutes long; you can watch the whole video here.

]]> http://wfpl.org/commissions-meeting-consider-natural-gas-deep-well-lasts-15-minutes/feed/ 0 Listen to Our News Special on the Surge of Heroin in Kentucky http://wfpl.org/listen-news-special-surge-heroin-kentucky/ http://wfpl.org/listen-news-special-surge-heroin-kentucky/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:00:03 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32548 Over the past several years, heroin abuse in Kentucky and elsewhere has soared, devastating families and straining police, jails, hospitals and treatment centers. In this WFPL News special that aired Wednesday, we talked about the heroin surge and the response … Read Story

]]> Over the past several years, heroin abuse in Kentucky and elsewhere has soared, devastating families and straining police, jails, hospitals and treatment centers. In this WFPL News special that aired Wednesday, we talked about the heroin surge and the response to what many call a public health epidemic.

Guests included:

  • Healing Place client Jay Moffet
  • Kenneth Wright, substance abuse program coordinator for Louisville Metro Corrections
  • WFPL Capitol bureau chief Ryland Barton
  • Karyn Hascal, president of the Healing Place

WFPL’s Rick Howlett hosted. Listen below:

Related stories:

]]> http://wfpl.org/listen-news-special-surge-heroin-kentucky/feed/ 0 Kentucky Doesn’t Have Any More Working Union Coal Miners http://wfpl.org/kentucky-doesnt-have-any-more-working-union-coal-miners/ http://wfpl.org/kentucky-doesnt-have-any-more-working-union-coal-miners/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:57:54 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32544 For the first time in about a century, no union coal miners are working in Kentucky. The state’s few remaining union miners were laid off New Year’s Eve when Patriot Coal’s Highland Mine in Western Kentucky shut down, the United … Read Story

]]> For the first time in about a century, no union coal miners are working in Kentucky. The state’s few remaining union miners were laid off New Year’s Eve when Patriot Coal’s Highland Mine in Western Kentucky shut down, the United Mine Workers of America confirmed.

“Appalachia was always a really tough nut for the union to crack, and I think maybe Kentucky was the toughest nut of all,” said labor historian James Green, author of a new book about West Virginia’s mine wars.

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In retrospect, the fight to unionize Harlan County’s Brookside mine in 1973 was one of the last stands for the union in the commonwealth, Green said. The struggle was immortalized in the Oscar-winning documentary “Harlan County, USA.”


The decline of unions is a nationwide trend that applies to organized labor of all types. In 1983, 20 percent of American workers belonged to some sort of labor union, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes. By 2014, that number had fallen to 11 percent.

But Green said the decline of the coal workers’ union is one of the starkest in the country.

“The steel and auto industries have managed to regroup and regain some hold,” he said. “Still, most General Motors workers are [members of the United Auto Workers union]. You can’t say that about most coal miners.”

‘A Way of Life’

When third generation Harlan County resident Deke Hampton went into coal mining in the 1970s, he didn’t seek to join a union mine. It just happened.

“I was just raised in what you’d call union country. I guess you could put it that way,” Hampton said. “It was a way of life.”

Not anymore. Now, Kentucky’s union miners are a relic of the past.

Like Hampton, Quentin Clark is a third generation coal miner. But Clark is 22 years younger—41 years old—and lives in Hopkins County, in Western Kentucky. He’s never considered joining a union–an attitude shared by most of his peers.

“When you throw in union dues that you’re required to pay, you throw in the fact that someone else can determine whether you work or whether you do not work, there’s a lot of factors that keep the younger guys from even considering it,” he said.

Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett said the United Mine Workers of America was successful in many ways in obtaining better working conditions and benefits for members; so much so, that most miners don’t see the union as essential anymore.

“Coal miners are now paid very well,” he said. “They have excellent benefits. They have many ways they can inform regulators of any concerns they have anonymously. So the union representation I don’t think is seen as needed as it was in the past for our industry.”

Bissett, whose organization represents many of the state’s coal operators, blames some of the union’s problems on Kentucky politics. The UMWA endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes in her losing bid to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell. The union also backed President Barack Obama in 2008. Obama’s environmental policies are perceived by many as detrimental to the state’s coal industry.

“Some of their policies have seemed to be more connected with perpetuating the union than really being of benefit to the coal miners,” Bissett said.

The United Mine Workers of America declined to comment for this story.

Unions and Safety

Regardless, Tony Oppegard, mine safety attorney and former regulator, said the coal miners’ union still has a vital role.

“It’s much harder for a miner at a non-union mine to stand up for safety,” he said.

In theory, federal safety laws mean coal miners can’t be discriminated against for refusing to work in unsafe conditions, Oppegard said. But in practice, those laws are lacking. In non-union mines, making a formal discrimination complaint to the federal government, is a time-intensive and expensive process. At union mines, Oppegard says miners have more protections.

“Miners take [federal mine safety laws] for granted now, a lot of miners do, and they don’t see the need for a union,” he said. Now, where they see the need for the union is when they get hurt and the company then treats them like a disposable commodity.”

In Kentucky, more than 6,000 coal miners have lost their jobs since 2008. In those circumstances, Oppegard said he worries that the prospects of being unemployed may convince non-union miners not to speak up against unsafe work conditions.

There’s a lack of impartial data about the relative safety of union and non-union mines, just anecdotal stories. Predictably, union and non-union miners tend to disagree on this point.

“I’m not going to say it was like night and day difference,” Deke Hampton said about safety at union and non-union mines.

After a few years as a union miner in Harlan County, Hampton worked three decades as a state mine inspector until retiring in 2009. The starker differences were between mines run by big companies and smaller operators, he said. But on a whole, he found that union mines tended to be the safest.

“Some of the big companies that I inspected, they provided safety for the miners, but not on the scale of the union,” he said. In union mines, “the men dictated what was safe and what wasn’t.”

Hopkins County coal miner Quentin Clark said as far as he’s concerned, the advantages to joining a union today are minimal.

“It’s not a safety issue anymore,” he said. “We’re talking about a dollar or two an hour, is that what they want to try to get? Or a day or two off a year. It’s not as significant as it used to be.”

And if he is approached tomorrow by union organizers, Clark still wouldn’t be interested.

“I would tell them, ‘Thank you, appreciate it, but no,’” he said.

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentucky-doesnt-have-any-more-working-union-coal-miners/feed/ 0 Kentucky House Passes Public-Private Partnership Bill Without N. Ky. Toll Ban http://wfpl.org/kentucky-house-passes-public-private-partnership-bill-without-n-ky-toll-ban/ http://wfpl.org/kentucky-house-passes-public-private-partnership-bill-without-n-ky-toll-ban/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:38:14 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32557 The Kentucky House on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow the state to engage in public-private partnerships. Notably, the bill passed 84-13 without an amendment that would have forbid using a “P3″ to finance a toll bridge connecting Kentucky with … Read Story

]]> The Kentucky House on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow the state to engage in public-private partnerships.

Notably, the bill passed 84-13 without an amendment that would have forbid using a “P3″ to finance a toll bridge connecting Kentucky with Ohio. A similarly amended bill was vetoed by Gov. Steve Beshear last year.

A “P3” is a financing model that allows the state to contract with private companies on major projects. Typically a private company would front much of the money for the construction phase of a project and then would be able to recoup expenses through users fees or tolls.

Rep. Leslie Combs, a Democrat from Pikeville and a bill sponsor, said P3s are necessary because the state is running out of money.

“We don’t have any more ways to fund and finance,” Combs said. “That’s what it is, another option at financing and finding a way beyond what we have available to us.”

Rep. Jim Wayne, a Democrat from Louisville, said the P3 legislation wasn’t “ripe” enough yet. Wayne said that lawmakers needed to fully consider the “marriage” between the state and a business.

“Because a corporation has an entirely different model for existing and that is, as well all know: profit. It wants to make money,” Wayne said. “So we have to be very, very cautious in blessing this marriage.”

Much of the debate on the bill surrounded the possibility of a P3 being used to finance a $2.6 billion replacement of the Brent-Spence Bridge, which connects Covington and Cincinnati.

Rep. Arnold Simpson, a Democrat from Covington, pleaded with legislators to include a ban on tolls between Ohio and Kentucky, saying his constituents would be disproportionately affected

“They will pay a toll on the way to work and on the way back home,” Simpson said. “My folks don’t wanna pay no tolls.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Beshear have both indicated they would support tolling on the bridge.

The bill passed both the state House and Senate last year, but it was vetoed because of the amendment forbidding tolls on projects connecting Kentucky and Ohio.

In his veto statement of the bill last year, Beshear said it was “imprudent to eliminate any potential means of financing construction of such a vital piece of infrastructure that serves not only the Commonwealth and the state of Ohio but also the eastern United States.”

The bill heads to the Senate now. Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, has said he supports the concept of P3s.

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentucky-house-passes-public-private-partnership-bill-without-n-ky-toll-ban/feed/ 0 Fired University of Louisville Executive Sues School, Alleges Retaliation http://wfpl.org/fired-university-of-louisville-executive-sues-school-alleges-retaliation/ http://wfpl.org/fired-university-of-louisville-executive-sues-school-alleges-retaliation/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:48:44 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32552 A former top administrator at the University of Louisville has filed suit against the school’s board of trustees, alleging he was fired because he spoke out about health insurance bidding issues and racial discrimination of employees. According to the complaint … Read Story

]]> A former top administrator at the University of Louisville has filed suit against the school’s board of trustees, alleging he was fired because he spoke out about health insurance bidding issues and racial discrimination of employees.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, Sam Connally, former vice president for human resources, claims the university violated Kentucky’s whistleblower statute and the state’s civil rights act.

An attorney hired by the university, however, determined in December that Connally’s claims were without merit.

Connally alleges that Provost Shirley Willihnganz retaliated against him because he complained that Humana Inc. received an unfair advantage in the bidding process for university health insurance. Connally alleges the school was planning to solicit David Jones, Sr., Humana’s founder, for a $10 million gift to U of L’s capital campaign.

“At the end of the day, it’s kind of hard to argue with $10 million,” the suit quotes Willihnganz as saying.

In 2012, the lawsuit states, U of L sought proposals for a healthcare provider for the following year. A preliminary assessment showed that the bid should be awarded to United Healthcare because of an estimated savings of $1.2 million over the bid submitted by Humana, the suit states.

A few days later, however, Connally alleges that Willihnganz disclosed to him that Michael McAllister, chairman and CEO of Humana, had written to President James Ramsey during the open bid process to complain about how the university’s benefit consultant evaluated the bids.

Connally alleges that Willihnganz made it clear that the administration wanted to extend “every possible courtesy to Humana in the selection of a health plan vendor since the university was planning to solicit David Jones, Sr. … for a $10 million gift.”

University spokesman Mark Hebert declined in an e-mail to comment. Connally’s attorney, Andrew Dutkanych III, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The complaint states that U of L increased employee health insurance premiums by $25 per employee per month (or $300 per employee per year), totaling $1.65 million per year for the 5,500 health plan participants. This took effect in Jan. 1, 2013. By June of that year, the plan had generated a surplus of $1.65 million.

Rather than return the excess premiums to employees or reduce premiums, U of L moved the money out of the health plan and spent it on non-health plan expenditures, Connally alleges in the suit.

As of June 2014, the health plan generated a surplus of $3.4 million, which according to Connally’s lawsuit,was also spent on non-health expenditures.

In October 2014, the plan was projected to generate an annual surplus of $1.75 million. Of that, $250,000 was allocated to offset minor enhancements to retiree health insurance, leaving a surplus of $1.5 million, according to the suit.

Connally alleges that Willihnganz wanted to consider another premium hike in 2015 “because university general fund budgets were exceedingly tight,” according to the lawsuit. Connally claims he argued that the school couldn’t raise rates without documenting the need based on actual increases in health plan costs.

Connally also asserts he was punished for speaking up in a separate matter. He alleges that the school made false statements to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, denying that black employees in the financial aid office had been discriminated against. Connally himself described their treatment as the “most extreme example of race discrimination” he had observed in more than 20 years as a university EEO officer.

Connally’s claims were previously deemed unfounded by an attorney hired by the school to investigate a formal retaliation complaint filed in October. The attorney, Thomas Williams, said Connally’s complaints “had no credible basis.”

The attorney noted that Connally waited more than two years to file a complaint about the health insurance plan bidding process. The investigation revealed that multiple people were involved in selecting a health care provider and that “Humana did not even receive the bid at issue.”

The investigation also found that Willihnganz had limited involvement with the discrimination claims from employees. “But even if she had been involved,” the report states, “the claims were resolved with negotiated agreements with the EEOC. There were no remaining issues open.”

Williams concluded: “It is apparent from the record that Connally makes his allegations against the provost when he knows his job is in jeopardy.”

Connally was hired by U of L in 2010 and had an annual salary of $192,890. The executive committee of U of L’s Board of Trustees ratified President Ramsey’s decision to fire him on Dec. 18.

Connally declined Wednesday afternoon to comment on the suit, in which he is seeking reinstatement to the university, as well as back pay and other damages.

Reporter Kristina Goetz can be reached at kgoetz@kycir.org or (502) 814.6546.

This story was reported by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Disclosure: In October 2014, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $10,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation. David Jones Sr., Humana’s founder, is part of foundation that donated to KyCIR. Trustee Stephen Campbell has donated to KyCIR. See our About page for more information. Also, KyCIR has a pending civil lawsuit against the university regarding public records.

]]> http://wfpl.org/fired-university-of-louisville-executive-sues-school-alleges-retaliation/feed/ 0 Revelation of Video Feed May Lead to Call to Reopen Louisville DUI Cases http://wfpl.org/revelation-video-feed-may-lead-call-reopen-louisville-dui-cases/ http://wfpl.org/revelation-video-feed-may-lead-call-reopen-louisville-dui-cases/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:00:42 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32468 The recent revelation that breathalyzer tests are video recorded at the Louisville jail may lead to an influx of filings to re-opened drunk driving cases in the near future. WDRB reported this weekend that a Louisville Metro Corrections official was exonerated … Read Story

]]> The recent revelation that breathalyzer tests are video recorded at the Louisville jail may lead to an influx of filings to re-opened drunk driving cases in the near future.

WDRB reported this weekend that a Louisville Metro Corrections official was exonerated of allegations he lied in court records through the release of a video from the jail. But WDRB also noted that the video surveillance feed used in the official’s defense was completely unknown to local defense attorneys.

This week, a Louisville defense attorney said Metro Correction’s surveillance video of breathalyzer tests from the last two years might put some of his past and present cases into question.

Paul Gold, an attorney who for decades has been representing people charged with DUIs, said for years he’d asked the county attorney’s office for all video records of the arrest of his clients—but he never received evidence from this specific video feed.

Gold said now that he knows about the video surveillance, he said it could affect dozens of his current and past clients.

“Now that I have had time to review a video I never saw before, I am learning different things about how my clients interacted when they were in the jail and whether proper jail procedures were followed,” he said.

In some instances, proper procedures were not followed, Gold alleges. For example, Gold claims authorities did not always follow a state law requiring a 20 minute observation period before administering a breathalyzer test to a DUI suspect.

“What that means is that if the observation period did not take place and state law was not followed, then therefore the breathalyzer reading would not be admissible in court,” he said.

This means the main evidence used to prosecute some DUIs was inadmissible in court—and Gold said some of his clients might have been improperly convicted of a DUI.

Gold said he’s begun reviewing old cases and, if necessary, will try to reopen them due to “newly discovered evidence.”

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said his office had no idea that video surveillance existed either.

“We would have turned this over if we knew it was in existence at the time that cases were pending and requests like this were being made, but we did not know either,” O’Connell said.

He said his office will assist anyone involved, but he added: “There may be cases that are filed in connection with this, but my office intends to vigorously defend any efforts by anybody to set aside a drunk driving conviction based on this.”

Gold said he and other defense attorneys are interested in looking back and properly defending all the DUI clients—even if some of their cases are already closed. And that means Jefferson County courts could be facing a high volume of re-opened DUI cases in the future.

“Courts will be dealing with this issue for the next couple of years not couple of months,” Gold said. “It’s of such a great magnitude and it is so important that it is going to be a long standing issue.”

]]> http://wfpl.org/revelation-video-feed-may-lead-call-reopen-louisville-dui-cases/feed/ 0 Kentucky Lawmakers Argue Over the Specifics of Heroin Legislation http://wfpl.org/kentucky-lawmakers-argue-specifics-heroin-legislation/ http://wfpl.org/kentucky-lawmakers-argue-specifics-heroin-legislation/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:35:23 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=32525 The state Senate’s first public discussion of the House’s heroin bill on Wednesday highlighted the differences between the two chambers as they seek to address a surge in addiction throughout Kentucky. The House bill focuses on treatment and enforcement that … Read Story

]]> The state Senate’s first public discussion of the House’s heroin bill on Wednesday highlighted the differences between the two chambers as they seek to address a surge in addiction throughout Kentucky.

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The House bill focuses on treatment and enforcement that distinguishes between peddlers, mid-level traffickers and aggravated traffickers.

The Senate version would punish all heroin traffickers with a Class C felony. During Wednesday morning’s committee hearing, several senators took issue with the House’s three-tiered sentencing system. Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said that dealers already avoid carrying large amounts of heroin to steer clear of more severe penalties.

Stivers and state prosecutors who testified during the committee hearing said the House bill’s provision to charge those who sell a kilogram or more of heroin with a Class B felony was useless because major cases are typically picked up by the federal government.

Kentucky law currently charges a Class C felony for selling two grams or more of heroin and a Class D felony for less than two grams.

Senators also remained skeptical of the bill’s provision to allow local health districts to set up needle exchange program. Sen. Wil Schroder, a Republican from Wilder, said that needle exchanges would make it harder for law enforcement to identify drug paraphernalia.

But Van Ingram, the executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, argued that needle exchanges are an important first point of contact between addicts and those who can help them.

Ingram added: “It starts to get a public health connection with someone who has checked out of the public health system and say: ‘Here’s your clean needles, I noticed you’ve got an abscess on your arm, I can help you with that. If you’re concerned about Hepatitis C, we can get you tested. If you’re concerned about HIV we can get you tested. And if you get tired of living this way, come talk to me and we can talk about some treatment options for you.’”

Another difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill is how they try to regulate naloxone, a drug used to reverse heroin overdoses. The House version allows anyone to receive naloxone directly from a pharmacist without having to go through a physician; the Senate version would only make the drug more readily available to first responders.

Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a physician and Republican from Winchester, argued that the drug needs to be administered by qualified professionals.

“You’re going to get this in the hands of individuals who may be shooting up together and where one guy’s completely high and the other person’s unconscious, this individual’s worried and he’s going to try to give him medication when the other individual may not be in a clinical situation where he would require that,” Alvarado said.

A House committee has not yet publicly reviewed the Senate’s version of the legislation.

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentucky-lawmakers-argue-specifics-heroin-legislation/feed/ 0 Tables Have Turned As Senate Barrels Toward Homeland Security Deadline http://wfpl.org/tables-turned-senate-barrels-toward-homeland-security-deadline/ http://wfpl.org/tables-turned-senate-barrels-toward-homeland-security-deadline/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:55:38 +0000 http://wfpl.org?p=32512&preview_id=32512 In many ways, nothing has changed from past funding deadlines. Except this time it's the Republicans howling at the Democrats for being the obstructionists. Read Story

]]> The Senate is speeding ahead into the first real deadline it’s had since the beginning of the new Congress. In many ways, nothing has changed from past deadlines — lawmakers don’t seem interested in resolving the matter with time to spare, rhetoric is hot and angry, and as always, one side is accusing the other of filibustering. Except this time it’s the Republicans howling at the Democrats for being the obstructionists.

The script remains the same. The two sides have merely switched parts.

Democrats have adapted quickly in their new role as the Senate minority. Mimicking the solidarity of Senate Republicans in years past, Democrats banded together four separate times this month to block the House-passed Department of Homeland Security funding bill — which unravels the president’s immigration policies. It’s forced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to switch gears this week.

“My preference remains with the legislation that’s already passed the House. It’s still the simplest way forward. But as long as Democrats continue to prevent us from even debating that bill, I’m ready to try another way,” said McConnell.

McConnell has offered Democrats a “clean” DHS funding bill — that is, one without policy provisions attached. He’ll bring a separate bill to the floor that halts the president’s executive action on immigration. This new plan decouples the immigration fight from the issue of funding Homeland Security — a good sign for Democrats. But Democrats aren’t biting quite yet.

Reid says he wants a commitment from House Speaker John Boehner that he’ll bring the clean funding bill to the House floor and get enough votes in the chamber to pass it. Only then do the two sides have a deal.

“We have to make sure that we get a bill to the president,” Reid said. “Unless Boehner’s in on the deal, it won’t happen.”

So just days before DHS runs out of money Friday, Democrats are threatening to block a clean funding bill in the Senate if they don’t get the assurance that the bill will actually pass Congress and land on President Obama’s desk. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York says that’s because his caucus is interested in solving the problem — not simply bouncing a bill to the House.

“To just toss the hot potato to Boehner — maybe that suits Sen. McConnell’s political needs. It doesn’t suit the nation’s real substantive needs,” said Schumer.

And this pushback from Democrats has given Republicans more reasons to keep calling them obstructionists.

“I support funding Homeland Security. The Democrats have repeatedly blocked it, which will be a hard argument for them to make to the American people,” said Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

When he assumed his perch as Senate majority leader, McConnell said his first goal was to get the Senate working again, and to show the country the new Republican majority can get stuff done. But the month-long impasse on DHS funding in the Senate feels like business as usual for a chamber that has seen very few substantive bills pass in recent years. Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama said that doesn’t mean his caucus has had a tough start in proving to everyone they can govern.

“I think it shows that what the Democrats are up to is obstructionism. You know, they’re the ones filibustering. We’ve been wanting to vote. Now at times we may have filibustered. We did. But now they are the obstructionists,” Shelby said.

Same script. The two sides have just traded lines.

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