Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will not have to testify at embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin’s removal trial.
Attorney Aubrey Williams had sought to subpoena the mayor so Fischer would explain the administration’s reasoning for terminating the upholstery program for ex-offenders that Shanklin continued to fund.
Metro Corrections halted the program in November 2011 in a letter to the program’s instructor after learning few former inmates attend.
But an affidavit signed by Fischer says he did not have any knowledge about the program until after the decision was made. The court accepted the mayor’s explanation that he leaves the “day-to-day” operations of departments to directors.
Williams told the court it is hard to believe Fischer was “oblivious” to the controversy and there is no question he was directly involved with shuttering the program.
“The mayor knew very well what was going on here. And for the mayor to not be willing to come and explain and talk about what he knew, why he did what he did, I think is just not right. It certainly isn’t fair to my client,” he says.
Shanklin faces two charges that she deliberately violated the city’s code of ethics, including the misuse of $29,000 in taxpayer funds for the upholstery that she and her relatives attended.
The councilwoman is also have alleged to have improperly overseen $75,000 in public funds appropriated towards Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association when she was a board member of the group.
Last year, a Shanklin spokesperson said she was upset with the public criticism from the mayor’s office that suggested tax dollars to fund the upholstery program were not spent as intended.
“The mayor isn’t just any individual. People believe what the mayor says when he says it,” Williams says. “We cannot escape the fact that the community has been bombarded with this case. And people have made their minds up and part of making their minds up has to do with what the mayor did, what the mayor said and what the mayor’s office did and said.”
The court also threw out Williams’s subpoena for two members of the Metro Ethics Commission, which recommended her ouster from office. He was seeking to question the commission about the ethics ordinance as it pertains to the Shanklin case.
A five-member Charging Committee filed a removal petition against Shanklin in earlier this year after the commission recommended her ouster.
The remaining 20 members will sit as a jury in the removal trial, which is expected to last at least three days with opening statements beginning on Tuesday.
According to city ordinance, it takes a two-thirds vote to remove a council member from office.