Phillip M. Bailey

Political Editor

Phillip M. Bailey became WFPL's political editor in 2011, covering city, state and regional campaigns and elected officials. He also covers Metro Government, including the mayor's office and Metro Council. Before coming to WFPL, Phillip worked for three years as a staff writer at LEO Weekly and was a fellow at the Academy of Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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Politics
8:24 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Approves City Purchasing Colonial Gardens

Colonial Gardens
Credit preservationlouisville.org

The Louisville Metro Council approved an ordinance that will allow the city to purchase the Colonial Gardens property by a 16-3 vote.

Mayor Greg Fischer asked lawmakers in April to allocate $430,000 to buy the historic South End property, which was the site of Louisville's first zoo and is now owned by an out-of-state trust.

For over a decade the structure has been idle and vacant, due in part to its out-of-state owners and historic preservation status.

City lawmakers were initially hesitant about the idea, and sought more information about the viability for private development. But its easy passage means the mayor can now move forward and sell Colonial Gardens to a developer.

"When running for office I promised my constituents I would work to develop the property. I am appreciative of the mayor and his economic development team for being such great partners as we continue to improve south Louisville together," says Councilman David Yates, D-25, who supported the ordinance. "While it has been a bumpy road we are very excited about the commitment to this shared goal."

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Politics
3:02 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Louisville Democratic Chair Would Like Grimes to 'Make Her Mind Up' on Senate Race

Louisville Democratic Party Chair Bill Ryan
Credit louisvilledem.com

The chair of the Louisville Democratic Party says he'd prefer Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to make a quick decision on challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell next year.

Grimes is scheduled to appear at the party's annual Wendell Ford Dinner in Louisville on Thursday evening, but an announcement on the U.S. Senate race is not expected.

Pressure is mounting on Grimes to decide and attacks from a pro-McConnell super PAC have already been launched in newspaper ads.

Last month, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth told WFPL Grimes needed to make an immediate decision on running or risk hurting the party.

Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair Bill Ryan says he doesn’t agree Grimes is doing the party a disservice, but that it would be bet better to know the secretary of state's intentions now rather than later.

"I would like to see her make her mind up in the next few weeks. That would make it a whole lot simpler for the Democratic Party to find other candidates ... that are considering to go ahead and say they’re going to run," he says. "But as far as bullying her, no I’m not going to say she should or should not get into the race. If she wants to take up to January to decide that’s her business."

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Politics
12:20 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Outraged Over NSA Collecting U.S. Citizen's Phone Records

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

In a blistering statement, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., says President Obama has "sunk to a new low" after reports the National Security Agency has collected millions of U.S. citizen's telephone records.

A story in The Guardian revealed the practice and shows a court order requiring Verizon to provide the NSA with information about calls in its system on an "ongoing, daily basis" from inside county as well as between U.S. customers and people in foreign countries.

The White House is defending the practice as a tool to combat terrorism, but civil liberties advocates say the practice is similar to NSA overreach under President George W. Bush in 2006.

Paul says the president is abusing his executive power, but that the Democratic-controlled Senate failed to put Fourth Amendment protections in the post-9/11 surveillance laws.

From Paul's office:

The National Security Agency's seizure and surveillance of virtually all of Verizon's phone customers is an astounding assault on the Constitution. After revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political dissidents and the Department of Justice seized reporters' phone records, it would appear that this administration has now sunk to a new low.

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Politics
8:25 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth: Immigration Talks Will 'Move Forward' Despite GOP Members Exit

John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth downplayed the exit of Republican Raul Labrador from a bipartisan group of lawmakers working on immigration reform.

The House "Gang of 8" was made up of four Republicans and four Democrats, including Yarmuth.

Lawmakers had been meeting in secret negotiations for months, but Labrador's departure came down to whether undocumented immigrants should be required to pay for their own health care on their pathway towards citizenship.

From Politico:

The problem, Labrador said, was an impasse over how the pending legislation would address the issue of health care for undocumented immigrants. That issue had recently emerged as a major sticking point between Democrats and Republicans, and the negotiations had teetered on the edge of collapse at least three times in the last several weeks before drawing closer to an agreement again.

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Politics
6:18 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Decries Lack of Pay Equity for Women

Speaking on the House floor, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky called on Congress to update the 1963 Equal Pay Act and guarantee pay equity for women in the workplace.

The law was first enacted by President John F. Kennedy and is aimed at abolishing wage disparities between the sexes.

Fifty years ago, women made 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Recent studies show women are growing as the chief breadwinners in U.S. households, but still make just 77 centers compared to their male counterparts.

Yarmuth says that fact women have made only 18 cents worth of progress in half a century shows the need for lawmakers to close loopholes in the law.

Watch:

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Politics
11:51 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Louisville Budget Committee to Hold Public Comment June 13

Louisville City Hall
Credit wikimedia.org

The Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee is reminding residents about their opportunity to comment on Mayor Greg Fischer's proposed 2013-2014 budget.

Lawmakers are holding hearings on the mayor's spending plan throughout the month of June. The have been meeting with Metro department directors and non-profit groups.

The public comment portion is scheduled for June 13 at 6 p.m., and residents are being asked to sign-up at City Hall an hour in advance.

"The budget committee believes it is very important that we hear from the public when it comes to spending tax dollars for the coming year," says Councilwoman Marianne Butler, D-15, who chairs the committee.

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Politics
7:51 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Senator Joe Donnelly Pushes U.S. Military Leaders to Better Address Sexual Assaults

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, D-In., joined a chorus of lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee who berated top military leaders over the rise of sexual assault in the armed forces.

In recent months, a series of reports have uncovered a spike in rape and other sexual assault cases against men and women that have been called "terrifying" and a "cancer" despite efforts to curb the problem.

Last month, a study conducted by The Pentagon showed a 35 percent increase in estimated sexual abuse incidents in 2012 compared to 2010.

Speaking at the committee hearing on Tuesday, Donnelly told military commanders they have an obligation to address stop sexual assault and to provide for the psychological needs of survivors.

"I was at the Indy 500 a week before the race, and we inducted a couple hundred men and women into the service. And I want to be able to know when I look them in the eyes, that I can keep my obligation to tell them that you can serve our country, serve with dignity, have your dignity respected, and that’s what we’re trying to do," Donnelly said.

Watch:

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Politics
4:49 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Mayor Greg Fischer's Proposed Cuts to Arts, Homeless Grants Criticized

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Leaders from non-profit homeless and arts agencies are criticizing Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s decision to reduce the funding levels for their external agencies.

When the Fischer administration first unveiled its $528 million spending proposal last month, the mayor's office highlighted a 21 percent increase to funding for community ministries.

It also outlined how external agencies would receive more than $1 million in grants at continued levels from last year.

Fischer's decision to fund external agencies comes from three panels made up of Metro Council members and mayoral appointees who recommend expenditures for community ministries and social service agencies.

Those recommendations are in Fischer’s budget proposal without any changes, and citizens who sit on the panels sign agreements to keep the deliberations confidential.

Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition of the Homeless, says the decision-making process is troubling because groups like hers cannot conference with Fischer's panels to make answer important questions.

"I definitely don’t think the process is transparent. There isn’t any way for that committee to ask questions of the groups or for them to answer any issues that might come up during the committee meetings. And there’s also not a process to go back to that committee before the announcements are made," she says.

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Politics
10:41 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Poll: Mitch McConnell Holds Edge in 2014

Mitch McConnell
Credit U.S. Senate

A new poll of Kentucky voters shows Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell with a slight edge over two potential Democratic challengers in a 2014 match-up.

The Ohio-based firm Wenzel Strategies conducted the survey and released the results on Tuesday. It gives McConnell a 7-point lead over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is considered the top contender.

Those are very different results when compared to a Public Policy Polling survey that had McConnell and Grimes tied last week. McConnell's re-election campaign raked the PPP survey for what it called "laughable poll questions," saying it should be dismissed.

In a head-to-head contest with Grimes, Wenzel found McConnell receives 46 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent for the secretary of state, who has still not indicated whether she is running for U.S. Senate in 2014.

The same survey finds McConnell leading former Miss America Heather French Henry by just a 5-point margin, however. In that mock race, Henry, who is also mulling a possible candidacy, fairs slightly better than Grimes at 40 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for McConnell.

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Politics
8:21 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Prods Mayor’s Office Over Urban Services

Several Louisville Metro Council members aren't happy with Mayor Greg Fischer for failing to restore previously cut urban services in his new budget proposal.

City chief financial officer Steve Rowland testified at a budget hearing Monday that the city is investing in key areas such as infrastructure and strategic planning.

Fischer had been praised for putting additional funds towards fixing the city's roads, for instance.

But city lawmakers grilled Rowland over why the administration is not using  a projected $3.3 million surplus to bring back two rounds of street cleaning and junk pick-up in the Urban Services District that were cut during the recession.

"It's really hard for me to understand how we continue to implement new programs and spend the taxpayer's dollars when we can't restore services that were in place before merger," says Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, D-3. "It mind boggling to think we can spend $6.4 million to upgrade side walks, roadways and especially bike lanes when we have reduced services in this city. Are we ever going to get money in this budget to restore at least one of these?"

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