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
10:25 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

Noise and Notes: John-Mark Hack's Fight Against Frankfort's Party System

Independent John-Mark Hack

Independent John-Mark Hack is running for the state House in an uphill battle against two well-funded opponents.

The special election for the 56th District seat in central Kentucky is a contest that could be a sign if Republicans overtake the Democratic majority in next years elections.

But for Hack, this race is about constituents rejecting the special interests of both political parties.

A former Democrat, Hack worked as an aide in former Gov. Paul Patton's administration and has passion for food issues. He's also a well-known anti-gaming activist, which is one of the reasons he left the party.

Hack says he isn't a spoiler for the Democrats as GOP candidate Lyen Crews has suggested, and is honestly seeking to change Frankfort's culture.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Political Ads Supporting and Against Immigration Reform Hit Kentucky

Credit Shutterstock

Dueling political advertisements regarding the Senate bill to reform the U.S. immigration system are airing across Kentucky this week.

The Democratic-controlled Senate will begin debating legislation that offers a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure, which also creates new work Visa programs and seeks to tighten border security.

Louisville pastor Russell Moore is featured in the radio spot running across the state, and he is joining a bipartisan group of evangelical ministers who are calling on lawmakers to pass those comprehensive reforms.

Listen:

Moore is part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, which is launching a radio ad campaign in states such as Ohio, North Carolina and Kentucky to reach a wide audience of evangelicals. It is part of the larger “Pray for Reform” movement made up of conservative and liberal religious groups.

Moore, who is a dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is considered a rising voice in the Southern Baptist world. He says the broad coalition includes Sojourners, and is representative of how people of faith are being moved by the immigration debate.

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Politics
5:22 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Neighborhood Leader Troubled by Councilman David James' Crime Crackdown in Victory Park

LMPD Major Bill Kristofeck and California neighborhood leader Michael Ballard argue about policing in Victory Park
Credit Phillip M. Bailey/WFPL

Louisville Metro Councilman David James, D-6, joined police officers on a safety walk in the Victory Park area to alert residents about increased enforcement this summer, but neighborhood leaders worry the heavier presence will result in harassment and profiling.

Metro Police knocked on doors throughout the California neighborhood on Tuesday passing out fliers about cracking down on gambling, firearms and alcohol consumption in the park.  The officers will also put a particular focus on drug sales in Victory Park, which has synonymous with a well-known street gang over the years.

Since the late 1990s, members of a group dubbed the Victory Park Crips have been involved in several high-profiled shootings and homicides in the city (here, here, and here) and are known to operate in and around the area.

James says residents are committed to taking back the park from gang members, however.

"Families that live in this area want to be able to be in the park without bad things going on in the park," he says. "They want to be in the park without people drinking in the park; they want to be in the park without people shooting dice in the park; and they want to be in the park without people selling drugs in the park. They want to be able to live in their neighborhood and in safe environment just like everybody else in this community."

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Politics
10:44 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Heather French Henry Calls for Political 'Time Out' After GOP Attack

Heather French Henry
Credit Wikipedia Commons

In a scolding blog post, former Miss America Heather French Henry calls out the Republican Party of Kentucky for calling her the latest "bottom-of-the-barrel pick" for the U.S. Senate race.

Henry is the latest rumored opponent for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and she recently confirmed that Democrats have approached her about running.

Others include environmental activist Tom FitzGerald, music promoter Bennie J. Smith and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The news of Henry's possible candidacy has been mocked by national and state GOP leaders for the most part, but a comment from RPK spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper has upset Henry personally.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

"Heather French Henry is just the latest bottom-of-the-barrel pick for Kentucky Democrats in their desperate search for a 2014 Senate race savior to replace their noncommittal star, Alison Lundergan Grimes," Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for the state GOP, said via email.

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Politics
12:39 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

'Kids First' Launches Radio Ad Targeting Louisville Teacher's Union Contract Deal

Credit Shutterstock.com

A new radio ad is taking aim at the Jefferson County Teachers Association ahead of its contract negotiations with the school district.

As WFPL's Devin Katayama reported earlier this week, Kids First Louisville is trying to raise awareness about the upcoming talks while criticizing the union's contract. Leaders with Kids First argue the JCTA bargain is one of the more restrictive agreements in the country and blocks needed reforms at low-performing schools.

The 60-second spot will begin airing Tuesday and run for about two weeks.

It says the city's public schools are failing children and slams "union bosses" for putting their needs ahead of students. It also focuses on comments made by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who said the worst performing schools in Jefferson County were committing "academic genocide" against students.

Listen:

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Politics
8:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth: Alison Lundergan Grimes Must ‘Immediately Decide’ on Senate Bid

Ky. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

Kentucky's lone Democratic congressman says he is confident the party will find an opponent to defeat Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, but adds Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes needs to make a decision.

The GOP is beginning to gloat that Democrats cannot find a suitable challenger willing to take on McConnell next year.

Grimes is considered the top contender in the field and she met with Governor Steve Beshear last week to discuss the race. But Grimes was still "wrestling" with the idea of running for Senate after sitting down with the governor.

Observers are beginning to question if the race is beyond Democrat's reach despite McConnell's unpopularity. The GOP leader has a $13.5 million head start and the political rumor mill is beginning to move on to former Miss America Heather French Henry, who is now reportedly being encouraged to run.

In an exclusive WFPL interview, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says Grimes needs to let whatever those plans are known before the summer or risk hurting the party.

"I do think that it is important that Alison Grimes immediately decide whether she’s running or not because there are a number of people sitting on the sidelines who would be interested I think in making a race who are waiting to find out what she does. And for her to keep prolonging this as she said possibly until the late summer I think is a disservice to the party," he says.

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Politics
10:25 pm
Sat May 25, 2013

Noise and Notes: Super Politics

Summer brings with it the big Hollywood blockbusters, which more and more are based on the characters and stories in comic books.

The genre of made up for 14 percent of box office sales last year with iconic and lesser known figures. Beneath the spandex of super heroes, however, are important themes.

Whether it's street crime, metal illness or racial discrimination, comics have put those topics at the forefront of their issues for decades.

Fiction has also often been used to highlight history real life politics, and comics are no different.

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Politics
1:14 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Councilwoman Attica Scott’s 'Bringing Down the House' Push Questioned, Praised

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott’s push to demolish the worst vacant and abandoned properties in District 1 has ignited a debate between residents and neighborhood leaders on how to tackle the problem.

The "Bringing Down the House" initiative is part of Metro Government’s overall effort to raze houses officials argued cannot be rehabilitated.

In January, Scott appropriated $25,000 in discretionary funds to pay for just over half a dozen demolitions mostly in the Parkland neighborhood.

Just this week, Scott's office announced one of those targeted properties located a 3020 Hale Avenue was torn down by city crews. It is the second house to be razed on that block in recent months, and another on Virginia Avenue was demolished last year.

In the announcement, Scott said this is an intentional attempt to clean up a scourge of empty structures. But neighborhood activists such as Chickasaw Federation President Donovan Taylor say tearing down those properties is not the answer, adding more should be done to refurbish those homes.

"There's a blight that comes with vacancy in the form of overgrown grass, liter and blight. And demolishing the homes does not eliminate that primary primary. You’re killing the fabric of the neighborhood when you may have a block that once had 20 homes that now only have 10 homes," he says. "We have on house on Cecil and Greenwood that during the summer the grass becomes so high that you can barely see the home because it’s between two vacant lots."

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Politics
2:27 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Ethics Watchdog Group Requests Councilman Dan Johnson Step Down from Shanklin Removal Trial

Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21

The chairman of an ethics watchdog group is questioning whether Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21, should serve as a juror on fellow council member Barbara Shanklin’s removal trial.

The 20-member council court convened earlier this week to schedule a hearing after the Ethics Commission ruled Shanklin violated five provisions of the city’s code of ethics.

City lawmakers will sit as a jury to decide whether to oust Shanklin in a trial beginning July 23.

Last September, however, Shanklin’s attorney Aubrey Williams entered an affidavit alleging Johnson told him the commission was prejudiced against his client, and mishandled the proceedings.

"Johnson called ... and informed me that his wife’s sister’s husband was a friend of a certain Commission   member, who had told the friend that the commissioners were out to get Barbara Shanklin," Williams wrote. "That is to say that they had made up their minds to rule against her. He stated that he did not think they were going to be fair to her when the hearing got underway."

Common Cause of Kentucky Chairman Richard Beliles filed the initial ethics complaint against Shanklin. He  says Johnson’s prior interference in the case raises concerns if the south Louisville Democrat can adequately serve on the jury.

"It’s really important that the public has confidence in whatever jury. So from that standpoint, reading about and hearing about the questions about Metro Councilman Dan Johnson, it would seem to me that perhaps he should consider recusing himself from that jury," he says.

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Politics
10:27 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Louisville Metro Budget Hearings to Begin May 29

The Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee will begin its review of Mayor Greg Fischer's spending plan next Wednesday.

The committee has scheduled several hearings over the coming weeks and will review the health department's funding first with the goal of approving the entire budget by June 18.

Fischer's office will give an overview of revenue, planned projects and operations at a hearing on June 3. The council will also hear from public safety agencies such as the fire, EMS and Metro Police departments.

"This is the first budget where our revenue picture looks much brighter than in years past," Budget Committee Chairwoman Marianne Butler, D-15, said in a news release.  "We have a good working relationship with the mayor and his staff and I do not expect any major surprises as we begin our review."

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