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
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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Politics
6:12 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Trey Grayson Appointed to Presidential Election Commission

Credit harvard.edu

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson has been appointed to President Obama's commission to improve U.S. elections, which was first introduced at this year's State of the Union address.

During the 2012 elections, voters across the country complained of long lines and confusion at the polls, and many have called for reforms to the system since the 2000 presidential race.

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Politics
2:05 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Senator Joe Donnelly Proposes Creation of Gulf War Memorial

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, D-In., has introduced a bill to create a monument commemorating the armed service members in the first Gulf War conflict.

The legislation is being co-sponsored by Senator John Boozman, R-Az., and would authorize the government to establish the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial on federal lands within Washington, D.C.

It has been over 20 years since U.S. troops were sent into Iraq to defend the country of Kuwait, and many observers say is long overdue for a landmark.

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Politics
11:45 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Defends Apple Against Tax Evasion Charges

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky. is scolding colleagues for grilling Apple executives

Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky blasted Democratic lawmakers for calling on Apple Inc.'s chief executive to testify over moving assets offshore to avoid taxes.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was called to testify before a Senate panel on Tuesday over claims the technology company is exploiting loopholes to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.

A report compiled by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found Apple is holding around $102 billion of its $145 billion in profits overseas while using technicalities to avoid any levies.

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Politics
3:55 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Budget Emphasizes Higher Growth, Road Funding

Presenting the Louisville Metro Council and residents with his third budget, Mayor Greg Fischer unveiled a new spending plan which includes additional funding for the city’s roads and infrastructure.

The 2013-14 budget avoids any tax increases, employee layoffs or service cuts due in large part to higher than anticipated revenue and curbs to spending.

Metro Government has a $528 million general fund and has seen significant budget shortfalls in recent years.

In the coming fiscal year officials expect a $3.3 million surplus due to the city's occupational tax rising by about 3 percent, a 2.5 percent increase in the insurance premium tax and business profit taxes are expected to increase by 6 percent. The Fischer administration was also able to cut expenditures by not replacing retiring employees, reducing overtime pay by $1.5 million and lowering the structural imbalance by $15 million.

But one of the chief items the mayor's office is bragging about is putting $6.4 million towards paving roads and creating biking lanes. The city has spent on average $2.5 annually on infrastructure since city-county merger, which is well below the needed $8 to 10 million council members request and others argue the Public Works department requires.

Fischer says the city still has a financial imbalance and pension obligations, adding officials will have to watch every dollar. But the mayor believes an improved economy has allowed for his administration to make needed infrastructure improvements.

"There's been a little bit of relief and we have good control on our expenses with cost reductions as well. And that's going to allow us to make some investments that we haven't been able to make in the last couple of years, in particular with some road improvements and more bike lanes," he says.

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Politics
10:30 pm
Sat May 18, 2013

Noise and Notes: Kentucky Jobs With Justice Leader Bonifacio Aleman

Kentucky Jobs With Justice Executive Director Bonifacio Aleman
Credit Facebook.com

The U.S. job market is slowly picking up and stock prices are rising for Wall Street, but poor people and the middle-class haven't fully recovered from the economic gut punch of the recession.

For social justice advocates like Kentucky Jobs With Justice Executive Director Bonafacio 'Flaco' Aleman, raising wages and other protections for American workers is just as important as job creation.

"I think that historically poor people have always gotten the short end of the stick," he says.

Though the national unemployment rate is down to 7.6 percent and has dropped in most states, those once middle-class occupations are being replaced with low-wage jobs.

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Politics
3:56 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Independent State House Candidate Releases 10-Point Platform to Improve State Government

Independent state House candidate John-Mark Hack

Independent state house candidate John-Mark Hack released a 10-point platform aimed at making Kentucky's government more accountable and transparent.

Hack is running for the 56th House District seat covering Woodford County, including parts Frankfort and Lexington vacated by former state Rep. Carl Rollins, who resigned.

The three-way special election also features Republican Lyen Crews and Democrat James Kay, and is being closely watched due to the close party margins in the state House, where Democrats hold the majority by just a 5-seat margin.

The proposals unveiled by Hack's campaign on Friday include withholding the salaries of state lawmakers if they fail to pass a budget, creating a non-partisan commission to draw legislative district lines and eliminating annual sessions.

Hack says the proposals are about changing the political culture of "arrogance and self-interest" in Frankfort.

Check them out:

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Politics
6:52 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Ethics Questions Raised After Mitch McConnell's Chief of Staff Appears in Politico Ad

Josh Holmes in Politico's ad.
Credit Politico

A Politico video featuring the chief of staff for Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been removed by the Washington publication after ethical questions were raised.

In a story first reported by Roll Call, an idea was pitched to McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes to appear in a video endorsing Politico's coverage. It shows Holmes explaining his vision for America, love of public service and why he reads Politico all while sitting in the senator's office.

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Politics
4:27 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Troubled by White House's String of Controversies

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says the Internal Revenue Service should examine the tax-exempt status of non-profit groups, but the agency failed to apply the policy evenly.

The IRS has been scolded over flagging conservative organizations with "tea party" and "patriot" in their name.

Reports found that at least 300 such groups were put into a "bucket " that received extra scrutiny, which held up applications for months.

Agency leaders have blamed the additional views on two "rogue" employees in their Cincinnati offices.

Yarmuth says the IRS scandal undermines good government and cannot be excused, but argues looking at those groups should be a role the agency fulfills.

"That behavior on the part of IRS is totally intolerable and while I actually think the kind of scrutiny that was applied to these groups is appropriate it should be applied to every 501(c)4. The law has to be enforced evenly and fairly, and the IRS has not done that," he says.

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