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.


10:40 pm
Sat February 16, 2013

Noise and Notes: The Man Behind Team Mitch


For Tea Party strategist Jesse Benton, politics and family are one in the same.

The grandson of former Congressman Ron Paul and nephew of Senator Rand Paul, Benton was hired to run the re-election of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell last fall.

Three years ago, Benton worked on his uncle's successful Senate bid that included a primary victory over a McConnell-backed GOP candidate.

It was a shrewd move on Team Mitch's part to blunt vocal criticism from the Tea Party.

Like his boss, Benton acknowledges the campaign still has Tea Party critics, however, he doesn't expect a credible primary challenger will arise.

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10:25 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Insurance Tax for Affordable Housing Loses Ground as Advocates Urge Support

Affordable housing supporters fill City Hall
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

Dozens of residents and community activists filled City Hall on Thursday to urge the Louisville Metro Council to boost funding for affordable housing, but an ordinance seeking to pay for the initiative is losing support.

Several people spoke in favor of legislation that seeks to put nearly $10 million into the fund by increasing the city's tax on insurance premiums by one percentage point.

Affordable housing advocates who testified before the council spoke of skyrocketing rent and mortgage costs, the high number of homeless public school children and the need for new units.

"We can’t let school kids continue to be homeless, and let this problem go unsolved. So there are people who are in agreement that we need to do something and figure out how to fund the trust fund, and work together to figure out how to do that," Rachel Hurst, executive director of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund told WFPL.

But the prospects are grim now that a majority on the council have said they do not support the proposal.

Council President Jim King, D-10, and Councilman David Yates, D-24, have both said they will not vote for the ordinance. And after two of the original seven co-sponsors withdrew their support this week, another supporter—Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26—announced he is also backing off the bill.

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3:44 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Councilwoman Madonna Flood Withdraws Support from Insurance Tax Hike Ordinance

Councilwoman Madonna Flood
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A second Democratic Louisville Metro Council member is pulling their sponsorship of a proposal to raise the city’s tax on insurance premiums to give affordable housing initiatives a consistent revenue stream.

Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24, was listed as one of original seven lawmakers backing the legislation, which seeks to increase the tax by one percentage point and raise an estimated $9.7 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

But Flood now opposes the idea and says supporters put her name on the ordinance without her consent.

"No one called to discuss with me an ordinance being filed at that particular time. We talked in generalities," says Flood. "They were gathering support, but I had a ton of questions that I asked folks about that and for some reason my name appeared on the ordinance."

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7:30 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Bill Blocking Taxpayer Dollars in City Ethics Cases Clears House Panel

Democratic State Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville

A bill requiring Louisville Metro officials and employees to pay for their own defense attorneys when charged with an ethics violation passed a state House committee by a unanimous vote.

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, introduced the measure citing the over $180,000 in costs for two cases involving members of the Metro Council in recent years.

"I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service," Clark told WFPL earlier this week. "I think we should be held at a higher standard."

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6:00 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Mitch McConnell Leads Ashley Judd 49-40 in New Poll

Mitch McConnell and Ashley Judd

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leads actress Ashley Judd by nine percentage points, according to new poll released Wednesday.

The survey was conducted by RunSwitch & Harper Polling, which was co-founded by Republican strategist Scott Jennings of Kentucky.

It has a 3.3 percent margin of error and surveyed 850 likely voters.

Besides a near 10-point lead for McConnell, the firm shows the GOP leader with 60 percent support among Republican primary voters versus "someone else."

Those figures differ from previous polls showing McConnell struggling amongst his base.

"My takeaways from the survey are that Senator McConnell is in solid-shape among Republicans and general election voters, and that Ashley Judd, for someone who has never run for office, already has a tough hole out of which to climb regarding her own image," Jennings said in a online statement.

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5:00 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Councilman Rick Blackwell Pulls Support for Insurance Premium Tax Hike

Democratic Councilman Rick Blackwell
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-12, is pulling his support of an ordinance to help pay for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund by raising the city’s tax on insurance premiums.

The proposal was introduced by Democratic lawmakers this week, and seeks to increase the tax by one percentage point to raise an estimated $9.7 million.

Supporters argue going from a 5 to 6 percent rate represents a small increase per month for average residents.

In an e-mail message sent Feb. 11 to Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9—the bill's chief sponsor—the Jefferson County attorney’s office said it is "unconstitutional" to designate public funding exclusively for affordable housing

Any new revenue would have to go through the general fund first, and that is unraveling the bill's support.

"I think it’s problematic if it’s not a dedicated source. That’s what people had signed on for," says Blackwell. "It was supposed to be a way to take care of some of the issues in our neighborhoods with the abandoned and foreclosed on homes. And if it’s not dedicated to that I think you’ll have a hard time keeping sponsors and keeping people on board to vote for it."

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1:30 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Council Democrats Propose Tax Increase to Pay for Housing Trust Fund

A handful of Louisville Metro Council Democrats are proposing to raise the insurance premium tax by 1 percentage point to pay for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The ordinance would increase the premiums on policies such as life, casualty, home and automobile insurance from 5 percent to 6 percent.

It is estimated raising the tax will generate an additional $9.7 million in revenue towards the city's general fund. Supporters of the ordinance admit other council members may want to use new funds to fill the project $13 million budget shortfall or shore up the city's depleted road fund.

Besides housing issues, the legislation specifically speaks to the "acute need of road and sidewalk repair" and to improve transportation.

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, is one of the seven sponsors of the bill. She says if the increase passes it will last only five years, and that she and others will work to make sure it is used for housing.

"The seven of us are going to do our best to convince a total of 14 of us on the Metro Council when we come to budget negotiations that this new $10 million revenue over the course of the next year should be dedicated specifically to affordable housing issues," she says.

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5:54 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

H&R Block: Louisville 7th Most Taxed City in America


H&R Block has released a graph showing what many have said for years, Louisville is one of most tax burdened cities in the country.

The findings are based on a study conducted by the chief financial officer of Washington, D.C.

That reported was touted by Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, as a reason for Mayor Greg Fischer's administration to think twice about pushing a local option sales tax.

H&R shows that a hypothetical family of three with an annual income of $50,000 pays an estimated $6,346 in taxes annually.

That means Louisville residents carry a 12.7 percent tax burden, ahead of Boston, Massachusetts at 12.3 percent and just behind Chicago, Illinois at 12.8 percent.

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8:30 am
Mon February 11, 2013

State Lawmaker: City Officials Shouldn't Use Taxpayer Dollars in Ethics Defense

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville

State Representative Larry Clark, D-Louisville, has introduced a bill that would require city officials charged with an ethics violation to pay for their own attorneys.

Under the current system, Metro officials and employees can request a lawyer paid for by the city to defend them against an ethics charge. The new legislation would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used in those cases.

Clark says citizens should not be funding the defense of ethics charges against local officials accused of violating the public trust.

"First and foremost, I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service. I think we should be held at a higher standard," he says.

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10:45 am
Sun February 10, 2013

Karl Rove Promises More Ashley Judd Attack Ads

Republican strategist Karl Rove is promising more attack ads targeting actress Ashley Judd.

Judd is flirting with a bid against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is up for re-election in 2014.

In a brutal online ad, American Crossroad tagged the actress-activist as an out-of-touch Hollywood liberal, and criticized her for living in Tennessee. Rove is the super PAC's founder, and he says there's plenty more to come.

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