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
1:30 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Fischer, Tandy Lip-Sync in Trolley Hop Promo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer doesn't mind making silly online videos to promote local initiatives, as my colleague Erica Peterson highlighted earlier.

The folks at First Friday Trolley Hop got the mayor to make a cameo in their ad too, which also features Councilman David Tandy, D-4, and other notables lip syncing Tim McMorris's "Beautiful Day."

Watch:

Politics
12:03 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

New Louisville Public Works Director Emphasizes Employee Morale

Vanessa Burns, the newly appointed director of Louisville Metro Public Works & Assets
Credit Louisville Metro Government

Newly appointed Louisville Public Works Director Vanessa Burns says improving employee morale will be an important first step in the department, and that being an outsider will give her a better opportunity to implement changes.

In August former Public Works Director Ted Pullen resigned while facing a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit. Burns is coming to Louisville from Connecticut, and has served at public works departments in Washington, D.C. and Evanston, Illinois.

She says making the department more efficient is a top priority, but that relations between employees and managers is just as vital.

"We all have got to work on tweaking and trying to improve what we do and how we do it," Burns said. "And I think one of the good things about not being here is I can look at it with open eyes."

An audit conducted last summer found there was mistrust between public works employees and management. It emphasized that the city should begin shuffling managers to help improve efficiency and city services.

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Politics
11:16 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

BuzzFeed: Mitch McConnell Should Fear Jim DeMint

Sens. Jim DeMint and Mitch McConnell
Credit U.S. Senate

The resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-Sc., could spell bad news for his soon-to-be former GOP colleagues—namely Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,—who face re-election in 2014.

In a statement, McConnell praised DeMint's "uncompromising service," however, as BuzzFeed's John Stanton points out, DeMint has been pushing for Republicans to be more conservative for years. And as president of the Heritage Foundation, he will have an ideal seat to wage an ideological war on incumbents such as McConnell.

From BuzzFeed:

There’s no love lost between DeMint and the top Republican in the Senate. The two have repeatedly clashed over policy positions McConnell has sought to push, as well as the broader direction of the conference and Republican Party.

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Politics
1:34 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Mitch McConnell Praises Jim DeMint's 'Uncompromising Service'

Sens. Jim DeMint and Mitch McConnell
Credit U.S. Senate

Reacting to the sudden resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announced Thursday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is praising his sometime GOP rival, who is leaving in January to lead a conservative think tank.

From McConnell's office:

"I thank Senator DeMint for his uncompromising service to South Carolina and our country in the United States Senate. Jim helped provide a powerful voice for conservative ideals in a town where those principles are too often hidden beneath business as usual. 

There is no question in my mind that he raised the profile of important issues like spending and debt and helped galvanize the American people against a big government agenda. I am confident that he will continue to advocate for conservative principles in the next chapter of his service to the American people."

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Politics
4:28 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Kentucky Social Justice Groups Join White House to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

A delegation of activists representing several social justice groups in Kentucky visited the White House on Wednesday for a meeting on how to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The discussion was hosted by President Obama’s director of public engagement, and was organized to build support for his plan that includes raising taxes on the wealthy. Leaders from the Louisville NAACP, Fairness Campaign and Planned Parenthood of Kentucky attended the session, along with a delegation from Tennessee.

ACLU of Kentucky Executive Director Michael Aldridge also attended the meeting. He says going over the fiscal cliff will not only hurt the economy, but would set back civil liberties issues as well.

"When Congress is preoccupied with having to tend these budgetary concerns they’re not taking up a lot of civil liberties issues that we would like them to be focusing on such as immigration reform, which the Obama administration has stressed they’re going to be taking up in the second term," he says. "They’re not going to be able to move forward until they get their fiscal house in order."

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Politics
1:28 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Rand Paul to Visit Israel

Credit U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., will travel to Israel next month to meet with leaders in the Middle East on all sides of the ongoing conflict.

The trip will be privately funded and marks Paul’s first visit to the region, where he will be joined by  evangelical and Republican leaders on a tour of cultural and historical sites.

The delegation has requested meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah.

Jewish Community of Louisville spokesman Matt Goldberg says the trip will give Paul a chance to understand the unique challenges Israel faces and possibly change his views.

"We're hopeful that after Sen. Paul sees Israel and what kind of small country it is, and how it’s surrounded by its enemies," says Goldberg. "And we’re hopeful that Sen. Paul will come to see that and revisit his position on foreign aid to Israel."

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Politics
3:48 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Jefferson County Clerk's spokesman: Audit a 'Bit Mean-Spirited, and Possibly Politically Motivated'

Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw is citing a letter from the county attorney that found no wrongdoing by her office in the wake of a scolding state audit two months ago.

Earlier this year, State Auditor Adam Edelen's office released a report that found poor record-keeping of charitable funds for groups such as the WHAS Crusade for Children and Metro United Way. It also cited other questionable practices that were against state law, such as Holsclaw paying out $99,200 in Christmas bonuses to employees last year and as well as shortchanging the Crusade by $1,300.

But an Oct. 31 letter from the Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell says his office found no need for action and defended the clerk’s activities. 

(Read O'Connell's letter and Edelen's response.)

Holsclaw has personally hired public relations professional Larry Bisig as her spokesman. He says the clerk has been a model of good government and was cleared of any wrongdoing and suggested that Edelen’s report is motivated by politics.

"In some ways I have to indicate the audit seems a bit mean-spirited, and possibly politically motivated in some areas," Bisig said.

"This is not political warfare. The governor’s race doesn’t start for 36 months. And I certainly hope that’s not the intention of the auditor."

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Politics
8:10 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Massie Receives Committee Assignments

Kentucky Fourth District Congressman-elect Thomas Massie
Credit U.S. Congress

Kentucky Fourth District Congressman-elect Thomas Massie has been assigned to the powerful House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The committee is led by fellow Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida, and has jurisdiction over all modes of transportation. It also has oversees infrastructure such as clean water, the transport of natural resources by pipeline, flood damage reduction and disaster preparedness and response.

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Politics
5:18 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

John McCain Frustrated by Rand Paul's Use of Filibuster on Defense Bill

Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Az., warned that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delaying a vote on the defense bill could be used as an example of the need for filibuster reform.

Paul has been pushing to force an amendment vote on the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens who are judged to be involved in terrorism. He says it's important to protect those individuals constitutional rights and has jousted with fellow Republican over the rights of "crazy bastards" on the floor.

But McCain—who was using support for the measure as a sign of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate—has had enough with Paul's tactics.

From Roll Call:

On the floor, McCain said that the “Senator from Kentucky” gave notice that he would object to any unanimous consent requests or votes, a stance that would prevent the Senate from adopting the manager’s package and any other miscellaneous amendments. McCain later confirmed to CQ Roll Call that he was referring to Paul when he spoke.

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Politics
4:17 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

City Lawmakers Skeptical of Violence Task Force Position

Credit Creative Commons

Louisville Metro Council members of both parties are questioning Mayor Greg Fischer for creating a new director for violence prevention in the wake of a West End shooting spree.

A 37-member task force group was formed after three people were fatally shot  in the Parkland neighborhood in May. Among the group’s dozens of recommendations was hiring a full-time coordinator to work on violence prevention and implement efforts in city government.

But Democratic and Republican lawmakers are unsure about the cost and argue the position is redundant because Metro Government already has a chief of police and director of public safety.

Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, says Fischer was right to respond to the rash of homicides, but that his office hasn’t communicated what the new director is expected to do or what experience they should have.

"Is this the answer? Just to hire somebody? I mean throwing money to someone who has knowledge of the community and can mediate—I mean my gosh," he says. "The whole job description sounds like it was written by somebody who just wanted to use adjectives, but not any concrete experience."

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