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
8:40 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Romney Making Indiana Stop to Campaign for Mourdock

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to make a stop in Indiana to campaign for GOP Senate contender Richard Mourdock at a fundraiser.

From the Evansville Courier & Press:

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Politics
2:55 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Fischer Vetoes Landmarks Ordinance

File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has vetoed the contentious landmarks ordinance a week after the Metro Council passed the bill.

The legislation amended several provisions of the four decade old law, and allowed a majority vote in the council to overturn a decision made by the city's landmarks commission. Despite stiff opposition from preservationists and outcry from a handful of lawmakers it passed the council by a 16-7 vote.

In a letter to city lawmakers, Fischer agreed with preservationists, who argued the ordinance politicized the process and violated the separation of powers between the council and mayor's office.

"The positive impacts of our current, nationally recognized landmarks law far outweigh the need to change this four decade precedent for our city," he says. "Additionally, the citizens of Louisville have clearly told me that they fear the landmarks process potentially could be politicized through Metro Council involvement.I cannot support a law that allows a simple majority of the Metro Council to overturn the standards based review of the Landmarks Commission."

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Politics
8:00 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Yates Confident Mayor Won’t Veto Landmarks Bill

The author of a controversial landmarks ordinance is optimistic that Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will not veto the legislation.

After months of debate, the council voted to change the city’s longstanding process to declare historic sites. But a group of preservationists is urging the mayor to reject the ordinance, arguing that it violates the state constitution and encroaches upon the executive branch’s authority.

Councilman David Yates, D-25, who introduced the measure, says the mayor isn’t likely to veto the law.

"If you veto it then you lose the improved legislation. We hopefully don’t have to go that route and I don’t think that would be his intention. But I can’t speak for him," he says.

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Politics
7:30 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Yarmuth Addresses ORBP Approval

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., addressed final approval of the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project by the federal government.

The Federal Highway Administration announced Wednesday it will allow Kentucky and Indiana to charge motorists a fee to use Interstate-65 (Kennedy Bridge) and the two new spans that are schedule to be built.

Details on tolling are still being worked out, but Yarmuth sidestepped that portion of the press release and rather focused on looking forward to the first phase.

From Yarmuth's office:

"This is the final signature needed from the federal government to begin construction of the Bridges Project," Yarmuth said. "I received personal assurances from Transportation Secretary LaHood and President Obama that the federal approval process would be expedited, and they have followed through on those commitments. Nothing else stands in the way of construction, and I look forward to breaking ground on the East End Bridge later this month."

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Politics
6:08 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Johnson Accused of Trying to Buy Colonial Gardens as City Funds Economic Study

Councilman Dan Johnson

Louisville Metro Councilman David Yates, D-25, is raising ethics concerns about allegations that fellow Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21, made an offer to buy the historic Colonial Gardens property in the midst of a city funded feasibility study.

The council spent $14,000 to study the economic viability of the Iroquois Park corridor—the southwest Louisville neighborhood that contains the property. Five council members, including Johnson and Yates, contributed to the grant from their Neighborhood Development Funds for the non-profit Southwest Dream Team to commission the feasibility study.

In a July 23 letter to Johnson and the county attorney, Yates says constituents have told him that Johnson, who is a real estate agent, is seeking to buy the property and profit from any redevelopment projects.

"My concern lies with the possible ethical implications of what may appear to be an attempt by you as an elected official to profit from the purchase of said property. Let me be clear, I do not have firsthand knowledge, other than your statement, of any wrong doing; nor am I making any allegations that you acted with malice."

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Politics
2:00 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Abysmal Fundraising Continues for Wicker

In Kentucky's Third Congressional District race, Republican challenger Brooks Wicker continues to trail Democratic incumbent John Yarmuth by a huge fundraising margin.

According to federal election financing records Wicker filed another abysmal fundraising total while Yarmuth increased his contributions. The GOP challenger raised a mere $2,600 during the second quarter compared to $184,000 raised by the Yarmuth campaign.

In the first quarter Wicker raised $3,000 while Yarmuth garnered $80,000.

Wicker campaign spokesman Josh Weill says the campaign got a late start, but points to fundraising events with Papa John's founder John Schnatter as a sign that things are starting to turn around.

"We’re never going to out spend John Yarmuth. That’s not going to happen. We don’t need to have more money than he does. We just need to have enough and I feel confident that we will have enough when the time comes,” he says.

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Politics
6:43 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Congressman Geoff Davis Resigns

In a surprise statement, Congressman Geoff Davis, R-Ky., resigned Tuesday.

Last December, Davis announced that he would not be seeking re-election for a fifth term in Congress citing a need to spend more time with his family. Today's announcement echoes that sentiment and comes fives months ahead of schedule.

In a statement on his website, Davis says he will step down effective immediately and cites family health concerns.

Recently, a family health issue has developed that will demand significantly more of my time to assist.  As a result, I cannot continue to effectively fulfill my obligations to both my office and my family.  Family must and will come first.

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Politics
5:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Beshear Applauds Ruling Against EPA Water Regulation

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is praising a federal judge's ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency infringed on state's rights by setting up water-quality criteria for surface coal mining operations.

The decision is considered a victory for the coal industry, which filed one of the four lawsuits against the EPA regulation along with West Virginia and Kentucky. According to EPA officials, the policy was set up to ensure a better system for surface coal-mining permits under the Clean Water Act.

From Beshear's office:

"Today’s action by the federal court is a victory for coal miners who have seen mines close and their jobs put in jeopardy due, in part, to the actions of the federal EPA.

The ruling in U.S. District Court confirms my administration’s long-held position that the federal EPA overreached its authority and essentially halted three dozen pending coal permits in Kentucky – permits that were met with erratic and unpredictable changes in EPA standards.  

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Politics
4:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Outspoken Community Activist Challenges Neal for State Senate Seat

Norris Shelton
American Slaves Inc.

Louisville businessman and community activist Norris Shelton is vying for the state Senate against Democratic incumbent Gerald Neal in this year's general election.

The 75-year-old west Louisville business owner is the founder and president of American Slaves Inc., a non-profit group that is most notable for eschewing the use of the term "African-American" to describe black Americans. Running under the Descendants of American Slaves Party, this is Shelton's first bid for public office despite being an outspoken critic of local leaders for a number of years.

Shelton says the decision to run was made by the group and isn't a personal slap against Neal, but he argues the longtime lawmaker hasn't done enough for the district.

"I don’t know of anything he’s done except collect his salary and ignore his people. If there’s something good that he’s done I’d like to know it," he says.

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Politics
1:35 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Shanklin Seeks More Grant Funds for Neighborhood Group Despite Ethics Controversy

Louisville Metro Council

Embattled Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, is seeking additional funding for  a neighborhood group at the center of her ethics controversies.

The Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association will come before the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday requesting $5,000 from Shanklin's discretionary fund. Grant expenditures over that amount require approval from the committee.

A complaint has been filed with the Ethics Commission against Shanklin and a Metro Police investigation has been launched into her office over allegations that funding to the group reportedly went to her relatives, who were members of the non-profit.

The city's finance department is also awaiting documentation on $20,000 in total grant funds given to the group in the two previous fiscal years. A spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer says if the group misses the August 13 deadline, it could be forced to repay the money or be barred from receiving future allocations.

Ruben Pulliam is president of the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association. He says the latest request is for grass cutting at vacant properties and other program expenses, adding that the community shouldn't be punished for the allegations against Shanklin.

"Barbara Shanklin is a member of the community, but she’s not the community. She’s an individual. Whatever she’s done or been accused of or could be liable for, we haven’t done anything. But we want our grass cut," he says.

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