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.


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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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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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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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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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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8:34 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

McConnell Elated With Fall of Newspapers

File photo

In a BuzzFeed profile piece, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., celebrates the rise of social media and is praising the fall of traditional newspaper outlets.

Like most conservatives, McConnell views traditional media outlets as bias against GOP views and he appears somewhat elated about the dwindling print media that once held a stranglehold on political coverage.

McConnell says social media allows for ideas to be heard in a more competitive landscape and commented on The Courier-Journal hiring a marketing and sales VP as its publisher earlier this year.

From BuzzFeed:

McConnell, 70, spoke to BuzzFeed in his office overlooking the National Mall; he had tweeted of his plans for the interview earlier in the day from his iPad.

“To the extent that there isn’t media domination like there was in the days NBC, ABC, CBS the New York Times, the Washington Post, particularly since most people on my side of the aisle feel they had a pretty obvious bias … those days are over,” he said. “I kind of like this new environment. I think its much more competitive, much more balanced."

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4:46 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Council Committee to Discuss Discretionary Fund Audit Report

The Louisville Metro Council’s Government Accountability Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss recommendations from a troubling audit report that found a lack of oversight in discretionary grant spending.

Last month, a review of Neighborhood Development Fund grants from the past two fiscal years showed half of the $1.9 million grants awarded during that period lacked proper documentation. It also found inconsistencies and a vague criteria for non-profit groups receiving city funds, including over $6,500 in funds that were spent out of compliance with Metro Government rules.

The audit specifically mentioned Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, who faces an ethics complaint after a series of controversies were reported about her office’s discretionary spending.

Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, is chairman of the government accountability committee. He says the panel will address the community’s growing concerns about how those grants are approved and monitored, but told WFPL the committee will avoid any mention of the Shanklin case specifically.

"I think it will be good for the public to hear the recommendations and the findings, and how we are going to begin making the changes in the process to hopefully restore the public’s confidence," he says.

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2:01 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Preservationist Group Requests Fischer Veto Landmarks Ordinance

A preservationist group is requesting Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer veto a controversial ordinance that allows the Metro Council to overturn a decision made by the Landmarks Commission.

After months of debate, the council passed the bill by a 16-7 vote last Thursday that changes the city’s longstanding process to declare historic sites. Introduced by Councilman David Yates, D-25, who said the commission lacked oversight, lawmakers made a number of changes including a provision that allows a majority of council members to challenge a Landmarks Commission decision and begin a review process.

Attorney Steve Porter is representing the preservationist group OPEN Louisville, which drafted a letter to Fischer asking him to reject the ordinance.

He says the council is violating the state constitution and encroaching upon the mayor’s authority.

"If this passes and goes into affect without a veto, landmarks is the only local agency that can be overruled by the Metro Council. And I think this is in violation of the Kentucky revised statuette, which set up a separation executive and legislative power," he says.

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12:46 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Mortgage Settlement Will Target Louisville Vacant and Abandoned Homes

Joined by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and other housing advocates, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced Monday that his office is allocating $3.2 million to the city to deal with vacant and abandoned properties.

The funding comes from a $19.2 million pot the state got from the National Mortgage Settlement, which was the result of a lawsuit filed by several states against five of the country’s top banks. Across the country, states are using the money to provide legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, redevelop foreclosed properties and reduce the blight created by vacant properties.

Conway says his office fought with state lawmakers during the legislative session to push that the settlement money be used for these sorts of programs and initiatives

"I am proud to say that the money I secured on behalf of Kentucky will be going to help people and communities who were harmed by the mortgage foreclosure crisis," says Conway.  "This settlement will provide second chances for people who’ve lost their homes, help revitalize properties that have been abandoned, and develop affordable housing in communities throughout our Commonwealth."

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8:14 pm
Sun July 29, 2012

Kentucky Woman Sentenced for McConnell Threat

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Lexington woman has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for threatening to kill U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman handed down the punishment for 50-year-old Susan Mary Collins Thursday for mailing a threatening communication.

Collins previously pleaded guilty to sending the letter on September 2 threatening to kill the U.S. Senate’s top Republican.

According to Collins’ plea agreement, McConnell perceived her letter as a genuine threat that could cause him harm.