Noise & Notes

On Noise & Notes, WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey doesn't just discuss the issues, he dissects them. From city government to national politics, Phillip has covered it all. 

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Politics
3:56 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin Ran 'Phony' Program, Says Prosecutor

Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The prosecuting attorney in Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's removal trial says the Democratic lawmaker ran a "phony" ex-offenders program that served no public purpose other than to intentionally and persistently deceive the city.

But Shanklin's defense lawyer argues the councilwoman did nothing wrong and the prosecution's key witness is the one under criminal suspicion of taking public funds.

Shanklin faces two charges that she deliberately violated the city’s code of ethics.

The councilwoman is accused misusing public funds for an upholstery program meant for former inmates that mostly she and her relatives attended, and improperly controlling grants awarded to the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association.

At the heart of both opening statements were allegations made by upholstery instructor Linda Haywood, who told investigators Shanklin would often pay her in advance using the group's account. However, Haywood said she would reimburse the councilwoman in cash.

Attorney David Tachau is representing the charging committee. He says financial records show Haywood was paid by both Metro Corrections and the neighborhood group for teaching the same classes, but that the taxpayers were never reimbursed

"We know that Linda Haywood was paid twice $2,300 in a program Barbara Shanklin said was her program and that Haywood said she paid her back," he says. "Either Linda Haywood is not telling the truth, and she kept the money, which means that Barbara Shanklin allowed a government vendor to double dip from taxpayer funds in the program she was overseeing. Or Linda Haywood is telling the truth, and Barbara Shanklin pocketed more than $2,300."

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Politics
10:49 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Subpoena Denied in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin Removal Trial

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will not have to testify at embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's removal trial.

Attorney Aubrey Williams had sought to subpoena the mayor so Fischer would explain the administration’s reasoning for terminating the upholstery program for ex-offenders that Shanklin continued to fund.

Metro Corrections halted the program in November 2011 in a letter to the program's instructor after learning few former inmates attend.

But an affidavit signed by Fischer says he did not have any knowledge about the program until after the decision was made. The court accepted the mayor's explanation that he leaves the "day-to-day" operations of departments to directors.

Williams told the court it is hard to believe Fischer was "oblivious" to the controversy and there is no question he was directly involved with shuttering the program.

"The mayor knew very well what was going on here. And for the mayor to not be willing to come and explain and talk about what he knew, why he did what he did, I think is just not right. It certainly isn’t fair to my client," he says.

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Politics
3:26 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Conservative Groups Planning to 'Prosecute' Mitch McConnell in GOP Primary

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin

National conservative groups are closely watching Kentucky in anticipation that Louisville businessman Matt Bevin will run against Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's GOP primary.

A Bevin news release says the investor will be making an announcement in Frankfort on Wednesday as part of a 3-day event that includes eight campaign stops across the state.

Last Friday, several Tea Party activists with direct knowledge told WFPL Bevin is entering the Republican primary for McConnell's seat. The movement has remained ferociously critical of McConnell over the years and just this week the United Kentucky Tea Party issued a blistering letter slamming the GOP leader's voting record as not conservative enough.

Now sources with national right-leaning advocacy groups tell WFPL they are eager to get involved in a Republican primary battle in the Bluegrass, and are preparing  to support Bevin over McConnell.

"Over the next few days we plan to endorse very soon and come in very hard to prosecute the case against Mitch McConnell," says a source with a conservative PAC. "We are all in.  Whatever it takes, we're going to help raise money for [Bevin] and we're going to particularly work on ground game."

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Politics
11:02 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Senator Rand Paul's 'Southern Avenger' Aide Resigns

U.S. Senator Rand Paul
Credit U.S. Senate

A controversial aide to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who once belonged to a neo-Confederate group has resigned.

Earlier this month, 39-year-old Jack Hunter was the subject of intense criticism for his past affiliation with the League of the South, which advocated for secession.

It was also revealed Hunter worked as a radio shock jock called the "Southern Avenger," who wore a Confederate flag mask and bemoaned America's growing non-white majority.

In an e-mail to The Daily Caller this weekend, Hunter said he was once a "politically incorrect" conservative, but doesn't want to cause Paul, who is considered a top 2016 presidential contender, any further damage.

Paul initially defended Hunter, pointing out he had renounced many of his past views.

But the situation had apparently become untenable as the GOP lawmaker seeks to attract minority voters to the party.

"Because of the views he had expressed before my employment it became a distraction and just wasn't going to work," Paul told reporters in Louisville on Monday. "It was a mutual decision."

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Politics
7:55 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Attorney Outlines Defense Strategy

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2,.
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A year after an ethics complaint was filed, the Louisville Metro Council Court will hear the case to remove Democrat Barbara Shanklin from office this week.

Shanklin faces charges that she deliberately violated the the city's code of ethics, which were brought by a 5-member Charging Committee in March.

The councilwoman's ethics troubles began when news reports pertaining to a $30,000 taxpayer-funded upholstery program for ex-offenders began to surface last year.

City records revealed few former inmates attended the program, which was run through the Metro Corrections department. But sign-up sheets did show Shanklin and many of her relatives did participate.

Attorney Aubrey Williams is representing Shanklin. He says Shanklin and her family had a right to participate in the program because they were residents, but points out no one received any undue advantage or public dollars as a result.

"Barbara Shanklin has not received one dime personally nor has any member of her family received any money that they should not have received, if any, in those programs," he says.

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Politics
5:09 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Kentucky Tea Party Sources: Louisville Businessman Will Challenge Mitch McConnell in GOP Primary

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin will run against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 GOP primary, several Kentucky Tea Party activists have confirmed with WFPL.

For the past few months, Bevin, who is owner of the Connecticut-based Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a bell-making company, has been meeting with Tea Party activists who are frustrated with McConnell's representation.

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Politics
11:02 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Pro-Mitch McConnell Super PAC: Alison Lundergan Grimes is Obama's "Rubber Stamp"

A super PAC backing Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election bid is up with a new attack ad calling Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes a rubber stamp for President Obama's agenda.

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership launched the $270,000 television ad buy Friday at a time where Grimes has tried to distance herself from the president, who is unpopular in the Bluegrass State.

The 30-second spot uses footage of a 2011 interview Grimes did with Kentucky blogger Jim Pence, who runs the website HillBillyReport.org. Pence asks Grimes if she supports the national Democratic Party platform, to which the secretary of state replies: "I do, Jim."

According to KSL co-founder Scott Jennings, this is an admission Grimes backs the "blueprint" of the Obama administration, including the stimulus package, environmental regulations and Affordable Care Act.

Check it out:

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Politics
6:29 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Council Court Delays Ruling on Mayor Greg Fischer Subpoena in Barbara Shanklin Removal Trial

The chair of the Metro Council Court is holding off on deciding whether Mayor Greg Fischer will be compelled to testify at the removal trial of embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin next week.

The councilwoman faces removal from her District 2 council seat for ethics violations that the commission ruled she committed. Shanklin has denied any wrongdoing, but a Charging Committee of five fellow city lawmakers filed a petition seeking her removal from office.

At issue are allegations that Shanklin misused taxpayers money to benefit her friends and family through an upholstery program for ex-offenders. She also faces charges that she controlled public funds allocated to the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association given she was a board member who signed for the group's checks.

In a series of rulings, Council President Jim King, who chairs the court, granted subpoenas for witnesses including Shanklin's relatives, city officials and two members of the Metro Ethics Commission.

Attorney Aubrey Williams, who is representing Shanklin, blasted King and Jefferson County Mike O'Connell at a conference earlier this week over what he says have been unfair proceedings.

The subpoenas of nine witnesses on Williams's list were denied due to a lack of issuances, but King did not deny the one for Fischer. Rather, he is questing Shanklin's legal counsel provide more information on why the mayor is being summoned.

"The court reserves ruling on the request for issuance of subpoenas for (Greg Fischer) until (Williams) satisfies the court of the necessity of such subpoenas," King said in the ruling.

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Politics
8:13 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Congressional Report Shows Obamacare Benefits to Kentucky Districts

Credit Shutterstock.com

The House voted on Wednesday to delay two key components of President Obama's health care law after the White House announced it was postponing an important mandate.

This represents the thirty-eighth time the Republican majority has moved to either repeal, de-fund or curtail the Affordable Care Act since taking control of the House in 2011.

In a bipartisan 264-161 vote, Congress codifies a decision made by the Obama administration earlier this month to give companies a one-year reprieve. But the GOP leadership took that a step further and held a vote to postpone the individual mandate, which passed by a 251-174 vote.

"From the very beginning it was clear that this one-size-fits-all law was the wrong approach to addressing our nation’s health care woes.  I still believe that repeal of this devastating law is needed, but until then we need to ensure that American families aren’t punished while the administration gives big businesses a break," says Congressman Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., adding the law is a "train wreck."

Obamcare certainly remains a political punching bag for Republican congressmen and senators in Kentucky, but Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, who represents Louisville and voted for the law, continues to speak up for its benefits since passage.

Yarmuth's office released data on Wednesday from the House Energy & Commerce Committee showing a district-by-district breakdown what the law is doing in Kentucky.

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Politics
4:13 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Backing GOP Incumbent Over Liz Cheney Primary Challenge

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky's two senators are backing Republican incumbent Mike Enzi of Wyoming for re-election over Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, who announced she intends to run in the GOP primary next year.

Cheney is a co-founder of the non-profit group "Keep America Safe" who moved to Wyoming last year with the hopes of running for Senate.

Enzi said Cheney told him she wasn't going to seek his seat unless he was retiring.

After hearing her announcement, Enzi, who made it clear he's running for re-eleciton told The Washington Post: "Obviously that wasn't correct."

But the Cowboy State lawmaker can count Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul in his column.

Paul openly mocked Cheney's residency issues when asked about her running.

"When I heard Liz Cheney was running for Senate I wondered if she was running in her home state of Virginia," Paul told Politico.

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