Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Woodson Scott, D-1, claims Mayor Greg Fischer ignored her office when putting together the violence prevention work group and is disappointed in the selection process.
The panel was first announced last month in response to a rash of shootings that took place in Scott’s district that left three dead and three injured. Among the 37 leaders Fischer named to the group are Circuit Judge Brian Edwards, Simmons College President Rev. Kevin Cosby, and council members David Tandy, D-4, and David James, D-6.
But a task force member representing the Parkland neighborhood raised concerns about Scott's absence and the councilwoman and mayor's office disagree on if she showed initial interest in serving..
Fischer spokesman Phil Miller says the administration did have a discussion with Scott about the panel and that she told them she did not want to be on the task force.
“The mayor felt that two council members was adequate. We also had talked with Attica Scott and she indicated that she was not particularly interested in serving but if asked would appoint or recommend citizens in that area,” he says.
In a telephone interview with WFPL, however, Scott says she was never asked to join and denies telling Fischer’s office she did not want to serve, but that she would have declined to make room for more residents.
“I’m quite disappointed that I was not asked to serve, nor was I asked to provide some names of individuals from the district to serve,” she says. “If I had been approached, I would have not served myself because I believe that it’s really the people who are most entrenched in neighborhoods and on the ground who need to serve.”
An e-mail correspondence between Scott and Chief of Community Building Sadiqa Reynolds dated June 4 shows the councilwoman pushing for members of the community to serve. Reynolds tell the councilwoman that residents will be asked to serve, but perhaps on a subcommittee or as a resource for the larger group.
The messages between Scott and Fischer's office never show Scott telling the administration she didn't want to be on the panel.
Scott says the only verbal discussion with the administration about who was on the panel was when Reynolds called her Thursday morning to inform her Tandy and James were being appointed. She also criticized the panel for its lack of representation from younger residents and women.
Since joining the council in October 2011, Scott has been a critical of the mayor's decision-making, questioning his stance with Occupy Louisville and the lack of community meetings with police chief candidates. The mayor's office denies Scott was overlooked for those reasons.
“There are a lot who aren't on the work group who might want to be,” says Miller. “But when the day is done the mayor and others feel like the work group is representative of the community and can do a good job.”
The task force is being led by J. Blaine Hudson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville. The panel is being charged with first taking a count of all the youth programs and charities in west Louisville and then create a crisis response team to help victims of violent crime. It is expected to make its first recommendations in October.
Hudson told The Courier-Journal that whatever long-term recommendations the panel develops, it will require that residents in the community are “intricately involved” in the process.
After winning her primary election, Scott launched a series of projects in the Parkland neighborhood to involve residents and draw attention to the area's conditions, such as a “Save Our Streets” block party with neighborhood churches. The District 1 office also launched a “Cut It Out” campaign that recruited six local lawn companies to cut overgrown weeds and grass at abandoned properties in the area.
Scott says she is confident the mayor's work group will accomplish its goals under Hudson's leadership and hopes residents will be kept in the loop.
“This process makes me wonder whether or not that’s going to happen because I’m not sure how the decisions where made about who would serve,” she says. “And knowing that the first meeting is in the mayor’s gallery just makes me wonder how accessible this will be to people out in the community who want to participate and get involved.”