Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, has spurned an invitation from Mayor Greg Fischer, citing his administration's comments regarding the use of city grants for an upholstery job training program.
Last Friday, a Fischer spokesman told The Courier-Journal the program for ex-offenders should have ended on November 14 as ordered by the city and that it appears “city tax dollars are not spent as they’re intended to be.” It was discovered that Shanklin continued to fund the program and personally signed an $836 check despite Metro Corrections ending it due to a lack of former inmate referrals.
“The published reports raise concerns with Dr. Shanklin over how the mayor's office has responded,” says Democratic Caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt, confirming that Shanklin called Fischer's office to reject an invitation to celebrate renovations at Petersburg Park in District 2 later this week.
According to Hyatt, Shanklin says corrections tried to kill the upholstery training while two people were still going through the course, and that the neighborhood association decided to finish out the last month of training.
Shanklin has been under fire in part because her relatives participated in the program despite the councilwoman's earlier denials.
The Fischer administration has taken a tougher tone in responding to Shanklin's controversies than it did with former Councilwoman Judy Green during her ethics scandal. Earlier this year, for instance, the city's Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland told the newspaper that there' was an “$8,000 disagreement” between Shanklin and the Fischer administration over documentation of city grants.
When asked about a difference in tone, Fischer said there wasn't one but that he is concerned about oversight and hopes Shanklin receives a fair shake.
“If there’s a concern it needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed for Councilwoman Shanklin as well. The important thing is everybody needs to get all the facts out. And then once the facts are out a decision will be made. And I know that she wants to get her opinion told and heard as well, that’s important,” he says.
The city auditor is conducting a review of questionable spending on the program that Shanklin funded. The mayor's office declined further comment for this story.