Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, is launching a radio show amid growing scandals over city spending in her office.
The embattled city lawmaker has faced mounting criticism for her actions, including hiring her felon grandson as her legislative aide at a $34,000 annual salary. Shanklin was also questioned about lobbying for a jobs program for ex-convicts that served no former inmates but that she and family members participated in.
Earlier this week, it was reported that $3,000 in taxpayer money has gone to her relatives through funding of a neighborhood association in checks that she personally signed since 2005.
Now Shanklin is teaming up with gospel station WLOU 1350 AM to create “Speakerphone,” a weekly radio broadcast that will debut this Saturday at Noon.
Democratic Caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt says Shanklin wants to discuss issues affecting teenagers and young adults in her district, and won’t address those controversies on her show.
“Speakerphone is primarily for young people to talk about what’s on their mind. I don’t see it as being an opportunity for the councilwoman to speak on any particular thing she’s being involved with over the last couple of weeks,” he says.
But observers will note that the move is eerily similar to former Councilwoman Judy Green, who was booted from office over ethical violations.
Last year, a panel ruled Green broke multiple parts of the ethics ordinance in two separate complaints, including her handling of a city-funded summer jobs program that benefited relatives. During the lead up to the council's removal trial, Green launched her own radio program on WLOU that briefly addressed the scandal.
Over the airwaves, Green questioned why she was being charged with ethics violations while Shanklin was allowed to have her grandson working in Metro Government. Shanklin was one of five lawmakers who filed the petition to have Green removed from office.
“I doubt you’re going to hear Councilwoman Shanklin talk about anything involving her or issues other than it relates to young people,” says Hyatt. “To those who would say ‘well this is coming in the midst of all that’s going on around the councilwoman’ I would say it’s completely different. It’s a show primarily for young people to talk about the things on the mind of a young person.”
The show will cost approximately $5,000 and is being paid for with funds through Shanklin’s discretionary account.