Louisville Metro Council

Politics
12:23 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Scott Applauds "Cut it Out" Program

A vacant property with overgrown grass. (photo provided by Metro Government)

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, is praising several local lawn service companies who voluntarily mowed grass at the worst abandoned properties in her district. But the outspoken lawmaker wants the city to do a better job addressing blight.

The “Cut it Out” program was launched by Scott’s office last month to address blight in west and southwest Louisville neighborhoods due to the rise of vacant properties. According to city records, one-third of the 155 worst properties with overgrown grass have been mowed by local businesses and their crews for free.

Scott says residents are fed up with the eyesores, but that community leaders and business owners have stepped up to tackle the problem.

"We were able to do because we had someone in the community who lives in District 1 who said, ‘you know what I’ve got some connections, I see you’re out here trying to do the work so let’s make this happen.’ And then every single week we started getting another lawn care company that said they wanted to get involved with this. We had a company all the way out in Prospect that said, 'I want to do something and this is what I can do,'" she says.

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Politics
5:29 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Shanklin Launches Radio Show Amid Series of Scandals

Louisville Metro Council

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.

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Politics
8:00 am
Sun June 24, 2012

City Grants Paid Shanklin's Relatives

Family members of Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, have received over $3,000 in taxpayer money from a city grant that the lawmaker has personally signed checks for since 2005.

For the past seven years, the Petersburg/Newburg Improvement Association has received $150,000 in city funding, of which Shanklin and several relatives belong to.

From The Courier-Journal:

Among those who benefited were the mother of Shanklin’s grandson, who received $1,700; her son-in-law, $1,325; and Walker, who got $650 for repairing the floor in a small house the city donated to the neighborhood group.

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Politics
10:16 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Council Approves City Budget After Contentious Debate Over Whiskey Row Funding

The Louisville Metro Council passed a city budget for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday, but not before a contentious debate about the Whiskey Row development.

Mayor Greg Fischer submitted a spending plan that included a $500,000 allocation for private developers—among them philanthropist Christy Brown, the widow of former chairman of the Brown-Forman Corp, Owsley Brown II—to restore the historic string of buildings along West Main Street.

The mayor had proposed using the money to create a revolving fund to help restore historic properties beginning with Whiskey Row, but a bipartisan group of council members argued Metro Government had already provided investors with a $1.5 million forgivable loan for the project.

The budget committee approved language in the ordinance on Wednesday that required developers to reimburse the city $1 million if the Whiskey Row buildings were later sold. But Fischer's office argued it was an unprecedented step by the council that could jeopardize the original agreement.

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, introduced an amendment to take that wording out of the final ordinance, but allow lawmakers to hold the money until Fischer renegotiates the deal.  She says lawmakers unfairly tied the mayor's hands to negotiate.

"I'm asking you to allow the mayor do his job and negotiate a deal, and when he brings it over if you don't like it then don't vote for it," she said. "Let's debate it at that time because we're not doing it tonight. This really isn't about debating the merits of rich folks spending money on preservation or not. If anything, this is a power and money grab by the Metro Council."

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Politics
7:58 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Budget Committee Approves City Spending Plan for Upcoming Fiscal Year

The Louisville Metro Council's Budget Committee passed a spending plan for the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year by a unanimous vote.

Mayor Greg Fischer submitted his budget proposal to the council earlier this month, which had been criticized for its lack of funding to external agencies and hammered for cuts to indigent care at University Hospital.

Similar to last year, the council reallocated nearly $3 million in funds and added over $400,000 to non-profit groups for their programing.

City lawmakers were able to come up with those additional funds in part through an agreement with the Parking Authority of River City to make a payment of $300,000 in cash this year with additional payments of $150,000 over the next five fiscal years.

These additional funds were requested by council members who raised questions about a late transfer and payment for the two county parking garages that the city never received. 

The budget also includes money to focus on dealing with the problem of abandoned and vacant properties with close to $40,000 in funds being spent to mow grass at vacant lots throughout the city.

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Politics
8:30 am
Mon June 11, 2012

James, Hamilton Launch Anti-Violence Campaign to Reduce Shootings

Louisville Metro Council members Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, and David James, D-6, are partnering with anti-gang advocates in a new anti-violence initiative.

The "No Red Dots" campaign seeks to educate at-risk youth and adults about conflict resolution and train neighborhood leaders in mediation. It is named after the red dots Metro Police used to indicate shootings on crime maps. According to Metro Police statistics there have been  approximately 70 shootings and 20 homicides this year.

James says the high concentration of those crimes were committed in west Louisville and the escalation is alarming, adding there is no panacea to violent crime.

"This is designed so that we don’t have more red dots on our maps that show where people have been shot," James told WFPL. "There is not one single thing that we’re going to do that’s going change the violence levels, it’s going to be a holistic approach that’s going to have to be taken."

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Politics
11:33 am
Tue June 5, 2012

James Hosting Public Forum With EPA Concerning Black Leaf Site

Louisville Metro Councilman David James, D-6, will host a neighborhood forum for residents to discuss the latest information surrounding health concerns involving the Black Leaf plant site.

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Politics
7:30 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Council Questions City CFO About Budget Deals With PARC

Hearing testimony from Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland, the Louisville Metro Council's Budget Committee began its review of the mayor's proposed spending plan on Monday.

Mayor Greg Fischer's latest budget balances the city's books without raising taxes, cutting city services or furloughing Metro employee. However, council members spent most of the time grilling the administration about the budget's reliance on the sale of two downtown garages to the parking authority.

The city is selling two downtown parking lots to the Parking Authority of River City for $10.7 million and selling two garages for $3.9 million. PARC technically purchased the garages from the former county government at merger nine years ago, but the payment was never received.

Budget Committee Vice Chairman Kelly Downard, R-16, says the mayor's agreement is unacceptable because PARC owes much more money for the garages after Metro Government paid bonds on the structures since merger.

"They’ve been taking income off this—net income—for seven to nine years, that’s our money. We’ve been paying the bonds down, good lord," he says. "I think PARC’s got a problem because they have been taking our money on a garage they didn’t pay for, on debt that we’ve been paying and I think there’s a serious problem here."

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Politics
7:03 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Blackwell Says Southwest Regional Library Bond Makes Sense In Latest Budget

City lawmakers from southwest Louisville are praising Mayor Greg Fischer's decision to fund construction of the Southwest Regional Library in his latest city budget proposal.

The $9.5 million bond for the library is the largest expenditure in the mayor's capital budget and the only proposed bond. It follow's up a $500,000 allocation the mayor made last year to begin the design phase of the long-planned project.

The library foundation will also give the city $3.5 million for the facility.

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Politics
7:24 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Council Members Defend, React to Parker’s Surprise Victory

Louisville Metro Council members are having mixed reactions to Tea Party candidate Marilyn Parker defeating Republican incumbent Jon Ackerson in the District 18 primary race.

Earlier this year, a majority of GOP council members backed Parker over Ackerson after claiming the one-term city lawmaker too often sided with Democrats in key debates. On the council, Ackerson was considered a bipartisan member willing to work with both parties and was favored to win the contests.

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