Louisville Metro Council

Politics
6:42 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Fischer Administration Official: 'Ban The Box' Would Complicate Metro Louisville's Hiring Process

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Saying Louisville Metro has a policy not to ask about criminal records on job applications, Metro Human Resources Director Kellie Watson warned council members the so-called "ban the box" ordinance could complicate the city's hiring process.

But supporters believe the legislation is still needed in order to give convicted felons a fair chance when seeking employment.

The council's Labor and Economic Development Committee held its first hearing on the measure Thursday to gather more information about the proposal.

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Politics
8:45 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Shrinks KFC Yum Center's Taxing District

KFC Yum Center
Credit File photo

In a unanimous vote, the Louisville Metro Council approved a measure reducing the size of the tax increment financing district surrounding the KFC Yum Center from six square miles to two square miles.

Council members hope this change will develop better revenue projections for the arena to help pay down its debt.

Since February, city officials have been discussing new ways to deal with financial woes at the downtown arena.

The TIF district is made up of property, occupational and sales tax revenue that goes towards the Louisville Arena Authority to help retire the $349 million in construction bonds.

But the taxing-district has fallen far below its expected projections putting a heavier burden on the city—and Louisville taxpayers—to cover more of the costs.

"Reducing the TIF area allows the TIF revenues to directly reflect the success of the arena and eliminates changes in business activities unrelated to the arena," says Council President Jim King, D-10, who sponsored the bill. "This approach is more realistic and gives the city a better monetary outcome in the future. It also taps into promised state tax revenues."

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Politics
11:18 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Louisville Ordinance to Prohibit 4 a.m. Alcohol Sales Sent Back to Committee

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In a bipartisan decision, the Louisville Metro Council voted 16-10 to send an ordinance limiting when liquor and wine can be sold back to committee.

The legislation would've prohibited liquor stores from selling wine and distilled spirits from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., but a proposed amendment that sought to ban late night beer sales put the measure on hold.

Joined by constituents who favor the bill, Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, argued that cutting off alcohol sales at 2 a.m. would help reduce crime and spur economic development in the West End, where most of the late-night liquor stores are concentrated.

"We have to take control of our neighborhoods (and) this is a related issue," Hamilton said. "There are 13 districts here that don't have this problem. Seven of us have an inordinate amount of package liquor stores that have with them the alcohol and drug-related arrests."

But the exemption of beer sales in the ordinance did not sit well with many council members and was roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans for being unfair to businesses.

"The present ordinance before us deals strictly with packaged liquor and wine. It does not deal with beer, and beer is alcohol. It’s as simple as that," said Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, adding he agrees with lawmakers about the problems those stores create. "If a person can’t buy their vodka or their bourbon, they are going to turn to buy a beer. So if we are going to truly address the problem, the problem needs to be addressed across the board and that is alcohol sales after 2 a.m."

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Local News
12:15 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Charts | Louisville Alcohol-Related Arrests by Metro Council District

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The Louisville Metro Council tonight will consider a proposal that cuts off packaged liquor sales at 2 a.m. (At the moment, the limit is 4 a.m.) Stores need a special permit to stay open until 4 a.m., and the majority of them are in West Louisville.

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Politics
3:02 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Louisville Metro Couldn't Ask Job Applicants About Criminal History Under Council Proposal

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An ordinance forbidding the city and its vendors from asking potential employees about their criminal records on job applications is being introduced this week before the Louisville Metro Council.

The legislation is known as "ban the box" and similar measures have passed in 10 states and more than 50 cities across the U.S.

Under the measure, the city and its private contractors would be prohibited from inquiring about an individual's conviction history on a paper application until it is determined they're otherwise qualified for the position.

"Part of being convicted of a crime and serving ones time is punishment enough," says Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, one of the five Democrats sponsoring the bill. "I'm willing to support asking questions about how old they were, how long has it been and have they served their time. I still think there is warrant for asking those questions eventually, but I certainly don't think it needs to be a checkbox on the application. I think it's immediate red flag when it shouldn't be."

Metro Government can still conduct a background check through the Human Resources Department once the job is formally offered, according to the legislation. And the city and vendors are also allowed to consider the nature of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction and any information pertaining to the person's rehabilitation.

If the city were to reject an application based on their criminal history, the ordinance allows the applicant to appeal within two weeks of the decision.

Bonafacio Aleman is executive director of Kentucky Jobs With Justice and a supporter of the bill. He says many applicants with prior offenses are often disqualified automatically, but they deserve a chance to making a better living

"What’s been found by the Center for Economic and Policy Research report a couple of years ago is folks who have a criminal conviction are 15 to 30 percent less likely to get a job based on the fact of a criminal conviction," he says. "And sometimes the fact is a criminal conviction can be used in a discriminatory manner that goes against fair hiring practices."

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Politics
6:00 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Liquor Store Owners Propose Wet-Dry Vote for Fourth Street Live in Response to 4 a.m. Ban

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A community activist and a pair of liquor store owners are proposing to hold a wet-dry vote in the precinct containing Fourth Street Live in response to Louisville Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton’s bill to eliminate 4 a.m. sales.

Hamilton's ordinance is set to have a vote before the full council this Thursday, which she maintains is aimed at reducing crime and improving the quality of life.

But crime statistics obtained by WFPL show a relatively low number of alcohol-related incidents in Hamilton's district compared to others, and arrests decline during the hours being targeted by the bill.

The vast majority of liquor stores that carry special licenses allowing 4 a.m. alcohol sales are concentrated in west Louisville.

Critics of the measure argue it is a contradiction, however, for sponsors to go after package retail stores that sell liquor and wine while exempting beer. The group also points out that if alcohol-related incidents are one of the issues Hamilton and others are concerned about then the city's entertainment district needs to be targeted.

"A lot of times when I’m driving home at five o’clock in the morning when I close my store at four, I see people weaving all over the road when they’ve just gotten out of bars," says Barbara Deel, who owns Lucky Junior’s in the Portland neighborhood.

Statistics provided by Metro Police to the council found the highest number of alcohol-related incidents occurred in Councilman David Tandy's district, which covers the Russell and Smoketown neighborhoods, but most of downtown including Fourth Street Live.

Since August 2012, just under 1,500 alcohol involved incidents were reported in Tandy's district compared to just under 400 in Hamilton's area. The data shows more incidents involving alcohol took place in Councilman Tom Owen's district covering the Highlands than in Hamilton's mostly West End district.

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Politics
7:30 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Louisville Councilman Brent Ackerson Unveils Drastic Changes to Discretionary Spending

Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26
Credit Louisville Metro Council

After an hour long deliberation of the Louisville Metro Council's ethics committee Democrat Brent Ackerson unveiled a 19-page draft of broad changes to discretionary spending rules on Tuesday.

The committee discussed a number of possible reforms including tighter rules for neighborhood grants and a resolution asking the General Assembly for a change in state law that would give the Metro Ethics Commission subpoena powers.

But the proposals Ackerson is outlining call for a drastic shift in policy such as blocking the use of neighborhood grant funding for community picnics and festivals unless there is a public purpose such as a health fair.

"At the end of the day I hope it will be equally offensive to all of us because that’s what it’s going to take here. This can’t be a situation where we say don’t touch my project or this or that," says Ackerson. "Let’s just vomit the ideas out there and flush through. If we’re going to bring out real change then let’s really do it."

He says it's important lawmakers put bold ideas out for the public to debate in the wake of Barbara Shanklin’s expulsion trial, which in part centered on the use of discretionary funds.

The plan also would forbid a single council member from spending over $15,000 on a single event. It would effectively stop the funding district events such as Newburg Day, which has received grants over $20,000 from Shanklin's office in years past.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Councilman Brent Ackerson Promises to Introduce 'Major Reforms' to Discretionary Spending

Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A Louisville Metro Council committee is set to review a series of so-called "sweeping changes" covering discretionary spending introduced by city Republicans, but one Democrat argues they don't go far enough.

The council GOP outlined a number of amendments to the neighborhood and capital accounts last week to funds that lawmakers receive annually.

Among the more drastic changes are putting a $15,000 cap on the $75,000 neighborhood funds that go towards non-profit groups.

Republicans argue those taxpayer funds would be better spent towards infrastructure needs, but Democrats say their poorer district rely on social service and other groups programming.

Other proposed changes would  tighten the definition of family members prohibited from benefiting from taxpayer-funded programs and bar the use of discretionary funds for constituent meals, cash incentives and employee bonuses.

But Democratic Councilman Brent Ackerson compared those reforms to "putting lipstick on a pig," in an effort to grab headlines in the wake of the Barbara Shanklin expulsion trial.

"Everyone’s talking about the need for sweeping reforms and if we’re going to do sweeping reforms then let’s do some real ones not just some little feel good, rah-rah put the (public) back at ease when we’re really not doing anything," he says. "If this were a car engine we’re talking about a complete tune-up and overhaul. And what I’ve heard from a number of other folks, I call it an oil change and a kick in the tires."

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Local News
9:56 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Could Louisville Support a Major League Soccer Team?

Some local soccer supporters are making their case for bringing a Major League Soccer team to Louisville.

The MLS is seeking to expand from the 20 teams it currently has to 24 teams by the year 2020.

The local supporters are urging the Metro Council to get behind their effort. 

Louisville Metro Councilman James Peden says he’d like to see it happen.

"I think it’s important that we, as a city, be able to label ourselves as a major professional sports team," Peden said.

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Local News
11:00 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Where Homicides Have Happened in Louisville in 2013

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Last week, Louisville Metro Police officials gave the Metro Council an update on the the VIPER Unit, a new team created about a year ago to address the city's most violent persistent offenders.

Police officials told council members that the VIPER Unit has helped reduce violence. Murders are only one element of violence, but here's an update of how the city's homicide rate compares to last year.

In short: Things are about the same.

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