Louisville Metro Council

Politics
3:56 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin Ran 'Phony' Program, Says Prosecutor

Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The prosecuting attorney in Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's removal trial says the Democratic lawmaker ran a "phony" ex-offenders program that served no public purpose other than to intentionally and persistently deceive the city.

But Shanklin's defense lawyer argues the councilwoman did nothing wrong and the prosecution's key witness is the one under criminal suspicion of taking public funds.

Shanklin faces two charges that she deliberately violated the city’s code of ethics.

The councilwoman is accused misusing public funds for an upholstery program meant for former inmates that mostly she and her relatives attended, and improperly controlling grants awarded to the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association.

At the heart of both opening statements were allegations made by upholstery instructor Linda Haywood, who told investigators Shanklin would often pay her in advance using the group's account. However, Haywood said she would reimburse the councilwoman in cash.

Attorney David Tachau is representing the charging committee. He says financial records show Haywood was paid by both Metro Corrections and the neighborhood group for teaching the same classes, but that the taxpayers were never reimbursed

"We know that Linda Haywood was paid twice $2,300 in a program Barbara Shanklin said was her program and that Haywood said she paid her back," he says. "Either Linda Haywood is not telling the truth, and she kept the money, which means that Barbara Shanklin allowed a government vendor to double dip from taxpayer funds in the program she was overseeing. Or Linda Haywood is telling the truth, and Barbara Shanklin pocketed more than $2,300."

Read more
Politics
7:55 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Attorney Outlines Defense Strategy

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2,.
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A year after an ethics complaint was filed, the Louisville Metro Council Court will hear the case to remove Democrat Barbara Shanklin from office this week.

Shanklin faces charges that she deliberately violated the the city's code of ethics, which were brought by a 5-member Charging Committee in March.

The councilwoman's ethics troubles began when news reports pertaining to a $30,000 taxpayer-funded upholstery program for ex-offenders began to surface last year.

City records revealed few former inmates attended the program, which was run through the Metro Corrections department. But sign-up sheets did show Shanklin and many of her relatives did participate.

Attorney Aubrey Williams is representing Shanklin. He says Shanklin and her family had a right to participate in the program because they were residents, but points out no one received any undue advantage or public dollars as a result.

"Barbara Shanklin has not received one dime personally nor has any member of her family received any money that they should not have received, if any, in those programs," he says.

Read more
Politics
6:47 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Barbara Shanklin's Attorney Lashes Out at City Officials Over Removal Trial Proceedings

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A Louisville Metro Council Court hearing turned into a shouting match between city officials and the lawyer representing embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, in her upcoming removal trial.

Shanklin faces ouster from office after a Charging Committee of five council members filed a petition saying she violated three sections of the city's code of ethics.

The chief allegation is that Shanklin used taxpayers funds to benefit her friends and family through an upholstery program for ex-offenders.

The program was set up to help former inmates learn a trade, but city records showed few ex-offenders attending the class while Shanklin and family members did.

Mayor Greg Fischer's office shut down the program in late 2011, but The Courier-Journal discovered the councilwoman's office continued to fund the program with discretionary  through the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association, which Shanklin and her niece were listed as board members.

Attorney Aubrey Williams is representing Shanklin. He strongly objected to the council's handling of the proceedings, exhibits and who will be subpoenaed to testify.

At different points Williams lashed out at Council President Jim King, D-10, Charging Committee attorney David Tachau and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell.

Williams says O'Connell especially has been engaging in unprofessional "shenanigans" leading up to the removal trial.

"Now you be quiet and let me explain," Williams yelled. "You may think you can push district court judges around, but you won't push me around sir. Your behavior is appalling. How you are practicing this case is appalling."

"How dare you," O'Connell barked. "I'm not going to play your games. You accuse me of unprofessional conduct you better put it on the record."

Read more
Politics
2:39 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Called to Testify in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Removal Trial

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is among a number of city officials being called to testify in the removal trial of Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, which is scheduled to begin next week.

Earlier this year, the Metro Ethics Commission ruled unanimously that Shanklin violated various ethics rules, including funding an ex-offenders upholstery program benefiting her friends and family.

The panel recommended the councilwoman’s ouster from office, and a Charging Committee of five council members filed a petition to begin removal proceedings.

Before the ethics complaints were filed the Fischer administration shut down that upholstery program in Shanklin's district, citing concerns about the lack  former inmates participating

Shanklin is being represented by attorney Aubrey Williams, who refused to comment for this story on why Fischer is being asked to testify before the Metro Council Court.

But in court documents provided to the council clerk, Williams says the mayor is expected to testify about "various matters relating to any laws, policies and procedures" that caused Fischer to halt the program.

Attorney David Tachau is the prosecutor in the removal trial. He says it’s unclear why Shanklin wants the mayor to be called as a witness other than an attempt to throw irrelevant issues into the case.

Read more
Politics
12:14 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Louisville Public Works 'Budget Glitch' for Junk Pickup, Street Sweeping Dismissed

A plan by the Louisville Metro Council to bring back a pair of junk pickup and street sweepings in the Urban Services District will go forward despite reports that a "budget glitch" made restoration impossible.

The city used to offer those urban services four times a year within the old city limits, but the cleaning days were cut to two in 2009 as a result of the recession.

Several council members voiced frustration with Mayor Greg Fischer's administration for not using the budget surplus this year to put those services back. This June, the council allocated $400,000 to restore the pickup and sweeping, but the Public Works Department said last week it could not move the money necessary to follow the council's vote.

Public Works spokeswoman Lindsay English tells WFPL the department may have spoken too soon.

"It appeared that there was a technicality, however, that information was incorrect and the money is there," she says. "So now what Public Works is planning to do is review how we can best spend that money to help restore some of those services and investigating what the best way to spend that money will be. And we will be reporting back to Metro Council on a proposal by the end of September."

Read more
Politics
11:00 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Following Cuts in Mayor's Budget Plan, Non-Profits Ask Louisville Metro Council for More Funding

The Louisville Metro Council heard from over three-dozen organizations that were cut in Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed budget.

Speakers representing ministerial foundations, arts groups and other non-profit agencies implored city lawmakers to add needed funding for their programs, which provide various charitable services.

Among those who presented their case before the council was Charles King, who is president and CEO of Project One President, which a summer jobs program for Louisville youth.

Joined by dozens of teenage participants, King says despite passing accredited reviews and receiving $80,000 from the city last year, Fischer’s proposal allocated nothing for the group in his new spending plan.

"The zero funding could not come at a worse time," he says. "Violence is rampant in our communities, and summer jobs represent violence reduction and public safety. Teen unemployment is at 24 percent and in impoverished communities it’s nearing 50 percent."

Read more
Politics
8:24 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Approves City Purchasing Colonial Gardens

Colonial Gardens
Credit preservationlouisville.org

The Louisville Metro Council approved an ordinance that will allow the city to purchase the Colonial Gardens property by a 16-3 vote.

Mayor Greg Fischer asked lawmakers in April to allocate $430,000 to buy the historic South End property, which was the site of Louisville's first zoo and is now owned by an out-of-state trust.

For over a decade the structure has been idle and vacant, due in part to its out-of-state owners and historic preservation status.

City lawmakers were initially hesitant about the idea, and sought more information about the viability for private development. But its easy passage means the mayor can now move forward and sell Colonial Gardens to a developer.

"When running for office I promised my constituents I would work to develop the property. I am appreciative of the mayor and his economic development team for being such great partners as we continue to improve south Louisville together," says Councilman David Yates, D-25, who supported the ordinance. "While it has been a bumpy road we are very excited about the commitment to this shared goal."

Read more
Politics
4:49 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Mayor Greg Fischer's Proposed Cuts to Arts, Homeless Grants Criticized

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Leaders from non-profit homeless and arts agencies are criticizing Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s decision to reduce the funding levels for their external agencies.

When the Fischer administration first unveiled its $528 million spending proposal last month, the mayor's office highlighted a 21 percent increase to funding for community ministries.

It also outlined how external agencies would receive more than $1 million in grants at continued levels from last year.

Fischer's decision to fund external agencies comes from three panels made up of Metro Council members and mayoral appointees who recommend expenditures for community ministries and social service agencies.

Those recommendations are in Fischer’s budget proposal without any changes, and citizens who sit on the panels sign agreements to keep the deliberations confidential.

Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition of the Homeless, says the decision-making process is troubling because groups like hers cannot conference with Fischer's panels to make answer important questions.

"I definitely don’t think the process is transparent. There isn’t any way for that committee to ask questions of the groups or for them to answer any issues that might come up during the committee meetings. And there’s also not a process to go back to that committee before the announcements are made," she says.

Read more
Politics
8:21 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Prods Mayor’s Office Over Urban Services

Several Louisville Metro Council members aren't happy with Mayor Greg Fischer for failing to restore previously cut urban services in his new budget proposal.

City chief financial officer Steve Rowland testified at a budget hearing Monday that the city is investing in key areas such as infrastructure and strategic planning.

Fischer had been praised for putting additional funds towards fixing the city's roads, for instance.

But city lawmakers grilled Rowland over why the administration is not using  a projected $3.3 million surplus to bring back two rounds of street cleaning and junk pick-up in the Urban Services District that were cut during the recession.

"It's really hard for me to understand how we continue to implement new programs and spend the taxpayer's dollars when we can't restore services that were in place before merger," says Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, D-3. "It mind boggling to think we can spend $6.4 million to upgrade side walks, roadways and especially bike lanes when we have reduced services in this city. Are we ever going to get money in this budget to restore at least one of these?"

Read more
Politics
2:27 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Ethics Watchdog Group Requests Councilman Dan Johnson Step Down from Shanklin Removal Trial

Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21

The chairman of an ethics watchdog group is questioning whether Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21, should serve as a juror on fellow council member Barbara Shanklin’s removal trial.

The 20-member council court convened earlier this week to schedule a hearing after the Ethics Commission ruled Shanklin violated five provisions of the city’s code of ethics.

City lawmakers will sit as a jury to decide whether to oust Shanklin in a trial beginning July 23.

Last September, however, Shanklin’s attorney Aubrey Williams entered an affidavit alleging Johnson told him the commission was prejudiced against his client, and mishandled the proceedings.

"Johnson called ... and informed me that his wife’s sister’s husband was a friend of a certain Commission   member, who had told the friend that the commissioners were out to get Barbara Shanklin," Williams wrote. "That is to say that they had made up their minds to rule against her. He stated that he did not think they were going to be fair to her when the hearing got underway."

Common Cause of Kentucky Chairman Richard Beliles filed the initial ethics complaint against Shanklin. He  says Johnson’s prior interference in the case raises concerns if the south Louisville Democrat can adequately serve on the jury.

"It’s really important that the public has confidence in whatever jury. So from that standpoint, reading about and hearing about the questions about Metro Councilman Dan Johnson, it would seem to me that perhaps he should consider recusing himself from that jury," he says.

Read more

Pages