Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson

Politics
9:10 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Attorneys on Louisville Metro Council Have Taken Double Oaths

Councilman David James, D-6,
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Three Metro Council members have taken sworn oaths nearly identical to the one Democrat David James is being scrutinized about as a University of Louisville police officer.

James has sworn to the Kentucky Constitution as a council member and as a major with the campus police department, which both include saying he has not "fought a duel with deadly weapons" among similar pieces of language.

The Jefferson County attorney’s office is arguing that James is holding incompatible public offices, and must relinquish one of the two.

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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

Credit Creative Commons

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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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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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?"

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Politics
6:56 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Democrats Halt Resolution Requesting Ethics Commission Be Given Subpoena Powers

After a 30-minute debate, the Louisville Metro Council’s government accountability committee put off a vote asking state lawmakers to give the city’s ethics commission subpoena power.

The non-binding measure had bipartisan support initially with leaders on both sides of the aisle saying it made common sense. But during discussion, Democrats raised concerns that state lawmakers could give the commission too much power and that the council should deliver a more specific proposal.

Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, is chairman of the committee and filed the resolution. He says he was surprised by the decision to table to measure because no council members objected to the matter beforehand, adding Democrats have sent a troubling message.

"The non-partisan metro council of Lexington is supporting passage of a resolution, which urges passage of this. Our partisan council in Louisville seem to have issues and it’s troubling, but we are where we are," he says.

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Politics
4:08 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Ackerson, Provancher Trade Sharp Attack Ads in District 26

Creative Commons

In the race for the Louisville Metro Council District 26 seat, Democratic incumbent Brent Ackerson and Republican challenger Sarah Provancher are trading jabs in the final days of the campaign.

The two candidates released a series of mailers this weekend, including attack ads that questioned each other’s qualifications.

Ackerson’s mailer asks voters: "Would you elect somone who doesn't even vote?" It alleges that Provancher has only voted in 20 percent of elections since 2006, and missed last year's gubernatorial contest altogether.

Provancher said that like most Americans she does not have a perfect voting record on each election, but she is running to improve neighborhoods and city services.

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Politics
2:51 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Metro Council Challenger Cries Foul Over Brent Ackerson’s Mailer

In the race for the Louisville Metro Council's District 26 seat, Republican challenger Sarah Provancher is crying foul on Democratic incumbent Brent Ackerson for questioning her Louisville roots.

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Politics
3:35 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Ackerson Wants Government Accountability Panel to Investigate Shanklin

Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26.
Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, is calling on the government accountability committee to investigate Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, who has been embroiled in a series of scandals.

Since May, Shanklin has faced mounting questions about the use of citys grants from her office, particularly for an upholstery training program for ex-convicts that served no former inmates but that she and her relatives participated in.

The city's internal audit is conducting a review of the jobs program and a report is pending.

It has also been reported that $3,000 in taxpayer money went to Shanklin's family members through funding of the Petersburg-Newburg Neighborhood Association, which she is a board member. Until last year, Shanklin has personally signed checks to the group  since 2005.

An audit of council discretionary spending found a lack monitoring in the majority of those grants, but the report called out Shanklin specifically for having a conflict of interest in funding the neighborhood group while being a board member.

Ackerson says he is concerned about the oversight of taxpayer dollars as well as media reports, adding he wants to know the full story behind Shanklin's controversies.

"Controversy such as this do not bode will for government period. There's a lot of questions that are raised about discretionary funds. Negative stories out there that don't talk about everything and don't give government a chance to address those, all they do is create improper conclusions. And I'm a firm believer in discretionary funds and what they can do for an area," he says.

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Politics
12:35 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Ackerson to Return Raise

Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, will return his two percent cost-of-living pay increase to the city’s general fund in upcoming fiscal year.

Each council member is paid approximately $42,500 annually and lawmakers are set to receive a raise of about $850 in the next budget. It's the first cost-of-living increase for non-union Metro employees in two years.

Ackerson says many city workers need a raise as the economy begins to steadily improve, but other costs are still going up.

"I don’t think that I as a council person in my situation need this raise. However, I recognize that our employees do need this raise," he says. "The reality is their two percent raise likely won’t even cover the increase in their health care costs. At the end of the day our city employees will likely take home less dollars to their family than they did last year even with this raise."

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