The Metro Council’s Republican caucus is calling for a vote of no-confidence in Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
In a resolution filed Monday, the seven-member group laid out a list of complaints related to the Mayor’s administration and local police and sought the Democratic mayor’s resignation.
Council members filed the resolution on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, and hours after Fischer rolled out a national policy agenda via his position as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The council members called for systemic change in the Louisville Metro Police Department, citing a rise in homicide cases this year, and criticized what they see as a lack of transparency from the Mayor’s office regarding the cases of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee. Taylor was killed by LMPD officers executing a warrant in March; McAtee was killed June 1 by a National Guard bullet after both National Guard and LMPD officers shot at him.
Minority caucus chair Kevin Kramer (R-11) said during a Monday afternoon news conference said he believed the community was suffering with a “deep mistrust” resulting from those fatal shootings. He said council voting to remove Fischer would be a “combative” step that he hopes the body won’t have to take.
In a statement, Fischer criticized the no-confidence resolution.
“These are the kind of partisan and divisive political games that have paralyzed Washington, D.C., and it’s sad and shameful for Republican council members to bring them here to Louisville. These are difficult times for all cities in America, ours included, and these challenges are bigger than any one person,” he said, according to the statement. “As previously said, as Mayor I have responsibility for addressing these challenges and I am deeply sorry for the hurt experienced by so many. But now is the time for all elected officials to work together, more than ever, toward common solutions to the ongoing crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn and the calls for racial justice. That’s what I’m doing. Louisville residents deserve no less.”
Republican council members who addressed the media Monday pushed back against the partisan characterization.
“We tried to go the non-partisan route,” said James Peden (R-23), referring to an ongoing investigation into the administration by the council’s government oversight committee. “He’s the one who went as far as to sue us to put a stop to that. This is what he has forced us into. This is not the avenue we wanted to go.”
Officials from the administration have so far failed to testify in that investigation into the administration’s decisions related to those shootings and protests in Louisville, at first due to a disagreement over whether pending litigation precluded them from testifying in public, and more recently due to a judge’s temporary restraining order related to the matter. Oral arguments for that case are scheduled for August 24 in Jefferson Circuit Court.
Had the subpoenas been enforced, Chief of Public Safety Amy Hess and interim police chief Robert Schroeder would have been testifying, publicly and under oath, in front of the council at the same time and in the same place as the Republicans’ news conference.
Kramer, the caucus chair, said they informed their Democratic counterparts about the resolution ahead of time.
“There’s been a lot of conversation back and forth. Our feeling was as a caucus that we just didn’t believe that the community should be asked to wait any longer,” he said. “It was time to start the process”
Council president David James (D-6) acknowledged that council members on both sides of the aisle are frustrated. He said doesn t think it’s a political stunt because the Republicans are probably hearing from constituents who are saying the same things he hears from his constituents. James said he has not decided where he stands on the issue, and said other Democrats will have to make their own decisions on the matter.
The council members who sponsored the resolution also pointed to the administration’s handling of the Explorer youth sex abuse scandal and sexual misconduct allegations against TARC leadership as reasons to push for Fischer’s resignation. An independent investigation into ex-TARC director Ferdinand Risco, authorized by council, is in progress.
Anthony Piagentini (R-19), who is the vice chair of the government accountability committee, said he believed Fischer would attempt to delay answers to the council’s questions until he is out of office.
Fischer is a term-limited Democrat, who is set to be in office through 2022, if he completes his term.
“If his actions in the past are any indicator of how he’s going to act in the future, he will continue fighting every step of the way to stop any probing into the truth,” Piagentini said.
The council could take up the no-confidence vote against Fischer in early September.
So far, no Democrats have signed on to sponsor the measure. As the majority caucus, they hold 19 of the body’s 26 seats.
The Louisville Jefferson County Democrat Party also described the Republicans’ action as partisan. Virginia Woodward, chair of the Louisville chapter, said the move was a “political ploy to suppress the vote in Jefferson County,” according to a news release.
She said in a statement that Sen. Mitch McConnell was using his protégé, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, to sow chaos by delaying a decision in the Taylor case ahead of the November election.
Cameron’s office is reviewing LMPD’s internal investigation and independently investigating the facts of the Taylor case in considering whether to recommend charges against the officers involved in her killing. The FBI is separately investigating the incident as well.
This story has been updated.