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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says layoffs, increases in license fees and several other options are all “on the table” as he drafts the city budget for the next fiscal year.

On WFPL’s State of Affairs Thursday, Fischer discussed: the city budget; Metro Government’s response to recent industrial accidents in Rubbertown and Butchertown; the future of Whiskey Row; and his thoughts on Metro Council discretionary spending. You can listen to the full interview here.

New allegations against embattled Metro Councilwoman Judy Green have surfaced.

Last week, LEO outlined charges from Green’s staff of political bribery and identity theft. This weekend, the Courier-Journal reveals more.

…the councilwoman made a side agreement with 100 Black Men so it would ask for more money than needed and reroute $2,400 for other purposes at Green’s request — including youth football banquets and buying 10 tickets for a Kentucky Derby fundraiser.

“It was made clear upfront that some of the money would be redirected … and that (Green’s office) would tell us where to redirect it,” Rob Jordan, president of 100 Black Men, said in an interview last week.

The arrangement also was confirmed to the newspaper by Charles Alexander III, who is the treasurer of 100 Black Men and Green’s political campaigns.

Green’s attorney says the charges are politically motivated or brought by disgruntled employees. Her colleagues on the council are largely withholding comment until after an Ethics Commission hearing on a summer jobs program that allegedly benefitted Green’s family.

A report in LEO Weekly cites police reports, leaked documents and people close to Metro Councilwoman Judy Green to outline a pattern of alleged wrongdoing and ethical violations.

Green’s involvement in a summer jobs program that reportedly benefited her family will be the subject of a Metro Ethics Commission hearing later this month. The LEO article further details accusations of wrongdoing tangentially and not-at-all related to the ethics complaint:

On Sept. 7, Public Integrity Unit officers Sgt. Oscar Grass and Jamie Hill interviewed Green’s legislative aide, Andrea Jackson, about the Green Clean Team. Specifically, they asked her about an anonymous complaint they received suggesting Green took out a credit card in Jackson’s name without her consent.

“I don’t know if you know Council-woman Green’s personal life or finances that well. She and her husband, James, could possibly be having some financial difficulties,” Sgt. Grass said during the interview. “But we were told that at one time you became aware that Councilwoman Green has gotten some kind of Visa card or a bank card in your name. Is that the case?”

“Yeah,” Jackson told police.

“Is that something you authorized her to do?” Grass asked.

“No,” she replied.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has launched a review of the city’s Planning and Design Services department.

Fischer previously announced audits of Public Works and Animal Services, and he’s planning a review of the economic development department. The mayor says he wants each department to be a model for other cities.

The Planning and Design Services department works on zoning and landmarks, among other issues. The review will look at how the department can better serve developers and neighborhoods. It will be led by an eight person panel that includes representatives from the mayor’s office, the state resource council, home builders and preservation groups.

The panel:

  • Bill Bardenwerper, Attorney
  • Tommy Clark, Office of the Mayor
  • Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resource Council
  • Gabe Fritz, The Housing Partnership
  • Chuck Kavanaugh, Home Builders Association
  • Gale Lively, Louisville Apartment Association
  • Jim Mims, Director, Inspections, Metro Codes and Regulations
  • Steve Porter, Attorney

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Judy Green is the target of an ethics complaint.

Retired police officer Ray Barker Sr.—who challenged Green in the Democratic primary for her seat last year—filed the complaint with the Metro Ethics Commission. He’s seeking Green’s resignation over her involvement in a summer jobs program that, according to auditors, benefited some of her relatives.

LEO Weekly reports that the Ethics Commission will meet on the 24th and decide whether to hold a hearing or dismiss the charges. The commission could also choose to launch its own investigation.

The complaints cite an internal audit of a $55,000 grant Green appropriated to the nonprofit LIFE Institute to fund “Green Clean Team,” a summer program for at-risk youth in her district. It criticizes the city lawmaker for hiring her husband, James Green, as the program manager, along with other relatives.

Green has declined to comment on the matter, but says she has no interest in resigning.

As reported earlier, Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson has taken issue with a change to seating for Thunder Over Louisville. Ackerson says it’s unfair for the Derby Festival to require visitors purchase a Pegasus Pin to sit in a section of the Great Lawn in Waterfront Park.

Derby Festival officials will appear before the Metro Council’s Parks, Libraries, Zoo and Cultural Assets Committee Tuesday at 5:00. Ackerson has released nine questions he wants them to answer. WFPL will have a summary of the hearing shortly after it happens.

Here are the nine questions:

  1. If staking out portions of the Great Lawn and volleyball courts are a problem, then wouldn’t the simpler and more cost effective solution be to ban such activity and allow police officers to patrol those areas to enforce such a ban?  Aren’t officers already patrolling the area?
  2. Won’t fencing areas with limited entry/exit points further cause crowd control issues at the end of the evening by bottlenecking pedestrian flow?
  3. Exactly which areas of the Great Lawn and Waterfront Park area will be fenced to accommodate the 50000 people, restroom facilities, and vending areas?  Which areas are to remain free to the public?  Do the maps contained as part of the License Agreement fully define the areas which are free and which are to be fenced?
  4. Has there been any discussion with the Derby Festival organization about the increase in revenue from the proposed fenced portions of the Great Lawn and the other parts of the park?  If so, what are the expected increases in funds or revenues?
  5. We’ve been told of increases in the costs of fencing the area at issue.  What are these projected costs and how do such compare to the estimated Derby Pin sales increase from this new “pin-for-entry” requirement?
  6. With regard to the proposed fenced area, how many extra restrooms are proposed to be added within this area, as compared to the restroom facilities availability in previous years when the area was not fenced?  What are the additional costs for these extra restroom facilities?  Will there be a decrease of such facilities in other areas that are not being fenced?
  7. With regard to the proposed fenced area, how many extra vending facilities are proposed to be added within this area, as compared to the vending facilities available in previous years when the area was not fenced?  What is the projected revenue from any new vending facilities within the proposed fenced area?  Will there be a decrease of such facilities in other areas that are not being fenced?
  8. Will there be police assigned to the fenced area of the park, and if so, will such officers be taken from other areas or will there be additional officers assigned to the fenced area?  Who is paying for these police officers, and what is the projected cost for any additional police solely within the fenced area?
  9. With regard to the problems which KDF claims it is attempting to solve this year with the proposed fencing of certain areas of the park, what other solutions were discussed or proposed, did these other solutions have costs involved with such (and if so what were they in comparison to the solution to fence the area at issue), and what were the reasons why the other solutions were abandoned in favor of the one presently proposed?

 

Two of the busiest bus routes in Louisville now have more frequent service, but funding for the improvements is only guaranteed for about one year.

Transit Authority of River City buses will run every fifteen minutes on the number 18 route on Preston and Dixie highways and on the number 23 route, which serves Broadway and Bardstown Road. About 20% of TARC’s riders use the two routes.

The extra buses are being paid for with a $1 million federal grant. The grant will last for about one year. Last year, TARC had to cut routes to overcome a more than $5 million revenue shortfall. The authority relies heavily on occupational taxes, and the budget is affected by local job losses.

TARC director Barry Barker and Mayor Greg Fischer will discuss the service changes publicly Tuesday morning.

Later this year, Mayor Greg Fischer will name a new director of Louisville Metro Animal Services. The director will be the fourth person in two years to lead the agency, and the second person to not have the title preceded by ‘interim.’

Fischer told the Courier-Journal he’s determined not to overlook anything as the city conducts background checks of every applicant for the position. Fischer is looking to avoid a repeat of the last few years, when previous director Gilles Meloche (who was found after a national search) stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and harassing employees. After Meloche, Wayne Zelinsky was named interim director. He stepped down last week after The Ville Voice uncovered a business Zelinsky and his wife were running. The business promotes adult entertainment.

MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox is now leading LMAS. She will serve until a permanent director is appointed.

Louisville Metro Animal Services interim director Wayne Zelinsky has resigned.

The announcement comes weeks into a review of the department ordered by Mayor Greg Fischer.

For more than a year, LMAS has been the target of criticism. Zelinsky became interim director after former director Gilles Meloche resigned amidst allegations of mistreatment of animals and improper behavior. Zelinsky has been named in lawsuits brought by employees, and is also under investigation by the police public integrity unit.

Deputy director of MetroSafe Debbie Fox will be the new interim director of LMAS. She will serve until April, when a permanent director is appointed.

WFPL will have more on this story this afternoon. Mayor Fischer will speak about the matter at a 1:00 press conference.

Below is the announcement from Fischer’s office.

Mayor Greg Fischer today named Debbie Fox as the new interim leader of Metro Animal Services, following the resignation of Director Wayne Zelinsky.

Fox, currently Deputy Director of MetroSafe, will oversee animal control for the city while the Fischer administration conducts a national search for a new full-time director and completes a top-to-bottom review of Animal Services.

Fox will remain in the new role until April, when Fischer plans to name a permanent director for Animal Services. She was named Communications Center Director of Year in 2010 by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials.

“Debbie is a solid leader who has been nationally recognized and has a proven track record in customer service,” Fischer said. “I’m confident that she will effectively manage Animal Services during this transition period.”

Last month, Fischer named a committee to audit Animal Services and a separate committee to search for a new leader. The review and search are being overseen by Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief of Community Building for the city. Applications for the Director of Animal Services are being accepted until Feb. 14.

Zelinsky submitted his resignation, effective immediately, this morning.

Here is the story from WFPL:


The embattled director of Louisville Metro Animal Services has resigned.

Wayne Zelinsky had been interim director since Dr. Gilles Meloche stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and employees. Zelinsky was also controversial. He is named in two lawsuits and was allegedly operating an adult-themed entertainment business online. Zelinsky resigned after being confronted about the business.

“We advised Wayne [Tuesday] night that we were aware of a website that he had up and running and needed to discuss that with him and he came in [Wednesday] morning and resigned,” says Mayor Greg Fischer.

Last month, Fischer ordered a full review of LMAS and launched a national search for a new director. He said then he would keep Zelinsky in charge of the department, unless the auditors recommended otherwise. Fischer says the search for a permanent director will continue, though he’s not sure about the progress of the audit.

“You know, I make it a matter not to really get in the middle of audits while they’re going on because they start and then you never know what they’re going to find out. They’re hard at work right now. We’ll get a report on it at the end of the first quarter. We’re progressing with the audit, that’s all I know at this point,” he says.

Zelinsky will be replaced by current MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox. A permanent director will be named in April.

The Merger 2.0 task force is coming together. The panel is responsible for reviewing the first eight years of merger and recommending changes and improvements to government and the state law that governs merger.

When Mayor Greg Fischer created the task force, he said he wanted four council members on it–two from within the urban services district (old city) and two from outside. Further, he wanted at least one of those council members to be a Republican (Republicans are the minority in the council).

The mayor got just that.

On Tuesday, Council President Jim King (D-10) announced the following appointments to the task force:

Inside the USD:

  • Dan Johnson (D-21)
  • Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5)

 

Outside:

  • Rick Blackwell (D-12)
  • James Peden (R-23)

 

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