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Louisville Metro Council President Jim King is calling on the Ethics Commission to add the latest allegations against Councilwoman Judy Green to the existing ethics complaint against her.

Green allegedly asked the 100 Black Men organization to request more city funds than necessary, then allocate the surplus at her discretion. King has sent Government Accountability Committee Chair Tina Ward-Pugh a letter about the issue. He’s also calling for an audit of all discretionary spending over $5,000 in the past two years. LEO reports that council Republicans will ask Mayor Greg Fischer to reduce the amount of  discretionary funds in the next city budget. Fischer’s spokesperson Chris Poynter said today the mayor will consider it.

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 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.

by Sheila Ash

A Louisville Metro Councilman is hoping to keep all of Waterfront Park free and open for this year’s Thunder Over Louisville.

Derby Festival officials changed the seating rules this year to charge visitors to sit in one portion of the park. About ten percent of the Great Lawn will be fenced off for this year’s fireworks show. Visitors will need a Pegasus Pin to enter the area.

Festival president Mike Berry told a Metro Council committee Tuesday the change will stop early visitors from staking large claims in the lawn and blocking others from getting the best views. The sales of the pins will offset the cost of guarding the area.

“This was not just those of us who are behind the scenes in Thunder. I think the public was realizing as well that there were challenges when it comes to this area and the civility,” he said. “Safety and security is always the most important part of our events.”

Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson says it’s unfair to charge people to visit the park, and he told Berry he wants to find a way around the fee.

“For the $20,000 cost I hope to talk to my colleagues to see if we might be able to off-set that to where you all might consider still fencing off the area if that’s the security concern but at the same time still making it free to those in this area that otherwise would like to go but maybe discouraged by that additional family charge,” he said.

The money would likely come out of the council members’ discretionary funds.

Pegasus Pins cost $4 in advance and $5 at the gate.

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?

 

In a follow-up on to his column about the Democratic Metro Council caucus and the media, LEO’s Phillip Bailey has posted some of his notes regarding caucus members’ thoughts on ethics and the ethics ordinance.

Here’s a quote from Councilman Dan Johnson, though it’s not representative of the entire caucus’s opinion:

I don’t know if we ought not visit ethics and change the rules to be less restrictive than what it is. I thought that was ridiculous. What I do privately in my campaign is anywhere associated with ethics. It’s ridiculous. That’s where the problem comes in. Ethics is if you take somebody’s money who wants you to do a certain action from your campaign. Beyond that I don’t think there should be any violation. Marianne Butler had a better ordinance so maybe we ought to look at re-doing that again and going back with it.

The latest Sixth and Jefferson (née Jerry’s Kids) column in LEO highlights a conversation the Democratic Metro Council caucus had over media coverage.

In short, many council members weren’t happy.

In recent weeks, however, a handful of stories have raised questions about the ethical judgment of some council Democrats, who are regularly called out by Republicans despite having a 17-9 majority.

Recently, The Courier-Journal called attention to the fact that Insight Communications offered several council members free tickets and access to a luxury suite during the UK vs. U of L men’s basketball game.

The story revealed two council Democrats — Dan Johnson and Bob Henderson — were considering taking the tickets, despite the ethics commission chairman’s opinion that accepting them could violate the city’s ethics law, as well as the fact that the cable/Internet company was in the process of renegotiating its franchise agreement with the city.

Then there is the continued fallout involving Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1,who was the subject of a scathing internal audit and police investigation due to a $55,000 grant she procured to fund the “Green Clean Team,” a summer program for at-risk youth in her district. The examination found that 12 of Green’s relatives worked in the program and collected $3,580. In addition, the city auditor was unable to locate $28,270 due to poor bookkeeping within the program.

In response to unflattering news coverage about the aforementioned issues,Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-12, called for more accountability from the local press, particularly from the C-J’s Metro reporter, Dan Klepal, whom he referred to as “the Republican writer” during the meeting, before launching into a missive about Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, who co-sponsored the amended ethics ordinance and is often quoted in news stories as a result.

“We need to do some PR work. It frustrates me that Ken Fleming … is now the guru of ethics. Every article about anything ethical goes back to Fleming,” Blackwell said. “We got to do something to balance that a little bit as a caucus. I don’t think Fleming should have the reins on that.”

Louisville Metro Council President Jim King has named the new chairs and vice chairs of council committees. The assignments were sent out in a press release Thursday, along with this statement:

The Government Accountability, Oversight and Ethics has been shortened to Government Accountability and Ethics. The word Bridges has been added to the title for Transportation and Public Works.

Some key appointments (among others) are Marianne Butler and Kelly Downard on the Budget Committee and Tina Ward-Pugh and Kevin Kramer on the Accountability and Ethics Committee.

The full list is below…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Metro Council’s majority caucus sent out the following statements about possible changes to the Ohio River Bridges Project:

“I am glad the Governors of Kentucky and Indiana along with the Mayor of Louisville are working together to take a realistic approach to this vital economic development project. It is now up to the Bridge Authority to move forward with the desires of not only the political leaders but the residents of these two states,”   Councilwoman Madonna Flood (D-24) Majority Leader

“These revisions are exactly what the Council requested with our resolution.  It’s gratifying to know we’ve been heard.” Councilman Jim King (D-10) Chairman, Budget Committee

“Clearly both governors and Mayor Fischer have been listening to the citizens and local elected officials about the negative impact tolling existing infrastructure would have on working families and businesses.  It appears they’ve also embraced the reality that the project as it currently is proposed is too expensive.  Calling for cost cutting measures such as scaling back on design and construction, employing creative solutions and focusing on alternative transportation (i.e., completing Big Four Pedestrian Bridge rather than adding lanes for peds to new I-65) is something that many of us have been urging for more than four years. This news is a welcomed surprise.”   Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh (D-9)

As King points out, the Council passed a resolution last year opposing tolls on existing infrastructure.

We’ll post additional reactions as we hear them.

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