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.”