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Take a look at this story from WFPL:

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer delivered his first State of the City address Thursday.

You can read and listen to the speech here

Fischer acknowledged the city’s shortcomings and said Louisville must rise above the second tier: The city has lost thousands of jobs in the last decade; educated residents have moved away; and current graduation rates are below expectations.

Fischer says he wants the Brookings Institution to help craft a new economic development plan—a plan that includes working with nearby cities.

“I’ve spoken with the respected Brookings Institution to work with us to develop a new economic blueprint—a plan that includes Louisville working together with Lexington to grow the I-64 corridor into a super-region, along with the I-65 corridor,” he said, later adding that the consequences for not reaching beyond the city border could be dire.

“We need to look at our geographical cluster—Louisville, Lexington, E-town, Southern Indiana—as a geographic cluster that in 20 years will be viewed as a mega-city by the world. If we don’t have that population mass of 2.5-3 million, we will not be relevant in the view of the world 20 years from now,” said Fischer.

Fischer also acknowledged an $18 million gap in the city budget. While the economy played a role in the shortfall, most of the gap comes from a legal settlement with retired firefighters. Afterward, the mayor said he’s not sure how he will make up for the gap when he drafts the budget for the next fiscal year.

“Well we’re five months away from that right now, so we’ll be diving into that over the next 30 to 60 days and it’s just to early to comment on,” he said. “We’ve got to balance it, obviously, so we will.”

Fischer says he is determined not to raise taxes. The city budget has come up short for the last three years. Cuts in those budgets included layoffs and the sale of city property and equipment.

Compare Fischer’s first State of the City to former Mayor Jerry Abramson‘s last. Here is WFPL’s coverage:

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson delivered his final State of the City address Thursday to the Rotary Club. The speech included his vision for Louisville over the next five years.

The mayor says many of the accomplishments during the period will be the continuation or completion of projects he’s championed in the last few years. They include the Museum Plaza complex, expanded operations at G.E.’s Appliance Park and Ford’s two Kentucky plants, and the start of construction on two new Ohio River Bridges.

“My hope is by the end of this year—by the end of my administration—the bi-state authority will have a game plan and a financial plan in place to finance the construction of the two bridges and the reconstruct of Spaghetti Junction,” he says.

The mayor says the city will have to work with Southern Indiana and the rest of Kentucky to be successful.

“We have become of aware of the importance of understanding how what’s happening around us affects us directly,” he says. “And look at what I’m talking about when you focus on Fort Knox.”

The only element of Abramson’s plan that will come online while he’s still in office is the new downtown arena. It will open in November, just before Abramson leaves office to run for Lt. Governor next year.

Abramson’s speech looked ahead to 2015–a year when he imagined the city would be coming alive with new developments and attractions. Fischer, however, said Louisville will be irrelevant by 2031 if it does not work more closely with Lexington, southern Indiana and Elizabethtown, a partnership Abramson nodded to.

When you look at it this way, the difference between the two mayors’ visions for the city is stark. Like Abramson, Fischer didn’t hide his affinity for Louisville, but the new mayor also described the city as one that’s at risk of becoming out of date and has to overcome a decade of declining employment and education in order to survive.

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As mentioned on WFPL, Mayor Greg Fischer and the Fraternal Order of Police will begin negotiating this week on the long-standing take home car case.

For more than two years, previous Mayor Jerry Abramson and the FOP fought over whether the city can impose fees on officers who use their cars off-duty. The last court ruling in case was against the city, which had imposed the fees, though an appeal remains. Fischer and FOP president Dave Mutchler say they have high hopes for the out-of-court talks. The conversations between the administration and the FOP will keep going, though, since the police contract expires this summer.

In regards to fresh starts (as the Mayor calls them), here are two quotes from recent news. First, from Mutchler:

“It’s very evident to me that this is a completely different administration as it regards to the police and the FOP,” he says. “We’re looking forward to being able to sit down, like we have recently even, and negotiate these things.”

Next, from Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, on the review of Metro Animal Services:

“He [Fischer] just got here. So I think he’s moved…on the 5th day, that’s pretty quick,” says Downard. “We’ve had a situation that’s been going on for several years and nobody did a thing. I think he’s moved at a lickety-split pace.”

As Fischer announces more “fresh starts,” it will be interesting to see how many of the mayor’s critics or opponents make similar statements.

Our Kentucky Public Radio colleague Alan Lytle reports that former Louisville Chief Financial Officer Jane Driskell has been appointed Commissioner of Finance and Administration in new Lexington Mayor Jim Gray‘s cabinet.

From Lytle:

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has announced more appointments to his management staff, and they include a former Louisville Metro Government official.

Jane Driskell is Lexington’s new Commissioner of Finance and Administration. She served as Chief Financial Officer during the Abramson administration in Louisville.  She sees many similarities in the types of challenges Kentucky’s two largest cities face moving forward.

“Lower revenues than anticipated and having to adjust services to meet those revenues.  We’ve had difficult decisions in Louisville but we’ve been able to do it and maintain high financial ratings by Wall Street.”

Gray also announced appointees to head the city’s Department of Social Services and the Department of Public Works and Environmental Quality.

 

On WFPL’s State of Affairs, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said the statues that would grant tax breaks to the  proposed Ark Encounter theme park “cut both ways.” The state can’t deny the breaks outright because the park is religious. However, the park must follow all state operating, hiring and anti-discrimination laws in order to receive the breaks. When a caller asked whether he thought the park would hurt Kentucky’s image, Abramson said he likely share’s the caller’s logic, but the state can’t judge the park based on its image for the commonwealth.

That transitioned into a conversation about Louisville’s differences with the rest of the state.

Abramson is leaving office to run for Lt. Governor with incumbent Governor Steve Beshear on the top of the ticket. Beshear was on State of Affairs recently. He said he doesn’t think the Ark Encounter will hurt Kentucky’s image.

Full audio is here.

Louisville economic development director Bruce Traughber will take a new job after Mayor Jerry Abramson leaves office.

Traughber has been named the senior vice president of economic development for Nucleus effective January 3rd, 2011. Nucleus is the University of Louisville’s life sciences research arm. It will occupy the old Haymarket block downtown and is expected to house new businesses created out of science research, mostly from U of L.

It was announced earlier this month that work on the first of four buildings on the Haymarket site will begin next year. One of Traughber’s new duties will be to oversee the construction of that and the other new buildings.

Mayor-elect Greg Fischer and his transition team are currently reviewing various high-level city employees as they prepare to announce who will stay on in the new administration. Traughber reportedly told Fischer he was exploring his options and was uncertain about his future with Metro Government.

Here is the information from the mayor’s office.

Bruce Traughber, Economic Development Director for Louisville Metro Government, has been named Senior Vice President of Economic Development for Nucleus, the University of Louisville’s life sciences and innovation business development arm.

Traughber’s responsibilities will include cultivating economic development opportunities on behalf of Nucleus, as well as supervising construction of Nucleus properties, including the recently announced downtown research park at the Haymarket site. He will officially join Nucleus on January 3, 2011.

“Bruce has done a spectacular job recruiting businesses and creating jobs for Louisville Metro,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Now, the University of Louisville’s Nucleus project will benefit from Bruce’s contacts and expertise as we continue to expand our knowledge and research-based economic development efforts.”

Traughber’s primary responsibility will be recruitment of companies interested in relocating to Nucleus facilities, and in turn working with city and state agencies creating mutually beneficial incentive packages for those firms.

“I’m excited that Bruce will be working to expand the life-sciences center at Nucleus.” Mayor Jerry Abramson said. “He has been a tremendous part of this community’s economic development success for more than two decades.”

He will interface with Mayor-Elect Greg Fischer’s economic development team, the Governor’s Economic Development Cabinet and other community and government officials critical to the process.  Nucleus will also benefit from his experience in efforts to maximize the effectiveness of Nucleus’ Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts.  In addition, Traughber will be responsible for planning and supervising construction of Nucleus properties.

In his role as director of economic development for Louisville, Traughber managed a 140-person staff and supervised several agencies, including the Metro Development Authority, Parking Authority of River City, Air Pollution Control District and KentuckianaWorks. Prior to joining Metro Louisville government, he served as president of the Louisville and Jefferson County Riverport Authority from 1991 to 1996.

He is credited with the growth of both Riverport industrial park in the southwest part of the county, and the Hurstbourne Green office development in the eastern part. He was involved in negotiations for several notable city projects, including Fourth Street Live, the Louisville Marriott Downtown and the KFC Yum! Center.

In 2008, Traughber was elected to the Kentucky Economic Development Hall of Fame by the Kentucky Association for Economic Development. He also received the Commercial Real Estate Achievement Award in 2007.

Congressman John Yarmuth took to the floor of the House yesterday to say a few kind words about outgoing Mayor of Louisville Jerry Abramson. C-Span has the video. LEO has the transcript.

The Parkway Food Mart on west Hill Street is the latest Health in a Hurry location in Louisville. The Healthy in a Hurry program helps store owners stock fresh produce in parts of Louisville where access to such food is limited.

This is the third Healthy in a Hurry store. The Dollar Plus on south Preston St. was the first, followed by Shawnee Market in French Plaza about 18 months later. When that store opened, WFPL reported that six more stores were planned for the following year and a half.

A Daily Kos/Public Policy Polling survey shows Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul leading Democratic rival Jack Conway 49% to 42%.

Paul leads Conway in every age group except 18-to-29-year-olds. Paul also leads Conway in every geographic area except the Louisville Metro area.

The poll also asks about next year’s gubernatorial race. Incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear has a 47% approval rating, and his 2011 ticket leads both Republican tickets. He tops state Senate president David Williams 44% to 39% and Phil Moffett 46% to 28%.

Beshear announced his gubernatorial ticket with mayor Jerry Abramson last year. Williams and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer made their candidacy official this month. Moffett and state Rep. Mike Harmon announced their candidacy in July.

As Rick Howlett reported on WFPL today, “Louisville attorney Ted Gordon was back in court Monday, filing a motion that asks a judge to reopen Gordon’s suit challenging Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment plan.”

You can read the story here.

Superintendent Sheldon Berman and Mayor Jerry Abramson made a joint appearance today (along with Congressman John Yarmuth) and afterward, they talked about the suit and the neighborhood schools legislation.

Berman and Gordon are quoted in the WFPL story. Here is what the mayor had to say:

(That’s WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold asking some of the questions)

After David Adams left Republican Rand Paul‘s Senate campaign, the former campaign director said he was working with a GOP gubernatorial ticket that would likely gain Tea Party support.

The ticket was announced today:

Phil Moffett, co-founder and managing partner of the Louisville-based telecom management company CCS Partners, is running for governor, and his running mate for lieutenant governor is Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County.

[edit]

Moffett has been a board member of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, an independent research and educational institution for the state’s public policy issues.

He also is co-founder and serves on the board of directors of School CHOICE Scholarships of Kentucky Inc., a privately funded school-choice program providing scholarships to low-income families to allow their children to attend private schools.

[edit]

Harmon, a loan officer, has been a member of the state House since 2003. He is vice chair of the Tourism Development and Energy Committee and has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said the Moffett-Harmon announcement “is encouraging in that conservative Republicans are stepping forward to challenge a very vulnerable governor who has not earned the support of Kentucky voters to seek a second term.”

Speculation is high on which other Republicans may enter the race. Democratic Governor Steve Beshear is seeking a second term, with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson also on the ticket.

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