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After first naming the committee that will search for a new health director, Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed the members of two more committees. The latest panels will oversee the review of Metro Animal Services and the search for a new director.

From the Mayor’s office:

The six-person committee to conduct the performance review includes:

  • Allison Woosley, a CPA and animal advocate
  • Lindsy Wallace, Director of Operations for the Kentucky Humane Society
  • Karen Little, Alley Cat Advocates
  • Dr. Lee Hankins, veterinarian at Springhurst Animal Hospital
  • Mike Norman, Auditor, Louisville Metro Government
  • Jim Brammell, Chief Engineer, Louisville Water Company and member of SPOT Fund

The eight-person committee to conduct a national search for a new director includes:

  • Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief of Community Building for Mayor Fischer
  • Lori Redmon, Kentucky Humane Society
  • David Hall, Floyd County/New Albany Animal Control and Shelter
  • Terri Cardwell, business owner and member of SPOT Fund
  • Patti Swope, business executive and animal advocate
  • Kellie Watson, Director of Human Resources, Louisville Metro Government
  • Jessica Reid, No Kill Louisville
  • Police Chief Robert White or his designee

Once the search committee narrows its list to six finalists, a separate review team will provide additional input and narrow the list to three, which it will recommend to the Mayor. That review team includes:

  • Sharon Mays, Shamrock Society
  • Bunny Zeller, Animal Care Society
  • Ellen Cullinan, citizen and volunteer
  • Donna Herzig, Louisville Kennel Club
  • Metro Council Member Kelly Downard
  • Metro Council Member Tina Ward-Pugh

Council members Kelly Downard and Tina Ward-Pugh were likely among the clearest choices for the final group. Both were active in questioning former director Gilles Meloche whenever he appeared in the council.

 

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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.

Mayor Greg Fischer has launched a review of Louisville Metro Animal Services and a search for a new director for the agency.

Here is the WFPL story. And here is the full audio of Fischer’s remarks. He began the discussion with the press with an overview of his first week in office (mp3).

LEO Weekly has covered this issue extensively. Here is the latest.

Here is a letter from an LMAS employee. The employees have been speaking to the media on the condition of anonymity, often because they fear retaliation from superiors. Councilman Kelly Downard says the investigation will give them a chance to talk openly. He said it’s like coming to the end of long, dark cave. Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh has also been outspoken on this issue. Like Downard, she is praising Fischer’s call for a review. Here are the councilmembers’ full statements:

“The problems at Metro Animal Services have gone on for too long. I thank Mayor Fischer for taking quick action to address this issue and begin a thorough review of the practices and policies at Metro Animal Services. I look forward to supporting Mayor Fischer, as we work to make Louisville MAS the best run organization in the country.” – Kelly Downard, Past Chair of the Metro Council’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee

“I commend the Mayor for this action. For to long there have been too many questions about operations, policies and practices of LMAS. The Metro Council has spent much time and effort to help LMAS with new ordinances and funding for facilities but concerns persist. Those of us in this community who love and care for animals want to make sure we and the people who take care of animals are doing the right thing. I am ready to assist in any way possible and I look forward to seeing the final results of the mayor’s action.” – Tina Ward Pugh, Chair of the Metro Council’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee

Here is the WFPL story on the audit.

Here is the audit (PDF)

Here is the summary (DOC)

Metro Councilman Kelly Downard says there’s not enough time to fix the weaknesses highlighted in the audit, instead, he says it will be up to the next mayor.

Jim King and Tyler Allen have spoken out already, and more candidates will likely weigh in soon. This will become a campaign issue. The audit could play to King and Hal Heiner, who have worked on transparency legislation in the council. It could also boost candidates who have built reputations as activists, if they handle it right.

David Tandy may take more heat now for his visit he paid to Cordish headquarters last year. The loan given to Cordish is mentioned in the audit, and Tandy has been criticized for not doing enough to get details on how the money was spent in 4th Street Live. Tandy, however, was president of the council last year when transparency legislation passed.

What the audit may do, though, is take some heat off of the next mayor, whoever that is. Here’s an excerpt from a recent WFPL story:

…most know Abramson best as the affable cheerleader for the city. The mayor who has held hundreds of ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings. Owen says he hasn’t seen any of the candidates demonstrate Abramson’s ability to generate enthusiasm in the face of good and bad times, and that talent shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I worry sometimes that the candidates don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, if they’re going to be daily compared, in the first months of their term, to Jerry Abramson,” says Owen. “I’d say for the first year there’s always going to be “Where’s Jerry?””

A new leader can use changes in Metro Government employees and practices to signal a fresh start, and that could stave off comparisons, be they to positive or negative events of the last 7 years.

Many of the weaknesses highlighted in the audit–those tied to poor management–seem like symptoms of an administration that has been in power for a long time. In the WFPL story on the audit, Kelly Downard says he doesn’t think there’s actual malice behind the problems. But with the same leadership in place for years, underqualified employees move up over time and if they aren’t trained properly, then problems like this arise. If the audit doesn’t turn into major campaign fodder, it may serve as a lesson in leadership for the next mayor.

Here’s what we reported on today:

Here’s what we reported on today:

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