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Democratic candidate for mayor Greg Fischer has released a response to fellow Democrat Jim King‘s recent ad that hit Fischer on possible electoral weaknesses.  What are your thoughts? In 2008, Fischer went negative against Senate opponent Bruce Lunsford, but he’s not necessarily attacking in this spot. That’s not to say the ad is entirely positive, though.

In other Fischer news, he announced his plan for “Merger 2.0.” If elected, Fischer promises to consult people…

“…Like Dave Armstrong and Rebecca Jackson, the last Mayor of Louisville and Jefferson County-Executive before merger, respectively, to convene a team of community leaders to study merger and help me craft recommendations to the Kentucky General Assembly, Metro Council, and the new Administration that will help our second decade of merger be better than our first.”

As we’ve already posted, Armstrong has endorsed Fischer, but Jackson is currently helping Republican Hal Heiner‘s campaign.

Here’s more on improving merger from the Fischer camp:

Among the initiatives in Fischer’s twelve point plan are:

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Commissioning a master plan for waste management and recycling countywide;

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Supporting use of development tools, such as tax increment financing and property tax abatement, that are traditionally reserved for downtown development, to build infrastructure and spur investment in underserved areas across the county;

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Exploring staffing Jefferson County Public School libraries and making them available to the public, while driving increased support to implement the

Libraries Master Plan;

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Ensuring all citizens of Louisville Metro, including the elderly, disabled, and international communities, are prepared in case of a widespread emergency; and

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Growing awareness in the community for our existing Points of Pride in all our neighborhoods and small cities to foster a sense of ownership and excitement among Louisville Metro residents.

Fischer also pledged to improve coordination between fire and emergency medical services to allow for more effective delivery of services, training, and emergency first response and to advocate for thoughtful growth in and around water quality sensitive areas to address drainage and sewer capacity issues.

Democratic candidate for mayor Jim King‘s latest ad starts with references to the recent Metro audit and then touts King’s work on transparency in the Metro Council and his work in the private sector.

Republican candidate and Metro Councilman Hal Heiner previously mentioned his work on other transparency legislation in a TV ad, and several candidates have touted their plans for making government more open. With the audit still fairly fresh in the news cycle, it’s likely we will see continued discussion of how candidates will change Metro Government. With this issue and the current list of candidates, a debate of plans versus experience is likely to be a part of that discussion.

Louisville’s AFSCME union has endorsed Democrat Jim King for mayor. AFSCME and the Teamsters have had disputes with the current administration, so this seems a little more timely than some of the endorsements we’ve seen in the race so far, though King and Democratic opponent Greg Fischer are still racing to have the most labor support.

From LEO:

“Our union members have long been impressed with Councilman King’s efforts to provide a quality workplace and a fair and equitable wage for Metro employees,” says Greg Frazier, president of AFSCME Local 2629. “Jim’s willingness to provide an environment where all employees have an equal voice will go far toward ensuring a better work environment.”

In the crowded Democratic field, support from labor unions is considered critical and nabbing AFSCME local certainly boosts King among area workers. The fight over which of the eight Democratic candidates has a better labor record and key endorsements has thus far been between King and primary opponent, Louisville businessman Greg Fischer, who has led the pack among union endorsements.

Republican Chris Thieneman was on TV the other day discussing FEMA grants and the recent audit of Metro Government.

Democrats Tyler Allen and Jim King also spoke out about the audit. Allen held a press conference and King made this statement:

“As many in this community are aware, I’ve long had concerns over the level of transparency at City Hall.  While I’m pleased that the mayor is focusing on our accounting system, I’m still convinced the only way to hold government truly accountable and for the people of this community to trust its government is to open the city’s books to the light of day.  As a Metro Councilman, I have worked to improve the levels of transparency by creating the city’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee and authoring the city’s Transparency Ordinance.  I am the only practicing CPA on the Metro Council and in the race for mayor and if elected, on day one I will implement a system of internal accountable controls that will eliminate the material weaknesses and significant control deficiencies that currently exist in Metro Government’s accounting system.”

Metro Council leaders Madonna Flood, Hal Heiner and Ken Fleming have weighed in on the audit. Heiner is also a Republican candidate for mayor. His campaign has this statement:

“Unfortunately this could just be the tip of the iceberg, which is why Councilman Heiner has laid out a plan in his transparency policy that calls for a full scale audit of every department and agency in Metro Government.  Ultimately it is the mayor’s responsibility to have a financial management system in place that can be relied upon, and what has developed over the past 20 years is a culture of complacency in managing taxpayer dollars.  A fiscally sound city is paramount for Louisville to win new jobs, and a Heiner Administration will work to that end.”

Democrat Greg Fischer‘s campaign sent this:

“As an outsider to the Mayor’s Office and Metro Council, the findings from the state auditors report are troubling.  I am aware of the findings and don’t like them at all.  I haven’t run my businesses this way and I won’t let something like this happen on my watch as Mayor.”

And Metro Councilman and Democratic candidate David Tandy‘s campaign spokesperson says he…

…is reviewing the audit and will incorporate the findings into his plan to make metro government transparent and accountable when he is mayor.

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.

LEO Weekly got their hands on what appear to be the leaked Courier-Journal/WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll for the mayoral campaign. The C-J is expected to release these Sunday, so we’ll post an update then and compare the accuracy. LEO says the numbers were obtained through “dogged reporting,” but we don’t have confirmation from the C-J, WHAS11, SurveyUSA or the campaigns.

The results (liked above) put Greg Fischer and David Tandy at the head of the Democratic primary, with Jim King close behind and Tyler Allen a little further back. More voters appear to be undecided than supporting any specific candidate.

LEO reports that Chris Thieneman leads the Republican primary with a slight lead over Hal Heiner, and undecided voters still having the power to swing it either way.

Another endorsement for Jim King, following today’s news that the Louisville Firefighters are supporting fellow Democrat Greg Fischer. From the press release:

Today, former House Speaker Jody Richards announced his full support and endorsement for Democrat Jim King for Mayor of Louisville.

“Jim King has proven through both his public service and as a small business owner that he knows how to get things done. In these tough economic times, Democrat Jim King is best prepared to lead Louisville and get real results.”

“I not only give my endorsement today, but I also pledge my full support to helping Jim King as Mayor build the coalitions necessary to bring back Louisville’s fair share,” Richards went on to say.

The Jefferson County Teachers Association is endorsing Democrat Jim King for mayor. The JCTA represents over 6,000 members, including teachers, librarians and clinicians  in Jefferson County schools.

This is King’s fifth union endorsement. He’s trailing fellow Democrat Greg Fischer in labor endorsements. Fischer has seven.

A spokesperson for Fischer’s campaign tells LEO the campaign is looking to represent more active and retired workers than King.

Metro Councilman and Democratic candidate for mayor Jim King has a few new endorsements…

  • Councilwoman Marianne Butler
  • Councilman George Unseld
  • United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 147

King and fellow Democrat Greg Fischer seem to be fighting for the most labor endorsements. Fischer came out with the early endorsement lead, but LEO reported on something earlier this month that might hurt Fischer’s reputation with unions.

Republican Hal Heiner and Democrat Greg Fischer both released plans for creating jobs in Louisville this week.

Heiner’s plan focuses on making the mayor the chief economic development officer for the city. He would establish a committee to create a new jobs strategy; create a fund to help close business deals; encourage investment; attract business and industry with infrastructure improvements; support small businesses; work with Frankfort; and create an educated workforce.

You can see a PDF of his plan here.

Like Heiner, Fischer’s plan relies partially on public-private partnerships, but also: improves street and river transportation/calls for high-speed rail/relies on an East-End bridge; improves land-use; and relies on development at Fort Knox and existing Louisville companies.

You can see a PDF of his plan here. (via The Ville Voice)

You can compare those to David Tandy‘s plan (PDF here) for more focus on education and jobs in healthcare, IT and green energy. And you can further compare that to Jim King‘s plan to improve Louisville’s reputation with labor by working better with unions.

There are more parts to the candidates’ plans, and there are more plans. For example, Tyler Allen talks about improved education, more support for small business, regional development and better transportation. And Chris Thieneman told me in an interview about his plans for improving development.

We’ve heard a lot of ideas and we’ve seen plans, but we haven’t seen a lot of details just yet. Maybe we won’t see those details in the primary, but if candidates are going to hold press conferences every other day, I think some more details are bound to emerge.

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