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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says layoffs, increases in license fees and several other options are all “on the table” as he drafts the city budget for the next fiscal year.

On WFPL’s State of Affairs Thursday, Fischer discussed: the city budget; Metro Government’s response to recent industrial accidents in Rubbertown and Butchertown; the future of Whiskey Row; and his thoughts on Metro Council discretionary spending. You can listen to the full interview here.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has launched a review of the city’s Planning and Design Services department.

Fischer previously announced audits of Public Works and Animal Services, and he’s planning a review of the economic development department. The mayor says he wants each department to be a model for other cities.

The Planning and Design Services department works on zoning and landmarks, among other issues. The review will look at how the department can better serve developers and neighborhoods. It will be led by an eight person panel that includes representatives from the mayor’s office, the state resource council, home builders and preservation groups.

The panel:

  • Bill Bardenwerper, Attorney
  • Tommy Clark, Office of the Mayor
  • Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resource Council
  • Gabe Fritz, The Housing Partnership
  • Chuck Kavanaugh, Home Builders Association
  • Gale Lively, Louisville Apartment Association
  • Jim Mims, Director, Inspections, Metro Codes and Regulations
  • Steve Porter, Attorney

Later this year, Mayor Greg Fischer will name a new director of Louisville Metro Animal Services. The director will be the fourth person in two years to lead the agency, and the second person to not have the title preceded by ‘interim.’

Fischer told the Courier-Journal he’s determined not to overlook anything as the city conducts background checks of every applicant for the position. Fischer is looking to avoid a repeat of the last few years, when previous director Gilles Meloche (who was found after a national search) stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and harassing employees. After Meloche, Wayne Zelinsky was named interim director. He stepped down last week after The Ville Voice uncovered a business Zelinsky and his wife were running. The business promotes adult entertainment.

MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox is now leading LMAS. She will serve until a permanent director is appointed.

Louisville Metro Animal Services interim director Wayne Zelinsky has resigned.

The announcement comes weeks into a review of the department ordered by Mayor Greg Fischer.

For more than a year, LMAS has been the target of criticism. Zelinsky became interim director after former director Gilles Meloche resigned amidst allegations of mistreatment of animals and improper behavior. Zelinsky has been named in lawsuits brought by employees, and is also under investigation by the police public integrity unit.

Deputy director of MetroSafe Debbie Fox will be the new interim director of LMAS. She will serve until April, when a permanent director is appointed.

WFPL will have more on this story this afternoon. Mayor Fischer will speak about the matter at a 1:00 press conference.

Below is the announcement from Fischer’s office.

Mayor Greg Fischer today named Debbie Fox as the new interim leader of Metro Animal Services, following the resignation of Director Wayne Zelinsky.

Fox, currently Deputy Director of MetroSafe, will oversee animal control for the city while the Fischer administration conducts a national search for a new full-time director and completes a top-to-bottom review of Animal Services.

Fox will remain in the new role until April, when Fischer plans to name a permanent director for Animal Services. She was named Communications Center Director of Year in 2010 by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials.

“Debbie is a solid leader who has been nationally recognized and has a proven track record in customer service,” Fischer said. “I’m confident that she will effectively manage Animal Services during this transition period.”

Last month, Fischer named a committee to audit Animal Services and a separate committee to search for a new leader. The review and search are being overseen by Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief of Community Building for the city. Applications for the Director of Animal Services are being accepted until Feb. 14.

Zelinsky submitted his resignation, effective immediately, this morning.

Here is the story from WFPL:


The embattled director of Louisville Metro Animal Services has resigned.

Wayne Zelinsky had been interim director since Dr. Gilles Meloche stepped down amid accusations of mistreating animals and employees. Zelinsky was also controversial. He is named in two lawsuits and was allegedly operating an adult-themed entertainment business online. Zelinsky resigned after being confronted about the business.

“We advised Wayne [Tuesday] night that we were aware of a website that he had up and running and needed to discuss that with him and he came in [Wednesday] morning and resigned,” says Mayor Greg Fischer.

Last month, Fischer ordered a full review of LMAS and launched a national search for a new director. He said then he would keep Zelinsky in charge of the department, unless the auditors recommended otherwise. Fischer says the search for a permanent director will continue, though he’s not sure about the progress of the audit.

“You know, I make it a matter not to really get in the middle of audits while they’re going on because they start and then you never know what they’re going to find out. They’re hard at work right now. We’ll get a report on it at the end of the first quarter. We’re progressing with the audit, that’s all I know at this point,” he says.

Zelinsky will be replaced by current MetroSafe deputy director Debbie Fox. A permanent director will be named in April.

The Merger 2.0 task force is coming together. The panel is responsible for reviewing the first eight years of merger and recommending changes and improvements to government and the state law that governs merger.

When Mayor Greg Fischer created the task force, he said he wanted four council members on it–two from within the urban services district (old city) and two from outside. Further, he wanted at least one of those council members to be a Republican (Republicans are the minority in the council).

The mayor got just that.

On Tuesday, Council President Jim King (D-10) announced the following appointments to the task force:

Inside the USD:

  • Dan Johnson (D-21)
  • Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5)

 

Outside:

  • Rick Blackwell (D-12)
  • James Peden (R-23)

 

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

Monday’s inauguration breakfast will be held in the Kentucky International Convention Center downtown. The room is being decorated with city vehicles (police boat, TARC buses) and replicas of various landmarks (Metro Hall, Churchill Downs). Black carpets will be dotted with yellow tape to look like streets. Louisville Magazine’s correspondent told me the setup reminded him of this movie.

Mayor-elect Greg Fischer unveiled his transition team Wednesday. Here is the WFPL coverage, and here is a list of the team members:

Ron Weston
Chair

Merv Aubespin
Vice Chair

Doug Cobb
Vice Chair

Mary Gwen Wheeler
Vice Chair

Gabriela Alcalde 

Bill Altman

Muhammad Barbar

Bill Bardenwarper

Erica BeasleyNicole Candler

Middletown Mayor
Byron Chapman

Tommy Clark

Ann Coffey

Shively Mayor
Sherry Conner

Jose Neil Donis

Jonathan Dooley

SteVon Edwards

Bill Finn

Jon Goldberg

Eric Gunderson

GJ Hart

Margaret Handmaker

Gill Holland

Nikki Jackson

Vince Jarboe

Lee Lewis

Tomiko McDaniel

JK McKnight

Rishabh MehrotraLynnie Meyer

Larry Michalczyk

Charlie Moyer

Yung Nguyen

Kent Oyler 

Djenita Pasic

Ben Richmond

Vidya Ravichandran

Greg Roberts

Ann Smith

Rev. Frank Smith

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl

Ron Weston is an outgoing State Representative and former President of the Metro Council.

Merv Aubespin is a retired Courier-Journal associate editor.

Doug Cobb is a three-time Kentucky Entrepreneur of the Year.

Mary Gwen Wheeler is a senior advisor to Mayor Jerry Abramson on education.

Gabriela Alcalde is the former director of the Louisville Metro Office for Women.

Bill Altman is the chair of the Louisville Metro Board of Health and a VP at Kindred Healthcare.

Dr. Muhammad Babar is an attending physician at Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare

Bill Bardenwerper is on the board of directors for the Home Builders Assocation and helped write the Cornerstone 2020 plan.

Erica Kellem-Beasley is a board member for the Louisville Urban League Young Professionals

Nicole Candler owns Nic Creative Public Relations

Byron Chapman is the Mayor of Middletown.

Tommy Clark is the city’s disabilities director. He spoke to WFPL recently.

Ann Coffey is the president of Women 4 Women.

Sherry Conner is the Mayor of Shively.

Jose Neil Donis publishes Al Dia en America.

Jonathan Dooley is the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1447.

SteVon Edwards works for the Metro Health Department as an obesity prevention specialist.

Bill Finn is business manager for IBEW Local 369.

Jon Goldberg is on the Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts board.

Eric Gunderson was on the Louisville Arena Authority.

Margaret Handmaker was on the U of L Foundation Board.

GJ Hart is the President of Texas Roadhouse.

Gill Holland is a film producer, developer and Louisville Public Media board member.

Nikki Jackson is the Secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet.

Vince Jarboe co-founded the Southwest Dream Team.

Lee Lewis is on the national political committee of the Sierra Club.

Tomiko McDaniel is a UAW Local 862 member.

J.K. McKnight founded the Forecastle Festival.

Rishabh Mehrotra is chair of the Health Enterprises Network board.

Lynnie Meyer is the chief development officer at Norton Healthcare and former president of the Center for Women and Families.

Larry Michalczyk is an adjunct faculty member in U of L’s Kent School of Social Work.

R. Charles Moyer is the dean of the U of L College of Business and is on the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority.

Yung Nguyen is president of IVS LLC and he founded Lac Viet Academy.

Kent Oyler is a so-called serial entrepreneur.

Djenta Pasic owns Brainswork USA.

Vidya Ravichandran is president of GlowTouch Technologies.

Ben Richmond is president of the Urban League and is also on the Bridges Authority.

Greg Roberts is the president fo the Muhammad Ali Center

Anne Smith is the director of Ministries United South Central Louisville

Reverend Frank Smith is president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition. He has spoken to WFPL several times recently. On one occasion, he called out Fischer’s former rival Hal Heiner for his ad calling for an end to the JCPS student assignment plan.

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl is the former president of the Junior League of Louisville.


Election Day is Tuesday. To prepare yourselves, here is a list of candidates in various races. Below is a collection of political coverage, summaries and policies.

Mayor’s Race

Third District

Senate

Everything Else

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