Saturday, April 26, 2008

Louisville’s Metro Government and Public Input

A few weeks ago I received an email from Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins (R-25) announcing an urgent meeting at the Metro Government Center on Dixie Highway, in the Southwest part of the county. The subject of the meeting was the placement an ordnance storage facility on the levee wall which was responsible for the water supply to the residents in this part of the county, thus, could prove disastrous if something horrific should happen.

The meeting was well attended by some 75 seriously irate residents. The meeting was kicked off by Mr. Hawkins expressing his concern not only about the safety of the facility, given its close location to several resident neighborhoods, the local water supply, and several local schools. Hawkins claimed the 8x16x8 metal and wood unit could be used to store hand grenades, ammunition, and unexploded biological or chemical ordnances, not to mention shells, blasting caps, and so forth.

The Louisville Metro Police were on hand to refute any inaccurate statements and alleviate any confusion about what would and won’t be stored there. And in that job, they were outstanding. However, their “matter-of-fact” answers about the technical specifications of the facility did little to defuse the crowd, whose main interest was why the Southend was chosen, and whether any other location was ever considered. The spokesman for the Metro Police explained (with incredible patience I should add) that when Mayor Jerry Abramson sold the Southfields Training Facility in the eastern part of the county (to generate funds for his downtown projects), provisions for the two state-of-art storage locations weren’t made. The existing ordinance storage was shifted to the Algonquin site; described as a “leaky” metal container located near Louisville’s West End. The police could not address issues such as the affect the unit would have on neighboring property values, although it was generally conceded that adjacent property values could be adversely affected. They did assure those in attendance that the unit was well protected and all safeguards to insure public safety were in place.

But what I found to be the most damning comment was that Mayor Abramson had sole authority to put this unit anywhere he wanted too without consideration to the Metro Council, the police or fire departments, or any other Metro agencies, and certainly not to residents. Although residents were “assured” that the ordinance disposal unit would not present any danger, no one present representing the Metro Government could explain why there wasn’t a public hearing or, if the unit didn’t pose any danger as suggested, why the Mayor didn’t put it three blocks from his resident at the Crescent Hill Levee as a show of confidence. The meeting wrapped up with the announcement that the following Tuesday would be a “Mayor’s Night Out” as the Fairdale High School. Here, I thought, would an opportunity to ask the man himself.

“Mayor’s Night Out” was conceived as an opportunity for residents to meeting with various departments within Metro Government; ask questions and get answers to nearly anything on their minds. Well, I was there, along with 100 other residents. Everyone was in their seats waiting for the meeting to begin. After Mayor Abramson made his usual customary introductions, two ladies asked the Mayor about the ordnance storage unit and why it was being located in the Southend along with every other project the City doesn’t want. What came next was totally unexpected.

The Mayor immediately held up his hand and announced that he wasn’t going to answer any questions regarding the unit. He made the decision to put it at the Southend site and that was that. There would be no questions or discussion. He would not address the matter further. The matter, as far as he was concerned, was closed. With that, the majority of those in attendance meekly walked out.

Now perhaps it’s just me, but I thought the Mayor worked for us, and as such, had the duty and obligation to answer any question put to him by the residents of Jefferson County. Apparently I was mistaken. It has been Mayor Abramson’s increasingly autocratic attitude which is earning him outright contempt in parts of county, and even among those who work for Metro Government. Here is a Democratic mayor who has as much use for unions as a dog has for ticks. He has kept some unions on hold for three years now without as much as a cost of living increase. He has repeatedly tried to rein every agency he could find. There will be no independence of thought under his regime. Is it any wonder he is openly referred to “the King”, “Mayor-for-Life”, or “His Excellency”? Bossism is alive and well in Louisville Kentucky (for those keeping track, Abramson served three terms as Louisville Mayor, then after aggressively pushing for a City-County government merger, was elected the first Metro Mayor. He is now on this second term in that position. The residents in the county are still waiting on city services promised by the merger).

What I don’t understand however, is why unions, who rarely support him, and the numerous community groups and activists (especially those in the county) don’t band together to get rid of this homegrown “Boss Tweed”. With the first Saturday in May fast approaching and the running of the famous Kentucky Derby, wouldn’t that be a terrific time to stage a protest; with the world’s media right there? Wouldn’t that force the Mayor to address issues like stale contracts; the lack of government services for county; the different taxing districts between city and county residents; and arbitrary decisions without public input? Perhaps the time has come to put aside differences and focus on government reform right here in the River City—Louisville Kentucky.

Our occasional guest writer, “Moderate Man”, has decided to wade in on this issue too:

The Southend has been bypassed like a road around a progressive town. We have a mayor who didn't deliver on a retail shopping center like Kohl's at the old Bacons Shopping Center in Shively. A long time regional Christmas event called the Iroquois Winterfest at Iroquois Park was killed and the lights and figurines were taken and absorbed into the mayor’s event, called Light Up Louisville in front of his office downtown. The old 3rd District LPD command center was turned into a training center after the mayor signed off on the sale of the Southfields training center. They were moved into the Central Park 4th District, leaving a delayed response time for those in the 15th council, as they were farther away from their southern beats, including Iroquois Homes housing project. Community Development Block Grants to fix up residential housing in the north half of the 15th council, have been hijacked for downtown housing thus allowing a greater South End rental market with tenants who lack pride in ownership. The mayor tried to have Christopher 2X place a memorial in the Wyandotte Park renovation to honor abused children who were killed. Why wasn't it placed in Jefferson Park with all the other memorials, instead of at a Police training building? Guess the mayor didn't want to look at it out of his office window, as south end residents will now get to drive by it daily on Taylor Blvd. Iroquois Homes is being demolished over a 5 year period and the Abramson administration has no plans currently what will replace it. This includes the Dumeyer Community Center. Where are the kids in this area to play? Two pools, Hazelwood and Wyandotte have been closed and no pool replacement is called for by the administration for the South End. When will someone stand up for the Southend other than the Mayor's puppet council people?

Dark Clouds on the Horizon

The New York Times recently published a chilling set of statistics. According to the April 4, 2008 article, Americans of nearly every demographic are sick and tired of being sick and tired with government and the economy. 81% of those polled said they believe that “things have pretty seriously gotten off the wrong track”. That’s up from 69% just last year, and 35% from 2003. 78% of respondents said the country was worse off than it was five years ago (I’m reminded of then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan asking voters if they were better off now than four years ago, referring to his opponent, President Jimmy Carter). The article went on to point out that there is now a national consensus that we are facing serious problems (duh). Also of interest was that the article pointed out that public opinion usually hits lows only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one. That's a very bad sign folks.

The public holds both political parties to blame for the current economic and political malaise. 58% of the respondents said they would support an increase in taxes on households making more than $250,000 to pay for tax cuts or support programs aiding the working poor (Napoleon once quipped that the only use for religion was to keep the poor from murdering the rich). However, no breaks would be tolerated for businesses. 43% said they would support a larger federal government that provided more services, which is the highest number since the poll began in
1991. Interestingly, however, 43% said they would support a smaller government that provided fewer services. Basically, people are looking for an out anywhere they can find it.

Historically, its numbers like these which have often produced great social upheavals, and even revolutions. With raising gas and oil prices, a pending health crisis, a recession, an increasing public division on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global climate change, and now the possibility of food shortages, whoever is elected president in November will have their work cut out for them. There will be absolutely no room for mistakes or “on-the-job” training. The next president is going to have to hit the ground running hard. They will have to have all their players in place and ready to put to their plans in action starting from Day One. And what’s more, they had better tell their lobbyists friends to sit the next four years out. This has to be a populist term. Failure to do so, may bring America to the brink…or worse

Poll Results

Our last poll asked you whether or not you thought we there was a global crisis coming. 70% of you thought so. That’s good enough for me!


Real Estate GUY said...

The Southwest part of our COUNTY is mainly comprised of 4 complete Metro Council Districts: 12, 13, 14, and 25.

In Metro Council Districts 12, 13, and 14 the housing seemingly "preferred" by the Louisville Metro government is today being referred to as "below median income" housing (political correctness precludes using the now-defined-as-pejorative term SECTION 8). This housing includes apartments and some high-density single-family units (brought in under the ADI zoning classification). There are even 2 now abandoned apartment communities on Moorman Rd. and Terry Rd. that involved a known low-income developer from Mississippi who got approval for millions of dollars in tax credits and incentives and cleared nearly all the trees from each site, failed to pay many of the local contractors that he hired, and then declared bankruptcy. This developer was given encouragement by the Abramson administration to build these "below median income" apartment communities in our Southwest.

Standing in stark contrast to what has happened in Districts 12, 13, and 14 is the success story being built daily in Metro Council District 25 that has seen multiple upscale single family homes and condominiums being built over the last 4 years, some ranging up to nearly $500,000.

Why this sharp difference?

It really is simple. The District 25 representative has staunchly defended his ground for the better upscale developments and against the introduction of any more "below median income" housing, while the representatives for the other 3 districts have capitulated to the desires of Mayor Abramson during his ongoing razing of public housing projects in the "old city", thus necessitating the need for those displaced folks to find housing that they can afford.

The politics of this housing contrast cannot be ignored.

District 25 is represented by a Republican who is well versed in real estate;
Districts 12, 13, and 14 are represented by Democrat lackeys of Abramson.

Ed Springston said...

I was at those meetings as well Paul. At the Southwest meeting I asked the Police if they knew of any other locations that were considered and they did not. They were specifically told to check that location out and see if it fit what they wanted.

Moderate man has a legitimate question as well. WHen is someone going to step up besides the puppet people of Abramson's?

I have stepped up, stood up, and asked relevant questions at these meetings, in email, and everywhere else.

I am no puppet of Abramson as my public trail will show.

SO to answer that moderate man? Some of us are.

Keep up the good work guys.

Ed Springston
Democratic candidate Metro Council District 14

Donna said...

oh my I can hear the chattering now good job i loved it

Another Opinion said...

Thank you "Real Estate Guy", and Mr. Springston for your comments. The reasons each of you have stated is why I refer to the our local metro government as the "Louisville Metro Soviet". It is about as effective as the old Soviet Politburo, which served as a rubber stamp to the Soviet Premier. In our case, it's proven to be little more than a rubber stamp for Abramson. Regardless of political party, that has to stop.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Chris Theinemann have his hand in most of those low-end developments in those other districts?

Another Opinion said...

Good question Anon.

Cindi said...

I went to the Fairdale hs bomb storage meeting. Mayor was totally arrogant and unprofessional. Ive never seen him so blatantly cocky. Bob Henderson and Vicki Welch stood smiling and shaking heads. They support it. didnt help themselves there.

Another Opinion said...

I was recently given a copy of two letters relating to the proposed explosives storage site in SW Jefferson County.

Metro 14 Candidate, Ed Springston asked fellow SW candidates to sign the letter to the Mayor asking for reconsideration of the site away from the proposed site. The April 18, 2008 letter was signed Dwight Witten, Metro 12 Candidate; Bob Hueglin, Metro 14 Candidate; Sharon Haag, Metro 12 Candidate; Gordon Richie, Metro 14 Candidate; and Ed Springston, Metro 14 Candidate.

Those NOT signing were Jack Wood, Metro 14 Candidate; John McCoy, Metro 14 Candidate; and Michael Bowman, Metro 14 Candidate. Let's hope they sent their own letter to the Mayor.

A second letter, also date April 18, 2008, was circulated among the Southwest ELECTED Officials which also requested reconsideration of the site. The letter was signed by Dan Johnson, District 21 Councilman and Doug Hawkins, District 25 Councilman.

Those REFUSING to sign were Rick Blackwell, District 12 Councilman; Bob Henderson, District 14 Councilman; Vicki Welch, District 13 Councilwoman, and Marianne Butler, District 15 Councilwoman.

I wonder why they would refuse to sign a letter asking that the Mayor take another look at the explosives storage site, which the resident clearly don't want? It would seem to me to show a lack of concern for the residents.

Real Estate Guy said...

In response to ANON
about Chris Thieneman:

The latest "low-end" and "below median income" development in the Southwest is called FAWN LAKES, behind the original Valley Village in District 14.

It was ramrodded through the system by THE HOUSING PARTNERSHIP (which is not now nor ever will be associated with Chris Thieneman.)

ABRAMSON is on their Board of Directors! And this group is PROUD of Fawn Lakes (look on their "About" page)

This group is nothing more than Abramson's tool to distribute "low-end" housing into the FORMER COUNTY!

Abramson's main RUBBER STAMP in the Southwest (Bob "I've been sued for yet another CONFLICT of INTEREST" HENDERSON) was Abramson's point man. HENDERSON CARRIED JERRY'S WATER on this project.

The woman who was the Exec. Director of The Housing Partnership (Maria G. Hampton) received a PEACH of a POLITICAL job AFTER she ramrodded this project through: She now sits as THE Senior Branch Executive for the Louisville office of the FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of ST. LOUIS!)

Chris Thieneman's latest development in District 14 is The Woods of Farnsley Moorman: A nice blended community featuring Single Family home and Condominium form of homeOWNERship. [SPECIAL NOTE is in order here. Chris has "snuck" in some 4 or 5 low-end homes along Lower River Road near Johnsontown Rd. during the Hurricane Katrina refugee relocation effort, but Chris (to his credit) has worked WITH neighbors on making his larger projects "non-low end". This is a marked change for a guy whose family built their fortune on such "low end" housing. (It might be of interest to note here that the Thienemans are still the # 1 owners and operators of Trailer Parks in the Southwest, and that they own and operate several Apartment communities that seem to cater to lower income folks. Is this necessarily a problem? The answer is not clearly black and white.)]

So, it all boils down to this:
Chris Thieneman, despite past "low end" activities, has actively sought input from neighbors to help make his projects better.

On the other hand, Abramson and his lackeys (read: HENDERSON, BLACKWELL, WELCH and others) have merely allowed the neighbors to vent, and then crammed whatever Abramson wants down the throats of those same neighbors.

Since I did NOT vote for Merger, I have to ask those that did:

Maybe it's time to Invoke
Kentucky's Constitution.


Paul H said...

Actually there was in excess of 250. The 2 sections of folding chairs were EACH over 100, and since it was SRO and out into the entrance that was easily another 50+ (I believe that there was actually over 300, based on my years of working at the Kentucky Exposition Center and counting crowds through sampling.)

Another Opinion said...

The 75 or so irate folks I was referring to were those that were especially outspoken. Both meetings were in fact, very well attended. Thanks much for the clarification!

Michael Bowman said...

To clarify information about the petition that was "circulated" by Mr. Springston to the other candidates...

I was contacted the day of the meeting (that this letter was to be submitted to the mayor) by Renay Davis of Doug Hawkins office, NOT by Mr. Springston as you have stated.
The only exposure to the information I had about the facility at the time was from Doug Hawkins himself, his office ,and what had circulated in the media. I attempted to contact the Mayor's office about specifics from their end, but went unanswered.
I did not sign the petition for two reasons...
1. I, at the time, had only Doug Hawkins information, with him stating that we "are doing the terrorist work for them" doing little to bolster my confidence in his information being any more than a political stunt for his current senate campaign or accurate for that matter.

2. I was contacted the day of, to sign this petition, giving me very little time to accurately check the facts or receive any rebutting information from the Mayors office, before placing my support behind it. As i recall, a candidate interviewed on this very blog stated that he would "not vote blindly" as councilman, seems to me that this should work for both sides when looking at issues such as this as well.

I find the insinuation that I refused to sign due to a sympathy towards the mayor is grossly in error.
I carry great concern for the residents of my community, I've lived here my entire life and to imply that I would refuse to support something in their best interest is ridiculous. I was under the impression that we didn't want a Councilman who would simply "rubberstamp" something before looking at all the facts first!

Michael Bowman
Metro Council District 14

Another Opinion said...

Thanks for clearing that up Michael. The letters were given to me with blanks in the signature blocks for the candidates. On the Metro Council letter, "Refused to Sign" was hand written in the signature blocks.

Personally, I am quite pleased to hear that you have a sincere desire to do something positive for the Southwest and took the time to investigate. I quite agree that we don't need any more "rubber stamps" on the Metro Council for sure.

Ed Springston said...


The assertion that I asked you to sign the letter was made by Mr. Hosse not myself. Not being able to distinguish the difference and to imply that I did simply is part of the problem of those who want to get elected.

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. The facts matter and to get them right is necessary in a leader.

I will respond to your claims as follows.

You had roughly a week to research this issue, as it was very public, to claim you had no other information is a suspect one. Did you just not see that it was an issue that we deserved answers to?

If a week in this case was not enough time to research this issue that affects the Southwest how can you make those daily decisions necessary on a moments notice? How much time do you need Michael to research something that is important to the residents and time critical?

If a week was not enough time to get up to date on an issue this important to our residents how in the world would you handle emergency situations that arise with no notice and need instant decisions?

You said you wanted to receive information from the Mayor's office.

In short you are saying you wanted to wait for the Mayor's response.

Good luck with that.

With roughly a week to work on this issue you decided to wait until the day of the only public chance you would get to speak with this Mayor and still did not take the time to review the request.

It was a simple request. A letter offered to all the candidates on both sides respectfully asking the Mayor to reconsider his decision on this site.

I get involved everyday for the betterment of our community NOT just for an election.

I attend the meetings for our neighborhoods, I speak on behalf of our community at the Metro Council, testify at the Board of zoning on behalf of our constituents such as Pepper's fish, Decker's heating and air, IPL harassment, MSD issues that affect us all, and received thousands of votes when I ran against this Mayor in 2006.

While you continue to wait for the Mayor to make your decision, just like our current Councilman so you can rubberstamp the vote, I will continue working on behalf of all those in our community.

Our future is too serious to be left to those who offer no substance or work ethic on the issues.

The time for the same political games is over.

Your game has been played too often and that rubberstamp style is way too old.

So while you continue waiting for this Mayor, to tell you what stance to take, I will continue working for the people.

We the people deserve better.

Ed Springston
Democratic Candidate Metro Council District 14

Another Opinion said...

Actually Ed, I didn't "assert" anything. I simply reported who did and did not sign the letters. You can take from that what you will.

Michael Bowman said...

"Metro 14 Candidate, Ed Springston asked fellow SW candidates to sign the letter..." It speaks for itself, and that is what I based my response on, whether you did or not is not the issue now.

The fact that Mr. Springston "leaped before he looked" and didn't fully read or understand my response before posting his- shows full well that to him the "facts" that matter are the ones that correlate to his point of view- or the ones that he can twist into absurd assumptions about me and my views on what we need in this community.

It clearly states in my reponse that it was NOT Mr. Springston who had contacted me about the letter

It clearly states that I received word of the letter the day of, and while it was publicized, it was reported with information from Doug Hawkins whose absurd comments about "doing the terrorist work" did little to assure me that it was accurate and not a politcal stunt.

I gave the Mayor an opportunity to give me information to either corroborate or refute the information made public by Doug Hawkins, something Mr. Springston didn't consider doing before signing the letter himself. This is where the "not vote blindly" rhetoric reveals an aspect of him as a candidate and what he would be like as a councilman- He would like to challenge me about my leadership, that crossing the aisle is important to reach meaningful consensus on issues...yet he refuses to allow a former political opponent the opportunity to give a direct answer, regardless of whether they will take it or not.
I refuse to allow him to challenge my stand on issues that are vital to this community, or my involvement- I have attended Area Business Association meetings to speak with local business owners, I have attended the Louisville Independent Business Alliance "Why Buy Local" panel discussions on the impact of local independent businesses on our economy, I've maintained close relationships with the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Department and have always supported the service they provide; something that was recognized by my endorsement from the Jefferson County Professional Firefighters - and just because my campaign focus has been on the safety and economic development of our area, doesn't imply that I am not concerned about the issues with IPL or MSD- That is an assumption made by my opponent.

Mr. Springston has his campaign issues, I have mine- in the end it will up to the voters to decide who they want to represent them and I am more than confident that they will make the right decision.

Michael Bowman
Metro Council District 14

The REAL McCoy said...

Mikey B -

Hey ... you ARE here, just like my friend said (I've got good friends)!


Let me recap things that Mikey B. CONFIRMED over on another website

1 -
He is an unabashed LIBERAL!
2 - He doesn't have a mortgage in his name, but he claims to make a mortgage payment, and will not provide any proof of that mortgage.
3 - He lives in a house that he does not own
4 - He has to check with the Mayor's office for "information" about a specific South End issue.
5 - Most of his Work History has been with McDonald's and KFC.
6 - For a 25 year old, he demonstrates an unusual amount of arrogance with his phrases used here such as
"I gave the Mayor an opportunity to give me ..."
"I refuse to allow him to challenge my stand ..."

Mikey ... you ARE a Mikey-come-lately.

Before this election cycle NO ONE has ever seen you out in public working on community issues.

You've been INVISIBLE!

So Mikey
(BTW ... only his Friends are allowed to call him Mikey, as he "proclaimed" on the other website),
if you are REALLY concerned about SPECIFIC ISSUES, then come right out and SAY WHAT THOSE are.

Quit hiding behind generalities.

That's the trouble with Liberals ... they never want to be held accountable for their words.

Well Mikey, here's your chance to BE SPECIFIC.

If you're OPPOSED to MSD rate hikes, say so.
If you're OPPOSED to IPL abuses, then say so.


OMG ... I almost forgot ...

Mikey B. invited his "friends" to help him in his campaign recently.
He had:

Only 4 friends that AGREED to help him
20 "friends" told him maybe.
40 "friends" told him NO WAY.
32 "friends" simply did not respond to his generous invitation.

In summary,
96 "friends" were asked by Mikey.
72 "friends" either said NO or DID NOT RESPOND.

20 other "friends" had to "think about it."

Their behavior speaks loudly.

Mikey's friends know him better than the public does, and it's obvious ... Mikey's friends are "too busy" to help him.


Ed Springston said...

Here are some facts. The PRP firefighters were asking for a significant tax increase for all property owners. Bowman agreed to that which is why they gave him an endorsement.

In short, Bowman agreed to these much higher property tax increases in exchange for their endorsement.

As a former volunteer fireman myself, I completely understand their challenges with funding. I have proudly walked in their shoes and respect the good men and women and the work they do on behalf of our community.

Instead of instantly agreeing to yet another tax increase, I told these very same PRP fire district folks that I would work with them to help them accomplish their goal. While I agree with them in principle that more funding is needed, getting a tax increase today would be nearly impossible to get passed. As I told the firefighters, based on the recent vote concerning the library tax that Abramson tried to cram down our throats, new taxes at this time just are not realistic.

Money is tight for everyone so we must work harder and be frugal with available money to take care of our needs and not constantly taxing the working folks in our community to finance it.

The residents of our District are taxed enough.

Accountability through leadership will go a long way to solving these problems, and I offer just that.

Tax and spend traditional "liberal" thinking is the old way.
I offer a new way of being responsible and frugal with the taxpayers money.

Michael, your quick commitment to imposing new taxes is a traditional mindset and one that most folks are tired of.

Also, I would also note that you did not mention one thing about your actual involvement with any issues out here in the Southwest. These residents, friends, and neighbors are the very folks that we are asking to place their confidence in us as their representative. Our way of life depends upon America's promise:

Of the people,
By the people, and
For the people.

At Southwest Government Center community meeting pertaining to the explosives storage container at the Cardinal Hill reservoir, Abramson sent his representatives out to speak for him. Major Milburn of the LMPD was just one of those reps.

You had a clear opportunity to get the answers at that meeting, but you chose not to.

At the Fairdale meeting just a few days later, Abramson was on record that this was the only location to check out. Also at Fairdale, Abramson refused to answer questions.

I will continue working on the issues by getting involved with all the people in our District and trusting them to be the voice of our future: A future that is filled with hope for better not the same old rubber-stamp way.

Ed Springston
Democratic Candidate Metro Council District 14