UPDATE: Council Moves to Impeach Green

by Phillip M. Bailey on June 13, 2011

After reviewing the findings of the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission, five members of the Metro Council have signed a petition calling for the removal of Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1, from office.

The five members are Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, Barbara Shanklin, D-2, Kevin Kramer, R-11, Stuart Benson, R-20, and Madonna Flood, D-24, who met with legal counsel Monday to discuss the various accusations against Green stemming from two ethics cases against her.

After deliberating, the bipartisan group agreed to move forward with the petition for removal, which was delivered to the Metro Council Clerk’s office. It cites the two ethics complaints filed against the embattled city lawmaker, one of which have come back in a unanimous decision by the ethics commission that Green intentional violated the ethics ordinance.

“I don’t have any comment,” Green told a WFPL reporter.

Last Friday, however, Green told different media outlets she will fight to keep her seat and said she would not resign. She has maintained her innocence and criticized the process as a “sham.”

In a joint statement, Ward-Pugh and Kramer said they had hoped Green would have stepped down to spare herself, her family and the council an ongoing controversy.

“The decision to move forward with the removal process was not taken lightly. It was our hope that Councilwoman Green would resign and prevent this action Understanding that Councilwoman Green plans to stay in office, despite the many findings against her, we have no choice but to move forward with a fair process that allows for all information to be heard in accordance with our rules.”

The council will now act as a court with subpoena power and will decide by a two-thirds vote the councilwoman’s fate.

Attorney Gregg Hovious, who was hired by Council President Jim King, D-1o, to review the ethics charges, will advise the five members. He said proceedings should begin within 60 to 90 days. Until then, Green is still a voting member of the council with all rights and privileges of an elected official.

Unlike the ethics hearings, Green will have to provide her own legal counsel for the removal hearing. Facing the ethics charges, she was provided with a taxpayer funded attorney.

The five members who offered the petition for removal indicated the charges against Green did include a review of the internal audit of the summer jobs program and subsequent police investigation conducted by the department’s Public Integrity Unit.

During the removal hearing, lawmakers could use information from that 554-page investigative file during their questioning, which goes beyond the ethics inquiry and includes a number of sordid details and allegations. One charge that could resurface is police interviews with the councilwoman’s former and current legislative own aides, who both accused Green of accepting a bribe from a west Louisville liquor store owner to support a wet-dry vote in her district.

Police determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges, however, detectives found the “appearance that criminal activity could have been taking place” and urged one of her aides to file charges.

With subpoena power, the council can compel witnesses to testify under oath who police had not interviewed or were unable to talk with.

“Those of us who stepped forward felt like it should be clear that the leadership of the council felt very strongly that these allegations needed to be considered and looked more closely into,” says Kramer. “Truthfully, for the sake of the community and when you have an opportunity to look at some of the evidence, I think it’s going to be very difficult for Councilwoman Green and her family as this drags on.”

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