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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Louisville Innovative Delivery Team to Tackle Urban Problems

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has put together a special team that will take on five urban challenges.

The projects range from to expanding recycling and reducing the number of low-severity 911 calls to implementing a more efficient rezoning process. Fischer announced a six-member “Innovation Delivery Team” will deal with the five goals, which will be funded by a $4.8 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies that the city received last year.

Fischer says the hope is to bring breakthrough ideas to Metro Government, such as new ways to reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties.

“We’re soon going to take legal action to foreclose on 100 of the most market desirable properties. Once the city acquires these properties, they’re going to be converted to productive use by putting them into the hands of people who will improve and restore them,” he says. “So the goal with this project is to reduce the number of abandoned properties by 40 percent within three years and 67 percent in five years.”

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Local News Politics

TARC Approves Fare Increases, Service Reductions Under Review

The board of directors for the Transit Authority of River City approved across-the-board fare increases that will take effect July 1 to help offset a projected $4.6 million budget shortfall.

Base fare for a one-way trip will increase from $1.50 to $1.75 and a monthly pass will cost $50 compared to the current $42 rate. The cost for individuals with disabilities who use TARC3 services will also go up from $2.50 to $3.00.

TARC Executive Director Barry Barker says riders are rightfully concerned, but those upset with the increase need to pressure elected leaders in Metro and state government as well as lawmakers in Washington.

“Essentially what I’ve told people is make noise. If this is hurting tell us about it, and tell your elected officials about it. Let us know what you need,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Peden Clashes With Mayor’s Office Over ‘Low-Income’ Apartment Project

Louisville Metro Councilman James Peden, R-23, is rallying against an effort to build a so-called “low-income” housing complex in his southeastern district, but Mayor Greg Fischer’s office and developers say Peden is misleading residents and the area needs more affordable housing.

Frontgate Apartments is a 212-unit apartment complex proposed by LDG Development, which wants to build the rental project in the Highview neighborhood near Outer Loop. In an April 18 letter to the Kentucky Housing Corporation, the mayor supported the developer’s application for state tax credits and pointed out that the project would be near a public transportation route, public and private schools and a full grocery store.

According to the mayor’s office, renters in the proposed development would have annual household earnings between $27,000 and $38,000.

Over the past two weeks, however, Peden has warned constituents about a “low-income housing project” being constructed in the area. And in a letter to state housing officials, the southeast Republican argues the apartment complex could hurt the property values of $100,000 homes and that his district is struggling to maintain its middle-class status due to population shifts in the city.

In a telephone interview with WFPL, Peden says his district needs higher priced rentals to jumpstart commercial and retail development; adding the city refuses to put affordable housing in areas such as the Highlands or East End.

“We already have poor people living in Highview,” he says. “Everyone here accepts the fact that poor people need a place to live, and we have our share. My area needs less along the lines of the affordable side of things and more along the lines of the high end, then you get some economic balance.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fischer’s Campaign Twitter Account Hacked

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s campaign Twitter account has been hacked.

The page has been inactive since February 2011, but a new profanity-laced message appeared last week.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

BuzzFeed Highlights Louisville’s Bizarre Breastfeeding Ad

BuzzFeed found the new ad by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Healthy Hometown Movement to be a bit frightening.

From BuzzFeed:

The ad, part of the Louisville mayor’s Healthy Hometown initiative, aims to—not scare the living crap out of African-American moms—but to boost breastfeeding among them. If it achieves that goal, I will eat my words (washed down with cow’s milk).

Check it out:

Last year, Fischer established 13 “lactation stations” at city work sites and the 30-second spot is aimed at local mothers to encourage breastfeeding.

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Local News

Conrad Addresses Occupy Louisville, Gang Activity and Community Policing

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad says his officers are prepared to deal with any possible situation that may arise in connection with the Occupy Louisville protesters.

Last week, Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Occupy demonstrators to abandon their downtown encampment by April 13. Since last fall, dozens of activists have occupied a tent city and used a small park as a center of operations.

During a live interview, Conrad told WFPL if protesters refuse to leave then police are prepared to deal with the situation.

“We have developed a number of different contingency plans. I’ve read the same comments that we all have in the paper of plans of the people who are camping there now without a permit. Some have indicated an interest in moving and some have interest in being arrested. We’re going to be in a position to deal with whatever might come along,” he says.

For the full interview with the chief, including his thoughts about gang activity in Louisville, listen below.

Audio MP3
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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

King Proposes Ordinance to Regulate Concrete Ad Benches

Louisville Metro Council President Jim King, D-10, has sponsored an ordinance to regulate concrete ad benches that have sprouted up on major thoroughfares across the city.

The advertisements are often placed on a corner or near the sidewalk without approval from Metro Government. Several city lawmakers have complained the benches are placed with no regard for public safety and intrude into public right-of-ways.

Councilman Robin Engel, R-22, is a co-sponsor of the measure. He says the ads are a nuisance paid for by mostly out of town companies.

“If you do take a moment and really focus in your particular area where you live and where you drive, these benches are popping up everywhere. And they’re really a pollution quite honestly,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

James Requests Conrad Testify Before Public Safety Panel

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad is now official on the job, and a city lawmaker wants the new chief to testify before the Metro Council’s Public Safety committee.

Conrad was sworn-in on Monday by Mayor Greg Fischer as only the second person to serve as chief since the city and county governments merged. He replaces Robert White, who resigned last year to take the chief post in Denver, Colorado.

Councilman David James, D-6, is a former police union president and chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He says the force is moving forward and he expects Conrad to explain his philosophy on community-oriented policing to the council and public.

“I expect new Chief Conrad to go out and be aggressive about introducing himself to the police officers and all parts of the community and how he plans on dealing with crime in their neighborhoods, particularly the crimes of gang activity, drug problems and property crime that are extremely important to me and many members of the council,” he says.

James has extended an invitation for Conrad to testify before the panel to discuss various issues surrounding crime. James says the city needs to reduce the number of shootings and the LMPD has to address gang activity in specific neighborhoods. The chief’s office has yet to respond to the councilman’s request.

The chief has yet to respond to the request.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fischer Administration Acknowledges Mistakes Over Failed Cordish Loan

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration apologized for a botched loan agreement with The Cordish Cos.—the developer of Fourth Street Live—during a Metro Council committee hearing on Tuesday.

Last month, Fischer offered up a resolution to give the Baltimore-based company an $850,000 forgivable loan to bring an unnamed tenant to downtown. The legislation was sponsored by Councilman David Tandy, D-4, and was pitched to renovate two floors for new business in the Kaufman Straus building.

But the mayor killed the proposal after learning the tenant was The Learning House, which is already housed downtown and was only moving a few blocks to a new location.

Director of Economic Growth and Innovation Ted Smith told the council’s government accountability panel that the mayor’s office made a mistake and based the request on incomplete information.

“Clearly we were too hasty in our actions as it relates to the loan request,” he said. “We take seriously the responsibilities we have to the public, the local business community and commitments that have been made in the past.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Conrad Sets High Goals for LMPD

Mayor Greg Fischer has named Steve Conrad the new chief of police and the Louisville native’s top goal is to make the city the safest in the country.

For two years Conrad served as an assistant chief in Metro Government before leaving in 2005 to takeover the police department in Glendale, Arizona. The Louisville native replaces former Chief Robert White, who resigned to take the chief post in Denver, Colorado.

Sixteen candidates applied for the position in a search conducted by the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville. Initially, members of the Metro Council held public forums to receive community input before the field was narrowed to 11 candidates, who were interviewed by a panel and cut down to five finalists.

Conrad says he is excited about becoming only the second person to head the department since city and county government combined, and wants to build on partnerships that White created to make Louisville safer.

“I want every neighborhood in our community to be the kind of place where you can let your kids go out and play and not have to worry about their safety. I want every neighborhood to be the kind of place where you can go to work and not worry about your home getting broken into while you’re away. I want every neighborhood to be the kind of place where seniors can walk and not worry about harassment or being victimized,” he says.