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Local News Politics

Mayor’s Office Offered Council Members Publicity to Help Fund WorldFest

The office of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer promised Metro Council members personal advertisements in exchange for using their discretionary funds to help pay for this weekend’s WorldFest celebration.

Fischer recently announced the annual event was being expanded to three days and a volunteer with his Office of Globalization was soliciting city lawmakers to get the final $30,000. The administration offered to put the names of council members on banners, in print and radio ads if they contributed form their tax-payer funded accounts.

The solicitation further highlights the council’s use of the public funds, which have been under scrutiny for the past year due to allegations made against Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1, who faces removal from office.

From the Courier-Journal:

The city office organizing the event asked Democratic Councilman David Tandy’s office to email all council members and request each to contribute $1,000 from their discretionary funds. In return, council members will get their names listed as sponsors on banners and in print and radio ads for WorldFest.

Kevin Kramer, vice chairman of the council’s Republican caucus, said the individual recognition amounts to paid political advertising — bought with city tax dollars.

“There’s something about it that I find incredibly distasteful,” Kramer said. “ I just don’t think we should use taxpayer dollars that way.”

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Kansas Implements “Plan B” for Arts Funding

When he introduced his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer warned the Metro Council and the public that subsequent budgets would be much leaner. There’s a persistent $15 million gap in revenues, and Fischer says it will take fundamental changes to Metro Government to close that gap.

Among those possible changes is how the city supports the arts. Fischer told arts groups that receive city grants to put together a “Plan B” for that funding. Later, on a WFPL news special, Fischer restated his commitment to the arts, but said if given the choice between cutting public safety and cutting arts, he would chose the latter (though the funding for each doesn’t’ exactly compare).

NPR’s Elizabeth Blair recently reported on arts funding in Kansas, where a plan B has already been implemented after Governor Sam Brownback gutted the state’s arts commission.

Meanwhile, Brownback has named someone new to lead the efforts to raise funds from the private sector. In an interview, that new appointee said she doesn’t think it will be that hard … since the Kansas arts commission’s budget was so small to begin with.

When told about the situation in Kansas, Mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter said it’s too early to say whether Fischer would consider a similar option, especially since the mayor hasn’t determined whether the $500,000 that goes to arts groups will have to be cut from the next budget. Poynter did say, however, that the Fund for the Arts already connects corporate donors to arts groups (despite complaints about that process, which may soon be changed). Further, Poynter said Director of Community Building Sadiqa Reynolds is the mayor’s ambassador to arts groups, but has not done any fundraising.

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Local News Politics

Group Hopeful Prize Money Will Go Toward Hogan’s Fountain Pavilion

Representatives from Reader’s Digest Wednesday presented Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office with a $1,000 dollar check that could go toward preserving the Hogan’s Fountain Pavillion in Cherokee Park.

A group dedicated to preserving the structure—often called the teepee—petitioned Reader’s Digest for the money as part of a contest the magazine was holding to fund community projects. The 46-year-old pavillion is not part of the Metro Parks master plan, but the group is dedicated to raising $80 thousand to repair and keep the pavilion. They’ve raised about $5,000 so far.

Fischer chief of community building Sadiqa Reynolds says the city isn’t opposed to the efforts.

“We appreciate the efforts of the citizens in Jefferson County and Louisville I mean it’s just exciting that they care enough to even go to the trouble,” she says.

The mayor has final say whether the money will go toward the pavilion or not. Louisville is still in the running to win $10,000 in the contest, and Reynolds says the mayor will decide where the money goes when the contest ends on Monday.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Fischer Launches Animal Services Review, Search For New Director

A thorough review of Louisville Metro Animal Services is underway. The evaluation includes a national search for a new director for the troubled agency. But a change in leadership could come sooner.

For years, reports of inhumane treatment of animals, mistreatment of employees and poor management have surrounded LMAS. Mayor Greg Fischer says that must be fixed.

“We all want to decrease our homeless pet population and increase adoption rates, reduce euthanasia, and we’ll look at other cities to see how this is accomplished as well as involving the tremendous amounts of citizens groups that we already have in the community,” he says.

Longtime critic of the department Metro Councilman Kelly Downard says he’s pleased with Fischer’s decision to launch the investigation.

“He 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.”

Interim director Wayne Zelinsky will remain in office during the search. Zelinsky has been named in lawsuits brought by employees, and is also under investigation by the police public integrity unit. Fischer says the director may be replaced sooner if necessary.

The review will be lead by Fischer’s director of community building Sadiqa Reynolds, who has discussed the issue with Zelinsky. Fischer says he hasn’t yet talked about the review with the interim director.

For more on this story, visit The Edit.

Here are Fischer’s full remarks on his first week in office and the review of LMAS:

Audio MP3