In a letter that will be delivered to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Friday, Metro Council President Jim King, D-10, is asking the city to drop a lawsuit against the non-profit organization connected to the summer jobs program run by former Councilwoman Judy Green.
The LIFE Institute was the fiscal agent of a $55,000 grant at the center of the ethics controversy involving Green. The organziation was supposed to run the beautification project dubbed the ‘Green Clean Team’, however, testimony from witnesses in the ethics hearings and expulsion trial revealed that Green and her husband ran the program instead.
An internal audit found $28,000 unaccounted for and Metro Government has since sued LIFE Institute in an attempt to recoup those taxpayer funds.
King says it is unfair to hold the group responsible for Green’s misconduct given it did not run the program as intended and he requests the mayor’s office drop all legal action.
“I believe our council determined that a Metro Council member interfered with the operation of the LIFE Institute resulting in the failure of LIFE Institute to fulfill its contractual obligations with Metro,” King says in the letter. “I also believe we found this interference also resulted in the loss of allocated taxpayer dollars and the subversion of an established program for a program designed and executed to achieve the personal goals of that council member.”
The request follows the unanimous decision by the council to expel Green from office based on two misconduct charges, one of which was the charge that her family benefited from the summer jobs program. The council found Green’s relatives worked in the program and were paid more than other youth participants. It also learned that Green was filling out payment receipts to determine the salaries for children in the program.
LIFE Institute CEO Eddie Woods says he hopes Fischer will listen to the council president, and hopes residents and elected leaders will pay closer attention to how discretionary funds are used.
“I’m overjoyed because it gives us a chance to focus on what we do best and that’s anti-gang programs and focusing on at-risk youth again. Over the last two years we’ve had to deal with this and this hopefully is the last chapter,” he says. “We stuck with the truth and it worked it. The truth matters. So it restores my faith in the Metro Council, to be quite honest.”
A spokesman for Fischer told the Courier-Journal the mayor will consider the council president’s request, but they will have to look into the facts and determine a fair solution before making a recommendation to the Jefferson County attorney’s office.
“It seems unjust for the city to pursue collection of its funds when it is clear that the use of those funds were redirected from their intended course,” says King. “Further, it’s highly unlikely that any judgment against the LIFE Institute will result in a recovery of taxpayer dollars.”