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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Alleging Fischer Misled Donors, Local Businessman Joins KREF Complaint

Louisville businessman Ed Hart says Mayor Greg Fischer misled donors about how their contributions to his inauguration were spent, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election.

The paperwork was submitted to the state agency a month after an initial complaint was filed by Metro Council candidate Curtis Morrison. The case alleges Fischer pulled a “bait and switch” by soliciting funds for last year’s mayoral inauguration, then using them to help retire his personal campaign debt.

Attorney Jennifer Moore, who is representing Fischer, said in a response to Morrison’s complaint that all of the checks were deposited and reported properly. Moore points out that Hart and others made their checks payable to “Greg Fischer for Mayor” and not the inaugural celebration.

In a letter to the mayor and KREF officials, however, Hart wrote he was told to do that by the mayor’s campaign staff and is disappointed Fischer is misleading the public.

“Rather than admitting our contributions were used for the wrong purpose—whether unintentionally or not—you have instead mounted a spurious defense to a complaint on this matter,” he says. “Essentially, your defense consists of accusing me and the seven other individuals in our group of donors of not telling the truth.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Candidate Files KREF Complaint Against Fischer

Louisville Metro Council candidate Curtis Morrison has filed a complaint against Mayor Greg Fischer with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

The mayor has been criticized for continuing to raise funds while in office to pay down his personal campaign debt. Local business leaders have complained that funds meant for his inauguration celebration were given to the Fischer campaign instead.

The complaint cites news reports and alleges Fischer’s inauguration committee solicited contributions from donors but deposited those funds in the mayor’s campaign account where they were not used for inauguration expenses.

Morrison is challenging incumbent Councilman Tom Owen, D-8, in the primary election. He says he isn’t sure what specific state law was violated, but the complaint covers the entire book of election finance rules.

“I have not found the exact KRS rule that it violates, but obviously if he’s saying he’s raising money for one thing and then he’s putting it in his pocket, I mean if there’s not a KRS for that we need one,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Candidates Feature Notable Activists

Candidates for the Louisville Metro Council in next year’s election include a Tea Party activist, real estate agent and unemployed trucker driver.

In Metro Government history, voters have unseated only three incumbents. In 2006, Judy Green beat Leonard Watkins in District 1 in the Democratic primary. Last year, Democrat David Yates beat Republican Doug Hawkins in a close race and Democratic David James unseated independent Deonte Hollowell.

Community activist Curtis Morrison is running against incumbent Councilman Tom Owen, D-8, in the 2012 Democratic primary. He says challengers need to highlight their vision and the council backing down to the mayor’s office.

“We need a Metro Council with some courage that will stand up to and be a check and balance on the mayor and not just go along with whatever he wants. And I’ve seen vote after vote where they just go along with the mayor no matter who the mayor is. Seems like they just go along and I don’t think that’s the way this is supposed to work,” he says.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Candidates Begin Filing for Council Elections

Eight District Councilman Tom Owen isn’t surprised another Democrat wants to unseat him.

“No one filed for the seat four years ago in either the primary or the general election. I certainly did not assume that I would draw a bye again,” he says.

Filing for the 2012 elections began last week. Community activist Curtis Morrison is challenging Owen. Morrison’s top issues include fighting tolls on the Ohio River Bridges Project, supporting Occupy Louisville, forming a downtown preservation district and reallocating funds from Greater Louisville Inc. He says his campaign is not meant as an affront to Owen, who has been on the council since merger and previously served nine years on the old Board of Alderman.

“This race is about change,” says Morrison in a statement. “Creating change from the outside, through activism, is important and it’s been fun, but we have to get on the inside if we’re serious.”

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Local News Politics

Officials Defend GLI After Lackluster Review From Brookings

Tomorrow, the mayors of Louisville and Lexington will announce the details of a study from the Brookings Institution on the potential for a super region between the two cities. The last Brookings study of Louisville was critical of several economic development efforts, including the city/county merger, the Bucks for Brains program and the creation of the modern chamber of commerce, Greater Louisville Inc.

The study came out in June. It looked at how various cities fared from 1980 to 2005, and found that Louisville’s growth was driven almost entirely by package carrier UPS. The report also concludes that job growth wasn’t accompanied by a corresponding increase in wages, meaning high-paying jobs left and low-paying jobs took their place.

It also found that GLI’s claims that it’s turning Louisville into an economic hotspot aren’t yet proven and may be “largely rhetorical.”

“It doesn’t grow our city. It doesn’t help our city. People don’t come here. Companies don’t come here,” says activist Curtis Morrison, who has campaigned to cut GLI off from city funding. He says the Brookings study and reports that show Louisville lost 35,000 jobs in the last decade should be enough to make the city pull its $1 million allocation to GLI, which formed in 1998.

“What we need to do is take care of our streets, animal services, fixing our potholes, taking care of our parks. That’s the stuff that lures 21st Century businesses into our communities,” says Morrison.

“Well I think anyone who says that is oversimplifying things,” says Mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter.

Poynter adds that the Brookings study brings some interesting facts to light, but the study doesn’t reflect the last six years. During that time, he said, GLI brought jobs to Louisville, despite being hampered by the national economy.

“There’s always room for improvement and the mayor wants them to improve, but we think they’re doing a great job,” he says. “If you look solely at what has happened in the last few months that GLI has been a partner in the table at. One, the Ford jobs. Two, the GE jobs.”

“There may have been some time in the very beginning that it took to get the momentum going, but I’ve been at GLI for nine years and I disagree with the assertion that there was nothing but rhetoric that happened from 2000 to 2005,” says GLI spokeswoman Carmen Hickerson.

Hickerson says any lackluster economic development performance was likely driven by the national economy and poor education. She particularly points to the Bucks for Brains program. It provides fundign to bring experts and research to universities. The Brookings report showed that it did achieve that goal, though the economic benefit of doing so was unclear.

“Bucks for Brains has been a very, very successful program. I think every way you’re able to look at it, the investment has paid off multiple times over,” says Hickerson.

The city is currently reviewing its economic development strategy and exploring possible changes. That’s something the next Brookings study may recommend as well. And not all of the city’s allocation for GLI has been given out. The Metro Council will review the agency’s progress in January before awarding the remaining $500,000.

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Local News

Bridges Public Hearing Draws Impatience, Complaints About Tolls

The first of two public comment hearings on the Ohio River Bridges Project was last night  in Clarksville.

Curtis Morrison with Say No 2 Bridge Tolls was in attendance to criticize the process.

“I have an issues with this being called a public input meeting,” Morrison said “when the governors and mayor got together and come up with a plan and they’re wanting us to give input on their plan, in my perspective that’s a little backwards.”

Most comments were directed at the tolls, but some people just wanted the bridges built.

Assistant Chief of Administration for Louisville Metro EMS Roger Parvin was on hand to argue that the bridges are a matter of safety. He says the traffic volume reduction on current bridges and alternate routes would make EMS more effective, so his purpose last night was clear.

“Let’s get the bridges Built, it’s time for it, we’ve been talking over this for years now,” Parvin says “let’s get them built and get this city rolling.”

Construction is slated to begin in August 2012, but the Bridges Authority is still waiting on the results of the supplemental environmental impact study to develop a financing plan.

The next public hearing will be tonight  from four to eight pm at the Holiday Inn on Hurstbourne Parkway.  Anyone who signs up ahead of time will be allowed to speak.  Speakers are limited to 3 minutes and will be drawn in random order.