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.”

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Ackerson Calls for Council Probe Into Overtime Pay

In stinging statement, Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, called for the Government Accountability and Ethics Committee to begin investigating the city’s overtime compensation to public employees.

Earlier this week, Mayor Greg Fischer ordered a review of the practices and procedures after learning about potential abuses in the system. At least 10 percent of city workers were earning $15,000 or more in overtime annually while a handful of employees doubled their salaries.

Ackerson says the committee should review work necessities, overtime payments and current staffing practices.

“I understand that overtime may be needed now and then, but the numbers that I am seeing reported are shocking and ridiculous. In these tight economic times, we have to do a better job of managing our resources,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fleming Proposes Resolution Seeking Term Limits, Nonpartisan Races

Louisville Metro Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, has drafted a resolution asking the General Assembly to amend several parts of the merger law that created Metro Government.

The non-binding measure calls for terms limits for the mayor and council members, as well as nonpartisan elections. The change would reduce the number of consecutive terms the mayor can serve from three to two, and limit city lawmakers to three terms.

The resolution also asks the legislature to clarify the mayoral line of succession, give the council an additional two weeks to review the budget and require the mayor to include alternative plans during shortfalls.

Fleming says it’s important council members have this debate now before state lawmakers convene in January.

“I’m really looking forward to a good, healthy discussion from a higher level perspective because there is really pros and cons to having term limits or not having term limits in terms of holding on to institutional knowledge or trying to find new, fresh blood to come in,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Approves Whiskey Row Deal

Receiving additional assurances from Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration, the Louisville Metro Council approved an emergency ordinance that allocates $1.5 million to help preserve a strip of 19th Century buildings downtown.

Earlier this week, the mayor brokered a deal with local developers Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown to purchase four of the seven historic Whiskey Row buildings along Main Street from businessman Todd Blue for $4.8 million.

On Thursday morning, the mayor’s office provided city lawmakers with an outline of a financial plan to save the historic block, however, council Republicans hesitated before agreeing to waive council rules to approve the emergency measure.

Initially, Metro Government agreed to use a city grant to salvage the structures, but Council President Jim King, D-10, proposed making the expenditure a loan that would forgive $100,000 in taxpayer dollars for every $1 million of private money invested in the project.

Members of the Fischer administration then met with the GOP caucus to explain additional details of the agreement, saying investors may back out of the deal if a vote wasn’t made by Thursday.

In the end, council Republicans agreed to support the measure in a bipartisan 19-to-1 vote despite their earlier misgivings about the process.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Ackerson Newsletter Says Fischer Proposing ‘Drastic Cuts’ to City Budget

In a newsletter mailed to constituents, Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, warns residents that Mayor Greg Fischer is proposing serious reductions to city services in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Asking constituents to help set spending priorities in the district, the city lawmaker says deep cuts are unavoidable.

“With the mayor proposing drastic cuts in the city’s budget,” the district newsletter reads (warning:PDF). “Do you have any specific suggestions as to where or what should be cut from the Metro budget?”

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Ackerson Proposes Mayoral Term Limit

A Louisville Metro Councilman wants to limit the number of consecutive terms that can be served by the Louisville Metro mayor.

Democrat Brent Ackerson says he’ll file a resolution asking the Kentucky General Assembly to amend Louisville’s merger law to reduce the number of allowable consecutive terms from three to two.

“I believe now is the time to take a look at the laws we operate under and to look for ways to improve our government. the changes i’m suggesting and the ones that may come subsequently from such, are not a reflection upon our current mayor, any current officeholder or anyone currently seeking office,” Ackerson said.

Jerry Abramson, the first mayor of merged government, will finish his second term next year. He has decided not to seek a third term in order to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2011.

Abramson served the maximum three straight terms as mayor prior to merger in 2003.

Ackerson says limiting the mayor to two terms would guarantee new ideas, vision and leadership in the office.