State of the News

Overtime Investigation, Daeschner’s Contract Not Renewed, FDA Ban on Blood Donations from Gay Men, Congress Debates Payroll Tax: Today on State of the News

Mayor Greg Fischer called for an investigation into the city’s use of overtime pay, and MSHA finished its investigation of Upper Big Branch and found assey to blame. We’ll recap and analyse this week’s metro news with the WFPL news staff.

News and Tribune editor Shea Van Hoy joins WFPL’s Devin Katayama to talk about this week’s decision by the Greater Clark County School Board not to renew Superintendent Stephen Daeschner’s contract. Then we’ll catch up on other news from across the river.

Laura Ungar at the Courier-Journal wrote extensively this week about the FDA’s ban on blood donations from men who are sexually active with men. She joins us to talk about the reasoning behind the rule, and why it seems to be continuously under fire.

Then we’ll catch up with the Courier-Journal’s James Carroll about the debate in Washington over extending payroll tax cuts, efforts to pass a spending bill, and the rise of Newt Gingrich in the GOP polls.

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

Miller, AFSCME: Mayor’s Office Knew About Overtime Problems

Gabe Bullard contributed to this report

Louisville Metro Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, says Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration knew Metro employee overtime was a problem, but ignored calls to address it over the summer.

The mayor’s office launched an investigation this week into the payroll system after learning at least 550 city workers were earning $15,000 or more in overtime annually. At least three have earned more than $50,000 in overtime and doubled their salaries.

Miller says during the city’s budget hearings earlier this year, council Republicans addressed the growing cost of overtime but received little cooperation from the mayor’s office.

“This is not new information. This information was reviewed in detail during the budget hearings. I would have to assume that it has to do with the shortfall that was announced maybe a month ago. We were going to be about $6 million short on the budget this year,” he says.

Here and Now

City Investigates Overtime Pay, Autism Linked to Traffic Fumes, Kentucky Law Experts Recommend Death Penalty Moratorium: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is investigating the city’s overtime pay to Metro employees. The administration has found that about ten percent of the city’s workforce earned $15,000 or more in overtime last year, with some employees effectively doubling their salaries. The amount of money paid for overtime is in the millions of dollars. Some of it is scheduled, but city officials say they’re certain that overtime pay is also being abused. WFPL’s Gabe Bullard and Phillip M. Bailey have been covering the story and they’ll tell us what they’ve learned.

1:12pm: Tiny carbon particles commonly found in car and truck exhaust have long been studied for their role in heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illnesses. Now an increasing number of studies are linking vehicle exhaust to other problems, including autism. Children in high traffic areas around the world do worse on intelligence tests and have more emotional problems than their peers who breathe cleaner air. In a California study, children born to mothers living within 1,000 feet of a major road in were twice as likely to have autism. We’ll find out what these numbers mean and what the implications are for children’s health in the future.

1:35pm: The American Bar Association and a team of Kentucky law professionals have released a two-year study on death penalty procedures in the commonwealth. In light of the results, they have now recommended that the state halt all executions until their recommendations are addressed. Linda Ewald, a retired faculty member from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville who was on the team, told WFPL’s Devin Katayama there are several deficiencies in the state’s capital punishment system.

1:49pm: We’ll meet the musicians in the band Zili Misik. They spend much of their time in the Boston area, but their minds are in Haiti. After learning about the music and culture of the country in college, band founder Kera Washington brought the group together about a decade ago to showcase Haitian traditions. “We very much want to bring Haiti back in the conversation about how important and how rich it’s culture is, not just what it needs, but what it gives,” she told Here & Now’s Robin Young. And after the 2010 earthquake, the group started raising money through their performances for earthquake recovery. They also started Project Misik, which donates instruments to school children in Haiti.

Local News Politics

Fischer Calls for Investigation Into Employee Overtime

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration says overtime pay must be reigned in. The mayor called for an investigation Wednesday into the matter in hopes that it will save the city and taxpayers money.

The investigation comes after the administration discovered that at least 550 Metro employees—about 10 percent of the city’s staff—were earning $15,000 or more in overtime every year. The mayor sent a memorandum to the city’s chief financial officer and human resources director to conduct the investigation.

Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter says there is undoubtedly abuse in the system, and it’s likely been going on for years.

“In the past, we could afford to pay overtime. We can’t anymore,” he says, “Just like in a household, when money is tight, you need to look at every expense. Do you need that steak? Can you get by with chicken?”

There is no exact accounting of how much money the city has spent on unplanned overtime, but Poynter says it is a widespread problem.