Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Congress Won’t See Third Paul

Ending all speculation, the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tx., and brother of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ruled out a run for a soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat.

Texas physician Robert Paul told students at the University of North Texas last week that he isn’t interested in running for public office—yet.

From Politico:

“I think the biggest thing I have that’s similar to my dad is that I’m honest,” he said. “I’m never going to say I won’t ever run for office, but I think running for Senate probably is not going to happen this time.” He added: “I think about it all the time. That doesn’t mean I have plans to do it.”

Last week, though, Paul was singing a slightly different tune, telling the Star-Telegram that he was “very happy as a physician” but has “a lot of interest in the debt” and suggesting that he might run.

There already are more than half a dozen Republicans who have declared that they’re running for Hutchison’s seat. Some already have raised substantial amounts of money and, unlike Paul, have held other elected offices.


My hopes for a reality television program featuring the Paul family’s adventures in Washington  still has a chance though. Cross your fingers.

Local News Politics

Lethal Injection Drug Shortage Continues, Legal Issues Mount

States attempting to replace a hard-to-find lethal injection drug with a potential alternative are facing another legal hurdle.

There is currently no domestic source for sodium thiopental. Kentucky recently turned its supply of the drug over to the U.S. Justice Department due to questions about its origins. There is a replacement drug, but the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked an execution in Texas that was to be the state’s first using it.

The high court determined that Texas officials did not properly change the state’s lethal injection protocol to accommodate a different formula. Kentucky Justice Cabinet spokesperson Jennifer Brislin says the difficulty in changing the protocol is one reason why the commonwealth will not likely look for substitute drugs any time soon.

“It’s a process that would take about six months. It would involve hearings and it would have the potential to open itself up for more challenges,” she says. “Right now we have confidence in the protocol that’s been adopted. It’s been taken all the way up to the Supreme Court. We don’t have any concerns about that. Of course, if we open that process back up, there is that opportunity for people to come back in and challenge.”

Brislin says state officials will continue to look for a legal source of sodium thiopental and are not yet considering changing the lethal injection formula. All executions in Kentucky are currently on hold, per a court injunction.

Reverend Patrick Delahanty with the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty says lawmakers could avoid such difficulties by ending capital punishment.

“We can’t carry out the law right now so maybe we should revise the law so that justice is done,” he says.

Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

Louisville Orchestra Not Alone In Chapter 11 Filing

The Louisville Orchestra will turn 75 next year. But the orchestra’s administrators and musicians will be more focused on staving off the ensemble’s death than celebrating its birth.

The orchestra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week as management seeks to cut 1.15 million dollars in operating costs. That’s the difference between the current budget and average yearly revenues. The musicians, however, disagree, and say the orchestra is not actually broke. They’re asking the court to throw the Chapter 11 filing out.

If the court upholds the filing, the orchestra will tentatively have until early April to draft a plan for reorganizing its finances. But that will require compromises with musicians and the court, and the path to solvency will likely be much longer.

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Bankruptcy isn’t a new idea to the Louisville Orchestra—its leaders nearly declared it in 2006. And they wouldn’t have been alone. In recent years, ensembles in San Jose, San Antonio and Honolulu have all gone through bankruptcy proceedings.

Last month, reports from Hawaii said the Honolulu symphony was considering folding, rather than continuing to search for an agreement in court. Orchestras in California and Colorado have followed similar paths, though new ensembles were formed afterward in some cases.

The Charleston, South Carolina Symphony Orchestra stopped playing in March, but didn’t take the matter to court. Last week, the orchestra’s management and musicians reached an agreement to cut one million dollars from the budget through a series of steps, including dropping 12 full-time musicians from the ensemble.

“You have a core of musicians that are supplemented by extra players as needed. That’s a very common model,” says Louisville Orchestra CEO Rob Birman, who has discussed a 16-member reduction here. “What we’re seeking is nothing different than trying to be within the average of those orchestras in our budget class from across the country.”

But musicians’ committee chair Kim Tichenor says Louisville doesn’t need to cut…more money is out there.

“I think bankruptcy could have absolutely been prevented. The musicians came up with a fundraising plan back in September,” she says. “Unfortunately, our management refused to fundraise until we had taken pay cuts”

No matter what either says, the fact is that talks broke down. They will formally resume on January 6th with more parties involved. That’s when a judge will meet with the orchestra and its creditors, among them Louisville Public Media.

“There’ll be more information that’s presented, the judge usually considers what’s been put into place, he or she will assign a custodian to oversee the case and they’ll go through a fact-finding process,” says Drew McManus, a Chicago-based arts consultant who often works with orchestras.

McManus says January 6th will mark the start of what could be a year of bankruptcy proceedings, even though a reorganization plan is due in April.

“I would be surprised if they get a decision out of the court by the end of the season, in this case it would be June,” he says. “I think it would be more likely to expect it to last through next fall.”

The parties could also settle out of court and put an end to proceedings. In the meantime, musicians won’t be paid after December 15th, and that’s when performances will stop.

Arts and Humanities Local News

21C Museum Hotel Plans Expanding to Arkansas

A hotel brand that started in Louisville is growing — with a new hotel planned in Arkansas.

Since 21C Museum Hotel opened in 2006 on Louisville’s Main Street, company founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson have decided to expand to other cities. Two hotels are being developed in Austin, Texas, and Cincinnati, Ohio. And Tuesday the founders announced plans to open a 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas, sometime in 2012.

Although the brand is expanding, Wilson says he sees the Louisville hotel playing a crucial role for all of them.

“The art exhibits that we mount in Louisville will be able to travel to the other sites,” Wilson says, “so Louisville will become a testing ground, a learning facility.”

Wilson says he wants for Louisville’s 21C Museum Hotel to work with all 21C Museum Hotels.

“21C Louisville will, I think, will become a training ground or where we’ll begin to learn who on our staff has leadership qualities,” he says.

The Arkansas hotel is also being funded through heirs of Sam Walton, who founded Wal-Mart. It will be within walking distance of Wal-Mart headquarters and a Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, now under construction.

Wilson says the Bentonville’s plans to open the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the next few years will create economic growth in the city and an opportunity for businesses related to tourism.  That was the idea he and Brown had before they opened Louisville’s 21C Museum Hotel with the belief that art could spur economic activity.

Steve Wilson.

“The Crystal Bridges Museum will trigger economic development, new jobs, new taxes, new restaurants, new hotels,” Wilson says. “It’s going to be a major boon for the state of Arkansas.”

The $150 million Crystal Bridges Museum is financed in large part by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. Wilson says the budget for of Bentonville’s planned 130-room 21C Museum Hotel is $28 million.

PHOTO: Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown. Courtesy 21C Museum Hotel.