Tuesday, January 27, 2009
For those who do not know the background let me fill in the blanks. According to anonymous inside sources Steve Clark was asked, along with Ron Weston, by former Deputy Mayor Rick Johnstone to switch parties from Republican to Democrat and by doing so Johnstone could help them get jobs.
Rick Johnstone has been referred to in inner circles as the puppet master to Abramson. As we all know Weston did indeed switch parties and got elected then moved up to State level. Part of the deal for Weston's switch was that Steve Clark wold be taken care of as well. These sources tell me that Steve did indeed switch parties to secure a job.
Confused yet? This is typical playing ball by the power elite and those that want the power. Welcome to the game.
In the meantime, merger became a reality and Welch got elected with help from the administration. Why you may ask? Simple, they wanted to continue being able to do what they wanted without true oversight. In short, we will help you get the job but you will be our puppet. The plan worked and Steve Clark essentially ran the show with Welch voting as told.
It has been common knowledge, according to my sources, that Clark actually runs the District 13 seat and Vicki is just a figure head. Part of the deal in helping Vicki Welch was that Steve Clark maintained his position. Clark also reported to Deputy Mayor Johnstone in reality not Welch.
Since Johnstone retired reportedly Welch believes she "owes" no one anymore and decided to let Clark go. Upon the retirement of Johnstone Welch has reportedly been berating Steve Clark around the office for a few weeks before deciding to let him go. Interesting scenario. Talk about loyalty huh? I mean wait until the guy you owe retires then start berating his handpicked assistant to you to set up letting him go.
Wonder how "savvy" he was over the last few years that he all of a sudden just couldn't cut it?
Finally, the new LA reportedly will be Kevin Triplett. Triplett as you may recall ran a campaign against Marianne Butler and lost. Triplett also has ties to City government through George Melton. George Melton got rid of his aide, Mark Irwin, when he was alderman to make room for Kevin Triplett to take the job.
Why you may ask? I am told because Kevin Triplett's mom was secretary to none other than Mayor Jerry Abramson so his ties were stronger than Mark's.
Get all that? Welcome again to the game.
There is one thing many of us need to ask ourselves now though.
Since merger was supposed to open up government and afford us a balanced equal Council that would encompass ALL of the citizenry, how is it that all the old power players names are the ones in control?
Can anyone name someone new that is looking out after our best interests?
Good luck. It is time to open up the door of possibility to new fresh faces in government not the same old power elite that have left us high and dry.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The title of this article begs the question of whether the rainy day fund is myth or reality. The reason this question comes up is a simple one. No one can show where the account is that has the so called rainy day fund. After speaking with some individuals the general response is the rainy day fund is not money on hand but assets etc.
A Rainy day fund is a savings account that you keep separate from your other savings to be used in emergencies. It is real money not assets. Cash on hand, money market accounts something that can be accessed immediately when needed.
This brings up the question what is the value of the assets.
As Abramson has stated the rainy day fund has millions (varying from $68 million to upwards of $90 million depending on your source) and he says this is money to be used in the event that the whole City collapses financially we can still pay our bills for 2 months.
Great concept but I have to wonder. How can we pay our bills for 2 months based on assets not cash?
The assets would have to be sold to get the money and as we know the downturn in the economy has affected prices everywhere including real estate. So is the value of the rainy day fund tied to real estate assets? What is it tied to and how much is it really worth? Do we have the immediate access necessary to use the money available if we need to in an emergency?
One has to wonder.
Is this why Abramson will not use the rainy day fund to offset his supposed budget "crisis?" Is there no cash on hand as he says we have?
No one can give a definitive answer to this. No one has offered to show a savings account with the balance of the rainy day fund. Logic says this is just another smoke screen to appease us.
NO CAFR, NO PROOF of a Rainy day fund with a cash balance. What gives?
More importantly when do we get accountability. After all it is our money we deserve to know how it is spent and where it is at.
First let me say that yes I do want this. In some ways it will help shed some light or certainly make it easier to find info. That is always good. My reservations are simply this. Will it eliminate the problems we now have? I am not sure it will.
Take the CAFR and finance debacle we are still waiting for info for. Would an online database answer the questions of where is the money? Not if Abramson does not want to disclose it. Remember the database is only as good as the info input into it. In short by the current CAFR availability through 2007 we know that there has been a surplus each year yet Abramson continues to act like we haven't and has tied up this year's CAFR so we cannot see the real results.
The databse will not answer that question unless we also have language and laws governing disclosure.
In the meantime I love the quote by Jim King about how this could actually save money by perhaps being cheaper than open records request. Of course King has no love lost for me based on my recent open records request. In fact I am not sure how this would alleviate much in the way of open records request.
An online database does not give you relevant info based on public record such as email for example.
Of course in the case of Jim King, and I am sure others as well, public email can be bypassed if you really do not want the public to see what you are doing with government business. How so you may ask?
Simple, instruct whoever you are dealing with to reply to your personal private email address so the public cannot access the conversation. King does this all the time.He starts a convo alluding to public business then instructs the responder to reply to his corporate email address rather than his public louisvilleky.gov email address.
Why? So the conversation then can be a private one the public does not see. Even when it regards City business.
Of course some will say I am making things up and this does not happen. I beg to differ. Look at the following email from King to Bruce Traughber brought about by an open records request:
This is just one example of a conversation concerning public business that apparently King decided we probably did not need to know about so he instructed none other than Bruce Traughber to reply to his personal email account at King corporate group.
Does anyone besides me now see the problem? This certainly circumvents the purpose of the open records laws and does nothing to insure us that we can expect transparency from our elected leadership.
King knowingly has violated the intent of the law and I for one believe he should be held accountable. How many things that concern us are bypassed this way?
The open records laws will continue to be necessary no matter how it is spun. This is yet one example of why we need them.
Of course now that this is exposed I would expect that there will not be much info available anymore.
Perhaps the open records laws should be expanded to include personal private email access from elected officials and their aides in regards to public business. That would go a long way to insuring transparency would it not?
Hold them accountable do not allow ourselves to be pawns in their game.
We need transparency now. The online database is a good start but we need to insure that if it becomes reality we have laws in place to insure the intent is realized.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I always brag about having the best and most alert readers for a blog in this City. This latest update on Otter Creek comes from one of such readers. It seems the closing of Otter Creek could be a problem since federal funds were used in 2005 for trails in the Park. The story is courtesy of the Mead County Messenger as sent to me by this reader.
Interestingly enough I have not seen mention of this in local news. Typical.
Enjoy and let me know your thoughts.
Story - The Meade County Messenger
Most on the periphery would look at this as Abramson at his best. Yawn. Why not? He did, as usual, a good job of deflection of blame. In fact, it looked to me after reading the interview and listening to the unedited tape of it (located at the bottom of the page for your listening pleasure), that he was great and everyone else was bad. If I was on the bandwagon of drinking the kool-aid I would be happy with his interview.
Unfortunately for Mayor Abramson I gave up the kool-aid long ago for any politician.
I found some inconsistencies as usual and some telling comments as well.
Take for example about 9:30 into the taped segment where Abramson says there is no accountability. Interesting to see him make a statement about no accountability when he has none whatsoever and no transparency as well.
Perhaps we could even look at some other aspects where he makes this statement in regards to a question from Stephen George concerning the Southwest public meetings in general:
"… Citizen enragement, with sometimes not sharing the facts, framing the issues in a way that enrage rather than involve — unfortunately there have been a couple of folks out there in that area that have done that more than once, on more than one issue. And so it is what it is: We work with the folks who want to work with us."
Should that not read we work with the folks who agree with us?
I love it when he speaks like this. Of course I am one of those individuals he speaks of.
Not sharing facts? Nothing could be further from the truth. In FACT I make my case based on your public statements.
He talks in the interview about libraries. From the article:
LEO: I want to ask you about libraries.
JA: I’m pulling for them. I voted for them. Speaking of enragement as compared to engagement: Where are the individuals who said, don’t worry about the libraries?
If you give a person an option, and they believe it, that the money’s already in the budget, there’s plenty of money to do everything that needs to be done, why should I tax myself? Why should they? And they said, we won’t.
LEO: And now, predictably, it falls on you.
JA: I don’t know. Have you asked those who were leading the civic enragement, in terms of, OK guys, you were successful, you enraged the community to the level of saying there was plenty of money inside the budget, no need for additional revenues — where are they? I never said there was.
LEO: I know. That’s not what I was insinuating. What I mean is that now—
JA: Nobody holds anybody accountable.
Mayor Abramson that is a lie or deception as well. Sorry but during the Mayoral race in 2006, of which I was part of, YOU were THE ONE bragging about how you were able to build new libraries without new taxes as one of your accomplishments.
The FACT is that was a lie. Immediately after the election you worked toward a ballot initiative to create a new library tax to pay for what you already said you were doing within the budget.
See the spin yet? Pathetic display really. The Mayor says one thing, takes credit for something that hasn't happened, then talks about how WE were wrong to stand against it essentially and hold him accountable for his own admissions and statements.
That does not add up Mr. Mayor as usual.
You go on to state this:
" So where’s the media, going back to those who said it can all be done by, I don’t know, by magic? I never said we had the money.
What am I doing at this point? We’ve had to downsize the master plan, we’ve had to extend it out for decades, and when and if funds are available, we will incrementally move forward."
Your own words said we had the money and now you say you never said it. One more interesting deception or outright lie by you.
Another question by Mr. George:
LEO: You have to balance the two personalities in play here, the one where you have to see out into the future, in terms of development you have to keep things moving forward, but you also have to be realistic, you have to keep things going. How do you find that balance?
I have to say this yet again reflects the Mayor. His inability to take credit for his failures and likes to blame others for them. In his response?
"But this is probably, all things considered, has been intellectually the most difficult, and emotionally probably the most extended period of difficulty, because, it seems very clear to me that to be able to make it through, everybody in city government’s got to work together. … My hope was, and continues to be, that this family of 6,000-plus employees … is willing to work together to ensure that we get through this as a team.
Unfortunately, I have found significant resistance from several of the unions, who seem very focused on themselves and only themselves. … That’s probably been the most disappointing aspect of the last several months."
Disappointing? Really? The only thing disappointing is the fact that the Unions have backed you irregardless of your shortcomings for all these years. Now maybe through your own words they will wake up and see their shortcoming in this regard as well.
Perhaps you forgot about this from 2006 in the Mayor race Mr. Mayor:
No accountability? To say the least.
FOX41's Bennet Haeberle did a story on security at Otter Creek Park and it is yet one more example of being caught in a lie by this administration. Check the following video on security at the park since it has closed:
We have still not seen any proof of the $20 million shortfall Abramson says we have. Many have requested it and none have been able to confirm it. Otter Creek Park was closed to save approximately $500,000 of the $20 million. While it may have been necessary due to lack of revenues (still unproven) why would we put ourselves in a position to allow 2600 acres of City owned land to become a dumping ground for criminals.
We have the repsonsibility, whether we like it or not, to maintain the park safely regardless of whether it is open to the public or not, so why would we shun our responsibility through the use of lies and deception?
Only because Jerry says so and that is his M.O. these days. Sadly, this boondoggle will end up costing us more closed than it would being open where we at least we recouped some of the money it costs us. If nothing else being open would certainly make criminals think twice before using it as a dumping ground for everything from abandoned cars to whatever they feel they can get away with.
When we cannot afford to take care of the safety problems within the Metro proper, and abandoned vehicles etc are part of that process, then how can we allow ourselves to take an added responsibility outside of Metro proper?
What to do?
Simple fix. According to Abramson we own a park we cannot use due to lack of funding. So be it.
Also now according to the FOX41 report we cannot secure it and maintain it in a safe manner from criminal element. Again, so be it.
With this being the case why would we continue to allow such a situation to exist? What are the options?
One comes to mind. Since we have a park that we cannot maintain, that is costing us money we cannot afford, and is located outside of Louisville Metro, perhaps we should look at who has the resources to do the job we clearly cannot do.
Give the park as a gift to the Ky Fish and Wildlife. They have the resources to maintain it and the know how to maintain it. Make it their responsibility and get it back open to the citizens who enjoy it.
For a Mayor who tries to portray himself as "green" and a parks lover he falls way short in the commitment he tries to take credit for in this regard.
Seems the only thing "green" in this Mayor is his know how to fix a problem instead of creating one once again.
Monday, January 19, 2009
With that being said, I noticed a story today by Dan Klepal at the CJ concerning Abramson and criticism. Abramson faces rising tide of criticism courier-journal The Courier-Journal. Admittedly I love the title of the article but it did make me ask myself overall is all the criticism justified?
I spend a great amount of time laying out the hypocrisies, lies, and deception of this Mayor and receive a lot of backlash for it. So as someone who consistently says you must look within, and be willing to be critical of yourself as well, now seems as good a time as any to ponder this question.
I come up with an answer most will not be surprised by. Yes it is justified.
I like Dan Klepal usually really I do. His past work in Cincinnati, a lot of his work here at the CJ, has been dead on target and he has seemed to not care about backlash for doing the hard work and calling people out in government. In this particular case I think he falls short in some ways. It seems this article, in comparison to other articles by Dan, has been fluffed a bit and does not seem to have the same bite as what I have become accustomed to.
Perhaps the CJ editors have put some clamps on him? That is speculation of course but in these trying times with cutbacks at CJ and other media outlets I would suspect that most will do what they are told to preserve their jobs. I am not a CJ insider, nor do I want to be, so I will leave this at speculation. This article however does leave much to be desired and the comments section are humorous in many ways as well.
Let's break down some of the info Dan is crediting Abramson with.
A lot of people believe the only reason Abramson is under the gun is because of a bad economy overall. That may be true in some people's thoughts but for many of us this oversight of Abramson started long ago not due to a weak economy. Take for example the firehouse situation mentioned in the article.
For those who have read the CJ article, and are reading this as well, look at the big picture. In late 2005 into the Mayoral race in 2006 Abramson was touting the Tri-data study. A study designed to restructure fire response times and affect public safety. As most were able to prove, and myself and Kelly Downard, both Mayoral candidates that discounted the study during the Mayoral race, the tri data study would have saved money but lost response times and jeopardized public safety.
For someone who says public safety is the number 1 priority Abramson has fallen short in what he says. The closing of the engine 7 firehouse will lead to increased response times including EMS services to neighbors. Increased response times cost lives. This is just an extension of the tri data study that most discounted but Abramson wanted. He didn't like to lose then and now believes he can start getting what he wants accordingly. Not a way to prove public safety is number 1 is it?
Or perhaps the list of "accomplishments" in the article like helping shape Clinton's crime bill by putting 100,000 officers on the street? How many were actually put on the street? Not 100,000. As a matter of fact here in Louisville the new officers we put on the street are generally replacement officers for retirees etc. No net gain of new officers. Again a poor display and deception by someone who purports that public safety is number 1 right?
Abramson is touted in the article of making the great "international" airport expansion a reality creating thousands of jobs blah blah blah blah. What it doesn't state is that there are still dozens and hundreds of people who are still stuck in "expansion" neighborhoods for years and no funding has been approved to help them get out. Seems it was easy to force some jobs out of here but leave the residents stuck in a declining neighborhood with no way out. You cannot sell your house who would buy?
The facts are that this is another bait and switch by the Abramson administration touting something that just does not tell the whole story. Backed up by the CJ without any pertinent facts. An international airport? They have what 1 flight that goes to Canada per day so that qualifies? Great money spent.
Look at UPS.
I was one of the original group of employees hired at UPS to begin the whole show of UPS air here in Louisville back in 1981. Abramson did not bring UPS here. That is taking credit for someone else's work which he is very good at. Some would think that is a lie and at the very least would question the integrity of this Mayor. I am one of them.
The lies and deceptions (which essentially to me are lies through misdirection) go to character in anyone. This discounts the great "character" mystique of Abramson.
Others continue drinking the kool aid because they remember a little kid working at daddy's market delivering groceries on his bike. What a nice young man huh?
Sadly this type of "memory" helps get some elected but hurts the citizenry because of the blinders. But hey to each their own. Some comments for example brag about some trees Abramson supposedly planted that have grown and now make downtown streets look great.
Problem is that was Harvey Sloane not Abramson.
Abramson purports himself to be a supporter of organized labor. It doesn't add up again. Internal memos on the site http://www.abramsonuncovered.com/ show how they really did not want a union and were trying to figure out how to keep it from getting voted in.
How much money has he spent defending lawsuits because of his mistakes? Lawsuits that unions such as the IAFF had to file to be treated fairly? How many of those lawsuits has he won? As a supposed attorney you would think he would know how to interpret the law wouldn't you? Thus saving OUR tax dollars from being wasted? Or perhaps look at how much of the money defending these suits is paid to private attorneys that are "friends of Jerry's" instead of the County Attorney's office as set forth through statute.
Surely he knows this right?
If so then there is yet another example of Abramson not passing the smell test. If he doesn't know then there is obviously a severe problem in leadership after all these years.
Then of course there are the quotes in the article from Patty Deleure, er Pat Chervenak of St. Matthews.
Chervenak said she has noticed that spike and said it is "regrettable."
"It's sad, because the incredible rise in Louisville's livability and national reputation has made history under his leadership and deserved civic pride and loyal support," Chervenak said. "I find him an honorable man."
I find this hard to imagine that anyone still believes this rhetoric. Louisville once was "possibility city" and has faltered under the misguided self grandiose straight ahead my way or the highway mentality of Abramson and his "honorable" leadership.
Loyal support goes to those who earn it through their honesty, openness, and sincere efforts to do the right thing when no one is looking. This Mayor has had a free reign for way too long thanks to a media intent on looking the other way by not doing the research or the work required for accountability.
Our National economic struggles are not the sudden cause of the microscope being enlarged to include Abramson. It is because of the way he has misused, misdirected, and flat out lied for his own gain, arrogance, and power.
Look at Center City for example.
He crammed the deal through the Council with his great rubberstamp Dem majority and then announced that we had a $20 million budget "crisis." did he not know this a couple of days earlier before he forced us to spend money we did not have?
Of course he did. That makes the arguments justifiable in my estimation.
OUR economy is in shambles because of the hemorrhaging of good paying jobs throughout our City in favor of an economic plan that rewards Abramson with an ill fated arena, a complete sellout to Cordish Group, and a lack of willingness to be forthright in regards to a supposed budget "crisis" that would prove his case if there was one.
I have written many times throughout this blog about the economy and could write for hours about it on a daily basis. The facts are that Abramson's economic policy falls short of accountability through transparency and an opennes with the citizenry and the Metro Council. I believe the most recent excuse of no CAFR yet that he used like " we have to wait for the State auditor to sign off on it" is yet one more example of misdirection.
Every year since merger the State auditor, Crit LuAllen, has been able to do her job in a timely manner what makes this year so different?
Is the criticism justified?
After all the years of a free ride.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Harrod's Creek Bridge is a one lane bridge. A throwback to a different time in our history and yet one that many believe should be preserved. Myself among them. With that being said the bridge has always been functional and has thousands of cars pass over it practically daily. With this in mind some have argued that they would prefer a larger bridge at least 2 lanes at that location.
Seems now Abramson is going to keep the bridge shut down for no apparent reason.
The week of Thanksgiving a car was travelling over the bridge and wrecked into the guardrail creating an obvious safety hazard that needed repaired right away. The bridge itself was closed on Thanksgiving eve forcing a quagmire for travellers for the Thanksgiving holiday.
No problem with this story yet right? Metro did the right thing and closed the bridge assumedly until repairs could be made to insure safety of travellers.
The problem today is the repairs have not been done.
I first became aware of this story back in December from the WAVE3 Hot Button segments by Steve Langford. WAVE 3 TV Louisville, KY Video The Hot Button editorial by Steve Langford basically admonishes River Fields for filing a lawsuit against Metro for not reopening the bridge.
In this case I disagree with Mr. Langford for his admonishment. Let's look at things from a different perspective like this response from Don Cox to Langford's editorial: WAVE 3 TV Louisville, KY Video
Therein lies the rest of the story. The people of Harrod's Creek who use the bridge are being made to suffer for no reason. According to Mr. Cox there are 2 guardrails set in place to block people from using the bridge. It would seem easier to repair the bridge using one of them wouldn't it? How many guardrails are hit and damaged from accidents all the time. Do we close down every road because of it or do we fix it so people can travel on the taxpayer paid for right of way.
Mr. Langford falls for the line by Abramson that the bridge is unsafe, (duh it has a guardrail damaged of course it is), and Abramson says we cannot get federal funding to replace it because it is only a one lane bridge.
Excuse me folks but does this sound like it should be this kind of a problem? Do we really need to spend more money defending a lawsuit that should not have been forced to use as an option to get things done?
This is just one more absurd example of poor leadership and decision making by Abramson. While we know he likes to continue hemorrhaging money defending lawsuits so his buddies can make money on us it is absurd that he will spend more money defending this suit than the actual cost of doing the right thing.
Fix the dang guardrail on the existing bridge!
If you want to go for federal dollars to build a new one have fun with that. We have only been touting a couple of new bridges for as many years as I can remember, like an east end bridge or a new downtown bridge, so why not?
Maybe he thinks that by forcing this asinine situation he will get enough funding to build a little 2 lane bridge at the Harrod's Creek Bridge location so he can spin in the next election how he was able to get funding for a new bridge when people said we couldn't. That scenario is almost so ridiculous it isn't even funny. More ridiculous is the thought he is arrogant enough to try and pull that line off.
Not only are people having problems commuting back and forth the City is also losing money because of it. When the businesses are losing business income because of this fiasco there are no taxes paid to the City from that business. Lost business is lost tax revenue that Abramson says we need.
Is this a fiscally responsible approach considering Abramson continues to tell everyone we have a budget "crisis?"
SO let's recap a bit.
We now are going to spend money we don't have for a situation we really shouldn't have all thanks to this arrogant Mayor and his "visions" for what he wants.
Who benefits? His personal stable of attorneys who will defend the lawsuit with money we don't have once again. Yet another expense that is unnecessary. Really that is about all.
Who loses? We the people once again. The people of Harrod's Creek lose for obvious reasons. The people throughout Metro lose when we have to pick up the tab for even less revenue thanks to lost business from this fiasco. The area overall loses historic value.
So is there more to the story here? Is Jerry trying to pull another fast one over us by trying to steal some land and development we do not need by starving the area of business? Who knows.
Could the insurance company of the driver of the car be forced to pay for the damage to repair the bridge thus negating any cost to the City for repairs?
Anyone want to speculate on why this idiocy continues in Metro?
I await your response.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Whew! Huge list huh.
I haven't even scratched the surface yet.
Take this article from the Courier today: Brouhaha may delay council ethics vote courier-journal The Courier-Journal. Essentially we need a Metro ethics ordinance with some meat in it. As I have alluded to in prior articles the hypocrisy and downright contempt for meaningful ethics reform based on the rubberstamp friends of Jerry on the Council. You can read here Louisville News and Politics: "NEW" METRO ETHICS ORDINANCE?.
Let's not forget the Jim King role in misusing his office to get Katie, I can't get to work on time because I party too late, King elected. Council President Jim King, D-10th, said there is no conspiracy to derail the ordinance. But he said there is "a fairly high level of confusion" on some aspects.
Apparently the Abramson machine does not want the 9 member panel chosen at random. I guess not since it would be harder to control the outcome he wants in everything. Essentially the new proposal that was agreed on in committee was the Repubs would appoint 3, the Dems would appoint 3, and the Mayor would appoint 3. Of course this essentially gives the Mayor what?
You guessed it power over the ethics commission. Like he doesn't have that power over the Council now as obvious by the sudden change of heart by some on the committee.
Kelly Downard, R-16th, said he suspects Abramson has asked the Democrats on the council to kill the ordinance. But the mayor said this week that he hadn't even read the ordinance and that he would consider a change to the appointment process. Kelly I agree.
Sure Jerry we believe you. Sarcasm purely intended. Abramson controls everything and this will insure that he will take care of his Dem buddies once again to prevent accountability. I like his next statement:
"It seems out of the ordinary," Abramson said of the change. "The simple majority (for ratification) seems to have worked well. But if there's some reason this board should be treated differently, I'm open to hearing about it."
This board should definitely be treated differently. Abramson should have NO part in appointments whatsoever.
If we are going to set the number at 9 members each party should have the right of appointing 4 each. Let the Mayor himself be given the 9th position essentially for a tie breaker in the event we need one.
That would at least equal out the political part of the process for fairness.
It is amazing that David Tandy, next Council President and future wannabe Mayor, would willingly give up ALL appointments to Abramson according to the article. This continues to give Abramson ALL the power and essentially NO accountability.
Of course he already has that.
Tandy decided AGAINST what he agreed to in committee and now wants the Mayor to have the right of appointment for ALL 9 members just approved by the Metro Council with a 2/3's majority. What was the sellout?
I have generally liked some of the stuff Tandy does, though admittedly not all, and yet to flip flop on even the basics of what he already agreed to thus eroding the power of the Council further is beyond me.
Of course with members like MaDonna Flood whose husband John is awaiting trial, Bob Henderson who admitted in federal testimony wrongdoing in regards to MSD, and Rick Blackwell who dropped the ethics complaint against Henderson after sitting on it for years, and not reading the testimony from the federal trial, there is much needed to protect.
It is time to get this City government under control and away from Abramson and his political lackeys who refuse to do the job they were elected to do.
With that in mind Metro Council here is what you do.
Get off your butts, remember why you got elected, remember this is about We The People not you the person, nor is it about what you can gain because Jerry said so, and give us what we demand.
The transparency and accountability we deserve.
Once that is done there will be no need for "ethics" reform will there?
Monday, January 5, 2009
I have been waiting for the excuse that since Jane Driskell retired they needed more time yet it has been confirmed by an anonymous source that she is indeed still working in essentially the same capacity as a "special consultant." Great way to double dip but hey that is another story. This would negate the argument that they need more time.
More questions abound.
Who approved the agreement for Driskell to be a paid consultant? IS this circumventing the new state pension law?
According to the new state pension law you cannot be rehired in the same capacity until after a certain period of time goes by. 30 days to come back full time or 90 days to come back part time.
With this in mind there also can be no agreement to rehire in place before you retire. In this case it would appear there has been an agreement and therefore violates the new law. It was announced that Driskell would stay on as a "special consultant" for awhile. If she gets rehired it can obviously be linked. Stay tuned.
On another note a different question. The LMPD just got their equipment checks and they were signed by Jane Driskell. Is this legal? Driskell is not a Metro employee but a paid "special consultant." Should those not employed as a permanent Metro employee be allowed authority to sign a Metro check?
Would any of us be allowed to sign these checks? Definitely not and this raises all kinds of accountability question as well. Unless of course they were signed prior to December 1 when Driskell resigned. Pay attention.
One other interesting tidbit about the CAFR. According to the CAFR reports Metro Louisville has received a Certificate of Achievement for excellence in financial reporting from some other "awards" place. How many bogus awards can be made up for crying out loud?
The purpose in mentioning this is simple. As we know Abramson loves to tout all these "awards" or "achievements" like they are a huge deal. Ok let him have it. I would prefer to be recognized by a solid peer not some obscure thing most do not know about.
Either way here is the interesting part of this whole rant. According to the 2007 CAFR report the GFOA, Government Finance Officers Association of the US and Canada (and you wonder why I challenge the integrity of the award), awards this certificate based on a number of things. The one that caught my eye was the eligibility requirements.
In order to be considered for the award ALL appropriate items must be postmarked or e-mailed to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) no later than six months after the government's fiscal year end.
This would mean in order to be considered for the award again the CAFR must be available by December 30 since our fiscal year ends June 30. That would mean of course that the CAFR is ready since we all know Abramson will not pass up the chance to get an award.
If we receive this award again (sorry I had to cough a little referring to this as an award) then it will be plainly obvious that Abramson has withheld the CAFR on purpose. That is not acceptable in any form.
Stay tuned for more info this keeps getting more interesting.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Some will continue to use the argument of the retirement setup being changed and that seems to be the most used excuse.
Take for example that Jane Driskoll retired using this same excuse. Jane Driskoll as we know was in charge of finance and administration. I am waiting for that to be the official excuse for the delay of the CAFR.
Stay tuned for that one.
Noteworthy is the fact that Johnstone is the one retiring though Summers IV would have been the most likely candidate IMO. Of course Summers and Abramson are joined at the hip and have been forever. Many believe half the decisions in the City are made by Summers and Abramson pushes it. Who knows. In all honesty who really cares. Abramson is the man in charge and has the accountability anyway.
Interesting from the article though. Take for example this one:
The departure leaves Abramson with only one Deputy Mayor, William Summers IV. When he began as metro mayor in January 2003, he had four deputy mayors.
Noteworthy here is the fact that Abramson is now down to one Deputy Mayor as he should have been all along. Further stated was this:
Abramson said other members of his staff, including Summers, will pick up some of Johnstone's duties. Why has this not been done before now? How much further downsizing can we do? Plenty I assure you.
So now those that were under the auspices of Johnstone will now answer directly to the Mayor? Don't hold your breath that this will last long. Abramson does not typically like the day to day duties, unless they are photo ops, relying instead on someone else to spin the problems he creates instead of dealing with them himself.
Further announced was the retirement of Kim Allen.
Also this week, Abramson announced the retirement of Kim Allen, the director of the Department of Public Safety. Allen, 52, oversaw the fire departments, emergency-medical services, the Emergency Management Agency, the Corrections Department, the Metro Crime Commission and the MetroSafe emergency-communications system.
Interesting that Kim Allen supposedly had all this experience to bring and we have so many problems with public safety today. Charged with overseeing the public safety aspects of government one would think that experience would have helped alleviate the problems we have had in recent years. Guess this shows the experience really did not matter in this case.
Allen had worked for Abramson since the merger in 2003. Before that she was on the staff of the city-county Crime Commission for 14 years, including serving for more than a decade as its executive director.
Before the merger, she served as director of the Kentucky Criminal Justice Council for four years.
I also wonder if perhaps the retirement system itself should be overhauled. Seems 52 years old with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years is awful young to retire on the taxpayers dime.
How many of us have that opportunity? remember we are not talking about a private employer here but a public paid one.
That is a discussion for another day.
In the meantime looks like 2 more political appointees are leaving Abramson. It does seem like rats deserting a sinking ship lately doesn't it?
Thursday, January 1, 2009
For the New Year I have made a resolution to turn up the heat a bit (yeah I know like I don't do that enough anyway), and start with how our local government is organized and who answers to whom. Take the following for example:
This organizational chart clearly shows the Mayor answers to who? The citizens of the Metro Louisville that's who. In short he answers to us. But we already knew that didn't we?
With this in mind I have a couple of questions that need to be asked concerning the dire straits we are supposedly in financially. Namely where is the CAFR? The CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) has always been readily available by mid December online. As of today it is not there. MSD had theirs up by November 13 with less manpower so what gives.
Could it be that since it is under such scrutiny now, and the police and others have requested it, that perhaps Jerry is apprehensive in releasing it? Could it be the CAFR did not show the $20 million deficit he says we have? Does he need more time to rework the numbers to reflect what he wants them to show not what is actual?
Many of us are waiting to see the CAFR and we all want an explanation as to why he has not released it yet. There are way too many questions and very little answers to his budget deficit. In short we are asked to "trust me I am the Mayor." This has worked for almost 20 years for him but cannot work any longer.
In short, I do not trust you Mr. Mayor and neither do most of the citizens I talk to everyday.
There I said it and do I feel better. Now copy the following and send it to Mayor Abramson here:
Office of Mayor Jerry Abramson Metro Hall / 4th Floor
527 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Dear Mayor Abramson:
As your boss and employer, I am requiring you, as a condition of your continued employment, to provide me the 2008 CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) and the documents requested under the Kentucky Open Records Act by the Fraternal Order of Police to them immediately.
The chart heading above, which you have used in the 2003-2007 CAFRs, show that the citizens of Louisville are your boss. I, as a citizen of Louisville, am your boss.
Your failure to provide these documents immediately will be sufficient proof of malfeasance by you and subjects you to legal disciplinary actions, up to and including removal from your job.
Remember, I am your boss. Please comply immediately.
Now that you have done that don't you feel better too?
Demand transparency and demand an answer to our questions. It is our City and he is our employee.
JUST ADDED: I stumbled across this while researching other info. It is interesting to note Abramson has a history of violating open records request and using others to do it. The following link is one example of an AG decision from 1993.
This is a part of that decision:
The City of Louisville erred in failing to provide "a detailed explanation" of the cause of the delay and arranging for inspection at the earliest possible date. "Timely access" to public records has been defined as "any time less than three days from agency receipt of the request." OAG 84-300, at p. 3. In OAG 83-23, at page 4, we expressly held that an agency had not acted in accordance with KRS 61.870 to 61.884 "in its failure to allow inspection or make a proper response to [a] request to inspect records after three months from the date of [the] initial request." See also, OAG 91-200; OAG 92-35. Although Mr. Lukins offered repeated assurances that the City had begun the process of identifying and compiling the requested records, he did not designate the place, time and earliest date on which the records would be available for inspection. We believe that a delay of this duration is inconsistent with the Open Records Act.
Read the entire decision for all the details but it clearly shows how "games" were being played then, and certainly should give us cause for alarm today as Jerry apparently still feels he can circumvent law.