The Metro removal hearing case against Dan Johnson ended about the way it began. With many in disbelief.
I could not understand how the "charging committee" council members even fathomed that somehow Johnson could be removed on hearsay and hearsay alone. At the end of the day that is exactly what this boiled down to. Like it or not justice prevailed today with Johnson being allowed to keep his seat, at least until they can figure out some trumped up charge to remove him for later.
In the past few weeks I have been called everything you can imagine, I'm used to it, these days it amuses me, but now that the case is over let me explain a few things for the record.
First, I am no fan of Dan Johnson, never have been and cannot see a day when I would be. In fact, I am quite vocal about that and have chastised Dan on many occasions and will continue to do so if necessary.
Second, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or any abuse period is not acceptable to me no matter who is the aggressor or victim. It is never acceptable in a civilized society. Having very close female family members who have suffered from sexual abuse, and the trauma they endure today after many many years, is and always will make my blood boil. Trust me I had and will always have their back.
With all that in mind, it is important to remember we are a civilized society who operates under rule of law and evidentiary procedure.
Nothing Councilman Johnson was accused of rose to the merits of a removal hearing without being convicted or found guilty of any illegal behavior.
I have listened to the arguments, "if Judy Green and Barbara Shanklin had to go through that, then why doesn't Johnson?"
I was the one who made the charges against former Councilwoman, the late Judy Green, that resulted in an ethics hearing where she was found guilty of wrongdoing. The charges were made, the appropriate authority, ethics commission, heard evidence and made a decision that illegality had occurred and then recommended a removal hearing.
The same occurred with Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin.
I was the first to test the removal process of an elected councilperson in our history.
It was important then to show the proper way to remove someone from office and set a precedent for future office holders to follow if the issue arose again.
In the case of Dan Johnson this has been nothing more than a fairly obvious attempt at a coup against the voters of the 21st District.
Jessica Green is an attorney and she knows the rules of evidence. You can't put someone on trial just because you want to. There is a process for that.
I am not discounting the alleged GLI employee, but quite honestly there is no criminal wrongdoing, at least that we know of based on public reports. In this particular case it has been reported that Johnson got drunk and apparently said some vulgar things, or propositioned her in a vulgar way.
Disgusting? Sure. Illegal? Not based on what little we know. The reality is that people go to parties, or bars, every weekend and get drunk. They make lewd propositions to others. Is it disgusting? Yep. It isn't illegal.
Quite honestly, think of me what you will, but that is exactly what these junkets are and have been all about. I can't stand them but they have always existed and still do. GLI is no different than any other BS organization that plays the game for their benefit.
It is a sad pathetic reality that many orgs like GLI, and anyone else who lobbies politicians, indulge this behavior. They take you on an all expense paid trip, give you all the free booze you can drink, surround you with pretty young women who are instructed to smile and talk nice to you, then when they want something they remind you of all of that when it's time to vote.
It's a pathetic game but GLI knew what they were doing, they knew there were people getting drunk off their dime, and they knew drunk people make bad choices, and drunks make passes at bars. Even lewd ones. GLI knew as do they all, that a situation like this with free flowing booze always creates this opportunity. Yet they choose to send young women on these junkets knowingly. They are just as guilty of anything that Johnson allegedly said or did. At least in my opinion. Yet somehow Kent Oyler and cronies are looked at as some sort of hero for "banning" Johnson from GLI events without having to show any proof of illicit behavior.
The self righteous hypocrites who attend these know this goes on but can't admit the truth or they lose the perks. Want it to stop? Force the Metro Council and others to avoid these junkets.
But, the alleged victim cannot be addressed. All there is the hearsay second hand reports from someone else. That isn't allowed in any legal proceeding. Attorney Kent knows that much or should.
Finally, Erin Hinson of Councilwoman Leet's office. This supposedly happened last summer. Why did over a year elapse before it was reported? Where was the outrage by Leet then?
Now everyone is scared Johnson will rape them in City Hall?
The claim of bringing "embarrassment" to the Council and the fear of everyone there is an insult to the intelligence of all of us. Is this really what you want to pursue. based on some sort of "embarrassment" factor?
Trust me I can embarrass the majority of Metro Council members everyday if I chose to. It really isn't hard but I have standards as apparently some do not. Why do I say that?
The reality is the "embarrassment" started because Jessica Green or someone else on the Metro Council assumedly leaked all this to Phillip Bailey or someone at the CJ.
For what gain?
The cry now is that people will be scared to come forward because the victims lost their voice. The council screwed up.
The alleged victims did not lose their voice. There were plenty of avenues, legal, legitimate avenues to make their voice heard.
Why did Jessica Green not file charges with the police? That would have been leading by example right? Why weren't charges filed with the ethics commission, let them do the job they are tasked to do, make a determination, and if found guilty then recommend removal. That is how we do it. Jessica knows this she saw her mom go through it.
Why didn't she use proper venues?
Clearly, she wasn't scared, or ashamed, or any of the other known normal reactions of those who have suffered from sexual abuse.
If the fear is so great, why was no EPO sought? If Johnson is a threat or a danger to you, would you not think that is appropriate?
No, instead it was decided to use hearsay for a reason. The reality is that all of the above legal remedies are known to lawyers, including Jessica Green. You can't claim fear when you made sure the allegations went straight to the street.
It defies logic.
Finally, I look at the big picture.
This whole kangaroo court circus show in this instance was wrong for way too many reasons.
The biggest is what I mentioned already. It was being used as nothing more than a political coup.
In the absence of any real charges being brought, in the appropriate venue, then this whole thing relied on public perception and ridicule.
The whole case resided on someone making an alleged claim about someone else and that being automatic grounds for removal.
So think about this.
Councilman Kramer says he saw Councilman Ackerson with a known prostitute, or Councilman James says he saw Councilman Benson pay a male prostitute at Vapor Club. These are serious charges right? They leak it to the press, the press starts with the allegations and escalates these things in the public eye. Now the public is in an uproar!
Since this now is bringing embarrassment to the Council there must be a removal hearing!
And now we have two more removal hearings scheduled based on what? Now the removal process is used for anything based on a whim of a few who perhaps have a political agenda of their own, not based on rule of law.
Of course the examples I used in regards to Ackerson, James, Benson, and Kramer are fictitious. How many would believe it if the msm said so without any proof or charges?
I know it may surprise you, but I actually hold quite a bit back. What if I unloaded everything I have on the majority of Council members that would paint them in a bad light and bring embarrassment to the Council?
Does each allegation I make give rise to an automatic removal hearing? the Council would never be anything more than a constant court. Or their version of it. That isn't their job.
The reality is that this whole fiasco was based on an allegation that had not been proven.
Make the ethics charges as proper, file the court complaint, file the EPO, anything tho allow the system to do what it was intended for.
After that, then have a removal hearing if proven. We have been down this road. I know I initiated the first one.
There is a proper way to handle it. Automatically "charging" someone through the Council and forcing a removal hearing without the process used properly only creates the drama and unfounded criticisms that were evident today.
We do not need to go down the slippery slope that everything is an automatic removal hearing. One that can be used based on personal or political will. Anyone can face a removal hearing for anything based on the way some wanted this situation handled. What happens when the next council person is put through this because a bloc of five of their colleagues started a cabal to remove them because they disagree with you.
We the people deserve better. I, for one, demand better.
Think what you will about me. It really doesn't matter.
What does matter is that we allow the justice system to prevail the way it was intended. Not one based on hearsay or political will.
Let the law be used the way it was intended.
It has worked pretty damn well for a long time now.
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