Facts, rumors and political innuendo
This column’s first round of mayoral chatter set off a knee-jerk response from the local punditry, turning up one new revelation. Besides Council President David Tandy, D-4, and Councilman Jim King, D-10, several names are being thrown around. But the one that keeps popping up with serious traction is attorney Craig Greenberg, who is best associated with the stalled Museum Plaza project.
When asked if he’s planning to run for mayor, the attorney will not say yes or no, but promises to let everyone know before winter.
“All I want to say on the record is that I’ve always been interested in public service and I’m always looking for new ways to make Louisville a better place,” Greenberg tells LEO Weekly. “I can tell you a lot of people over the years have encouraged me to run for mayor.”
Greenberg would neither confirm nor deny a report that he’s had several conversations with Mayor Jerry Abramson about being the groomed successor. That assumes the mayor is in fact leaving the city’s top post, possibly for state government, where some sources say he might take up the lieutenant governor post and focus on Kentucky’s economic development.
After a recent press conference, Abramson made it clear he’s too busy maneuvering Metro government through a financial crisis to make a decision about next year.
“I’ve been spending my time putting together a budget,” he tells LEO, before asking, “Are you writing that column that somebody told me about — rumors and innuendo?”
Several sources recently told us that Louisville Public Media was preparing to oust all mayoral appointees from its board of directors after Metro government allocated zero funding to the organization this year. The media group owns and operates Louisville’s three public radio stations and has six board members appointed by Mayor Abramson.
But apparently it’s a bogus rumor, at least according to LPM President Donovan Reynolds. The media organization and city work well together, he says, adding that Metro government has made huge contributions to public radio over the years. And despite the city’s dwindling arts and culture funding, Louisville Public Radio is entering the fiscal year with a substantial surplus.
“We’re in pretty good financial shape,” says Reynolds. “It’s not like we’re hurting, and there are a lot of human service agencies in the city that are more desperate for money.”
Despite revenue streams drying up for radio stations across the country, LPM has been experiencing a boom due in large part to members, who supported a successful fundraising campaign earlier this year that raised more than $400,000. The radio station expects renewed funding with Metro government in the future once the economy turns.
Public radio isn’t the only entity to get the shaft from city government during this year’s budget crisis: The Metro Council recently cut an additional $1 million from the struggling Neighborhoods Department.
“The council did not discuss this with me. We were looking for cost efficiencies,” says Melissa Mershon, head of the Neighborhoods Department. “Their actions demonstrate that they do not feel community building or civic engagement programs are a priority.”
At this point, the future of the department is uncertain at best.
A handful of Metro Council incumbents and challengers have already filed early letters of intent with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, indicating they’re preparing their coffers to run next year.
One of the early-bird challengers is union lawyer David Yates, a young Democrat who seeks to unseat the controversial Doug Hawkins, R-25, whose representation he referred to as a “black eye” for south Louisville. The fresh-faced candidate has a campaign kick-off event scheduled for this month, and he eagerly anticipates a race against the bombastic Hawkins.
During a recent interview, Yates was surprised to learn he would have a Democratic primary opponent, Marcella Goodin, who filed last week.
“In a weird way it’s a big compliment that they think they have to start two years in advance. If I were in their shoes, I’d be starting early too,” Hawkins says, adding he hasn’t put much thought into next year’s election.
Seemingly unfazed by the early campaigning, Hawkins has both name recognition and solid fundraising capabilities. But next year, every race will matter for council Republicans — the GOP will have six seats up for grabs in 2010. Even though most are nestled in safe districts and the city leans toward incumbency, if one of those seats goes to the Democrats it would slice their slim 10-member minority to a laughable margin.
Don’t expect Hawkins to play it cool for much longer. Though he was complimentary of Yates for most of the interview, he was sure to say that the upstart candidate would be firmly in the mayor’s pocket if elected.