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August 5, 2009

Jerry's kids

Facts, rumors and political innuendo

Louisville businessman Greg Fischer was quick to announce his candidacy for mayor, and he believes the early entry will help set the tone of his campaign.

“I would like to see a city that’s more open, transparent, inclusive and empowering,” he says. “One that celebrates its successes, but also a city that has no problem talking about its weakness so that we deal in reality.”

LEO Weekly recently sat down with the candidate, talking about the Metro Council, billion-dollar bridges, The Cordish Cos., Louisville’s restlessness and his mayoral philosophy. Here’s an excerpt from that interview:

LEO: What are your thoughts about Metro government’s dealings with The Cordish Cos.?

GF: (Laughter) My bias is for keeping Louisville weird and supporting Louisville companies whenever we can. That’s where I start a conversation. On The Cordish Cos. and the scope they’ve taken on, are there local entities that can do that or local partnerships that can do that? It’s something I would explore. 

LEO: Should we be working with other developers?

GF: I come from a business perspective, so there’s no company that’s got exclusivity on creativity or project ability. My view is Louisvillians can be as good as anybody in the world with what we want to do. I want to instill that mindset.

LEO: Are you satisfied with the current relations between the Mayor’s Office and Metro Council?

GF: Both parties should treat each other as peers. I’m talking about the way we treat each other as human beings. A hungry kid in south Louisville does not care if it’s a 16-10 ratio. I’m talking about working together for the betterment of the people of Louisville. That means the mayor’s relationship with the Metro Council has got to be one that acknowledges that we might have differences, but we’re here for the same reason. We might not agree on everything, but we agree on core things. Here’s what our citizens need and here’s our government process and how do we make better decisions.

LEO: Do you think it’s going to be difficult for a new mayor to demonstrate that inclusiveness?

GF: I don’t look at it as a burden. I look at it as an exciting opportunity to do the right thing. The power of any organization comes from the diverse opinions and life experiences of the people on the team. That also allows you, when you harness that appropriately, to move the city forward in a very powerful way. What you want to do is you want to take away that feeling of “what are they doing” and replace it with “look what we are doing.” Again, it’s easy to criticize. So I welcome you into my house, man, and here are the goals for the city and I want you to help me so we can do it together. That’s when you find out the true measure of people, because it’s easier to complain and sometimes it’s harder to be a constructive member for positive change. There’s a hundred different ways to get there. There’s no one way. As long as we fall in those ethical boundaries, the more likely we’ll get there.

Check out leoweekly.com to read the rest of the interview.

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In other news, the reason behind the decision to suspend majority caucus director Kenya McGruder remains a mystery, but that hasn’t prevented rumors from orbiting the blogosphere, entangling Metro Council President David Tandy, D-4, in the process.

The political website Page One Kentucky posted a blog entry last week claiming Metro Council sources said McGruder’s suspension was at least in part based on the fact that she babysat Tandy’s 5-year-old daughter while at City Hall. And while Tandy offered to be interviewed by Page One’s Jake Payne to explain the situation, the blogger refused to speak with the councilman, instead demanding a written statement. In turn, Tandy’s office released a convoluted statement that did not successfully clear up the sitter-gate situation.

Although McGruder and Tandy’s wife, Carolyn, are close friends, the council president denies the accusation brought up on Page One.

“Those rumors are false. That’s not the reason for Ms. McGruder’s suspension,” Tandy tells LEO Weekly. “And the personnel committee knows that. The other council members in the Democratic caucus know that as well. And we go forward with it from there.”

Tandy would not divulge why the personnel committee handed McGruder a five-day suspension, but says he has brought his daughter to City Hall only twice this year, and on one of those occasions she visited with McGruder for about 15 minutes.

Also, it should be noted that none of our sources ever mentioned the Democratic caucus director being a personal nanny as a reason for her suspension.