Tuesday: Clear Skies and Conflicts

It’s Tuesday, so be sure and tune in to the CW this morning at 10. You might win something…

The Black Hat at the Arena Goes to:  Turns out that Jim Host and Mortenson Construction are none too happy with Wilhelm, the company responsible for the “human error” that caused the concrete collapse at the arena last month. And let’s just say “surprise” was the nice way an official put it when asked what he thought about Wilhelm not showing up for yesterday’s arena meeting. [Joe Arnold]

Happy Birthday: The local Broken Sidewalk blog site, which takes note of changes in local buildings and neighborhoods, is celebrating its first birthday. The V.V., by the way, first launched in 2006, joined by Page One in 2007. [Broken Sidewalk]

From Here, But Not Like Us: The premiere of SoapNet’s Southern Belles is Thursday, so the C-J did a feature to let us know that Shea Johnson, who wants to get engaged, flies to Chicago to shop for $250K wedding rings. And then there’s Emily Gimmel, the TV reporter and aspiring celebrity. We’re not sure we’ll be able to resist watching. The show is on Insight’s channel 75 here. [Courier]

Constable and the Cowboy: Somebody needs to get rid of the office of Constable in Jefferson County. Adam Walser’s report makes it clear that David Whitlock has no business carrying a gun and writing tickets, and the real law enforcement people call him a wannabe. But what’s with Walser’s cowboy outfit? Watch and chuckle. [WHAS-TV]

Decision Day for Jerry?: The Mayor says he may announce today whether or not he’s going to veto the labor standards ordinance passed by the Metro Council last week, rather than wait another week as we expected. As we’ve said, he’s going to veto it, and probably just doesn’t want to prolong the decision. [Fox41]

A Little Late to be Making Suggestions: There’s finally been a contract awarded to rebuild the Harrods Creek Bridge, at a cost of $2.3 million, by December. Now that the issue is settled, River Fields is making noise that it wants to open the bridge next week because it doesn’t believe the work will get done in the time frame suggested by Metro Government. [Courier]

Anybody Want to Run Otter Creek?: After a lengthy delay, Metro Parks has put together specs for an RFP to see if there’s anybody out there who wants to operate Otter Creek Park.  You’ve got 60 days. Let’s just say we’re skeptical. [WHAS Radio]

Back in Civilization: Jake’s back to causing trouble for people over at Page One after a trip to the mountains.  [Page One]

Monday’s Ville Voice Breakfast of Champions

Want to get the workweek started off right?

Join us Monday morning at 7 a.m. for the Ville Voice Breakfast of Champions. It’s our bi-monthly opportunity to hang with other highly-motivated morning people, hear a great speaker and enjoy a wonderful breakfast downtown at Toast on Market.

The speaker is Scott Davenport, head basketball coach at Bellarmine University (and Iroquois High alum!). The school just completed one of the most successful seasons in its history, compiling a 26-7 record. Davenport led the Knights to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional. Davenport, formerly an assistant coach at the University of Louisville and head coach at Ballard High School, just finished his fourth year at Bellarmine.

Our previous speakers were Dan Jones of 21st Century Parks and John Asher of Churchill Downs.

Bring $15 in cash, and show up by 7. You’ll get your brain and belly filled, and you’ll meet someone new.

Another $14.7 Million, 1,300 Jobs Promised

This morning Jerry Abramson announced that another boatload of federal money is making its way to Louisville and will be used to create walking paths, bike lanes and sidewalks in various neighborhoods.

The $14.7 million in projects is being doled out to contractors who must submit bids for the work. Information on that is at the city’s website.

The biggest chunk of the money goes to sidewalk repair and construction ($7.4 million) and for street repaving ($5.5 million). The city’s Louisville at Work team will determine priorities, and the Metro Council is supposed to have a say in how this money is spent.

There’s nearly $1 million in the plan for building a walking/biking loop around Bowman Field and through Seneca Park.

In addition, there are several projects to be administered by the smaller cities of Jeffersontown, St. Matthews, Middletown and Pewee Valley.

Here’s a complete list:

  • Building walking trail at A.B Sawyer Park, $616,000. The path would start at Whipps Mills Road in Lyndon and meander to near Hurstbourne Parkway. The path would be known as the A.B. Sawyer Greenway.
  • Seneca Loop extension $988,350. This project, creating 40 jobs, will provide a 3.9 mile trail loop for pedestrians and bicycles in Seneca Park and around Bowman Field.
  • Louisville Loop, $687,500. This project will repair a slope failure on the existing trail adjacent to Shawnee Golf Course and create as many as 35 jobs.
  • Neighborhoods sidewalk construction and repair, $7.4 million. Abramson and his “Louisville At Work” team, in consultation with the Metro Council, will determine where to build and repair sidewalks. The projects could create up to 620 jobs
  • Resurfacing 70 miles of streets, $5,500,000. The “Louisville At Work” team will help determine which roads get priority paving. This could create as many as 600 jobs.
  • Installation of bicycle lanes along Taylorsville Road from McMahan to Hurstbourne, $88,000 and  creating 8 jobs.

All Silver Linings in State of the City

If you follow city government or have heard any of this Mayor’s previous 19 State of the City addresses, this is not going to surprise you.

Jerry Abramson expressed great optimism, talked of the great opportunity we have, and even came up with a Winston Churchill quote about optimism. He delivered the speech at the downtown Rotary meeting today, two months late due to the January ice storm.

Of the economic outlook, the Mayor sees light at the end off the tunnel. And the start of the flow of stimulus money gave an unneeded boost of energy to the Mayor’s tone. He mentioned plenty of specifics, so we decided to go ahead and give you the complete prepared text of the speech.

Check the Mayor’s Speech after the Jump…

Read moreAll Silver Linings in State of the City

It’s News Because It’s Weird Edition

A Trinity Mystery: Anybody want to take a shot at guessing what the big security issue is at Trinity? The high school is closed, and officials say they’ll have news for the public on this “obscure threat” by 4 p.m.  I’m betting that whatever it is won’t stay secret that long. [C-J]

Billy’s Slide: Maybe Billy Clyde Gillispie is just another one of those coaches who doesn’t handle losing well. When he was rude to ESPN’s Jeanine Edwards in a sideline interview (twice), we thought it might have been a sexist thing, and it was pretty embarrassing. Now he’s giving grief to play-by-play man Tom Leach for having the nerve to question the way he benched his best player. [Eric Crawford]

Now This Will Help Tourism: The state House has approved a measure to allow alcohol sales in state parks, opening up a whole new revenue stream and making the parks more attractive to all sorts of groups. For the parks in dry counties, it will require a local option election. Can you imagine a dry county where the only place to get alcohol is the state park? [WFPL]

That’s A Reach: That was Fox 41’s Bill Lamb’s reaction to a demand by local NAACP officials that he take a stand against a New York Post cartoon that’s being called racist.  Here’s the NAACP logic – Lamb is a Fox affiliate, and Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which also own the NY Post. Lamb, who was out of town, said, “This has nothing to do with me or the station.  I don’t feel an automatic obligation to get involved in somebody else’s battle.” But he said he would consider the request.

Nunn’s Defense: A 29-year-old woman claims that Steve Nunn, an official in the state’s Health and Family Services division, verbally and physically abused her. So the state put him on leave without pay until the case is resolved.  Nunn says he’s innocent, and so does his ex-wife. He’s worked on domestic violence protection issues in the past.  The woman claims Nunn hit her in the face at her home. [WHAS-TV]

Bad News for Bikers: If you’re on a bike and somebody hits you with their car, and a police officer doesn’t see it, you’re still screwed. Police won’t be arresting the driver. That’s because HB 88 died in Frankfort yesterday  [Barry’s Bike Blog]

Get ‘Em All in One Place: There’s a new anti-Jerry Abramson group on Facebook, organized by frequent V.V. commenter Steve Magruder. Now Jerry can keep track of his enemies, of which nearly 400 have already signed up. [Facebook]

Otter Creek Could Re-Open This Summer

The fallout from the ice storm continues at Otter Creek Park.

When the power went out at the Conference Center, it got cold. And when it got cold, the pipes burst. And when the pipes burst, water ruined the carpeting and drywall. Workers have been out at the Park the last few weeks making repairs.

Rather than just leave the place in shambles, Metro Parks is spending about $9,000 to fix it, according to Parks spokesperson Jason Cissell, who added that five weddings scheduled this spring will bring in enough revenue ($10K) to cover the costs.

But the bigger picture is that the fix-up has to take place to make the Park presentable enough that it will get responses to a Request for Proposal being released in the next two weeks. Metro Parks is hopeful that an organization will come in and operate the park on at least a revenue-neutral basis to the city’s budget. Cissell said it would be nice, though, if an operator could return a dividend.

“Our main goal is to provide recreational activities at no cost to the taxpayer,” he said.

Sounds like a tall order for any operator. Cissell said Metro Parks has heard from 15 parties interested in seeing the RFP, and has gone out and researched a half-dozen firms who operate concessions at parks throughout the U.S. The RFP will be a hefty document, with details of the park’s various long-term plans and details of the facilities.

But it will be up to the operator to figure out a way to make money, presumably through lodge and cabin rentals, concessions and activity fees. Fans of the park are hopeful. If a proposal requires modest changes, the park could re-open under a new operator as early as this summer.

Mayor for Now and Other Monday Stuff

Rocky Road: This morning Joe Gerth speculates on Jerry Abramson’s future, wondering if all the problems he’s dealing with are making it less fun being Mayor for Life. Jerry told him he’s getting lots of positive encouragement. Surprise! He said he’d decide on whether to run for a sixth term in late summer. [C-J]

Speak of Hate: It’s really discouraging to watch HBO’s special — Right America: Feeling Wronged because it makes you realize how much hate, bigotry and racism still exists in America – the South in particular.  One guy looks into the camera and says “I ain’t votin’ for the n____.”Still, you ought to see it. Then lighten up with Flight of the Concords. [HBO]

Kick This One Around: That Javanon soccer facility in eastern Jefferson County is finally getting some scrutiny by the Board of Zoning Adjustments, which has a hearing March 16.  The bottom line is that you’re not supposed to be able to construct a building without permits — but Metro Planning director Charles Cash and others weren’t paying attention. And a Metro employee had no qualms about taking advantage of the siutation. So should they make them tear it down? [C-J]

Your Comment on the Water: The state is seeking public comment on its plan to clean up Beargrass Creek as required by the Clean Water Act. You have until March 24. [Ky. Div. of Water]

And on the Parks: If you’re interested in the future of Hogan’s Fountain or Tyler Park, there’s a publci meeting tonite at the Highlands Library. Officials are developing master plans for the parks. [Metro Govt]

Four in Sports: Anybody notice that today’s C-J sports section was all of four pages? That’s the smallest I think that it has ever been.

Congrats to the Petcheniks: The WLKY-TV reporter and his wife welcomed a new daughter, Julia Brooke, to their home.

Look Who’s Still Winning the Popularity Contest

Let’s take a look at what you people are thinking, at least according to a Survey USA poll released last week.

The headline at WHAS-TV was that Mayor Jerry Abramson’s approval rating has hit a new low. But it’s far from being really low. He’s still popular enough to easily win if he were running for re-election, which is an all-but-assured eventuality in 2010.  His LOW level in popularity in the three years they’ve done the poll is now 54 percent.

It’s like criticizing U of L for wining by just 45 points yesterday. Sure, the Cards could have gotten to 50, but what’s the point? More interesting was the poll’s results on issues concerning Abramson’s actions in office.

The public doesn’t have much sympathy for cops in their battle with the Mayor over take-home cars. Six in 10 think police should either not have the cars at all or have the fee they pay for the cars go up.

Furloughing city employees is popular enough, with half of respondants supporting it. But the idea of closing parks is not, with 73 percent saying they don’t want to see that step taken.  And cutting back the hours at libraries is unpopular, with 56 percent resisting.

The public saved its harshest crtique of the Mayor’s action for an issue that gets the most publicity — closing fire stations.  More than 8 in 10 think that’s a step too far for solving the budget problem.

So the poll results say, basically, that the people don’t want fire stations, parks or libraries closed to save money, but they’re OK with jacking up the cost of take-home cars for police and giving employees a few unpaid days off.  Which leads me to think the Mayor is overestimating the negative feedback he’d get if he were to announce layoffs of 10 percent.

It’s easy to explain the Mayor’s popularity numbers. Unlike the other 19 years of his oversight of the city’s budget, he’s been put in the position of telling people things they don’t want to hear. So surveys aren’t going to be kind to him.  But it’s hardly an uprising from the people.

The Mayor’s critics may be getting louder, but they’ve got a long way to go before they dent his popularity.