All Kinds Of Louisville Zoo Shenanigans Going On

Woah, people are freaking out over what’s going down at the Louisville Zoo these days.

By now, everyone is aware of Greg Fischer’s push to privatize the zoo, right?

So it will come as no surprise to you that Mark Zoeller, the Assistant Director at the Zoo is leaving in two weeks to take a job in Public Works. Why? Could it be to protect his public pension when the Zoo is no longer controlled by Metro Government? You can put your money on yes. And Zoo staff say he and the Director (Walczak) know what’s going on behind the scenes without sharing it with longtime employees.

This comes after the resignation of the Development Coordinator last August. The Development Director left in November/December.

And several others are expected to jump ship soon. Gotta keep those taxpayer-funded retirement plans, ya know.

It’s being okayed by board members because they know where their bread is buttered. Doesn’t smell right.

We Know What You Do In That Other Hand, LEO

What do the Lincoln Bedroom, your tax dollars and your potential retirement savings have to do with each other? If you’re part of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, you may want to find out. [Page One]

On Saturday, December 4, Jefferson Memorial Forest will host a holiday open house at the welcome center. 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Complete with free hot chocolate, cider and cookies. Need a cheap (free) escape for your kids? Here’s your chance. [Jefferson Memorial Forest]

Going-through-the-motions regulation is not enough for strip mining in Kentucky. Ignoring environmental impact is as ignorant as anything we can imagine. [H-L]

Dining Out For Life takes place today. So. Go dine out. For life. [Dine Out For Life]

Haha, so, funny story… a bridge across the Ohio River is getting built on time and under budget. But not in Louisville. [FOX 41]

What the heck is going on in Portland? What’s with this kid getting killed just weeks after his grandfather was arrested for murder? [WAVE3]

We still can’t get over this story of an Elizabethtown high school student dying after being hit by a classmate’s car. [WHAS11 Video]

Steve Beshear wants 81 of his political appointees to keep their high-paying jobs. These folks make $70,000 or $80,000 a year. And many of them just cold sit on their hands “advising” the governor. Clearly, not all of them can lose their jobs. But in these times of economic turmoil, shouldn’t a good deal of them have to look for work elsewhere? [John Cheves]

The East End super-elite who want claim to love parks but want to destroy the Waterfront? Remember those guys? They have some fancy new “study.” Thankfully, at least one publication in town realizes what it’s good for. Do you know what LEO does in that other hand? [LEO Weekly]

Codes Change

We told you earlier this month that Bill Schreck was leaving the Administration, that the only thing keeping him in his position as Codes and Regulations Director was a promise to the Mayor that he’d stay until a replacement was found.

Well, the city found its man in Jim Mims, by all indications a well-qualified individual with a doctorate in urban and public affairs and a long history of local activity as director of development for Hagan Properties.

In the last year, Schreck has been involved in some controversy, especially as it relates to the planning department’s handling of the Javanon case and other zoning issues. Some have criticized the Inspections, Permits and Licenses department for overzealous enforcement and favoritism. But Schreck has worked for local government since 1974, and he’s always been professional and cordial with the media, except for not calling back earlier this month when I wanted to ask him about his retirement.

Mims must be smart, though he’ll face scrutiny and be tested early on by the Administration’s detractors, and whether he’ll still have a job after a new Mayor is elected is not guaranteed. It would be naturally expected that he’ll favor developers when disputes arise, based on his history, but let’s give him a chance before we start bashing him.

And even though the Administration was able to fill this important slot, don’t expect it to be easy as other Abramson appointees decide to leave.

Time to Crank This Thing Up Again

The Last of Hawpe: The final column from David Hawpe includes some reminiscing about Hayloft Hoedown, Iroquois High, the great Jim Ausenbaugh and fishing. 40 years’ worth of local knowledge. Happy retirement, David. [Hawpe]

Struck Out: Some responses to our late Friday news about that trip to Baltimore — first,  somebody ought to reimburse taxpayers for the five round-trip flights, and second, as to that Chad Carlton quote in the C-J, no one is placated, in any way, by the report. [Kaplan]

Let’s Just Say We’re Skeptical: On the heels of that embarrassment, David Tandy announced he’s running for Mayor — in church.  On a Sunday. WLKY and WAVE didn’t even do a story on it, and it didn’t make the C-J’s front page. [WHAS-TV]

Cutting Back on Morals: WHAS-TV’s local “Moral Side of the News” program is cutting back. The station says the early Sunday morning show, which features local clergy discussing issues (wonder what local moral issue they’ve been talking about?) wants to cut out its paid host  — ex-WHAS staffer Lawrence Smith — to save $5K a year.  It’s funded by the Crusade for Children. [Courier]

Flood Meeting: Metro Council members Dan Johnson and Judy Green are holding a press conference today.  They’re co-chairing a committee on the flood.

Pitino-Fatigue Sets In: More than once over the weekend, someone told me they were just tired of talking about Rick Pitino. Yet, the AP interviewed churchgoers, finding most want the coach to stay.  [AP]

A big week ahead. Stay with us.

Getting What’s Coming in a Good Way

We’ve been high-fiving the Lexington Herald-Leader for much of the past year on its investigative journalism, uncovering corruption and misuse of funds at the airport, library, the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties.

It’s been hilarious to see how far public officials thought they could go with taxpayer money — like meals at strip clubs and the like.

A national organization of newspaper editors agreed, awarding the Lexington paper its prestigious Public Service Award in competition with newspapers throughout the country. The Associated Press Managing Editors Association picked winners in New York last week.

Among the judges — the Courier-Journal’s retiring editorial director David Hawpe, a past president of the group.

We’re not expecting anything like that out of our own paper, but you never know. In fact, on his Culture Maven site, C.D. Kaplan is spending some time lamenting the demise of the Courier-Journal, evidenced in part by the loss of Hawpe. As the initial chorus of critics have died down, most folks are starting to acknowledge that Hawpe’s departure is just another sign of the paper’s dwindling resources.

I agree with Kaplan that it’s just another sign that there’s a lot less to the local newspaper these days. As he says, it’s not that the people doing the work are doing a poor job, it’s just that there aren’t as many of them.

And no one really knows what’s coming next.

Hilarious Notalgia Day at WAVE

Some of these video tributes to Tom Wills at WAVE have been downright funny.

Who knew that former Fox41 anchor Don Schroeder, who previously worked with Wills at WAVE,  was capable of such hilarity? Schroeder, who’s grown a full beard, taped his segment in front the White House, though he’s retired to Alabama. First time I’d ever seen him not wearing a tie. On the back of his t-shirt, the sign read “Will Read News for Food.”

Ex-meteorologist Craig Edwards, now in Nashville, chimed in along with country music personality Charlie Chase.

Then there was a live shot, on Skype, with former morning co-host Chris Parente, who appeared in pancake makeup with a towel on his head. Which was bizarro TV. Parente, now in Denver, recently won a vote to guest host the Regis and Kelly show next Wednesday. He asked Wills if he wanted to go on with him.

Wills is taking it all in stride, even the excessive alarm clock jokes.

Let’s hope WAVE has the sense to collect all the tributes and post them — might do some good for their Web traffic.

Hawpe Bashing to End at C-J

The regular criticisms of David Hawpe on the Courier-Journal editorial page are about to come to an end.

The paper announced today that Hawpe is retiring, effective August 14. That this was going to happen is, like Jim Bunning’s announcement yesterday, no surprise. It was just a matter of when.

Weeks ago, as Gannett was preparing to announce another round of layoffs, rumors that Hawpe, along with managing editor Ben Post, was going to retire were being reported everywhere. Hawpe answered our e-mail, saying that if and when he retired, it would be annonced in a newspaper column that he would write.

I guess that didn’t work out, but we can look forward to Hawpe’s final column in the second week of August. He’s been at the paper for 40 years, the last 13 as editorial director.

The paper says it will name a replacement at a later date, like, our guess is, never.