Not Surprising: Greg Fischer’s Professed Transparency Is A Myth & He’s Learned Exactly Zero Preservation Lessons

FLASHBACK: Remember Whiskey Row?


WHISKEY ROW — DON VISH — CLICK FOR ORIGINAL

That should have been a positive preservation lesson for Fischer. But… it’s happened again. And this time he acted with reckless abandon and secrecy.

By now you’re likely aware that the entire preservation community is in an angry froth over the demolition of a set of historic buildings on Third Street.

Morrisey Parking Garage/Bosler’s Fireproof Garage at 423 South Third Street was one of those buildings. It was constructed in 1919 and received landmark designation by the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Here’s what the 2004 book Louisville Guide had to say about it:

Bosler’s Fireproof Garage was one of the first parking structures in Louisville. Located in the heart of the Central Business District, it was heated and provided related services, such as cleaning and polishing. This Romanesque revival structure accentuates its utilitarian function. The massing of the façade provides architectural continuity with the buildings along Third Street and is symmetrical and divided into three bays. The central bay provides entry to the parking structure and is flanked at the first floor by two rectangular business storefronts, with three arched openings at the second floor. Several businesses, such as Goodrich Tires, Garage Equipment and Supply, a fruit market, bookstores, and a surgical supply store, have occupied the storefront. The structure has a basement, three levels of parking, and a spiral ramp that forms a cylindrical mass at the rear of the building.

Coincidentally (of course!) the very spot Omni wants to build a massive 30-story hotel.

It’s another interesting coincidence that right as Omni was ready for construction, it just happened to produce a study claiming the buildings needed to be torn down… the very next day.

It gets more scandalous. Or par for the course, since we’re talking about Greg Fischer.

Check out this email sent to Fischer and his communications team, which includes Margaret Brosko of Sadie’s Law infamy:

From: John Hildreth
Date: Friday, April 10, 2015 at 4:14 PM
To: greg.fischer@louisvilleky.gov
Cc: Virginia VLee@XXXXXXX-XX.com, Gretchen Milliken Gretchen.milliken@louisvilleky.gov, “Wiederwohl, Mary Ellen” MaryEllen.Wiederwohl@louisvilleky.gov, Ellen Hesen ellen.hesen@louisvilleky.gov, “Margaret.Brosko@louisvilleky.gov” , James Lindberg JLindberg@XXXXXXXXXXXXX.org
Subject: 3rd Street Buildings

Dear Mayor Fischer:

I am the Eastern Regional Vice President for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and during my 30 years in preservation have had the privilege of working with Metro Government and the preservationists of Louisville quite often.

I am writing to you with a simple request. Please allow us and others in Louisville time to perform a second engineering study of the Morrissey Garage and the Falls City Theater Company buildings prior to initiating demolition. We need approximately two weeks to identify and bring in an engineer with experience in the rehabilitation of historic buildings. We have the funding in place to perform the study, we simply need the time.

Our objective in performing this study is to ascertain, with more certainty, the possibility of rehabilitation for those structures and, just as importantly, to understand if the facades of the structures could be retained for incorporation into new design for the site.

We certainly are not asking you to risk the health and well being of your citizens and would call for the temporary fencing and, if needed, temporary closing of a traffic lane if merited. We are moving with utmost speed to arrange for this secondary review and ask for your cooperation.

As you are aware, the National Trust, through our National Treasure program, is investing a great deal of time and expertise in Louisville to help the community realize its revitalization potential. We stand behind the research which states that mixed-vintage blocks are vital to any thriving urban environment. A compromise that would retain the facades is not simply a preservation appeal but is based on the fact that incorporating old and new on a human scale is at its heart an urban design best practice. I know from firsthand experience here in Charleston, where I am based, that the design of the Omni Charleston Place was enhanced, and its contribution to downtown revitalization was realized, in part because they retained a block of historic building fronts in the plan.

I am glad to speak with you further about this through 4:30 EDT at my office phone or over the weekend on my cell. My contact information is contained below.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

John Hildreth

Eastern Regional Vice President for Field Services
National Trust for Historic Preservation

To say that there’s a disconnect between the preservation community and the Fischer Administration is an understatement. But Brosko and the rest on the communications team are making relations worse. By refusing to communicate, refusing to listen, being more cagey than normal.

Here’s a rough timeline of events:

  • Preservationists met with Omni architects and the city in January but no specific plans were discussed.
  • They toured the old Water Company block with the city on February 10
  • On March 11 they again met with Omni architects and the city. On that date the first schematic plan was presented and no buildings on Third Street were to be conserved or repurposed. The city said the first two buildings had to be demolished.
  • On March 13 preservationists wrote to Omni and its architects providing suggestions. Things like reusing the Morrisey building façade, salvaging details from the old theater building, repurposing the original central section of the water company complex. Copies were forwarded to the city but Omni and its architects chose to defer to the city.
  • On April 9 the city responded to suggests provided by preservationists… with an emergency demolition press release. No warning, no notice, gave no one any time to raise funds to save what could be saved. Then radio silence.

From just after 12:00 today:




POSSIBILITY CITY

Yep. Demolition started with the façade to guarantee there’d be no way to intervene. Because of course it did.

Sources close to Fischer tells us they believe Mary Ellen Wiederwohl (Fischer’s former deputy chief of staff and current head of Louisville Forward, Fischer’s community development program) promised the Omni Group there’d be no issue demolishing the buildings long before any of this came to light. The current PR disaster is how Fischer’s team handled it. We reached out to Wiederwohl for comment but she wouldn’t respond. Because that’s what you do when you’re a highly paid government employee with nothing to hide.

If Steve Poe can save the façade at the Aloft site, those buildings’ historic façades could have been saved.

So I asked one of the individuals responsible for saving and paying for Whiskey Row (I’m making the decision to withhold publication of their name because you know how Greg Fischer treats whistleblowers) a couple questions.

They told me that the façades could have 100% been saved, quickly and easily. They also believe key parts of the buildings themselves could have been saved.

When asked what kind of message they think it sends the city’s residents when Metro Government takes abrupt action like this without communicating and without allowing anyone to respond? Here’s their response: “DISTURBING.”

48% ($139 million, including tax rebates and $17 million for a parking garage) of the Omni project will be taxpayer funded, so preservationists and all people with half a brain are adamant that there should have been more public input and way more listening on the part of Fischer and his staff.

Forget the historic buildings and their façades. Ignore the reality that Fischer’s employees routinely fine people for unkept lawns and graffiti but can’t be bothered to protect properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Louisville ought to be outraged because Mr. Transparency is once again trying to pull the wool over its eyes.

Let the spin begin in 3, 2…

Name Changes & Buzzwords Are The Only Thing Greg Fischer Pushes. Other Than Official Coverups, Of Course.

Louisville’s emergency alert system has a new name. It will now be called LENS, which stands for Louisville Emergency Notification System. [WDRB]

A resident who lives near General Electric Appliance Park has filed a lawsuit claiming the company was negligent in storing flammable material in its warehouse. [C-J/AKN]

Community activists in west Louisville are reacting to two new murder cases that happened during the weekend. [WHAS11]

Democrats took little time Tuesday to blast U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential ambitions. [H-L]

Thunder Over Louisville officials on Tuesday announced the lineup for this year’s air show. [WLKY]

The lawmakers behind a recent congressional amendment protecting medical marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal strongly rebuked the Department of Justice for trying to continue to crack down on some medical marijuana businesses. [HuffPo]

This happened in your city yesterday. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul announced on his website Tuesday morning that he is running for president. [WAVE3]

State Rep. Sannie Overly, a Democrat, is fighting to keep what she knows about harassment and retaliation in Frankfort a secret. [Page One]

A new partnership between the Louisville Metro Housing Authority and the Coalition for the Homeless aims to help more homeless residents find permanent housing. [WFPL]

Will you be going to Governor Bigot Beshear’s Kentucky Derby celebration in Frankfart? [Click the Clicky]

Louisville-based Humana Inc. says it expects a funding increase of about 0.8 percent for its Medicare Advantage patients in 2016. The company had been expecting a decrease of 1.25 percent. [Business First]

The relationship between Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration and the police union appears to be strained. A police officer is under investigation for a Facebook post and questions have arisen regarding apparent attempts to cease pay for embattled officer Laura Schook. [News & Tribune]

Do You Want Greg Fischer To Raise Your Taxes?

Plans will move ahead to close the New Albany Pillsbury plant, despite efforts by the mayor and city council to keep the company — and its 400 jobs — from leaving the city, a union representative says. [WDRB]

Carolyn Miller Cooper, executive director of the city’s Human Relations Commission, struggled to sleep Monday night. [C-J/AKN]

On a chilly night in downtown Louisville rainbow colors warmed the night sky as the lights of the Big 4 Bridge officially turned on. [WHAS11]

Requesting help to avoid a “costly and time-consuming legal challenge,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is asking members of the Republican Party of Kentucky’s central committee to create a presidential caucus in 2016. [H-L]

A Louisville man is behind bars in connection with a string of home burglaries. [WLKY]

Of course Rand Paul is appearing in a crazy ass anti-gay documentary. The only thing that’s surprising is that it’s not a pro-Jim Crow documentary. [HuffPo]

Police say an inmate escaped from Metro Corrections after taking the place of another inmate at the office for the home incarceration program. [WAVE3]

Louis Brandeis was wrong. The lawyer and Supreme Court justice famously declared that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we have unquestioningly embraced that advice ever since. [ProPublica]

As an anti-smoking rally descended on the Capitol rotunda on Wednesday, a bill that would ban smoking in public places across Kentucky is still waiting to be heard on the state House floor. [WFPL]

If you missed it yesterday, a Circuit Court judge entered the most remarkable eff you Order of Recusal we’ve ever seen. And it was in the Joshua Powell case in Montgomery County! [Page One]

A new ranking of public universities was a mixed bag for the University of Louisville, which scored high in admissions and has shown growth in diversity, costs and advancement but is still struggling with prestige nationally. [Business First]

Television and radio stations were approved for each of Greater Clark County Schools’ high schools at Tuesday night’s board meeting, with funding to get figured out next month. [News & Tribune]

Do you really want to trust GREG FISCHER to raise your taxes? Of course you don’t. [Ronnie Ellis]

Fischer Continues Fight To Raise Your Taxes

Kentucky is trying to do more to protect victims of dating violence. [WDRB]

With mayoral and city council primaries less than three months away, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore will deliver his annual State of the City address Tuesday at a Jeffersonville Rotary Club luncheon. [C-J/AKN]

While George Junior went to Frankfort to beg for the right to raise your taxes, Rome continued to burn. [WHAS11]

A proposal to shore up the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System with the state’s largest-ever bond issue won approval Tuesday by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. [H-L]

Greg Fischer will officially illuminate the Big Four Bridge in a celebration planned for Wednesday evening. [WLKY]

The U.S. government is creating a new agency to monitor cybersecurity threats, pooling and analyzing information on a spectrum of risks, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

Surely no one actually drinks this Angel’s Envy stuff. [WAVE3]

The Supreme Court is reviewing lethal injection for the first time in seven years. [ProPublica]

Here’s your NO DUH moment of the year. Records shed little light on vetting of new University of Louisville executive from scandal-plagued school. [WFPL]

House Democrats plan to hear their own version of a bill to combat the rise in heroin usage in Kentucky but the bill’s primary sponsor says he’s highly confident any differences can be worked out with the Republican Senate which has already passed its own measure. [Ronnie Ellis]

This might be a case of ending up with more than you bargained for. Last year, Anheuser-Busch LLC, a Louisville-based distributor owned by multinational beverage giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, purchased Budweiser of Owensboro, a previously unaffiliated distributorship. [Business First]

Though Groundhog Day was Monday, some New Albany officials feel like they’ve been through this scenario before. [News & Tribune]

Ethics Aren’t A Thing Here In Possibility City

Another day, another pedestrian death in Possibility City. [WDRB]

Because of course they dropped the ethics charges. The Metropolitan Sewer District ethics charges that were shedding light on the inner workings of the agency were dropped Friday by the agency’s Audit Committee, clearing former chairman James Craig and current board member Lonnie Calvert. [C-J/AKN]

Joseph Cambron’s denial lasted more than five hours during an interrogation with police, claiming he had nothing to do with a 12-year-old boy’s murder the day before. It wasn’t until the end of that police interview on Oct. 1, 2014, that Cambron confessed, for the first time, to the crime. [WHAS11]

A highly invasive fish commonly called Asian carp is proliferating in the Ohio River at Louisville. Wildlife officials say they have a spawning area below the McAlpine Locks and Dam. [H-L]

Another day, another senseless murder in Possibility City. A man was shot and killed early Sunday morning in front of a Louisville home. [WLKY]

Voters in three key battlegrounds support tax hikes on the rich. [HuffPo]

Investments in downtown Louisville continue. Friday night, word that the historic Starks Building may be renovated to include a 200 room hotel and 100 rental apartments was posted on a company’s website. [WAVE3]

Wanna see an entitled school board member act like a WATB because WFPL didn’t bow at his feet? Here’s David Jones doing just that. Sure, Ryan could have put in more than five minutes of effort on the story but this sanctimonious bullshit from Jones takes the cake. It’s worse than that silly front page spread featuring he and his wife wherein they pretend to be champions of education with a reach-around from Greg Fischer. [Guilty Dog Barks First]

Steve Haag, a spokesman for the Louisville Metro Council Republican Caucus, said Republican council members question the language within the investigation’s findings. “They used the term ‘willingly’ and ’intentionally’ — but what they don’t use is the work knowingly,” he said. “Yes, maybe nobody wanted to hurt this dog, but did they know the dog was hurt?” [WFPL]

The homeless face many challenges, but one is basic: it’s difficult to get clean. Even if they go to a shelter, those shelters don’t usually have laundry services and may not even have a shower. [Think Progress]

The Ports of Indiana handled more than 10.4 million tons of cargo in 2014, and have set a record in annual shipments. [Business First]

Floyd County Clerk Christy Eurton was asked by the New Albany City Council when additional voting machines needed to be purchased for the city’s primary election in May. [News & Tribune]

PEE ALERT: PIU Says No Wrongdoing At LMAS

What, there’s someone out there who thought Greg Fischer’s Public Integrity Unit would find wrongdoing at Louisville Metro Animal Services?

Here’s a joint statement from Cindi Fowler and Kelly Downard:

We welcome the opportunity to review the findings of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office as well as the Public Integrity Unit. The Metro Animal Services Ad Hoc Committee began its work last September in hopes of resolving a number of questions that arose out of reports following the death of an animal under the control of Metro Animal Services. The Metro Council worked hard last year to compile our report and we look forward to reading the work of two other bodies to get answers to some of the questions that we weren’t allowed to investigate.

Because this body has not had the opportunity to read this document prior to its release to the press by the Mayor’s Office, we will not be able to make any comments regarding its content. As co-chairs for the Animal Services Committee we look forward to beginning to close out our work on this matter by calling those persons who were kept from speaking to the committee last fall and following up on any items uncovered within the PIU report.

We already know that Metro Council found wrongdoing. So much wrongdoing that it chastised the mayor and his henchwoman, Sadiqa Reynolds. It went so far as to create a whistleblower protection ordinance in honor of our investigative reporting.

So the PIU finding nothing?

HAHAHA!

Pass the popcorn and put on your goggles.

FLASHBACK:

There you go. Read all about what the Metro Council discovered and reported.

Then read all about the entire council voting in unison to stick it to Greg Fischer and his team.

Remember it all as you hear about Fischer’s own people saying they found no wrongdoing. And know in your heart, your mind, your gut that he’s flat-out lying.

It’s some serious bullshit.

Let’s Hope For A Scandal-Free Friday, Folks

New body cameras have arrived in Jeffersonville and officials hope they will protect both police and the public. [WDRB]

Now’s your chance to tell JCPS exactly what you think. We’re linking to this old story because that front-page hype about David Jones and his wife was insane. [C-J/AKN]

While Kentucky legislators debate ways to fight the deadly spread of heroin abuse, a new poll indicates that problems with the drug continue to grow worse, particularly in the state’s metropolitan areas. [WHAS11]

The Legislative Research Commission must turn over all sexual harassment complaints involving lawmakers and staffers filed within the past five years, plus an investigative report about allegations against former state Rep. John Arnold, a judge ruled Wednesday. [H-L]

A 14-year-old special needs boy has a brand-new three-wheel bike, after his was stolen in Okolona. [WLKY]

Rand Paul on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter. [HuffPo]

A Franklin County judge on Wednesday agreed to add House Majority Whip Johnny Bell as a defendant in an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a legislative staffer. [WAVE3]

President Barack Obama’s pledge to reform the way U.S. spy agencies access vast amounts of metadata on Americans’ telephone calls is facing increasing obstacles, U.S. officials said on Tuesday. [Reuters]

Wiltshire Pantry Bakery and Cafe on Barret Avenue will likely lose a few regulars this fall. About 300 city employees currently working at the Urban Government Center on Barret Avenue will relocate to the Edison Center on Seventh Street in Old Louisville. [WFPL]

The low-level radioactive waste disposal site Maxey Flats near Hillsboro is prepared to enter its final capping construction, which will be performed by Montgomery County’s Walker Co. [Ashland Independent]

Shares of Louisville-based Humana Inc. are up about 1.23 percent this afternoon, to $150 per share. That’s after the company reported higher fourth quarter revenues and profits compared to a year ago. [Business First]

It was a Louisville judge who finally made Jerry Westmoreland sober for good. Westmoreland had spent days in jail suffering from delirium tremens — better known as the DTs — when the judge sent him out of Louisville instead of back into Central State Mental Hospital. [News & Tribune]