A Wake-up Call for Metro Priorities

When the going gets tough, the weak get sent packing. Or so it would seem from the Metro Council’s list of local government functions that aren’t “Mission Critical.”

When citizens really look at what their tax dollars are paying for, they might share the sentiment of Metro Council members who responded to a survey by saying there are certain areas we could really do without and still keep the government running. The list below ranks city functions by priorities — it doesn’t mean that swimming pools are closing, and these are simply suggestions for the Mayor when it inevitably comes time to cut items from the city budget.

Essentially, they’re saying this —  If push comes to shove, swimming pools and Brightside and GLI and the Louisville Science Center are not vital to the city’s future. Here’s the text of a memo sent by Jim King to the Mayor, outlining areas that could be targeted for future cuts.

In cooperation with David Tandy, Councilman Downard and I prepared a listing of 44 agencies/functions within Metro Louisville and asked all Council Members if they believed the function to be Mission Critical (a critical function of City Government).  Additionally, we asked them to rank the 44 agencies/functions in priority order.  We received 19 out of 26 surveys and averaged the results.  After analyzing the information, we believe this reflects the will of the Council for the FY10 general fund appropriation priorities.

The following functional areas/departments did not receive consensus (2/3) support as being mission critical to the role of Metro Louisville and we therefore believe they should be considered for budget cuts:

  • Swimming Pools
  • International Affairs
  • Downtown Development Corporation (DDC)
  • Brightside
  • Housing Trust Fund
  • Criminal Justice Commission
  • Waterfront Development
  • Park Land Acquisition
  • Neighborhoods
  • Human Relations Commission
  • Greater Louisville Inc. Contract
  • Parking Authority of River City
  • Quality Community Charity Trust (QCCT)
  • Youth Development
  • Louisville Science Center
  • Community Centers

Feds Closing In, And Other news

Public Divorce Part I: A Family Court judge has sealed the divorce court records for Tim and Karen Sypher. That’s just one of the aspects of the story dominating local news. The C-J came up with a new, less-glamorous photo of Karen. We’re expecting the next piece of bad news to be that the FBI will be charging Mrs. Sypher with a crime. [Courier]

Public Divorce Part II: Back on March 26, JCPS superintendent Sheldon Berman filed for divorce from his wife of 18 years. They’ve got three sons (17, 15, 11) and he said he hopes to keep it quiet and private. We agree. [Courier]

Still Something There: Police have arrested two of the white males involved in that early-morning attack near a U of L dorm, charging them with minor counts of robbery and assault. One involved stealing a cell phone. An African-American coed is facing an assault charge. The school continues to investigate the incident. [WLKY-TV]

Karmic Payback: Check out the Herald-Leader story on Louisville’s Green Building, including our first glance at the “karmic payback” phrase coined by Gill Holland. [H-L]

Check the Promo: I heard a WLKY promo today touting its ratings leadership, explaining it had the top-rated morning newscast. Technically, that’s true. The station’s Sunday morning news was the single highest-rated morning program in the market, though WHAS-TV is the weekday leader.

A Little Off: It’s been a few years since we’ve gone to the They’re Off Luncheon, so we were suprised to learn that the big event kicking off the Derby Festival, held last Friday, no longer includes a Mint Julep with every ticket. Really.

Happy Ending?: Thanks to Dick Irby for continuing to follow the ongoing saga of that Javanon soccer building that went up illegally. Today the zoning board had to decide whether or not to order it torn down because its construction violated regulations. The building stays, but the club has to abide by 17 new restrictions. [Fox41]

Fingers Walk Online: Today’s sign of the disappearance of print — the Public Service Commission said it was OK for Cincinnati Bell to discontinue printing phone books for the majority of its customers. They’ll have to go online like everybody else. [press release, PSC]

NCAA Workshop With Coach K Saturday

Are you a student or parent of a student athlete? Are they anticipating a college scholarship based on athletics? Then listen up.

Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be a Division 1 star player in college. But that’s no reason to give up on academic basics and no reason to let athletic talent go to waste. Learn what it takes to get into great state schools like Morehead State and Kentucky State and just how valuable your skills are.

Prep kids for college so they can be the new driving force of our community.

Join University of Louisville Coach Steve Kragthorpe and Denise Bentley this Saturday from 10:00 A.M. til 2:00 P.M. for a workshop. It’s at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in the Brown & Williamson Club. The cost is $3.00 (NCAA requirements that the event not be free, as these kids are potential NCAA athletes) and there will be pizza and soda. So far over 500 people have expressed interest.

Note: After the event, the football facilities will be opened for a tour. We expect Tom Jurich to make a brief appearance, as well.

You’ll learn how to get into college, how to utilize skills you possess and what you can do today to put things into motion.

Taking 5 physical education classes your senior year just so you can meet basic requirements isn’t enough. It’s time to buck up and take charge of your life. This is a good way to get a jump start.

Jail Time for ex-Dixie Principal

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar. A public official with the opportunity to take financial advantage of the government gets friends and relatives involved in a scheme to spread the cash around so everybody got a piece.

No, we’re not talking about the Louisville Metro Housing fiasco. A lengthy investigation in the Jefferson County Public Schools is about over, and the bad guy is going to jail. Adrian Sanford was the principal at Dixie Elementary, and was accused of a variety of crimes involving school finances.  He paid relatives for work they didn’t do and was responsible for the disappearance of $69,000.

It’s nice to see that justice is being served. Sanford was sentenced to five years in prison today. He wants the court to give him shock probation, but Judge Martin McDonald says nothing doing on that. Not until Sanford comes up with a way to pay back all the money that’s missing.

Back in September, Sanford resigned (citing health reasons, ha!) just before the ax was set to fall. He’s hoping that testifying against his former bookkeeper will help his case. Not gonna happen. Here’s the judge’s quote from the C-J:

“This case is disturbing because of the abuse of public trust and the example this man has made in the community. If he wants to be a role model for somebody, he can explain to them what it’s like to be in the penitentiary for stealing from the public … stealing from the children in this community.”

It’s hard to figure why Sanford got involved in the scheme. He had been principal at Dixie since 2002 and a JCPS employee for 18 years.

Good Guys Do Bad Things and Should Be Punished

This morning, the C-J editorial board is calling for action from JCPS superintendent Sheldon Berman, who should have fired both PRP football coach David Stinson and principal David Johnson long ago.

We didn’t learn until Johnson’s deposition was released yesterday the extent of his incompetence in the matter. Loyalty to a wrongfully-charged employee is one thing, but participating in protecting him is quite another.

It’s also now clear from Johnson’s statements that rather than investigating and considering the possibility that Stinson may have done something wrong at the Aug. 20 practice, he took action to prevent negative comments about Stinson from other investigators.

From the C-J editorial, we learn that Johnson told a PRP resident that Stinson was hired because of “his strong Christian beliefs.” And that Johnson kept no records, no notes, destroyed incriminating e-mails and lied about the depth of his investigation.

A few weeks back, every local TV station covered the heart-wrenching protests organized by school supporters and church groups. The polishing of Stinson’s image included many references to his faith and how much everyone liked him. The idea seemed to be to present him to the public as some kind of sympathetic figure wrongly accused. Hundreds flocked to the protests and joined online support groups.

He may be a decent guy, but he also may have run Max Gilpin to his grave.

Johnson won’t get the same treatment, and he’s not charged with a crime. Probably a great guy, too. But let’s not forget that he’s got his own troubles, and that when good guys make bad decisions it should cost them their jobs.