Big Business’ Favorite

Richard Nixon is quoted as having said “Businessmen aren’t worth a (tinker’s dam).” (His reference was fecal.) I have higher regard for business people, but the business community should not run the larger community, nor should they buy leadership’s actions, policies or ear. That the Courier Journal * identified Fischer as the favored recipient of SCALA membership contributions is not shocking, or even surprising, but it is worthy news. Fischer’s reticence to take a firm stand against coal and natural gas as they gut the solar industry, his reticence to oppose the destruction of farm, field and forest by speculators, and his refusal to embrace the redesign of urban transportation clearly illustrate big business’ influence on his policies. We must get big money out of politics. There is no “Contribute” button on our website. Our campaign is banking on the public support of our values, our policies, and our vision. We are not banking on the size of our political war chest. We are counting on individuals telling others of our campaign. We are also counting on media to focus on policy, vision and values. Of late there have been several media reports that suggest we will see more of that focus. Thank you, media.
* https:/

Fischer, the Dalai Lama and PR

DalaiLama So Fischer is off on a ten day excursion to India to visit the Dalai Lama. Wonder what His Holiness would think of Fischer’s hosting Thunder’s manifestation of massive military might?… Louisville’s murder rate?… Metro’s tearing down homeless camps before establishing an officially sanctioned camp area for the homeless?… Louisville’s race based poverty, substandard housing and below average education?… the hosting of a gun and knife show at the convention center?  And what of Fischer’s statement: “Our focus on compassion is something that resonates worldwide and is so relevant in today’s world. And I always welcome the chance to tell our city’s story to potential investors and business interests.”  Compassion and investment, all in one breath.
Louisville would be better served for the next ten days by his picking up litter off west end streets rather than his chasing a big carbon footprint photo-op.

SCALA, Transit, Affordable Housing, LOST

Now that SCALA (Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda) is less secretive and more inclusive, SCALA should, as Nashville has, focus on the cornerstone of a healthy city – transportation and land use. Nashville is planning to invest $5.2 billion in their city. The plan, ‘Let’s Move Nashville’, includes “26 miles of light rail across four new lines, four rapid bus lines, expanded bus service for existing routes, a major downtown tunneling project, and some two dozen transit centers across the city.”

What is Nashville doing differently that enables their progress? To begin with, Mayor Megan Barry, rather than lobby the state for an open ended LOST (Local Option Sales Tax), lobbied the state for, and won, an act that “granted municipal authorities the power to introduce surcharges—by referendum vote—on the local sales tax rate, exclusively for the purpose of funding transit.” The key word, the difference between her success and Fischer’s failure, is ‘exclusively’. Mayor Megan Barry sought a local sale tax for public transit only. This was not Fischer’s local option sales tax for ‘whatever’. Armed with that state-granted tool, “’Let’s Move Nashville’ goes up for a referendum vote in May 2018.”

Nashville also leveraged their plan by having “one-third of any TIF funds for transit-oriented development … go toward building affordable housing” in an effort to “to build out transit corridors equitably.”

Transportation and land use. The cornerstone of a city.

? “Put ’em in a museum!” ?

Some of our monuments (and street names, and regional city and county names) reflect past evils, evils that we must own. How do we as a community acknowledge the evil? “Put ’em in a museum” has been a much heard suggestion for the offending Castleman monument (and others). Before embracing this concept as a reasonable solution, we need to ask a few questions.
Will housing offending monuments in a museum or a cemetery be less offensive than housing a monument on the grounds of the library?
Did removing the monument to dead Confederate soldiers appease the offended?
Will removing Castleman appease?
Will removing George Prentice?
Assuming that many monuments will need to be moved, how big will this museum need to be?
Who will build it?
Who will finance it?
Will public funds be used to move, house and maintain the offending monuments?
How acceptable to the offended will using public funds be?
Who will maintain it?
Where will it be located?
Will the monuments still offend?
Will they continue to be vandalized?
Who wants the liability of housing the offending monuments?
These monuments are not safe from vandals, not in a museum, not in a cemetery, in a library, in a public park or in a traffic circle. They are safest in context. Put them in context with plaques that redefine the monuments.  It might be appropriate to put them in context by leaving the vandal’s paint on the monument. Having the community draft the redefining text of new plaques should be healing. If nothing else, it will unmask the extremes.  

Monumental Distraction

20180207_091935-980x735Republished from 25 September 2017

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” William Shakespeare

While I can “take a knee” in a statement of solidarity opposing injustice, I cannot see the vandalism and removal of monuments as other than a needless, divisive distraction. Louisville has hungry children, violent streets, degraded neighborhoods, insufficient housing, declining public health, polluted creeks, weak public transit, and under-trained/educated labor. This divisive distraction ameliorates none of these problems. We have important work to do. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted and divided. We cannot let the intentions of racists, now dead for fifty to one hundred years, dominate the present. The devisiveness of this monumental dispute fractures our community, and the vandalism of monuments invites retaliation. Imagine the escalation of tension should racists vandalize Freedom Park, defiling the work of Charles Parrish, Blaine Hudson, and many more. Freedom Park was purposely located across the street from the Confederate monument to put into context our ugly history. Blaine Hudson, in his 2002 press statement referenced the totality of our history: “What we hope to do with Freedom Park is to put all the historical information on the table and develop an interpretation that reflects as accurately as possible the totality of the Civil War…”. We have diminished the power of Freedom Park by removing the Confederate monument. (And then there is the question of our imposing a monument of our ugly history upon the black community of  Brandenburg KY. Can’t imagine they appreciated our ‘gift’.)

We must not forget slavery, the Civil War, the KKK, and the institutional and personal racism of yesterday and today. We need the reminder of monuments that are found all over the United States, north and south, placed by unionist and confederate sympathizers. Even as the Jewish community invested heavily in preserving and re-interpreting Auschwitz, Bełżec, Birkenau, Treblinka, and other symbols of brutality, so too must we re-interpret symbols of our history.

Our history is our shared story. That remembered story should unite us to move forward undivided, undistracted, to do the hard work of addressing together oppression, injustice, hunger, violence, neighborhoods, housing, and health; creating a cleaner, greener, more just Louisville; creating a better tomorrow for all. Let’s not be distracted from the work of re-creating Louisville.

And William Shakespeare? “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Castleman, Clark, Jefferson, Prentice, Washington and many others should be remembered both for their good and their ill deeds.

An unspoken truth is that it is impossible to be raised in the USofA, no matter what the color of our skin, and not be to some degree racist. So let he who is without fault cast the first stone. We are all racists. The sooner we all embrace that truth, the sooner we embrace one another. Rather than cast stones, we need to build a house undivided. We have work to do. Let’s get back to work, hand in hand.

Remember Boston’s Big Dig?

Over the past 10 years, MSD has invested more than $400 million toward achieving compliance with a federal Consent Decree. Now MSD has begun spending another $200 million on a tunnel under downtown, the Ohio River and Butchertown to store sewage-displacing rainwater, water that should be soaked up by pervious surfaces, never reaching the sewers. We should have spent those sums on a public transit system that would displace our over-use of cars. We could then redevelop the resulting under-used surface parking lots into parks and structures that could capture the excess rain.

Fischer – secret SCALA member

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”  Patrick Henry

Greg Fischer should not, as mayor, also be a member of any group that meets “in private for nearly a year without any public notice of its existence, without any public meetings and without any public input” to determine the direction of Louisville. The Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda (SCALA) is wrong on several levels. SCALA’s membership is nowhere near representative of the population of Louisville. The membership was a guarded secret until pressed by media to divulge.  SCALA membership excludes JCPS personnel, while inviting the state to take over JCPS and while promoting privatization of our public schools. SCALA consorts with the Bellwether group pushing for-profit education at the expense of traditional public schools. SCALA did not invite the participation of University of Louisville interim President Greg Postel, Jefferson Community and Technical College President Ty Handy or Jefferson County Public Education Foundation Executive Director Sam Corbett, yet did invite private school leadership. The membership was willing to allow Walmart to violate community standards. SCALA’s  focus on non-stop flights should be directed to getting passenger rail service to Louisville. SCALA’s relationship with the state should revolve around the decades old fact that Louisville gets back $0.50 on every $1.00 we send to Frankfort, and that $0.50 comes back to us with strings attached.