Read the Weekly District 9 eNews Thursday, Dec 7 2017 

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Councilmembers Hollander, Hamilton and Sexton Smith have issued the following statement on the Metro Council Court Vote Thursday, Nov 2 2017 

November 2, 2017

Councilmembers Bill Hollander (D-9), Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5), and Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4) have issued the following statement concerning their votes in the Metro Council Court on Wednesday night:

“We have been very concerned by Councilman Johnson’s misconduct. When the allegations against him were first reported to Democratic Caucus leadership, the Caucus initiated a fair, thorough investigation and ultimately censured Councilman Johnson and expelled him from the Caucus for his actions.  

However, in part because of recent changes by the General Assembly in Frankfort, the removal process at the full Council level is much more difficult. For example, because of changes hastily made in Frankfort this year, there were three plausible interpretations of how many votes it would take to remove.

The County Attorney advised the Council Court that any vote to remove Councilman Johnson would be appealed, and that case law weighed toward an injunction allowing Councilman Johnson to continue to serve as a Councilmember during the pendency of the appeal.  We were advised that a judge would likely not prohibit Councilman Johnson from serving while the appeal was in process. 

Given the likelihood that extensive litigation would follow, a vote to remove Councilman Johnson would have likely allowed him to serve through the end of his term without any restrictions on his activities in City Hall and interactions with Councilmembers and staff.

To ensure that his misconduct could never be repeated, we supported an order that harshly censured Councilman Johnson for his past misconduct and imposed strict limits on his ability to visit City Hall or participate in external activities to prevent future misconduct. The order amounted to an admission of guilt and outlined a policy of zero tolerance for future infractions, any violation of which will lead to immediate removal with no right to appeal, terms which could not have been imposed in a removal under appeal.

Reasonable people can disagree about this resolution, but we are confident that this order was the best solution to send a strong signal that misconduct will not be tolerated, while setting up stringent restrictions on Councilman Johnson’s future behavior.”

Last Week at Council Thursday, Nov 2 2017 

Metro Council’s meeting last week lasted for nearly six hours and included several items many of you have communicated with me about.  I always appreciate hearing from constituents (and welcome more comments on these subjects if you have them).  In the meantime, I wanted to briefly tell you how I voted and why.

Soccer District

After careful review, I voted for the soccer district plan.  We don’t have many opportunities to clean up a brownfield and have much of our investment paid for through revenues from the project.  I am also convinced that, unlike previous arrangements, including the YUM Center, Metro’s liability is appropriately limited in this case.  At one of the committee meetings on the project, I urged the soccer team owners to sit down with community partners and discuss wages and other community benefits.  Those discussions led to a wage floor of at least $10 for everyone working at the stadium and a partnership with the Louisville Urban League to help with project workforce development from disadvantaged areas.

Immigration Ordinance

I voted for and sponsored an ordinance which makes clear that Louisville will leave civil immigration enforcement to the federal government and use our police officers and resources  to concentrate on crime in our communities.  I followed the lead of police chiefs throughout the United States who believe that their jurisdictions are safer if everyone – including our undocumented population – is encouraged to report and work with the police on crime in their communities.   Despite some opponents’ efforts to mislead, the law does not give anyone “sanctuary status” or limit the ability of federal authorities to do their job.

Affordable Housing

I was very disappointed when a bare majority of the Council reversed a unanimous decision of the Planning Commission and voted against a rezoning for affordable senior apartments near Prospect.   We have a severe shortage of affordable housing in Louisville and especially in east Louisville.  As housing advocate Cathy Hinko noted this week,  “Zoning is not supposed to be about people, but they made it that way.”   When you hear repeated references to “these people” when expressing opposition to an affordable housing plan, it’s not hard to conclude that the opposition is not about a building but the people who would live there.  It’s the most disappointing vote in my three years on Metro Council.  Louisville deserves better.  I’ll keep working for a day when everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to live, everywhere in Louisville.

Reduction in LG&E Monthly Basic Service Charge Increases A Win for Low-Income Individuals and Energy Conservation Wednesday, Apr 19 2017 

Earlier this year, when LG&E requested significant gas and electric rate increases – including an enormous increase in monthly basic service charges – Metro Council urged Louisville Metro to intervene in the case.   I introduced a resolution urging intervention, which noted that “increased fixed charges sought by LG&E have the potential to undermine energy efficiency and disproportionately impact low-income Louisville Metro residents”.  The resolution attracted multiple co-sponsors and was ultimately passed 20-0.  Louisville Metro intervened in the case.

Yesterday’s announcement of a proposed settlement in the case is a significant improvement from LG&E’s request. The overall increase is substantially reduced and the monthly basic service charge increases are slashed.  Under the proposed settlement agreement, LG&E agreed to a basic service charge increase of less than $4.00 per month next year, as opposed to the requested increase of almost $22.00 per month.

Louisville Metro should be at the table whenever a utility seeks an increase in its charges to our residents.  That’s particularly important when a utility is proposing an increase in monthly basic service charges that disproportionately affects low income individuals and reduces incentives for energy conservation.

The agreement is subject to approval by the Public Service Commission. The PSC is scheduled to consider the case on May 9.

Sustainability Story: Public Tree Ordinance Thursday, Dec 8 2016 

trees

I am proud to be the co-sponsor of a Public Tree Ordinance, which was filed on Monday, December 5.  Councilwoman Cheri Bryant-Hamilton is the other co-sponsor.  Adoption of such an ordinance was the very first of 41 recommendations in the 2015 Louisville Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. It was also recommended by the Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Commission, after a lengthy review of ordinances in dozens of other cities, including several in Kentucky.

We have seen a significant loss in tree canopy in Louisville Metro and this ordinance will help focus attention on the issue, protect the trees we have and reduce the possibility of more losses. It recognizes that trees are important to quality of life and to our health.

The proposed ordinance covers “public trees”, which includes trees located on Metro Government owned or controlled land or in public right-of-way areas, except for parks and parkways under the jurisdiction of Louisville Metro Parks.

It consolidates Louisville’s tree efforts into the Metro Division of Community Forestry, to provide oversight and comprehensive coordination for tree and forestation issues.  Among other things, the Division will create a management plan to outline goals and concerns regarding trees, tree canopy and forestation.

A new Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Committee — appointed by the Mayor and approved by Metro Council — would assist in those efforts.

The ordinance also establishes policies and standards for public trees, clarifying and replacing the provisions of several existing ordinances.  For example, the ordinance includes a common sense provision that new trees that grow to a height of more than 25 feet not be planted within 15 feet of an overheard utility line.  Currently required tree removal permits would be conditioned on replacement of the public tree, unless a waiver is granted. The ordinance would also create a Community Forestry Escrow Fund, which would establish and maintain a landowner assistance program, intended to help defray the cost of mandated tree removal or replanting on behalf of low income property owners.  The fund would receive all monetary penalties related to trees and could also accept donations from the public.

Property owners could voluntarily protect historic and specimen trees on private property.  The only other provision which affects trees on private property deals with trees that are a public nuisance or a threat of the spread of disease or infestation to other trees, provisions which are also part of the current law.

The ordinance is just part of the effort to increase Louisville Metro’s tree canopy.  Metro Council has recently made changes in the Land Development Code which protect trees in proposed Conservation Subdivisions.  Other changes in the Land Development Code are under consideration, including as part of the adoption of a new Comprehensive Plan.

The full ordinance is here. It will be assigned to a Metro Council committee and be considered early next year.  In the meantime, let us know what you think at Bill Hollander.

(Two Courier-Journal articles about the proposed ordinance are here and here.)

We’d like to feature your sustainability story – a resident or business doing good things for the environment.  Riding the bus, bicycling, walking, gardening and more – our eNews will feature practices which can benefit all of us.  Send your story to Bill Hollander or Kyle Ethridge.

Council Members Hollander and Hamilton introduce tree ordinance for consideration Monday, Dec 5 2016 

Metro Councilmembers Bill Hollander (D-9) and Cheri Bryant-Hamilton (D-5) announced today that they have introduced an ordinance relating to Louisville Metro trees. 

Adoption of such an ordinance was the very first of 41 recommendations in the 2015 Louisville Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. It was also recommended by the Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Commission, after a lengthy review of ordinances in dozens of other cities, including several in Kentucky. 

“We have seen a significant loss in tree canopy in Louisville Metro and this ordinance will help focus attention on the issue, protect the trees we have and reduce the possibility of more losses,” Councilman Hollander said. “It recognizes that trees are important to quality of life and to our health”. 

“Our community needs more trees, desperately.  Studies have shown that it makes a difference and it will reduce the temperature in the City,” said Councilwoman Hamilton.  “We need to do a better job of getting people to connect the dots between our environment and our health and this ordinance will help.”

The proposed ordinance covers “public trees”, which includes trees located on Metro Government owned or controlled land or in public right-of-way areas, except for parks and parkways under the jurisdiction of Louisville Metro Parks.  

It consolidates Louisville’s tree efforts into the Metro Division of Community Forestry, to provide oversight and comprehensive coordination for tree and forestation issues.  Among other things, the Division will create a management plan to outline goals and concerns regarding trees, tree canopy and forestation. 

A new Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Committee — appointed by the Mayor and approved by Metro Council — would assist in those efforts. 

The ordinance also establishes policies and standards for public trees, clarifying and replacing the provisions of several existing ordinances.  For example, the ordinance includes a common sense provision that new trees that grow to a height of more than 25 feet not be planted within 15 feet of an overheard utility line.  Currently required tree removal permits would be conditioned on replacement of the public tree, unless a waiver is granted. 

“A healthy tree canopy contributes mightily to a healthy community, improving air and water quality, reducing the urban heat island effect, and providing a more pleasant place to live, work, learn, and play,” Cindi Sullivan, Executive Director of the non-profit TreesLouisville, said. “To improve our community tree canopy, we must protect our existing trees and plant new trees.”  

The ordinance would also create a Community Forestry Escrow Fund, which would establish and maintain a landowner assistance program, intended to help defray the cost of mandated tree removal or remedial action on behalf of indigent property owners.  The fund would receive all monetary penalties related to trees and could also accept donations from the public. 

Property owners could voluntarily protect historic and specimen trees on private property.  The only other provision which affects trees on private property deals with trees that are a public nuisance or a threat of the spread of disease or infestation to other trees. 

Hollander noted that the ordinance is just part of the effort to increase Louisville Metro’s tree canopy.  Metro Council has recently made changes in the Land Development Code which protect trees in proposed Conservation Subdivisions.  Other changes in the Land Development Code are under consideration, including as part of the adoption of a new Comprehensive Plan. 

The ordinance will be assigned to a Metro Council committee and be considered early next year.

Mid-Year Budget Adjustment Thursday, Feb 25 2016 

Many constituents have contacted me to express support for a Louisville Metro appropriation to assist in the expansion of the St. Matthews Eline Library.  The library has the highest circulation in the Louisville Free Public Library system, in a very small space.  Constituents have told me the library is “sorely in need of expansion and improvement”, is “overcrowded all the time” and is “out of book space, parking and everything needed to help make this a functional… part of our community.”

Fortunately, the City of St. Matthews, which supplies the space for the library without charge to the library system, has proposed a substantial expansion, at an expense of at least $3 Million in City of St. Matthews funds, contingent on an appropriation of $1 Million by Louisville Metro.  I fully support that request as part of the mid-year budget adjustment.  I also support providing money to The Healing Place and Volunteers of America to help deal with the heroin epidemic in our community, as well as other items.  While a very substantial part of the mid-year adjustment should be reserved for repaving roads, we cannot ignore other critical needs and opportunities.

We always appreciate hearing from constituents and thank you for your many comments over the last few weeks as Metro Council considers the mid-year adjustment.

Council Elects New Leaders Saturday, Jan 16 2016 

2016 Caucus Leadership

Metro Council’s 2016 organizational meetings were last week.  I was honored when my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus selected me to be Majority Leader and Caucus Chair for 2016.  I look forward to working with them, the other members of the Council and new President, David Yates, to move Louisville forward!

Councilman Bill Hollander Praises Marriage Equality Ruling And Calls for Statewide Fairness Law Friday, Jun 26 2015 

Four District 9 citizens were plaintiffs in the cases that led to today’s Supreme Court decision that all states must issue licenses for and recognize marriages between same-sex couples.   Michael DeLeon and Greg Bourke were fighting for the right to have their marriage recognized in their home state of Kentucky, while Tim Love and Larry Ysunza were fighting  for the right to marry here.  I am so proud of their role in this historic decision and happy for our country that marriage equality is the law of the land.

While celebrating today’s decision, we must remember that it is not the end of the struggle for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  While LGBT discrimination has been illegal in Louisville since 1999 and eight Kentucky cities now have similar laws,  there remains no statewide protection for this community.  I will continue to work with the Fairness Campaign, which is based in District 9, and the Fairness Coalition to advocate for enactment of a law protecting LGBT people wherever they are in Kentucky, as soon as possible.  It’s time.

Bill

Serve on a Board or Commission Saturday, Jan 10 2015 

Serving on a board or commission is a great way to utilize your talents. We hope you will consider volunteering your time with us and encourage you to browse the openings regularly for opportunities that would best utilize your experience and knowledge. We have approximately 100 boards and commissions with many areas of interest, including business and economic development, land planning, parks and recreation, public health and public safety. It is important that these boards have adequate representation from all areas of town, including District 9, as they are responsible for evaluating many important decisions that impact our city and its citizens.

Please click here for more information. Be sure to alert the District 9 office once you have applied. Thank you for your interest!