Metro Council Could Mandate Drug And Alcohol Testing After Police Use Force Tuesday, Jun 23 2020 

Louisville officials may mandate that police officers be tested for drugs and alcohol soon after shooting or using force.

Metro Council members Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4) and president David James (D-6) filed an ordinance late last week that proposes requiring the testing “as soon as practicable after the critical incident.”

Sexton Smith said she was “shocked” to learn the Louisville Metro Police Department may not have mandatory drug and alcohol testing after such events. She said the such testing could aid investigations.

“It would be one more piece of important information in the investigation that would either clear someone, had they been accused of that, or it would bring evidence to bear that may have had some role in the incident,” she said.

This legislation follows the unanimous passage of a ban on no-knock warrants in Louisville earlier this month. Both are inspired by the police killing in March of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, in her home.

Sexton Smith said she did not know if such testing was performed on any of the police who were involved in the raid on Taylor’s home: Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove.

City officials on Tuesday announced that Hankison has been fired, after first announcing their intention to fire him last week. He still has the right to appeal based on the police union contract. Protesters in Louisville and supporters across the country continue to demand that all three be fired and charged.

The department’s standard operating procedures allow for testing if “reasonable suspicion exists to indicate that a member’s health or ability to perform work may be impaired.” While that document calls for testing “as soon as possible,” the ordinance proposes a more firm deadline: “as soon as practicable after the critical incident, but no later than the end of the
involved officer’s shift and before any interviews are conducted regarding the incident,”

LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay confirmed that drug and alcohol testing is not currently mandated after critical incidents, which the ordinance defines as the use of deadly force by an officer or “an action taken in the line of duty by a sworn Louisville Metro Police Department officer which results in, or potentially could have resulted in, the death or serious physical injury to the sworn officer or any other person.”

“We are reviewing the language of the ordinance to see what, if any, recommendations we may have on the language,” Halladay said in an email.

Halladay declined to comment on the Taylor case specifically, saying it is ongoing.

The proposed ordinance was not a response to any specific incident beyond the larger context of the Taylor shooting, Sexton Smith said. Instead, she called it a “common sense” measure. In any industry, there are people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction who may need help, she said.

Sexton Smith said she expected the ordinance to go through the regular process of being read into the record, heard in committee, then moved to the full Metro Council for a vote.

“I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to support this,” she said. “What is one reasonable justification for not supporting this?”

After the council votes on the city’s budget on Thursday, the body will recess until July 16.

Philanthropist tests positive for the coronavirus after attending a Speed Art Museum fundraiser Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

A Louisville philanthropist has tested positive for COVID-19 March 13 after attending a Speed Art Museum fundraiser, and possibly came into contact with several Kentucky politicians and the University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi.

The philanthropist, who has been identified as Christy Brown, started experiencing symptoms March 8, the day after she attended the Speed Ball.

The symptoms were not those typically associated with COVID-19, so she was not tested until March 12. She is currently reported to be in stable condition and in self-isolation. Brown is one of the 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

Besides Bendapudi, Gov. Andy Beshear, Mayor Greg Fischer, Metro Council President David James, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. John Yarmuth were all in attendance at the fundraiser.

Beshear announced at a press conference on March 15 that he has tested negative for COVID-19. He went on to say that he would be continuing to work and manage this outbreak.

“I will still be here, each and every day, making sure that I do what I need to do to help get us through this,” Beshear said.

Bendapudi announced in a Facebook post March 15 that she is currently not experiencing any symptoms, but she is still self-isolating.

“It is always an honor to lead U of L and for now I will be doing so remotely,” Bendapudi said. “The health and safety of our cardinal community is my number one priority.”

Fischer and Yarmuth are reportedly waiting for their test results in self-isolation.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Democrat David James Elected Metro Council President For Third Time Thursday, Jan 9 2020 

David James will serve another year as Metro Council president, after being unanimously reelected by his peers Thursday evening.

The Democrat, who represents District 6, is also running for reelection this year. All the even-numbered Metro Council seats will be on the ballot in November.

So far, James has one challenger: Republican Kristi Smith. The filing deadline is Friday.

In a statement, James said the city’s pension bill is set to increase $14 million and he considers finding a way to pay for that a priority, possibly through a restaurant tax. That echoes a suggestion by Mayor Greg Fischer that a tax on dining could help pay for city workers’ pensions.

James, a former police officer, also said public safety would be a continued priority.

Earlier in the day, the Democratic and Republican caucuses chose their leaders for the year. Democrats selected Markus Winkler (D-17) as chair and Mark Fox (D-13) as vice chair. Both are in their first terms.

On the Republican side, Kevin Kramer (R-11) and Scott Reed (R16) will be chair and vice chair. Kramer served as Council president in 2006 and spent four years as chair of the Republican caucus.

The Council remains heavily Democratic this year, with seven of 26 seats belonging to the minority party.

 

 

SGA holds third annual FancyVille event Tuesday, Sep 24 2019 

By Byron Hoskinson–

The University of Louisville’s Student Government Association drew more than 250 students to the Red Barn on Sept. 17 for a day of political debates and pulled pork at the third annual FancyVille event.

SGA Deputy Chief of Staff Ben Barberie said FancyVille is part of a larger initiative to get students engaged in politics both on and off campus. “[SGA’s] goal with FancyVille was to increase student political engagement, so many of the events were tailored around that,” Barberie said.

Such events included an open panel with local representatives, voter registration drives and tables set up for the College Democrats and College Republicans clubs Barberie said. The SGA-coordinated forum and lunch takes its name and structure from the renowned Fancy Farm political picnic, a yearly affair in southeastern Kentucky that attracts high-level politicians to its local venue to discuss current events and eat barbecue.

In true Fancy Farm fashion, SGA brought out big political names to discuss current events and controversies before opening up the floor for students to grab a plate of catered Mark’s Feed Store or Chipotle. The McConnell Center also contributed to the event, handing out pocket Constitutions alongside cupcakes in celebration of Constitution Day.

Congressman John Yarmuth, U.S. Rep. for Kentucky’s third congressional district, spoke for an hour with SGA Director of Government Relations Malcomb Haming about topics ranging from presidential indictments, to his family’s heritage to the necessity of good faith bipartisanship.

Following the break for lunch, the day turned back to politics with a panel led by state and municipal legislators discussing local issues. The panelists included Louisville Metro Council president David James, state senators Morgan McGarvey and Julie Raque Adams, and state Reps. Charles Booker and Jason Nemes.

Barberie said getting political representatives and other public servants on campus is in line with SGA’s goal of promoting student involvement in elections through access. “One of the best roles that SGA can play is increasing engagement with all different types of offices across campus, whether those be political offices or the police department,” he said.

“One of our goals is to remove barriers to communication and make it a lot easier to talk to the people who are making the decisions.”

Students can register to vote, check the status of their registration, and find their precinct locations at https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/ovrweb/govoteky.

Photo By Anna Claire / The Louisville Cardinal 

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