Monday, December 29, 2008

Mayor's "Top 10" A New Low

Many bloggers in town have already opined on Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson's "Top Ten Accomplishments" of 2008, so my commentary here is a bit late. I have withheld comment because of the sheer stupidity of the idea, and frankly because it took me by surprise to hear a failed mayor with failed policies publicly patting himself on the back. It seems a huge display of arrogance for he and his massive, well-paid staff to compile and list these items, particularly when he had little or nothing to do with what went on in each instance. Bottom line, this is embarrassing as hell. Check it out:

1. New cars and trucks — Ford announced that it would invest at least $200 million to re-tool the Louisville Assembly Plant to build a new fuel-efficient car for the American market. Ford also announced it would move production of the Navigator and Expedition to the Kentucky Truck Plant.

2. Overcoming adversity — From natural disasters to the economic downturn, the city faced numerous challenges. The city hosted 1,200 evacuees from Hurricane Ike and, weeks later, a major windstorm knocked out power to more than 300,000 LG&E customers for days. A major economic downturn also required more than $30 million city budget cuts over two fiscal years – $13 million in early 2008 and $20 million in late 2008. The cuts were achieved without laying off city workers or major reductions in city services.

3. A sports city — Louisville’s reputation as a sports center continued to grow, after hosting the 2008 Ryder Cup, viewed by 600 million people worldwide. The city also hosted its second Ford Ironman Competition and landed the Breeders Cup for a return engagement at Churchill Downs in 2010.

4. Best in America — Louisville won numerous national accolades, including:
* America’s Most Livable Large City, U.S. Conference of Mayors
* One of America’s Most Improved Cities for Cycling, Bicycling Magazine
* One of America’s Best Towns, Outside Magazine
* America’s Best Tasting Water, American Water Works Association

5. Downtown growth — Construction began on the new $238 million downtown arena and the city completed the deal to expand Fourth Street Live with the Center City project, which will create 1,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs. Downtown’s newest high-rise, Zirmed Gateway Towers, started construction. West Main Street was named one of America’s 10 Greatest Streets by the American Planning Association.

6. Improving the environment — The city launched its Go Green Louisville initiative that includes the first green roof on a city-owned building, at the Metro Development Center, and the Kilowatt Crackdown to lower energy use in 230 buildings, including schools. Mayor Abramson fueled the movement by switching to a Ford Escape hybrid for his work vehicle. By the close of 2008, the number of ENERGY STAR buildings doubled, from 5 to 10.

7. Creating new parks – The City of Parks initiative reached another major milestone – the opening of the first 25 miles of the 100-mile Louisville Loop. The city also purchased land in the Floyds Fork area for the greenway parks project, including a 98-acre walnut farm.

8. Improving public safety – The city’s focus of safety continued with major investments in state-of-the-art equipment and buildings that improve public safety including:
* Twelve new communication towers were built or upgraded for the MetroSafe radio communications system, which will open in summer 2009.
* Two new firehouses, one in Butchertown/Clifton and one in Portland, are under construction as part of the city’s 21st Century Fire plan. They will open in early 2009.
* All of the city’s EMS vehicles have been equipped with handheld computers, called ePCRs, which record and disseminate patient information to hospitals in real time so doctors can begin treatment as soon as the patient arrives.

9. More visitors – The FFA Convention announced it would return to Louisville, starting in 2013. The convention, one of the largest in the nation, attracts 55,000 people and has an economic impact of $40 million. Tourism in Louisville had $1.4 billion in economic impact in 2008.

10. Better students — The city, in partnership with Greater Louisville Inc. and Jefferson County Public Schools, achieved its plan to raise $8 million to improve reading scores with the Every 1 Reads initiative. The city also reached its goal of 10,000 volunteers to read to students in their classrooms. When the initiative began, 18 percent of students – nearly one in five — were not reading at their grade level. That percent has been cut by more than half. The city and school system also hosted a Dropout Summit to lay plans for reducing the high school dropout rate in Louisville.

A rebuttal:

1. Mayor Abramson failed spectacularly on the Ford incentive.

2. The foreign-owned electric utility will continue to rape the citizens pocketbooks to recoup the windstorm damage repairs, and the Mayor will again give his tacit approval. His budget proposals have been a joke.

3. A sports city. Right.

4. A few obscure magazines felt compelled to mention Louisville as a nice place to live. We already know it is nice to live here, and it is in spite of having such a goofball as mayor.

5. Downtown projects, with the exception of the useless arena, have ground to a halt.

6. Improving the environment by running businesses out of town doesn't really count as improving the environment. They will just go to a country where there are no environmental standards, thereby worsening the global crisis.

7. Creating new parks? Didn't he just close the biggest and best one?

8. Improving public safety by jacking up fees for officers to take their police cars home and refusing to properly compensate fire fighters is not sound public safety policy. Neither is less EMS on the streets or closing firehouses.

9. More FFA visitors....starting in five (5) years. Then it goes back to Indianapolis.

10. Better students? Let's try better education.

As usual, I want to hear your thoughts. Have a good evening.


  1. What would your top 10 be?

  2. I can't wait to put out "Mayor Jer's Top 10 Stumbles of 2008" at Louisville History & Issues. :) Coming in January!

  3. I look forward to your post!

    For those of you that have not been to Steve's site, Louisville History & Issues, please take a look. There's a link on the left hand sidebar that will take you there. Always an excellent discussion!

  4. I actually think the list was pretty good. Many of your points that you seem dissatisfied with, seem to just be because of your distastefulness of the current mayor. If the mayor and Louisville want to attract and become and more environmentally friendly city by imposing standards on companies that "run them out of town", then good for them. They will still attract the kind of companies that they want to in the long run.

  5. And at least we are getting the FFA back; it doesn't matter when, we still are. And the fact that Otter Creek Park is your favorite park doesn't mean that it's the best one. And I don't think it's the biggest either.

  6. And not all downtown projects have come to a halt. The arena may be useless to you, but not other people. The Fleur de Lis was begun and almost finished this year, the zirmed towers were finished, several residents in the east main district were also finished. Many, you really have some hatred for the mayor and this city. What good things do you think Louisville accomplished then this year?

  7. As much as some may think, this site does not exist to hate on the mayor. The fact is more and more people are beginning to recognize his actions do not benefit the city as a whole. I am a Democrat, but this is ridiculous. I wasn't so much against the arena in the beginning, but the game is changing. Museum Plaza is stuck in limbo, maybe forever. Needed improvements in the West end are not being pursued because of the mayor chasing downtown dreams that benefit 1% of Louisville residents. We need infrastructure, not artsy bike racks and hidden budgets.

    The FFA's return was neat, but they shouldn't have went away in the first place. And it is only for a few years, then back to Indy. Otter Creek was never promoted as the jewel it is. That is not good city management. That is Ford Motor Co. style management.

    There needs to be more than retail and service jobs coming in to town, and there is zero movement on the mayor's part to do so. Until he starts acting like a person that is interested in the WHOLE CITY of Louisville, he will continue to be criticized here, and elsewhere. So will the council.

    Thanks for your comments.

  8. Now let's get real here. You only speak about the SW and DT of Louisville. So I will stick with that for now - since you brought it up. Lets go a bit more south to like Shepherdsville and Brooks. It's not Lou but it's not far. Our company has wired every single building in the Cedar Creek Business park that houses numberous distribution centers; not only the new business you are complaining about but also supplying many new NON RETAIL jobs. Like Plastech, Cedar Grove River Ridge I and II, Reynolds Aluminum, Salt River I and II; some retail companies include Zappos and Donna Sharp. I mean I could go on and on. That is not the only area of growth that you are leaving out. There are plenty of NEW distrbution centers and NEW tenants moving into the Riverport in your home side of the city. Most are moving into existing builds so urban sprawl cannot be a complaint. Also you are missing new growth and development (= more jobs) in the National Turnpike area as well; vastly speaking of the Sealed Air project nesteled near the LGE plant - also a non retail projrct. Now . There are plenty more in the East end area, but I get the impression you don't really like "that end of town kind of people" anyway. I know you focus maily on the SW and DT area but there is growth all over this great city of ours, maybe you should step off your own street for while and go for a walk; you just might suprise yourself.
    Old Friend.

  9. Low-paying distribution jobs outside of Jefferson County are not relevant to this discussion.

    I'm guessing you have not been out here in a while. By "out here" I mean anywhere West of I65. Riverport, the great expanse of $9.00/hour jobs, is contracting, with many businesses moving out or going under all together. Pick up a newspaper and turn off Fox News, and you'll get an entirely different picture of what is happening in the city, state and world. It ain't all pretty new buildings and new jobs. You mentioned Plastech. Did you know they are currently operating under bankruptcy protection? They could go sideways at any moment. Reynolds Metals is still closing plants and eliminating jobs since it was acquired by Alcoa in 2000. Zappos in Shepherdsville is just a poorly paying shoe warehouse.

    The deal is, and the facts support, the idea that those jobs you are talking about pay, on average,less than half of what the LOST jobs paid. And there's not enough of them to employ all those that have lost their jobs through Bush's rotten economy. Retail, service and distribution/warehousing jobs related to retail pay next to nothing.

    I am lightly surprised by your comments. Being from Flint, MI I thought you would be able to understand what happens when major industries move out of town and are replaced by retail, service and "distribution" jobs. The answer is still there, and it is coming here as well.

    Maybe YOU are the one that needs to get out more.

    Thanks for commenting.

  10. I am also suprised that you think that higher paying jobs should be handed out to those who are not willing or interested in increasing thier education/skills. Yes I did come from Flint MI and I do KNOW what it's like to grow up in a place where the Big 3 moved out and went elsewhere - I went to college and found another skill. I didn't sit at home hoping for a stimulus check or hope upon all hopes that an already failing industry would increase my wage rate instead of me giving up $1 or $2 to help keep my own job; and then be suprised when I was laid off. That's another discussion though. you act like distributions centers are for immagrants and ingrates, they are actually a reality for my entire family and without those jobs my family wouldn't have much to choose from. There are good enough for me and they are good enough for the people of Kentucky. Kentucky is perfectly situated as a distribution state, not just a tobacco state, Ford or horse racing state.

    Just a note: JCIM bought out Plastech and are currently opperating under as such.

    You and I have never seen eye to eye on politics so why should our current situation be any different. You have a great talent for discussing your unflexible point of view and are tied to it like a true realist. I on the other hand, am not as elliquent but my beleifs are far different than yours and am glad we can agree to disagree.

  11. We need diversity in the types of jobs the state and/or city is creating, and I am glad you agree. The fact remains: A city cannot rely on distribution jobs or manufacturing alone. But that is what is happening. Just as in Flint, manufacturing is being replaced with low-wage service & warehouse jobs. No one wins at the end of this scenario.

    Fact: Every "new" job pays half the salary of the old one. Fact: The fund for unemployment insurance in Kentucky is nearly broke. Fact: There are not enough NEW jobs being created to employ those looking for work, and those that are job searching are fighting over a shrinking pool of employers. Under these circumstances, people that possess special skills cannot find a job in their area of expertise. Higher education sometimes doesn't matter. I know CPA's that are looking for work. Should they go drive a forklift at Riverport, or should they turn into "career students" that only go to classes and drink bad coffee for the rest of their lives? If they are not gainfully employed, they are not paying taxes. That means your roads don't get paved and the city closes your park and the mayor tries to lay off EMS and Corrections Officers while charging cops to drive the city's police cars.

    There is a better way to diversify industry, and Louisville's Mayor isn't doing it. The Governor isn't doing it, either. As long as SMART people have to rely on MENIAL labor to produce income, neither the state nor the people will prosper.

    Good night, and good luck.

  12. And I know about JCIM. Johnson Controls has filed bankruptcy more times than Donald Trump.

    It is merely a consolidation of two failing companies that are moving the majority of their manufacturing and quality control operations to overseas countries. Ask any current (or former) Ford employee about the quality of their products.

  13. If your in business long enough a few things are certain: you will get sued and you will get close to or will go bankrupt; it's wether you get up and try again that makes all the difference. You see failed attempts and I see practice makes perfect. You see no jobs and I see many jobs out there that only the immagrants from other countries are willing to take advantage of b/c they know what REAL suffering is. We have people out of work that is a fact. If those people would rather sit home and wait for another opportunity in their field to pop up like magic then I ask them "How's that working out for ya?" There is nothing wrong with finding something that will pay your bills - even if it's delivering pizza - until that other oppotunity comes around. Two steps back to make a giant leap forward. I did that when I left one of the largest retail home improvement stores to begin yet another skill. I was being paid very well for my skill, age and gender. I guess I just saw possibilities where you see some sort of right of passage or birth right scenerio. You don't know how many people I talk to that expect a high wage starting out because they are a first year GREEN apprentice for an education that I am paying for and the skill that our industry is offering. Graduate from the apprenticeship, proove your skills are worthy of the higher wage and then we'll talk and not before. I have learned alot about people doing what I am doing. Most of it is refreshing - but some things are just down right dirty. You talk about diversity and I am for that, but you know even you had to learn a new skill when Ford had to let some people go or maybe you made that choice on your own but you havn't been a pipe fitter your entire life. You worked the line at Ford, just like my daddy did at GM Truck and Bus in Michigan and all 7 of my uncles as well as my grandfather and his 5 brothers. What are car makers if not a glorified distribution line that makes, distributes and sells their own product? Maybe your tiffed at Ford - heck maybe your just an angry person who likes to spue hatred among non-union shops and all living and dead republicans and any one who owns a business or hold different views than yours. Maybe you think that owners make a ton of money and they all get together on Saturday's to roll naked in all thier money and send thier wives out to purchase foreign made cars and fur coats. Those same owners of the jobs that you currently hold are purchasing your life insurance, medical and dental insurance and paying heck-ova higher tax that you could even dream of, as well as paying for workers compensation, unemployment insurance on top of payroll taxes, corporate taxes, federal taxes and state taxes. I tell you what - you open a business and in 5 years you and I will have coffee and you can tell me all the ways in which your view has changed. Money is a funny thing and the issues become skewed when it's YOU writing that $500,000 TAX bill at the end of your company fiscal AND your personl tax cycle. You are entitled to your view and your opinion but you are talking about apples and I am discussing oranges my friend.
    If your out of work and want a job - "Drive a fork lift". If you want to sit at home and hope someone drops you some crubs to chew on until somthing better comes along - welcome to the world of unemployemnt checks and long lines. I personally say "Thank you for increasing my unemployment premium for sitting on your butt and doing nothing about your current situation."
    Sorry gotta go, I have to work tomorrow.

  14. BTW: I never called anyone a bum.

  15. If you are looking for sympathy, you can find it between "shit" and "syphilis" in the dictionary. You will not find it here.

    The people I represent are the people that build this country and pay their taxes. They carry their lunch to work. The problem is, in the age of republicanism, the cuts are directed toward the ones that do the work, while the people who sit at the desk and "add no value" keep their jobs and whine like swine about their taxes. I have seen it all my life. It what one calls "real world experience".

    I am well compensated for what I do, and I am happy to be a Union Ironworker and Citizen Journalist. I am, after all, a professional. I just wish the best for everyone, no matter their abilities or education. That is where we seem to differ.

    On most days, the "real world" is a hard dollar, and it is not for everyone. The ones that can't hack it complain. The rest just do their jobs and hope for the best.

    I enjoy reading your comments. Keep them coming.

    Good night.

  16. did you totally delete my last comment?!

  17. I am having some issues with general maintenance. Usually, I get an email when someone leaves a comment, but I have received none today regarding this post. Let me look into it.