Saturday, February 05, 2011

Local activists protest Chase Bank branch in Louisville - Tom Owen tries to avoid crowd

Chase Bank, Baxter & Highland
Yesterday afternoon a group of local union activists gathered on a Louisville sidewalk to protest the greed-driven actions of JPMorgan Chase. The protest, held in front of a Chase Bank location at Baxter and Highland, drew support from passers-by as well as Chase customers.

The protests were part of a nationwide action against the bank yesterday.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chase is #1 in foreclosures, many processed improperly (some during the federal loan modification process), causing great harm to American homeowners, property values and the nation's economy.

Chase has $18.9 billion worth of home loans in foreclosure on its books as of September 30, 2010. 7.48% of all JPMorgan Chase-owned residential mortgages are in foreclosure, the largest foreclosure rate among the big banks.

JPMorgan Chase reported 2010 net income of $17.4 billion, an increase of 48% compared with $11.7 billion for the prior year. Earnings per share were $3.96, compared with $2.26 for 2009. For 2009, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO James Dimon received a $1 million salary and equity awards valued at $14 million.

The protesters, demanding that Chase declare a moratorium on home foreclosures, were approached by people on the street that had problems themselves or knew someone who was having problems dealing with Chase on their mortgage.

"My poor mother is going through this exact thing with these bastards!", said one woman who stopped to see what the fuss was about. "Oh my God, they are such liars. They keep saying they lost my mom's modification paperwork like 10 times, and now they're in the process of taking her house away before she can get the modification approved."

Sound familiar?

Tom Owen (D-8): "What, me worry?"
The strangest moment of the hour-long rally came when Metro Councilman Tom Owen (D-8), while walking a bike, attempted to pass through the middle of the protest without taking literature or even acknowledging the presence of the crowd. Protester Kirk Gillenwaters, a local UAW retiree, said of Owen, "Tom Owen has a reputation of being a good listener, but we sure didn't see that here today. I practically had to jam this flyer under his arm. In a district that has had as many foreclosures as Councilman Owen's, I sure would have thought he'd have taken this issue more seriously today considering some of the people affected by this bank's actions are his constituents."

Councilman Owen, with flyer in hand, hastily made his way across the street after trying his best to ignore the issue.

The attempt to send a message to Chase continues on March 18, culminating in a rally at the bank's headquarters in New York.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Update: Endless Madness

I am having mechanical difficulties with the hot tub at Headquarters today, so upon submitting the following report I will attempt a more conventional method of relaxation that may or may not involve brewed beverages and some companionship of questionable character. But fear not, your Friday Update is NOW:

- In a passing reference, I had mentioned The Pie Pantry at 9208 Dixie Highway near Johnsontown Road is no longer open for business. I had one comment and a few emails on the subject, so I thought the item should get its own sentence. The Pie Pantry, sadly, is no more. We initially received a rumor that it was to re-open at a different location, but have heard nothing else.

The Pie Pantry, opened with much fanfare, received a write-up in the Courier Journal and was the recipient of several favorable reviews.

- JPMorgan Chase is being accused in a lawsuit of being "at the center" of the Bernie Madoff scheme. In recent years, Chase has been sued more times than the National Enquirer. In case you didn't know how I feel about Chase, click HERE. Also, today (Friday) around noon at the Chase branch in Louisville located on Baxter Ave., there will be a protest by activists bringing awareness to Chase's actions on home foreclosure and the bank's dealings with tobacco farm workers. Read more about that HERE.

Diggity Dave
- In light of the news about the Kentucky Derby Festival people temporarily dropping "Kentucky" from the name this year, it has occurred to me and my Advisory Board that this may be a first step in an attempt to bring in a corporate sponsor for the festival. Example: The 2012 Humana Derby Festival, or The 2013 Humana-YUM! Brands-Advance Auto Parts Derby Festival.

Idea: Let's have the 2011 Jim Butner Auto Sales Pegasus Parade Sponsored By Jim's Towing featuring  Diggity Dave as this year's Grand Marshall. If you're gonna go off the deep end, go big.

I bet you can't wait for the fun to start.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Searching for Pimp Z's 'Little Black Book', and other Louisville Metro news

- Now that Louisville Metro Animal Services is rid of alleged pimp and rumored scofflaw Wayne Zelinsky, the main question that should be on everyone's mind is: "Where's the 'Little Black Book' of clients?"

If such a thing exists, it may just have the power to destroy the entire city government as we know it, exposing everyone connected to the Derby City VIP operation. Read about the events that lead to Zelinsky's resignation from the agency. Then ask where the black book is being hidden. [Ville Voice] Any thoughts?

- In today's second item of incredible stupidity, a riveting article on the CJ website explains how the brain trust running the Kentucky Derby Festival has decided that it will drop the "Kentucky" part of the name for this year, leaving just the words "Derby Festival".

Among the organization's ludicrous claims for the move: "streamlining promotions".

For perhaps the first time in history, everyone agrees with one another in the 'comments' section. That has to mean something is terribly wrong with this decision.

No word on the fate of the awful Pegasus sport coats yet, however.

- For those of you living within the boundaries of Kentucky's 29th House District: Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-29) has told me that he "will not vote for" HB281- the measure that would require all cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine to be available only with a doctor's prescription. A prescription mandate is not an effective law enforcement tool. Bratcher agrees with me in that this is NOT the right way to address our state's meth production problem.

Special thanks to Rep. Bratcher for answering my letter so quickly, and thanks for taking the concerns of your constituents seriously.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

RAA to discuss Noise Abatement Plan Feb. 3rd

For those living with noise from the Louisville "International" Airport:

A public workshop for the Regional Airport Authority’s Noise Abatement Plan will be held tomorrow, Thursday, February 3 at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 3016 Preston Highway at 6:00p.m.

There will be a presentation, opportunities to ask questions and make comments.

Midweek Updates...HOT!!

- It is expected to be announced today that Louisville Metro Animal Services Director Wayne Zelinsky will be resigning, effective immediately. Alleged pimp and rumored scofflaw Zelinsky has been the target of a relentless campaign by the LMAS Rainbow Bridge project for the poor treatment of animals handled by the city agency while under his watch, among other high-profile shenanigans. [Ville Voice]

- Residents of the St. Denis neighborhood in southwest Louisville are freaking out about the possibility of a zoning change that would allow a very thoughtful and nice woman to operate a transitional home for foster kids who actually want to do something with their lives. When will people learn to fight the fights that need fighting and let the good things happen? [CJ]

- Gov. Beshear used his State of the Commonwealth speech last night to run hard and fast to the political right, whining about federal spending and coal mining regulation in the wake of several high-profile, easily preventable mine disasters. Someone should ask his running mate Jerry Abramson how he feels about those words. Former mayor Abramson's administration accepted millions upon millions of federal dollars in stimulus money, some of which ended up in state coffers. Hey Governor Hair Helmet, my state taxes are higher than my federal taxes. What are you going to do about that? [Barefoot & Progressive]

Nice Marmot: Groundhog Day to determine political futures in Kentucky

Note: This post originally appeared on Insider Louisville.

As superstitions go, Groundhog Day is harmless as long as the “ceremony” of the day is kept in perspective. It is just a chance for people who have been punished by severe winter weather to get out of their homes, look around and find the promise of spring.

The promise is out there, waiting. And one doesn’t need to rely on the predictions of some overgrown squirrel in Pennsylvania to find it. Besides, I am reading the National Climatic Data Center claims of Punxsutawney Phil’s accuracy to only be around 39% – better than your local meteorologist to be sure, but not much to brag about.

No matter what that silly marmot sees, there will always be six more weeks of winter.

Mathematics and science prevail on this day.

In Kentucky, a land where we like to shun mathematics and science do things differently, a new policy should be adopted and hence a new tradition formed: I propose we hire a groundhog to determine the outcome of statewide elections, thereby eliminating campaigning, fundraising, political signs, fatuous debates, misleading commercials and actual voting from the equation.

It makes it easier on us all.

The idea is as simple as it is preposterous. Set up a few props and pictures of the candidates, coax the animal out if its hole and wait for him to make a decision.

This practice has worked in the past, and is running much better than the 39% clip on the weather.

You see, I have my own personal, albeit less glamorous groundhog. His name is Maximillion and he has a face like Abe Vigoda. He has breath that would bruise fruit and he has a strong attraction to pork rinds covered with hot sauce. But he has, without fail, picked the winner of the last three statewide elections about which I have asked.

This morning, Max picked candidate Bobbie Holsclaw, Jefferson County Clerk, to win the Republican nomination for Kentucky Governor in May and has picked faux-Democrat Steve Beshear to win the whole shebang in November.

If he is wrong, Kentucky will endure six additional weeks of increased unemployment claims.

So call your legislators immediately, and urge them to install this measure as soon as possible.

Because, in the end, they are as my dad says: “Six of one, half dozen of the other.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

King announces appointments to Merger 2.0 Task Force

Metro Council President Jim King (D-10) has announced his four appointments to the Merger 2.0 Task Force.

“Both the Urban Service District and the suburban areas of Louisville will be well represented by these appointments to the Merger 2.0 Task Force,” said King. “These appointees bring merger-specific knowledge and expertise to this challenge.”

King has named Dan Johnson (D-21) and Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5) as the representatives for the Urban Service District. Rick Blackwell (D-12) and James Peden (R-23) will represent suburban areas.

Councilman Johnson is in his 20th year as a member of both the Board of Alderman and the Louisville Metro Council representing south Louisville. Johnson was among the first to suggest a merger of the city and county. He is an expert on City services and can attest to the cut in services seen by residents of the Urban Service District since merger.

Hamilton is a 10 year member of both the Board of Alderman and the Louisville Metro Council. Hamilton represents western Louisville in the Urban Service District. She is a former clerk of the Board of Alderman and has a unique understanding of the needs of constituents in the oldest part of Metro Louisville.

Blackwell is an 8 year member of the Louisville Metro Council who represents a southwest Jefferson County district. He brings a unique understanding of the need for services in the county and the concerns of county residents that they have not experienced the full benefits of merger.

Peden is an 8 year member of the Louisville Metro Council representing areas such as Highview in southern Jefferson County. He is a volunteer firefighter and brings a unique understanding of our volunteer fire districts and how they interact with our City’s fire department.

In addition to these four appointments, President King has recommended three other members of the Metro Council to serve on subcommittees to be created by the task force. They are Councilman Jon Ackerson, Councilwoman Judy Green and Councilman David James.

The President has forwarded his Merger 2.0 appointments to Mayor Greg Fischer. The Merger 2.0 Task Force will be made up of 23 members and is chaired by former Louisville Mayor David Armstrong and former Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson.

Mayor Fischer's latest back-room deal crushes Iron Quarter

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer confirmed the suspicions of his detractors yesterday when it was announced yet another "back room" secret deal had been made, this time between the new mayor and developer Todd Blue.

Blue will be allowed to raze the historic Iron Quarter buildings on Main Street within 90 days, "hopefully" saving the facades.

A Leo Weekly article from May 2010 cited the Main Street corridor as "home to the second-largest number of cast-iron facades in the world, exceeded only by the famed Soho district in New York City. At least two of the buildings owned by Blue are listed on the National Register of Historic Places."

A Fischer spokesperson says a deal was made because the city was afraid it might lose in court. That is an unfamiliar tactic in Louisville. The city always seemed willing to pursue every other case to the bitter end -even when it was wrong to do so- as it did during the recent legal battle with the firefighters on overtime pay.

But in this case, a deal that circumvented public input and tip-toed past the Landmark Commission was the best the city could do.

In an interview on Fox41, developer Blue said he was impressed with the "pro-business" attitude of the city's new administration while he, like so many others, struggled to make the transition to saying "Mayor Fischer" rather than "Mayor Abramson". It is worth noting that former Mayor Abramson wanted to protect the buildings and tried to coax Cobalt into a deal to save face and get out of the project in 2008.

Blue purchased the dilapidated buildings and allowed them to deteriorate further under his watch. That much is certain.

Holes in the roofs of the buildings since 2008 have gone ignored by Blue and his company, Colbalt Ventures.

Fischer will go to the Metro Council with a request that $450,000 be given to Cobalt Vultures Ventures.

The ultimate fate of the buildings now seems clear.

A sad day. A sad fate. One question remains: What's next?

Read More: Insider Louisville - Downtown getting new parking lot? Iron Quarter deal with city gives Todd Blue permission to clear historic buildings

Monday, January 31, 2011

District 12 "Coffee with your Councilman" set for Saturday, Feb.12

Councilman Rick Blackwell is starting off the new year with an invitation to residents of District 12 to enjoy a free cup of coffee and some conversation on Saturday, February 12th.

The first District 12 “Coffee with your Councilman” will get underway at Sister Bean’s beginning at 10:00am.

“This begins our third year of these informal chats,” says Blackwell. “I have found many people just enjoy the chance to come out and talk with me about anything. There is no formal program; I’ll buy the coffee if you want to tell me what’s on your mind.”

Sister Beans is located at 5225 New Cut Road.

“We have a new Mayor leading the city and I am sure there are some folks who have some thoughts on what direction we need to be moving,” says Blackwell.

For more information about the February “Coffee with your Councilman”, contact Councilman Blackwell’s office at 574-1112.

NLC reappoints Welch to serve on Human Development Policy and Advocacy Steering Committee

Metro Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch (D-13) will continue to work with representatives in other cities on issues that affect the health and well being of all Americans in the coming year.

National League of Cities President James Mitchell, Jr. announces Welch’s reappointment to the National League of Cities’ (NLC) 2011 Human Development Policy and Advocacy Steering Committee.

“I am honored to be re-appointed for the 3rd year to this most important Committee which makes recommendations for quality of life issues for our cities,” says Welch. “Our city has benefitted in numerous ways from the work done at the National League of Cities.”

This Committee has the lead responsibility for developing NLC federal policy positions in the areas of social services, education, employment and workforce development, Social Security and seniors, individuals with disabilities, public health care, mental health, and immigration reform.

“The work of this committee becomes even more important as the President and Congress continue to turn around our economy,” says Welch. “Many cities are still faced with challenges in job growth and at the same time key components of the new health care law are continuing to take effect, it will be an important year for the NLC.”

For more information on NLC’s other committees and councils, visit

Louisville Loop Signage System Public Meeting

Louisville Loop Signage System Public Meeting

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Riverside, the Farnsley-Moreman Landing

7410 Moormen Road

Exercise enthusiasts and the public are invited to give feedback on the $200,000 federally funded sign and way finding master plan for the Louisville Loop, the 100 mile shared use path that will one day circle Louisville.

Metro Parks staff is developing guidelines for improving access, safety, education and the overall experience of the existing and future sections of the Louisville Loop.

Citizens may sign up for emails about the Louisville Loop by visiting

“Coffee with your Councilwoman” - Saturday, February 12th

Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch (D-13) begins a new year of ”Coffee with your Councilwoman” programs by hosting the newly appointed Third Division Commander of the Louisville Metro Police Department, Major Kelly Jones on Saturday, February 12.

“It gives me great pleasure to introduce Major Jones to constituents in District 13 for our first “Coffee with your Councilwoman” of 2011,” says Welch. “I have known Major Jones for many years and I am thrilled he is our new Commander for the LMPD Third Division. He is committed to partner with Southwest Metro Council members and work toward crime prevention in each of our districts.”

“Coffee with your Councilwoman” is again located this year at the First String Family Grill, 5921 New Cut Road. It begins at 9:00am. The event is open to the public and First String will provide free coffee for everyone.

The program began last year, as a way for Welch to bring local government officials and agencies out into the district to meet residents.

“I hope every one will come out and meet Major Jones because it is important to know who is in charge of the brave men and women who patrol our streets,” says Welch. “Our police officers and commanders rely on the public to help them fight crime. Public safety is one of my top priorities for our community.”

For more information at the February District 13 “Coffee with your Councilwoman”, contact Councilwoman Welch’s office at 574-1113.