Issue October 9, 2007

City Strobe

Backlash for booze
Those who wanted four West Louisville precincts to stay “wet” have organized and are attempting to humiliate and intimidate residents who voted to ban alcohol sales in the areas last month, according to Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, and a group of religious leaders who helped organize the “dry” campaign.

The group called a press conference Monday to address concerns from neighbors that pro-alcohol people are showing up at the homes and apartments of voters, asking if they understood what they voted for and attempting to gain signatures of those saying they were confused by the question on the ballot. Hamilton said they are perhaps gathering signatures for an appeal of the vote, which would have to be filed Thursday.
“They’re not going to change anybody’s mind,” said the Rev. Geoffrey Ellis, calling the vote a “righteous effort.”

On Sept. 11, seven out of eight residents of the four precincts voted to ban any and all alcohol sales for the next three years. Barring anything unforeseen, the ban takes effect on Nov. 11.

“Unfortunately, our opponents resorted to the tactics of trying to confuse and mislead the community with false information and allegations as the day of the election approached,” Hamilton said later in a statement. “It was never about the race, ethnicity or religion of the proprietors — but what our community wanted and demanded. And now, the opposition wants to say to you that you were confused and misled and didn’t know what you were voting on. Actually, they can’t believe that you didn’t fall for and believe their allegations.”

The group of religious and political leaders that spent nearly a year organizing the campaign has been unabashed about the confluence of the church and the council here, contrasting an effort now beginning in Councilwoman Mary Woolridge’s 3rd District, which she said Monday has little to do, at least officially, with the church. The group in the 5th District placed fliers throughout the four Shawnee precincts, where six liquor stores will be shut down, thanking residents for their votes.

The Rev. Derek Wilson said this is the start of a rebuilding and revitalization process that will be a “pilot program” for the city, taking parts of Shawnee from crime-ridden and low-income to a more family-oriented, neighborhood vibe. —Stephen George


Insight owner sells stake to United Arab Emirates

The Carlyle Group, a Washington D.C.-based private equity firm, has sold a 7.5-percent share of itself to the government of Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, the oil-soaked region that has been busy investing the massive spoils it’s received the last few years, as gas prices have risen sharply.

Carlyle owns a majority stake in Insight Communications, which has for years been allowed to maintain a virtual monopoly on Louisville cable and, more recently, Internet services. Metro government — both the Metro Council and Mayor Abramson — have refused to apply a provision of its franchise agreement with the city to Insight since the July 2005 buyout. That provision requires Insight to gain council approval for a change in control of 10 percent or more. The company never even attempted to fulfill this part of its contract, and two separate opinions by the Office of the County Attorney confirmed that Insight had violated its contract.

Bullshit quotient firmly intact, the council and Mayor’s office spent months ping-ponging the blame for the lack of enforcement. Then, in April, a council subcommittee headed by Ken Fleming, R-7, found that Metro government had been negligent in enforcing most rules and regulations applying to cable companies. It cited the Metro Cable Television Commission, a pathetic resumé-booster that hardly ever met, for its profound negligence in the area of preventing clear violations of law amid the monopoly.

Naturally, when it came time to take responsibility, no one did. Despite the two legal opinions, substantial public outrage, a clearly written franchise agreement and the taxpayer-funded report of a council subcommittee, our “leaders” continued to dodge.

Now Carlyle (Google for a good cry), which owns United Defense, a major American military contractor, has sold a portion of itself to an oil-rich government in the world’s most volatile region. Other important Carlyle connections to consider in this equation include: the Bush family (including both President Bushes), the Saudi royal family, the family of Osama bin Laden (until they sold their stake in October 2001, after a little controversy about something that happened a month before in New York), George Soros, and former British prime minister John Major.

And Louisville. Don’t forget the Louisville connection. —SG


 

protest
protest

Do it for the kids: About 35 people gathered briefly on the corner of 6th and Broadway last Thursday to protest President Bush’s veto of S-CHIP, the State Child Health Insurance Program.

Some 50,225 more Kentucky children would have been eligible for the coverage, they said. In choosing the not taxing of smokers over the insuring of poor, sick children, Bush said he did not want the program to become a “middle-class entitlement,” adding that the $35 billion expansion passed by Congress is a move toward federalized healthcare.

As late afternoon traffic increased on Broadway, protesters organized by Iraq Summer, MoveOn.org and other groups called on Sen. Mitch McConnell to break ranks with the Bush administration, something he’s not wont to do, being leader of the Republican Party in Congress and all. Some protesters also said the money to fund S-CHIP is tied up in the ongoing war in Iraq, which has already cost half a trillion dollars.

Iraq war veteran Bill Zubaty, who said his father was a Vietnam vet, addressed crowd and called for McConnell to help override the “scandalous” veto.

Danielle Loewy brought her two children, ages 1 and 3, to the protest, where they sat in a red wagon at the speakers’ feet.

“My husband just switched jobs and we’re paying a lot of money for COBRA for one month because I’m afraid to not have health coverage for them for even one month,” she said.

Democrats have stalled a vote to override Bush’s veto and are now trying to gain the two-thirds majority to do so. House Dems expect a vote Oct. 18.

Contact the writer at
citystrobe@leoweekly.com