Issue December 16, 2008

Loserville 2008

Remembering the year that should’ve been better

A STAFF REPORT

Welcome to our first Loserville Awards. Here you’ll find 50 ruminations on the past year of screw-ups, hack-jobs, short-fallers and people who’ve generally blown their public trust — and, incidentally, entered our lives in a sort of sideways, wholly unpleasant way. We criticize because we care, so if you find yourself on this list, the message to take away is simple: Do better.

Robert Felner and Thomas Schroeder

We weren’t sure how far the year’s most cartoonish villains could go; at the very least, former U of L Education Dean Robert Felner’s alleged embezzlement/homoerotic/tirades at students and co-workers/creepily beardless perp-walk fiasco certainly upped the ante for scandals in the ’Ville. Felner was indicted in October on 10 counts of mail fraud, money-laundering conspiracy and income-tax evasion. Schroeder — Felner’s colleague and friend — was also charged in the conspiracy that included more than $2 million in grants fraudulently obtained though U of L. Thanks for the memories, Bob. Enjoy federal prison.

Penance: Reimbursement to students of all funds spent on classes featuring this dude.

U of L administration and public relations office

1. Robert Felner and how not to address a scandal with a public that is capable of reading/writing/speaking.

2. Patrick Henry Hughes and how not to treat a national icon bitter about an overzealous athletic department trying to control the pep band without making accommodations for Hughes and his father, who directs his wheelchair in band formations.

3. Mandatory Meal Plan and how not to treat students who’ve endured a decade of substantial tuition increases.

Penance: Go Cats?

Gannett/media firings

The evil empire was at it again this year, as Gannett kept chipping away at the staffs of The Courier-Journal and its myriad other American newspapers. In the latest round, the C-J dropped 69 — that’s layoffs plus unfilled positions — further demeaning the once-great daily with Gannett’s foolish slash-and-burn strategy of staying buoyant in the current media economy. On our side of the continuum, a smallish Nasvhille-based company called SouthComm purchased LEO Weekly in May and promptly fired editor Cary Stemle and three other staffers; those positions were filled. 

Penance: Newspaper bailout, please.

Jon Draud

Kentucky’s education chief used taxpayer money to buy a souped-up 2008 Chrysler 300; the luxurious add-ons he requested tacked a full $13,000 onto the base price of the $18,000 ride. The state — read: You — ended up paying about $30,697 for the thing.

Penance: Take the bus. (After dutiful public outrage, he ended up paying the state back.)

Bobby Sherman

The director of the Legislative Research Commission demanded a 47 percent pay raise to keep him from retiring — from $132,840 to $195,000. Republican Senate leader David Williams happily chucked up the additional taxpayer funds, despite public outrage and bipartisan opposition, saying Sherman’s experience and expertise are essential in Frankfort.

Penance: Go ahead and retire, big guy.

Katie King

Where do we begin? An inexperienced 29-year-old assistant county attorney decides she’ll use her dad’s name (and money) to run for district judge. The woman who called in sick after the 2006 Louisville-West Virginia football game (appropriately enough, The Blackout Game) and once called her boss a “fucking cunt bitch” in a fit of misplaced rage spent around $300,000 to attain the position.

Penance: No more sick days. 

Doug Hawkins

Serial shameless panderer and current District 25 councilman who needed a humiliating loss in a run for state Senate to realize that fear-mongering and affected outrage don’t translate into a promotion. Hawkins finally seems to have learned his lesson, which is that overblown hyperpolitics (read: “Bomb Storage facility,” “Mexican gangs,” etc.) isn’t the way to move a city — or the South End — forward.

Penance: Doing PR for the Abramson administration.

John Boel

How would John Boel cover a story about an award-winning news anchor driving drunk with an open container? Depends on whether it’s Sweeps Week. Boel, whose clips file includes a nice exposé on people with records of DUIs still driving, has publicly apologized and took a couple months’ leave from WLKY. He’s back now, and has promised that his act is, as it were, clean.

Penance: DD for the LEO holiday party.

Bill Lamb and Mitch McConnell

2008 is the year Bill Lamb lost both his cool and his remaining credibility. On Oct. 7, the Fox-41 president and GM went on a rant about The Courier-Journal, saying the editors there have a “narrow, single-minded doctrine” and that “the city suffers terribly as a result.” Apparently not worried that these vague, unsubstantiated attacks may seem unprofessional, Lamb waited three weeks to explain. Essentially, the problem was that they weren’t endorsing Mitch McConnell. “[The editors at the C-J] just don’t want McConnell,” Lamb said, asking viewers not to be “bullied or fooled by the agenda of a handful of ultra-liberals at the Courier.” He said further that the C-J is “unaffected by facts.” Want facts? Mitch voted for government monitoring of domestic communications; he voted to make it harder for individuals to declare bankruptcy (but Wall Street is now getting bailouts); he voted against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; and he has repeatedly voted against withdrawal from Iraq. You’re right, Bill. Only a zany ultra-liberal wouldn’t vote for Mitch McConnell, paragon of good governance.

Penance: Aren’t we the ones paying?

Poe Cos.

One of the city’s largest private developers, Poe Cos. launched a smear campaign this year against two women in the Irish Hill Neighborhood Association who raised public opposition to a major project in their neighborhood, and eventually filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the project because Poe had come up short on environmental regulatory procedures. When Poe lost the suit, the company threatened to build storage units instead of the ultra-modern, mixed-use development near Distillery Commons. The city eventually stepped in to regulate.

Penance: Take your toys and go home, Poe / Quoth the children, Never mo’!

Cordish Cos.

The Baltimore-based developer of Fourth Street Live has monopolized downtown Louisville by pimping a figment of our collective imagination (we are a big city) and strong-arming the Mayor’s Office and Metro Council into accepting a sweetheart deal for even more prime real estate in one of the most expensive parts of our little burg. They still hate you for your baggy clothes and, depending on who’s working the door, might not let you in because of them.

Penance: Require Cordish to contribute 1 percent of profits from Center City to seed new, locally owned businesses downtown.

Kentucky Democratic Party

It was the most substantial pro-Democratic political groundswell in recent history, and Kentucky Dems didn’t make any real strides in the 2008 elections. Sure, you can blame the state’s redneck, right-leaning populace for some part; and sure, you can bring up the fact that Bruce Lunsford’s campaign outperformed Obama’s by 10 points and pulled nearly 100,000 more votes than the president-elect in Kentucky; ultimately, the party didn’t make any significant gains in the General Assembly.

Penance: “Groundhog Day”-style reliving of Nov. 4, 2008.

Anne Northup

“Anne Northup will lose badly and leave politics forever.” Thus predicted the headline of editor Stephen George’s column in the June 25 issue of LEO Weekly. Prophetic, or just common sense? Northup embedded herself in the Robert Felner scandal for no discernible reason, accused John Yarmuth of opposing Christmas, staged an unannounced press conference at the Veterans’ Hospital and was booted from the property by federal police, was the scariest thing in the Highlands Halloween Parade and responded to the aforementioned LEO column in a piece of campaign literature that drew hordes of negative attention for the former congresswoman.

Penance: Change your last name to “Northrup” so our frustration over people misspelling and mispronouncing your name can finally end.

Denise Harper Angel

The Democratic state senator sued Independent candidate Scott Ritcher off the ballot (for all intents and purposes) in a race that featured a Republican challenger, John Albers, who had in the relatively recent past fired a gun at a man he claimed had stolen from him. In Kentucky, an independent candidate must procure 100 signatures from voters in his/her district to get on the ballot. Angel challenged that some of Ritcher’s signatories were not constituents, and a court agreed, thereby nullifying Ritcher’s candidacy — offering a clear landslide to the senator and further chipping away at our conception of actual democracy.

Penance: Pay for our lawyer when you sue us for defamation. (Just kidding — no, seriously, we’re kidding. It’s a joke. Seriously. Kidding.)

Chris Thieneman

Exhibit A: Dressed up as Osama bin Laden at a community fair to protest “bomb storage facility” in South End; was escorted out by security.

Exhibit B: Told WHAS radio host Francene he was dropping out of Republican primary against Anne Northup; renounced his own party and endorsed Democrat John Yarmuth on air after a tiff with Mitch McConnell; tried to take it all back once he realized he was suddenly an independent.

Exhibit C: Failed takeover of the Jefferson County Republican Party; escorted out by “security.”

Exhibit D: Led the opposition to the library tax in 2007, which was soundly defeated.

Penance: Work the stacks of the public library, downtown branch.

Daniel Essek

Way to put Kentucky on the map again, dude! If it’s not a tornado, a trailer park or the goddamn Creation Museum, it’s a redneck like this slouch, filing a federal lawsuit challenging the citizenship of one Barack Hussein Obama, president-elect of the United States.

Penance: White House butler, bitch.

Hunter Bush and Joe Fischer

See entry re: Daniel Essek; substitute “University of Kentucky students who hung an effigy of one Barack Hussein Obama from a tree” for the bit about the federal lawsuit.

Penance: Jail.

Woody’s Tavern

You’d think a tavern that sports a rainbow flag and has Queer Beer on tap would be the last place you’d find discrimination. You’d think wrong. At the Old Louisville hole Woody’s Tavern one night in April — according to four U of L students, one alumnus and one faculty member — Woody’s owner David Norton, with his dogs in tow, barged in and unleashed a string of bigoted and racist remarks, adding that he doesn’t like “bitches” in his club. (Norton denied it.) So what’s up with the dogs?

Penance: No Cher on the jukebox for five years.

Chain Gang beats down local eateries

How come some of Louisville’s locally owned familiar favorites have bitten the dust, while there are hour-long waits outside The Cheesecake Factory, Outback Steakhouse and O’Charley’s? Seriously, people. Throw out those all-you-can-eat-for-$9.99 coupons and try something new. Original. Local. Support your neighbors, not the Chain Gang. We pray for your soul. A moment of silence for the deceased: Caffe Perusa, Primo, Frank’s Steakhouse, Ferd Grisanti’s, Da Vinci’s, Nio’s, RockWall, Park Place and Browning’s at Slugger Field, Sweet Pea’s, Omar’s Gyros, Sahara Café, Rick’s Ferrari Grille, Frolio’s Pizza, Pepper Shaker BBQ, Bistro New Albany, Kunz’s, Stratto’s, Jenicca’s, Mazzoni’s, Melillo’s, et al.

Penance: Double calories in your Bloomin’ Onion.

John Yarmuth

Voting against it before he voted for it, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said he hated both versions of the initial $700 billion bailout. “I hate the bill I voted against … I hate the bill I’m going to vote for today …” What sort of fuzzy logic then allows an “aye” vote? Now every industry in America has its hand out waiting on a corporate welfare check. JY: Next time, stick to your gut instinct and just say no. That gut’s been damn good to you so far.

Penance: The return of “Hot Coals.”

Doin’ time in line at the MMJ show

An enthusiastic crowd of 10,000 swarmed Waterfront Park in August to throw up fists with local boys My Morning Jacket. We danced, we laughed, we sang — we stood in line. Beer was in short supply; Port-o-Pots were just as scarce. Not a good equation when you figure in the binging-purging time-continuum ratio. Some blame the State Fair for stealing all the beer trucks and Pots; others point to last-minute ticket sales.

Penance: Carry a flask and use Depends in moderation.

Miller Transportation

Who wants to board a charter bus to shop for art at local galleries? Nobody. So it’s a good thing Miller Transportation Inc. did not get its way in trying to take over TARC’s Friday night trolley-hops along Frankfort Avenue and Market and Main streets. Officials with the Louisville-based Miller complained that they should have a chance to bid on providing the service. The Federal Transit Administration said not so much, ensuring free trolley-hops for the foreseeable future.

Penance: Shuttle drunk hoppers home when they miss the trolley.

Steve Kragthorpe

The University of Louisville football team got off to a bad start, losing miserably to UK in its season opener. From that point on, things didn’t get much better under second-year Coach Steve Kragthorpe’s leadership. Although Krag’s record is only slightly less than .500, it looked as though his team quit trying around mid-season, and that’s just plain unacceptable.

Penance: Resign!

Creation Museum visitors

It’s bad enough that Kentucky is home to the Creation Museum, an “educational” facility that teaches humans roamed the Earth alongside dinosaurs, and that Adam and Eve were living the good life in Eden until their hunger got the best of them, paving the way for this world of sinners. In October, the museum clocked more than 550,000 visitors, who shelled out $20-a-ticket to tour the place. F’real.

Penance: Just your basic science class.

East Market Street McDonald’s

After an employee hurled a string of anti-gay slurs (read: “faggots,” “cocksucker” and “bitch”) at a group of gay customers, the supervisor on duty allegedly responded by doing absolutely nothing. Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the group filed a discrimination complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission.

Penance: Golden arches, meet Golden Rainbows.

Original Highlands Neighborhood Association

When Wayside Christian Mission voiced interest in moving its shelter for women and children into the former Mercy Academy on East Broadway, the neighborhood association reacted fast and furiously in opposition. The group soon began throwing around the term “mega-shelter” to cast the facility — a 106-bed affair — in a negative light. At least one resident, however, came right out and admitted in the pages of LEO Weekly that she didn’t want “an increase of homeless crack addicts in the area.” Yep yep.

Penance: Volunteer at Wayside.

Group of 18 dismissed teachers

One had a sleepover with students. Some used expletives in the classroom. Another threatened to bring a gun to school. These are among a long list of reasons Jefferson County Public Schools opted not to renew the contracts of 18 teachers, who in turn tried to sue the county for breach of contract, arguing they should have been given a second chance. Rightfully, they were laughed off.

Penance: Detention, followed by, you know, finding a new job.

Gun-loving lawmakers

It turns out Kentucky is tied with Oklahoma for having the country’s most lax gun laws, according to a report issued this year by the Brady Campaign. Yee-haw! Among the more ridiculous aspects of the commonwealth’s laws on firearms: forcing businesses to allow guns on their premises, and permitting deadly force as a first resort during a confrontation.

Penance: Blanks.

Noise solution

The only “noise” emanating from The Monkey Wrench on Barret Avenue is owner Dennie Humphrey’s sigh when the cops show up. Seriously, if you call the police while Kim Sorise is DJ-ing, you probably have no taste, hate music and think law enforcement needn’t bother catching actual crooks causing actual harm. Let’s keep the griping to a minimum, and the perspective in order. The strength of the Highlands is its diversity, the residential commingling with the commercial. If some drunkard walks into your lawn and pisses, then complain. But you inherit a certain level of activity when you live near a bar, and that needs to be taken into account.

Penance: Four hours in a dark room with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” on repeat.

Radio waves

October wasn’t a great month for anyone, much less J.C. White, a jock at WGZB 96.5-FM. White, a 22-year veteran, had just started her normal shift when, 20 minutes in, she was called into her boss’s office. “At 10:40, they were letting me go. At 11 a.m., I was at home watching ‘The View’ having a Coors Light,” she said. But White isn’t bitter. “No company is perfect,” she said, adding that she’s worked as a consultant for Mainline Broadcasting, WGZB’s parent company. But she does believe urban radio is hurting itself by buying too much of what it thinks is a good thing: syndication.

Penance: Ten minutes of static for every minute Ryan Seacrest is on the air.

Fox schlock

Kroger kicked LEO Weekly out of their stores in 2004 for being political (and sexy), but the Prude Police have stayed noticeably mum about foxrocks.com, the website for Clear Channel’s WTFX 93.1-FM. That’s where you’ll find these photo galleries: “Thong of the Day,” “Stripper of the Day,” “Wet on the Net,” “Judge a Jugg” and “Hooray For Boobies.” We couldn’t find the “Guess My Age” link — maybe that’s on the books for 2009. But hey, if the nation’s largest wireless company (Verizon) and Kentucky’s former target for automotive expansion (Hyundai) — both of which advertise on the site — want to be associated with trite sexual objectification, be our guest.

Penance: List 4000 Radio Drive on Kentucky’s sex offender registry.

Eliahu Academy

The Jewish community suffered a blow when Eliahu Academy shut down earlier this year. At one point, the day school had enrolled as many as 150 students from Reform, Orthodox and other branches of the faith, but dwindling funding forced cutbacks, and its projected enrollment for 2008-09 was only 15. A proposal to merge with Torah Academy also failed. Lay leaders are meeting to try to open a Jewish Day School by August of 2009.

Penance: Whoops — wrong religion.

C-J copy editor who killed Muhammad Ali

Sure, you could blame Gannett for keeping the C-J painfully thin on resources, but c’mon copy desk: You ran a caption tagging Lonnie Ali the “widow” of The Greatest — who is, of course, also known as a guy who is alive. The paper ran a correction, but the flub was indicative of the pressure that comes with putting together a newspaper without necessary resources, like good copy editors.

Penance: Dude’s already been laid off; now he should get in the ring with Laila Ali.

Jim Host

The guy who’s skirted state open meetings and records laws for two years as head of the Arena Authority didn’t lose his luster in ’08; in fact, we’ve got a huge hole at 2nd and Main to prove it. Host, the notoriously bullheaded puppet master who’s done whatever it took to get the downtown arena rolling along — including dumping a huge bill on taxpayers — finally sat down with LEO Weekly for an interview this year, and he attempted to belittle our reporter in the process, which was pretty awesome of him. Maybe this year he’ll tell us why we’re building the thing on the waterfront.

Penance: Run suicides with the Louisville hoops team in 680 days, or whatever that goofy countdown clock at 2nd and Main says today.

The reckless Louisville driver

You know who you are: The guy who speeds around the cyclist and doesn’t leave enough space for comfort; the woman who’s focused on a cell phone and doesn’t notice the pedestrian crossing with the signal into her right turn; the dude who angles his SUV across the cyclist’s path without a second thought. There are myriad scenarios here, but the point is this: The culture here is changing from a driver-only place to a big-tent transportation town where people actually walk and cycle to get around, and drivers need to step up. Pay attention. Your car is a deadly weapon. There are, on average, more than 20 incidents a year where cars hit pedestrians and cyclists. Totally avoidable.

Penance: $7 a gallon.

Bunbury Theatre

The 23-year-old community theater, which could stand to take a few more chances but has done some rather inventive work in the past, to be sure, got sideways about a few of our reviews a year ago, such that they stopped giving the newspaper review tickets and basically told us we weren’t welcome. Now they’re complaining that they never get reviewed in LEO, and they’re curious to know why. Here’s a start: Attempting to ban a newspaper’s critics (yes, that’s plural) because you disagree with their criticism is not getting you anywhere.

Penance: A season of Samuel Beckett.

Gov. Steve Beshear, year one

Talk about false starts: Beshear came out with guns ablaze, and … well, somebody took those guns right outta his hands. David Williams, to be precise. The governor’s ideas for getting the Bluegrass a little more cash flow — first casino gambling, then a hike in the cigarette tax — fell as flat as a drive through Kansas (despite making absolute, painfully coherent sense, also like a drive through Kansas), after he apparently miscalculated the political acumen of Williams, the state’s most powerful hick. While this Loserville entry might as well be about Williams (how predictable), we blame Beshear for not figuring out a way to subvert the General Assembly’s chief obstructionist. After all, that’s why we elected you.

Penance: A 5-percent “Governor’s Tax” that requires a newly elected governor to spend at least 5 percent of his political capital trying to remove David Williams from his Senate leadership post.

Sonny Landham

We hoped a former adult film star inserting himself in the U.S. Senate race as a third-party candidate would have provided a little more comic relief. But there was nothing funny about Sonny Landham, the ham actor who played Billy in “Predator.” He opened his toilet-bowl mouth and out poured a call for genocide against Arabs, whom he repeatedly referred to as “ragheads,” among other inanities. The Libertarian Party quickly catapulted him. Dude, go back to porno.

Penance: Grease-wrestle former “Predator” cast mates (and successful politicians) Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Gracie Lewis

The civil rights activist has (sadly) become a mean-spirited old lady notorious for weird bully tactics. She’s also got a dirty mouth that could make Katie King blush. After berating a child at a summer program, she called the child’s mother at her office and left this gem on the answering machine: “This is Gracie Lewis you black bitch. You better not never bring your skinny, narrow ass and get in my face again because I will kick your black ass. Peace.”

Penance: Answer phones at Circuit City’s customer service call center. Peace!

Metro Council Democrats

Jerry’s kids on the Council proved this year once and for all that they’re rubber stamps. Weeks before the land purchase deadline for the old Water Company block, just about every Democrat voiced reservations about the city’s sweetheart deal with Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based developer of Fourth Street Live currently being handed downtown Louisville on a silver platter by the Abramson administration. The group of 15 was so indignant about the deal they … voted in favor of the multi-million dollar giveaway? Yep yep.

Penance: Can anyone say “Metro Council challenger”?

Metro Councilmen David Tandy, D-4, & George Unseld, D-6

Developing a big-city downtown means adopting a big-city homeless culture. This dynamic duo proposed an ordinance to sweep Louisville of its rustics and derelicts, saying beggars were becoming uncontrollable, aggressive panhandlers who were scaring off tourists and conventioneers. The ordinance passed, but a quick stroll of Fourth Street reveals the Great Downtown Bum Purge missed a few. We’re still being asked for spare change, and we’re still sparing it.

Penance: Live a week on Louisville’s streets this winter.

“Citizens for Family and Moral Values”

The person or persons who created the glossy, double-sided and obviously high-priced homophobic mailer that cost Ken Herndon a close primary race for Metro Council last spring are still unknown. It was definitely a low point in local campaign politics, and a few seedy characters are still orbiting the controversy. We remain unsure of who purchased, produced and delivered the hate mail — for now.

Penance: What reciprocates a hate crime?

Liquor ban

Not all the problems in west Louisville emerge from the plethora of convenience stores that sell alcohol, but Shawnee residents and their area clergy surely thought so last year, enough that they successfully banned selling liquor in four precincts with a ballot initiative. Now in effect, it seems to have reduced crime in the area, if slightly. Storeowners cried racism and residents did too, but maybe both sides should acknowledge their flawed logic and stop thinking panaceas could solve Louisville’s inner-city problems.

Penance: Storeowners: sell healthy foods and drinks. Shawnee residents: binge until you can prove alcohol leads to crime.

Hurricane Ike vs. Louisville

Usually when hurricanes hit the Bluegrass they’ve been reduced to a cool breeze, but Ike came to Louisville and literally knocked our lights out for a week. The biggest blackout in the city’s history — and the most expensive cleanup — makes you wonder how prepared our little burg might be for the full brunt of Mother Nature, were she to come knocking.

Penance: Pay a higher LG&E bill to make up the repair cost of the power outage — oh wait, we’re already doing that.

WLOU 1350-AM

During this historic presidential campaign season, the management at Louisville’s oldest African-American radio station sent out a memo threatening to fire its anchors if they mentioned or interviewed political candidates before Election Day. Listeners and anchors were further misinformed when WLOU personnel said the decision was based on FCC guidelines. They lied and later admitted the rules were their own, based on the station’s gospel format. Because Jesus hates democracy.

Penance: New playlist = 50 Cent + Air America.

Ohio River Bridges Project

Thus far, some $411 million in state and federal funds has been allocated for the “two-bridge solution,” which has as its thesis the concept that the best way to reduce traffic congestion in and around downtown Louisville is to in fact offer more cars the option to drive there, by building a downtown bridge, expanding Spaghetti Junction to 23 lanes at its widest point, and adding an East End bridge to spur development in Southern Indiana. In terms of progress, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, there continues to be design work, archaeological work, land surveying, and right-of-way acquisitions in Jefferson County. KYTC is expected to submit an updated financial plan to the federal government by the end of the year.

Penance: 86 the Bridges Project.

Clay Foreman

Hiring a suspected coke addict to oversee your public works department was bad enough, but once the furor erupted in the sub-city of Jeffersontown, Mayor Clay Foreman kept adding gasoline. After his buddy, former Public Works Director Joe McMillan, was arrested on cocaine charges, Foreman created more doubt and speculation about the extracurricular activities of his own schnoz by refusing to take a drug test administered by the council’s chosen agency. Foreman instead went to the city’s BaptistWorx, an agency with which he reportedly has major pull, and was to subsequently deliver the results to the council.

Penance: Sponsor for Amy Winehouse.

State Sen. Gerald Neal, Raymond Burse & Walter P. Porter

Putting a theater in west Louisville looked like a good idea in 1999, when Broadway Cinemas opened with a red-carpet premiere of Michael Mann’s film “Ali” (remember Will Smith’s laughable performance?). Unfortunately the cinemas failed miserably, but the owners refused to pay up for their pipedream. After arm-twisting from a U.S. attorney, the trio will now have to repay $800,000 to the U.S. Small Business Administration in connection with their operation of the now-defunct theater.

Penance: Open another theater in west Louisville.

Mayor Jerry Abramson

Pink is the new Scarlet Letter? Local artist Brad White’s “The Learning Curve” bike rack, commissioned by the Downtown Management District in 2005, was installed on Fifth Street near the courthouse. Apparently, the mayor didn’t care for the pink sculpture, and its removal was blamed on a failure to communicate. While in storage, and on its way to its new quarters at the Brown Theater, the sculpture suffered $3,000 in damages, which Downtown Development Funds will be used to repair. And after a group of unknown scratch hacks ruined it for the real artists and their audience, the mayor’s office hasn’t budged on creating another public graffiti wall. Why do we put this on Abramson? The buck’s gotta stop somewhere on public art.

Penance: Spray-paint the courthouse pink.

New Albany smoking ban

Even before the global financial meltdown, New Albany was looking forward to a year of tough choices, ranging from rental inspections to sewage rates, and from street repairs to downtown revitalization. Predictably, the city council prepared for the very worst by ignoring it, instead squandering time by enacting an unenforceable smoking ordinance that was immediately vetoed by Mayor Douglas England. New Albany’s summertime smoking debate careened off the scientific rails, divided the city, fulfilled its reputation as an open air museum of political dysfunction, and in the end, all of the city’s important issues remain, orphaned, unaddressed, and ignored … just like always.

Penance: Bum a smoke?