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June 13, 2006

Your Weekly Reeder: Must...infiltrate...Arena...Authority

Please keep this to yourself, but I’m thinking about retaining Robert Kahne of Yarmuthgate fame to infiltrate   the office of the Louisville Arena Authority, and never mind that the Authority does not yet have an office, other than Chairman W. James Host’s briefcase.I hate to resort to such low tactics, but I have no choice if I am to continue my quest to find out why so many of our city and state’s high and mighty are so determined to cuddle up with E.ON U.S., owner of the Ohio River site where they are bound and determined to put the new arena.It’s amazing, when you stop and think about it.• Mayor Jerry Abramson and his Republican opponent, Kelly Downard, the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the 2006 election year, virtually scratch and claw to see which can get the most credit for supporting the so-called LG&E site.• The ugly political rift between Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, both Republicans, has erupted into Grand Canyon proportions. Yet both still support the LG&E site with a ferocity that must bring tears of joy to the eyes of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the party boss and former Fletcher patron.• U of L President Jim Ramsey continues to defy logic, not to mention big-time university supporters David Jones and John Schnatter, by adamantly insisting that U of L will take its basketball and go home if the arena is built at the old Water Company site instead of the LG&E site.• Although The Courier-Journal has toned down its support of the LG&E site since new publisher Denise Ivey replaced Ed Manassah — who first floated the LG&E site as a possibility — the newspaper has continued to be passive, at best, and irresponsible, at worst, in its coverage of the arena controversy.To shed some light on these mysteries, I filed an Open Records request with the Arena Authority on March 8.My goal was to find out what Host had done on behalf of the Arena Authority from the time Fletcher named him Chairman on Sept. 28, 2005, until the Authority’s first public meeting on Jan. 20 of this year. About all I knew for sure was that Host had spent a lot of time working out of the office of Ed Glasscock, the professional civic do-gooder whose law firm represents E.ON U.S.After much legal and verbal sparring — I had to get an opinion from the state attorney general informing the Arena Authority that it was, indeed, a public agency and in violation of state law for not responding to my request — I finally received a package of material from the Arena Authority on Monday, June 5.It weighed, oh, three pounds and mostly contained copies of stuff I already had. But there also was some legal verbiage from Mark Sommer, the Authority’s general counsel, about why Host had no legal responsibility to turn over the records I requested.In effect, Sommer’s response was an invitation to go to court. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have the resources to do that. So whatever Host did during the crucial formative stages of the Arena Authority is destined to remain a secret shared only by Host — who, of course, publicly pledges allegiance to the concept of transparency — and selected fellow schemers.Which brings me back to young Mr. Kahne, the Yarmuth supporter who took it upon himself to try to infiltrate the campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, the Republican incumbent whom Yarmuth will try to unseat in November.Instead of laughing it off as a silly and clumsy political trick by an overzealous kid, the Northup campaign reacted with thunderous outrage. Campaign manager Patrick Neely even called it a “Nixonian dirty trick,” which was hilarious to all of us who remember Watergate and how the Republicans went to great lengths — many still do — to deny that President Richard Nixon had any culpability in that nasty little campaign caper that came to be known as Watergate.Anyhow, if Kahne wants to become a Democratic version of G. Gordon Liddy, he deserves a second chance, and I’m thinking seriously about giving him one. The public deserves more information about why the unholy alliance is so fixated on the LG&E site that it’s willing to overlook Host’s well-documented penchant for dispensing misleading information.Unless an epidemic of civic and moral responsibility grips the Metro Council, which must approve the $350 million bond issue to finance an arena at the LG&E site, or unless some citizens are concerned enough to file a taxpayers’ lawsuit, it looks to me that a, ah, working arrangement with Kahne, or somebody with similar designs, is the only answer.