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January 23, 2007

City Strobe: Abramson to star in ‘Bridges of Jefferson County’

Mayor Jerry Abramson gave his yearly State of the City address to a sardine-packed Rotary Club meeting at the Galt House last Wednesday afternoon. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t heard this before and don’t want to, stop reading now. It should play out in a decade or so. After a brief pat on the back for making Louisville a financially sound and stable city that is rated one of the safest in America, Abramson honed in on four key issues we must tackle now, so that five to 10 years in the future, we can again pat ourselves on the back. “These four issues need to be transformational for the city,” he said, stressing the word “transformational” 11 more times throughout the speech. Key No. 1: Increase our park systems throughout the Metro area. “We plan to add thousands of acres over the next few years,” he said. Key No. 2: Continue to build community momentum in the downtown area. “What happens in downtown Louisville does not stay in downtown Louisville,” the mayor quipped. “A city with a vibrant core increases the quality of life for all its citizens.” He stressed that developments like the Museum Plaza and Fourth Street Live are just the beginning for our once-desolate downtown. Key No. 3: Ensure the quality of education from grade school through local colleges and universities. Abramson noted that JCPS plans to hire a new superintendent this year, and that we should, as a city, support our colleges and universities academically as much as we do athletically. “The new jobs we create will only be as good as the workforce we have here,” he said. Key No. 4: Construct two new bridges and give Spaghetti Junction a much-needed makeover. Mayor Abramson said this should be our first priority, noting that it recalls the airport situation in the ’80s — “It was complicated, controversial and no one thought it would get done,” he said. “It’s time for us to move forward with the Bridges project. It’s time to turn debate into concrete and steel. ‘The Bridges of Jefferson County’ is not a romance story, it’s going to be a transportation story. The sooner we build it, the cheaper it will be.” —Sara Havens Skate park will not close, despite ominous warnings Most viable sales strategies work in simple ways. Striking fear to gain attention, for example, is a classic. That’s the motivation behind the fliers circulating around Butchertown lately, the ones with the word “warning” stamped across the top. They go on to say that the recent problems with neighborhood graffiti may force Metro Government to close the coveted Extreme Park, or skate park, as less-extreme people seem to call it. Worry not: The Extreme Park will not close. Fourth District Councilman David Tandy’s office created and distributed the fliers late last year in response to growing complaints from neighbors and business owners about the proliferation of graffiti in the area. Tandy’s legislative aide, Rob Haynes, said Monday that at a meeting last December with Metro Parks about another issue in the district, the agency informed them that it may choose to close the Extreme Park in response to the graffiti problems, which is where Haynes said they got the idea for the flier. Haynes said the agency soon clarified that it wouldn’t close the park for good, only temporarily — to clean up graffiti. Jason Cissell, public information officer for Metro Parks, told me over the weekend that Metro Parks has no plans to close the park for good, nor was that ever its intention. Cissell also said Metro Parks doesn’t think the graffiti at the Extreme Park is being produced by the same people tagging in the neighborhood — the nature of the park’s graffiti is considerably different. Tandy said the point of the flier was to encourage park users to help identify the taggers. “We want people to appreciate (the Extreme Park), to take care of it,” explained Tandy, who was on the advisory board that shepherded the park to existence. “If you’re defacing someone’s personal property, it’s all of our responsibility to stand up and say no, that’s not right.” —Stephen George Cruisin’ for cancer Last week, Norton Healthcare launched a $100-million program to fight cancer in Louisville, including plans to buy a $1 million cancer-screening vehicle that will cruise the city’s neighborhoods targeting prostate, lung, breast and colon cancers. The timing could not be better, considering several CSX train cars full of methyl ethyl ketone, cyclohexane and butadiene burned for much of the week, scorching not only TV reporters’ tongues but also the already battle-scarred lungs of local residents. Besides the TumorMobile, the anti-cancer effort will include 100 new employees, a new radiation center and new prevention centers in local cancer hot-spots like Smoketown, Rubbertown, Obesetown, Mercuryboro and Methyl Ethyl Ketoneville. Norton should figure business will boom, considering Kentucky has the highest cancer rate in the nation and Louisville’s rate is higher than even the Kentucky average. Of course, Rubbertown was the destination of that CSX cargo of poison, where those chemicals are converted to rubber for tires. And guess what it would be impossible to have a TumorMobile without? That’s right: tires. Life (and death) are funny that way. —Jim Welp Stop, hey, what’s that sound? With so many people dying in a fool’s war that 70 percent of the nation opposes, you may be wondering where all the protestors are. While there have been plenty of local protests, their attendance has been disproportionate to the overall dissent in the community. That’s no doubt due to what everybody from George Bush’s handlers to Charles Rangel to the ghost of Richard Nixon all keenly understand: An all-volunteer army = a complacent populace. A military draft = thousands in the streets. It’s a far more successful strategy to bait enlistees with college money while also making sure college is expensive. As the war’s futility and bloodletting grow, though, so do the protests. And, with two major marches on Washington looming, the Louisville Peace Action Community wants you to get off your complacent butt and join the action. The first march is this Saturday. And there’s a major march on the Pentagon on March 17 to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion and the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 march on the Pentagon. For info on the marches as well as upcoming local protests, visit www.louisvillepeace.org. —Jim Welp The daily Strobe is still fighting at The Lip: LEO’s News Blog: www.leoweekly.com. Contact the writers at citystrobe@leoweekly.com