Yes, summer sucked. Even LEO Weekly, the normally flowery, sunshine-and-rainbows newspaper was dour about how bad the summer was in Louisville. But this is LEO’s Readers’ Choice issue, in which we celebrate our eccentric readers’ favorite parts of Louisville, and, to be fair, it wasn’t all bad.
So while the election-from-hell rages on for the next month, this is a good opportunity to squeeze-in one more positive perspective on humanity. These are my choices for the best of 2016 (so far), and they even include some laudatory words for Governor Tweets-A-Lot, Matt Bevin (whom I fondly refer to as Kentucky Trump).
Ah, but first I have to celebrate Kentucky Trump/Matt Bevin’s epic failure to usurp the powers of all three branches of government. The winner of the 2016 category for Best Slap-Down, goes to the Kentucky courts, for their — not one, not two, but — three decisions (so far) overturning actions by Bevin.
Bevin has averaged nearly one lawsuit per month during the time that he’s been in office. And despite being someone who incessantly talks about getting Kentucky’s financial house in order, he has no problem spending on legal fees and lawsuits.
But the courts earned this accolade for three reasons. First, the Supreme Court ruled that Bevin exceeded his executive powers by ordering budget cuts to state universities. While it doesn’t seem to have impacted Bevin’s ego, the ruling is an important response to someone who clearly doesn’t understand the job to which he was elected.
Kentucky — 1. Bevin —zero.
The other phenomenal ruling was that Bevin acted illegally in disbanding UofL’s Board of Trustees. The judge found that: “Here, the legal issues go to the heart of the democratic process.”
Kentucky — 2. Bevin — zero.
The final — and most important to the lives of individual Kentuckians — was a decision by a Jefferson Circuit Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit Bevin brought against Planned Parenthood. According to a Courier-Journal article in July, “The judge found that cabinet officials, prior to the Bevin administration, had followed 20 years of consistent application of the law and state regulations involving abortion clinics. (Judge) Perry said it ‘defies reason’ to conclude Planned Parenthood willfully violated the law.”
Kentucky — 3. Bevin — TKO.
Finishing a close second is Chris Hartman of the Fairness Campaign, for his beautiful response to WDRB General Manager Bill Lamb’s support of the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s indefensible position against the LGBTQ community. Still, kudos to Lamb for providing Hartman the platform to respond.
But Bevin’s rookie year hasn’t been a total embarrassment. He wins this year’s Silver Linings Award for securing felony expungement legislation, potentially restoring rights to tens of thousands of Kentuckians. State Rep. Daryl Owens, sponsor of the bill, deserves significant credit, as well.
Also contributing to Bevin’s Silver Linings Award is his work to provide a pay raise to Kentucky’s social workers. They deserve it, and Bevin deserves credit on the rare occasion that he improves Kentucky.
The next superlative I would like to award is to the city of Louisville and Mayor Greg Fischer for their/our success in appropriately navigating the electrically-charged, racially sensitive issue of moving/removing the Confederate monument near UofL’s campus. I’ll call it the Doin’ It The Right Way Award. From the leadership beginning the process, to everyone peacefully allowing the court process to proceed and courteous public dialogue, everyone deserves to be acknowledged for making American democracy work right here in Louisville.
Finally, the Best New Addition To Louisville goes to the bridge opening (with the second bridge nearly complete). The downtown bridge, taking the name of Abraham Lincoln, and its sister up the river, will be done earlier and significantly under budget. America needs more infrastructure investments like this one (and it can take the traffic it’s caused with it).
A close second was the Omni Hotel project, but that’s an early favorite for the 2017 award.
So while the summer sucked, and continues to torture us with 80-degree days (in October!), it wasn’t a total loss. And hey, it’s almost basketball season, which has to be better than last year.