Clown car council

By outward appearances, the Louisville Metro Council seems overwhelmed, busy with a tremendous number of vital issues: the gun violence and opioid crises, police Chief Steve Conrad’s status, KFC Yum Center and soccer stadium finances, sanctuary city demands and Councilman Dan Johnson’s sagging pants saga.

Some issues are vital, others merely dramatic…

Unfortunately, the Metro Council has wasted much of the year stymied by the council members’ own personal or political doings, missteps and ignorance. Meanwhile, other important business is being delayed.

The council should be making news for advancing this city’s interests, not wasting time and money.

As Courier Journal reporter-turned-Metro commentator extraordinaire Joe Gerth wrote: “Why would anyone want to get involved in Metro Council politics — it’s got a long history of nasty internal wars that can affect politicians years later. It’s a place where political ambition goes to die.”

The council has successfully trudged its way through the necessary processes, such as passing a budget. Congratulations, but, let’s be honest — even Congress has kept the lights on… most of the time.

The council also managed to delay the enforcement of a Waterfront Park parking fee until private citizens rallied and donated their own money. It’s unclear what the council actually did in this case, but we don’t want to short them of well-earned, backhanded credit.

Outside of that, the council has lived up to Gerth’s meager expectations.

It took a meaningless, nonbinding vote of no confidence on Chief Conrad. There is merit in putting your name on the record, but the gun and opioid crisis marches on. Behind the vote is the council’s belief that Conrad is responsible for violent crime in the city. This vote fixes nothing.

It’s complaining instead of acting.

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Such posturing is what voters resent about politicians. Like when congressional Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare over 70 times, knowing President Obama would never sign such a bill. We’ve come to find like the Republican posturing on healthcare — it’s great for winning votes, but doesn’t improve people’s lives.

Similarly, it’s easy to blame Conrad, but simply complaining isn’t an answer.

And then we have the new, not-exactly “sanctuary city” ordinance, which reflects the mayor’s new police policy. Neither achieves anything but a cowardly political middle ground that doesn’t protect immigrants.

At the moment, the council is busy with the seemingly never-ending Johnson story. To put it in perspective: Johnson was in trouble long before Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Hoover (and a growing share of the state legislature). Given the national spotlight of this culture of sexual misconduct by men in power — which comes as no surprise — it’s worth recognizing the good that can come out of stories like Johnson’s. For example, it’s important that this saga has led the council to construct a new protocol for handling such sexual misconduct by a council member.

But why didn’t it have one before? If nothing else, it seems that these procedures should have been in place after the GLI trip in Austin… or before?

This lack of preparedness by the council has led to wasted time and wasted taxpayers’ money, not to mention a continued unease among some women working in Metro Hall. Then, to top it off, the council pushed Johnson’s case to a trial, which revealed it wasn’t ready to remove Johnson because it didn’t fully understand the process, risk of appeal and potential costs.

Just this week, they were already back at it, accusing Johnson of violating a plea agreement.

How many times and ways can the same group be unprepared?

So, what about that long-awaited, seriously-overdue-tree ordinance? After this much time, one would expect it to be controversial… or at least indicate a strong, meaningful policy. Nope, this ordinance is a single step above the aforementioned non-binding resolution — merely a message acknowledging where we stand on the issue. And if you think I’m exaggerating, then explain to me why GLI, Louisville’s chamber of commerce, suddenly decided it wasn’t against it. It didn’t say it was for it… but the proposal is so toothless that the voice of Louisville’s business community suddenly didn’t have an opinion after years of opposing it.

Oh, and where do we stand on the sidewalk buffer zone around the women’s clinic? Do council members think the abortion protests are over? Or maybe that can wait until after someone gets Dan Johnson a belt.

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