What we want Mayor Fischer to accomplish during his last term

Greg Fischer was elected to his third and final term as the mayor of Louisville. Six LEO writers each wrote about what they would like to see Fischer accomplish during his legacy tenure.  

Get a major development in The West End
OK, Greg. You’ve got one last go at this. There’s no cushy Obama White House job waiting for you. No new terminal at the airport will be named after you. Jerry is still Louisville’s mayor for life. But you’ve got one more crack at it. One last chance to do something radical. One last chance to prove that you aren’t a corporate Democrat who means well, but does… I’m not entirely sure, outside of keeping donors happy. How about devoting your last term to The West End? I know, I know, possibly the most unimaginative ‘What should Greg do?’ — but it’s unimaginative because it’s the biggest hole in his resume. I don’t mean say it. I mean do it. Devote people and resources to it. Stop just crossing your fingers and hoping that Junior Bridgeman does it for you. The East End doesn’t need it, Downtown is almost done. Make The West End the top priority. Investment, jobs — shit, how about somewhere half-decent to buy food? Stop gentrification and developer speculation, improve services, make community policing mean policing for the community. The West End is full of people who know what is needed and who are prepared to roll their sleeves up to get it done. Show the same commitment. Create a lasting and meaningful legacy.—Two Brits In The Lou 

Make Louisville a subversive Sanctuary City
Talk is cheap and promises evaporate in the slimy and convoluted world of politics. Sometimes that takes the blunt, unfiltered route of whatever train of egregious, bat-shit lies Donald Trump is momentarily attaching himself to. And sometimes it’s more subtle and nuanced, like last year, when Mayor Fischer promised that Louisville would not target immigrants among the nationalistic rumblings that were sweeping across the country, because this, after all, is a “compassionate and welcoming city.” But, then, the Louisville police were caught working with ICE, as reported by the Kentucky Center For Investigative Journalism. As a result of the story, Louisville implemented a new, somewhat tighter ordinance detailing how the police can work with ICE. The LMPD are only supposed to respond if a judge signs a warrant, or a federal official alerts the police to a risk of violence or danger to the public, the Courier Journal reported. The latter part of that ordinance is still open-ended, leaving room for loose interpretation. Working with ICE — really, in any capacity — is not what our city should be doing, morally speaking, but it’s also a waste of our police force’s time and taxpayer money. We’ve been dancing around declaring Louisville a Sanuaury City for long enough. Sure, a Sanctuary City is an open-ended term, but Mayor Fischer declaring it would display a thumbs up to our immigration population and a middle finger to Donald Trump. Then, Fischer should back up that statement with a stricter policy — something like: no officer assistance for ICE unless a violent crime is in the process of being committed. Also, under the current ordinance, city employees can still provide information to ICE agents — something that should also be banned. It would likely take us out of compliance status, but history is going to remember Donald Trump as a clown among vipers, so rock the boat. Treat organizations like Occupy ICE fairly. Be as subversive as possible to hateful federal policies. Find new and creative ways to make this administration’s existence miserable. But, first, just go ahead and declare Louisville a Sanuaury City. Let’s stand in solidarity with the other cities. In 2017, a federal judge determined that Donald Trump’s executive order to strip Sanctuaury Cites of federal funds without Congressional approval was not legal. That ruling is still held up in court, and there’s a possibility Trump could attempt to punish cities in other ways, but the House turned blue last night and would help fight that. From here on out, it’s a winning battle. Or at least one worth fighting, because it’s the right one. Plus, we’ll remember it, Greg, when you run for governor.—Scott Recker

Fix the sewer system
The National Weather Service reports that 2018 is shaping up to be Louisville’s wettest year on record. The effects of climate change are upon us, putting us at risk for catastrophic flooding. Flash flooding in particular is an increasingly serious threat to public safety for neighborhoods inside the Watterson Expressway, where the combined sewer system is rapidly overwhelmed during heavy rain events. MSD has begun updating this essential infrastructure, but progress is not keeping pace with our warming planet. Adapting to climate change requires a coordinated effort from multiple metro departments, as well as the private sector. Mayor Greg Fischer should prioritize expanding and accelerating MSD’s Critical Repair and Reinvestment Plan, while enlisting other departments to decrease the volume of stormwater entering the drainage system through the use of green infrastructure. Public Works could replace swaths of asphalt and concrete with permeable pavers. Parks Department could be tasked with increasing green space acreage and naturalized areas, especially wetlands. We need ordinances and initiatives that will equip and empower individuals and businesses to install rain gardens, cisterns, and green roofs on private property. That’s all going to take bold leadership. Be a leader, Mayor Fischer. And hurry. It looks like rain.—Casey Shepherd

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Use technology to solve food deserts
One of the best things Mayor Fischer’s administration has created is the Office of Performance Improvement and Innovation (OPI). OPI’s chief, Daro Mott, and his team help Metro agencies set goals, measure them and continue to enhance operations and outcomes based on their ability to apply data and evidence-based solutions to public problems. OPI trains Metro employees and helps them monitor their work. This has helped to enhance the operations and outcomes of some Metro agencies. In his third term, it’s time for Fischer and his team to take this to the next level. Despite national awards on the city’s website, much of the brilliance of OPI’s work is buried across various agencies’ webpages and hardly anyone knows exactly what key performance indicators (KPI’s) Metro agencies are measuring. This makes it very difficult for Metro’s partners to work in partnership with local government. Let’s look at the work to improve food access and grow the local food economy. Many community-based organizations are looking for ways to enhance access to food in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores and farmers markets. Created under Mayor Jerry Abramson, the Louisville Farm-to-Table program has existed 10 years to improve the amount of local food sold across Louisville. Despite this program, we have witnessed at least a half dozen grocery stores close while the mayor promotes “bourbonism” and cuts ribbons for distilleries, breweries and new hotels. None of these efforts are yielding access to more local food. We can’t eat bourbon. How can OPI’s work support economic development efforts so that Metro works in partnership with others to creating shared visions and goals for our local food economy in ways that increase food access and develop markets for regional farmers — collaboratively? Metro going at it alone isn’t working.—Cassia Herron 

Cool the heat island
Voting is one thing, but when the right candidate wins, they need to know why they were elected. Now that Mayor Greg Fischer received the voters’ love, we’re still here to hold him accountable. We need a real tree ordinance, one that protects more than trees on rights of ways. A resolution is already proposed in the Metro Council directing the Louisville/Jefferson County Planning Commission “to review the land development code regulations with regard to the preservation and planting of trees.” The review is the first step toward an ordinance, and Fischer’s leadership will be paramount to A) getting it passed, and B) ensuring it is a transformative legislation. Trees can improve the quality of life in Louisville, relieve the strain on our water and sewer infrastructure, improve property values, attract people to move and live here, and literally save lives of those vulnerable to inclement heat and air quality. Louisville can be a leader in the region, and versus our peer cities, in longterm investment in restoring the urban tree canopy. The city’s business and nonprofit communities will follow the city’s leadership on this issue, and so will voters. This could be Fischer’s legacy.—Aaron Yarmuth  

Do more for the homeless
Angela Leet ran a thin campaign. She didn’t have a lot of firepower to attack Fischer with, and Louisville certainly is not a city where Republicans are very popular. Leet lost. A bright spot in the mess of Kentucky politics. As this is Fischer’s last term, he has the chance to set Louisville up to truly become the compassionate city he’s proclaimed it to be. In line with that, Fischer has the ability to position Louisville as a conduit and model for change across the state of Kentucky. One issue Leet tried to gain traction with was the seemingly escalating issue of homelessness in the city. While the mayor has appointed a task force to address the problem, there needs to be action taken immediately before the cold weather arrives. Several ideas have been floated including sanctioned encampments, tiny homes, more transitional housing and better legislation. Fischer should address and move to do all of these things. Period. No single solution will work, but a combination of these would be outstanding. He’s certainly got nothing to lose within our city. Truly creating a city where vulnerable populations feel safe would only be a win for him and for our city.—Erica Rucker 

 

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