LOUneyville: Commentary on the year’s craziest stories

Dec 9, 2015 at 2:01 pm
LOUneyville: Commentary on the year’s craziest stories

It’s that time of year again! Sleigh bells jingle, Santas invade malls, and LEO relishes another year of “Lou”nacy. Not to be confused with our “Fake Issue,” which is appropriately confined to April Fool’s Day, Louneyville comprises actual stories, despite how “Lou”dicrous” they might sound. From smart people doing dumb things, to plain ol’ dumb people doing their thing, it is the gift that keeps on giving … LEO must’ve been good his year because there’s a big Louneyville 2015 box beneath our tree.

For those who know us, it’s all in good fun. Well, maybe not all, but we feel it is our job to bring social, sarcastic and snarky commentary to the year’s craziest stories … we just have fun doing it. For those who don’t know us, or fail to understand good, ol’ fashioned teasing, we can’t wait to publish your hate mail in next week’s Your Voice.

The curious case of Cahoots

The end of Cahoots is nigh, most likely. The high-profile, embattled Bardstown Road watering hole had its liquor license suspended in October — the shot of death for any bar — after a series of public controversies saw them labeled a “public nuisance” by authorities.

No one knows exactly when Cahoots became considered a hive of scum and villainy. Housed in the former Tewligans, it carried the torch as a home for the punk community in a familiar divey atmosphere. Louisville Hardcore’s wiki entry on Cahoots states, “If the Mag Bar is Louisville’s punk Valhalla, then Cahoots is Louisville’s Hel.” To wit, this type of chatter permeating local lore of drug trafficking and general unsavory behavior for years eventually culminated in a 2014 police raid. Compounding matters, Phoenix Hill Tavern closed over the summer and bequeathed its runoff of those about to get turnt. A World Star-worthy video of a late night street brawl (that involved citizen tazing!) in August went viral and local media sicked their dogs to 1047 Bardstown Road. The video was titled “Cahoots Fun,” but the bar and their attorney claimed the video didn’t even take place there. That wasn’t enough to convince the neighborhood or law enforcement, citing this breakdown in social order as simply the latest in a string of skirmishes.

However, the reaction to the escalation of Cahoots’, we’ll say, “whackier” moments is the more interesting story. On social media and in conversation, the city watched as the generally progressive,  but decidedly white, 40204 exercised a little mental acrobatics in trying not to sound racist while also being totally fucking racist (a large number of the former Phoenix Hill-cum-Cahoots patrons were African-American). While incidents of violence and disorder did increase over the summer, how much of it had to do with increased numbers versus something environmentally unique about Cahoots is anyone’s guess.

The truth is, many bars are often the epicenter of less-than-dinner-table-appropriate behavior. Cahoots was simply much more overt about it. Last month, The Courier-Journal discovered St. Matthews area bars like Tin Roof and Diamonds, and even neighboring joints like Baxter 942 and Nowhere Bar see a similar or greater number of police calls and criminal activity. So it’s possible if Cahoots’ location and clientele were different, this might be a totally different story. Regardless, the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood of The Highlands got its nice quiet community back, save for, you know, the large strip of loud bawdy lawlessness along Baxter Avenue.

Penance: Vacuum left behind by Cahoots quickly filled by the latest Guy’s American Kitchen location. •

The Card Chronicle comment section’s reaction to Katina Powell

We like the Card Chronicle. This is in no way a hit on them. Comment sections — including ours — can be a breeding ground for unreasonable doofuses who feel empowered by throwing fire from behind a computer screen. And when zealot sports fans and scandal meet at the crossroads, scorching takes usually occur. •

Penance: Commentors must read the entire comment section to their mothers ... unless their mother is Katina Powell.

Card Chronicle comment section
Card Chronicle comment section

FOP President Dave Mutchler

Full disclosure, LEO recognizes and respects the tremendous strains, pressures and dangers of being a police officer. Most here, and across the country, will never fully appreciate the difficulties of their job. As well, much consideration needs to be given for the national climate, and tensions between police, the public, media, race-relations and the evolving battle between their safety and ability to perform their jobs, as well as the safety of the public from bad police.

With that said, it is entirely possible that president of the River City (Louisville) Fraternal Order of Police, Sergeant Dave Mutchler, was having a bad week when he issued a public statement on behalf of Louisville police, admonishing the public and media that openly criticize or question the police.

The letter included messages and threats to “the sensationalists, liars and race-baiters,” proclaiming, “If your behavior or untruths causes harm to us or the public, we will make every attempt to have you investigated, charged and prosecuted at the local, state or federal level.” Even in times of passion and/or distress, a police officer, particularly one in a leadership position, should know why this is so wrong.

As for questioning the media, he wrote, “Many in the media are self serving too, and we watched as they stood on the sidelines and fanned the flames for financial gain … As police are disempowered the predominately minority areas of cities, including Louisville, are suffering at the hands of killers and violent felons. Yet you continue to attack law enforcement. Your attacks can’t stop the truth from shining through.” However, when we see what has happened in Chicago, where over a year ago an officer shot a 17-year-old boy 16 times, continuing to shoot for 15 seconds after the target fell to the ground (Yes, the kid was holding a knife, disobeying police orders, and reportedly high on drugs, but deadly force is for when an officer’s life is in danger), our hope is that Sergeant Mutchler, and all police realize and respect that the media is doing its job too.

The very sad part of this looney story is that this came toward the end of a very low-level controversy surrounding the use of force against a mentally disturbed immigrant, who charged a police officer with a flagpole. It was as if Sergeant Mutchler felt the criticism from national media outlets were directed at he and the Louisville police, which was an unfortunate breakdown in discipline and leadership.

Penance: Attend sensitivity training while on the 2026 one-way trip to Mars. •

Fraternal Order of the Police letter
Fraternal Order of the Police letter

Mayor McPoopsAlot: from media blackout to TMI!

Ludicrous landmarks in Mayor Greg Fischer’s reign this year prompted Metrophiles to wonder whether the mayor is simply too loyal to a fool or whether they’re enmeshed in codependency. As the buffonery of his longtime communications director, Chris Poynter, becomes more ruinous, Fischer seems oblivious while he aspires to lead a world-class city — or higher office.

But public confidence was shaken as to wether he can squeeze out some business with dignity and regularity after dual public-relations dumps perpetrated by Poynter, the mayor’s mavericky shadow, chauffeur, Tweeter and troublemaker.

In late July, Poynter’s ban of news cameras (still or video) at a briefing on the design enhancements to the controversial Omni mega-project stirred public suspicion. A chorus of “What are they hiding?” was the predictable (if not inevitable) response. When a TV news director protested, the prickly Poynter replied, “Then don’t come.”

The secret blurred by shameless spin and enhanced renderings amounted to this: The proposed high, shiny feral pig would get designer lipstick. The majestic old Water Company building would get dismantled. The meeting, advertised an hour before it convened, galvanized disappointment among champions of preservation, innovation and sustainability. Two influential Fischer loyalists decried the inferior result of a non-transparent process.

Fast forward six weeks to mid-September at the downtown YMCA, where we learn more than we need to know about this dysfunctional bromance. Fischer may be more susceptible to Poynter’s juvenile delinquency because he and his sidekick seem to lack the healthy boundaries or separations that protect individuals and relationships. Evidently, Poynter tweeted an inadvertently revealing photo of his indulgent boss reading The Courier-Journal. The rest of the story is immortalized in headlines across cyberspace, where preservation and progress coexist. “Louisville mayor ridiculed for tweeting from the toilet,” exclaimed dailydot.com. Evidently, spokesman Point-and-Click neglected to crop the picture such that Louneyville wouldn’t be a laughingstock.

One naughty eccentric scribe at brobible.com celebrated Fischer as a “multitasking machine,” “Mayor McPoopsALot,” who can preside over the city while he’s shitting with abandon.

Maybe this oversharing crapshot is Poynter’s idea of flushing the transparency issue. Arguably, too much information is better than none at all. Perhaps there’s hope for a habitual goof’s evolution. Instead of a staging a briefing bound to be bloody, Poynter has discovered the virtue of silence.

Advice to Hizzoner: Make a clean break with a rotten log — wipe twice and flush once. •

Ramsey and his squad

The looniness of this story is bi-fold. First, UofL President James Ramsey, Already one of the top paid university presidents in the country, came under significant public pressure following reports of a raise he was set to receive. This was the ultimate case of someone who was smooth sailing at 77 miles per hour, but decided to drop the convertible and take it up to 90. The Board of Trustees, also chaired by Ramsey, proposed he receive a six percent merit pay increase, as well as a bonus of about $150,000.

This increased compensation also came while university employees received a three percent pay increase, and students saw a three percent tuition boost! LEO is not out to say what the right or wrong number is for a very successful president. We are here to say that this was completely tone deaf and unnecessary. It’s a horrible message to the faculty, students and community, and is certainly looney.

The best part of the story was the attempted defense of the situation by UofL alum, booster, former board chair, real estate … opportunist … and general asshole, J.D. Nichols, who basically said the university and community is fortunate to have someone like him around. In an op-ed he released, he said, “It is beyond my comprehension how various media outlets feel they have the right or obligation to criticize how the Foundation deploys its non-public funds.” Actually, J.D., see if you can comprehend this: the Foundation is a public charity, and as such it has certain obligations of transparency. When the media or board of trustees — who have a fiduciary responsibility to the Foundation and public — feel they are not recieving adequate transparency, it is the media’s responsibility to cover it.

The last thing the media should do is take story pitches from biased blowhards like yourself. Comprendé?

Oh, and the final looney chapter of this book is that the tone deafness of the president continued, when he hosted a Mexican-themed Halloween party, where everyone dressed in ponchos, sombreros and attached fake facial hair. There is certainly an argument to be made for becoming too politically correct, and this may be approaching it. But seriously, why even mess with it? It doesn’t make you a racist, it makes you an idiot, because you should know better.

LEO proclaims that all white men should now and forever simply be garden gnomes for Halloween.

Penance: Live on adjunct faculty wages  for one semester.•

UofL President James Ramsey's Halloween
UofL President James Ramsey's Halloween

Wave 3’s hardon for heroin

In an effort to get the “real story” behind Louisville’s needle exchange, Wave 3 News and reporter John Boel spent five weeks (that’s right, five whole weeks!) uncovering the truth, which is (drum roll please): Heroin addicts go to the needle exchange to get clean needles so that they can safely use heroin without spreading disease (cue the award ceremony!). We won’t even get into the many TV news sins that this report commits (misleading footage, ambush interviews that add no value, reporters using their tone to manipulate the audience), we’ll just focus on the lunacy of the fact that Boel (an emmy award winning journalist) seems to have forgotten to read the Metro Health Department’s report on why a needle exchange is needed. A report that you can find with Google, and mentions important statistics like:

1) Kentucky has the highest Hepatitis C infection rate in the country (I wonder if that has anything to do with people sharing dirty needles?).

2) The average cost for a lifetime of treatment for someone with HIV “can be as high as $618,000 and the lifetime cost of treating someone with [Hepatitis C] is estimated between $100,000 and $300,000.”

3) The cost of preventing drug-related infections (through a needle exchange program) is 150 times more cost efficient than the cost of treating disease spread by infected syringes.

When you read statistics like that (which apparently Boel didn’t) it makes the idea of not having a needle exchange seem not only looney, but fucking stupid.

Penance: Boel must spend five weeks undercover to show people what life is like living as a heroin addict with HIV. (Spoiler alert: It’s hellish.) •

KFC Dumb! Center

This story almost went unnoticed in the community. In mid-November, the KFC YUM! Center changed its total ban on firearms policy. In all fairness, they probably did this under pressure from a looney lobbying firm from Frankfort, who has been going around the state suing public or quasi-public event-venues and arenas that don’t allow firearms. This organization, the Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition, is a bunch of reckless assholes who travel the state threatening lawsuits until public venues acquiesce or lose a court battle.

The truly looney part of this story is that the new policy at the YUM! Center leaves the final determination of whether or not firearms will be permitted at a given event up to the booking agents and promoters of each individual event. Yeah, because booking agents and promoters should be the authority of onsite security, public safety, gun violence, or even the culture of Louisville and the community.

To its credit, the University of Louisville promptly responded by saying that no firearms would be allowed at any of their events, including men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball games. Go Cards!

One final looney note on the Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition: When checking in with them for this article, the top post on their blog/website is a listing for a gun raffle. No joke, for $5, you can enter a raffle to win an IWI Tavor, 5.56 mm with a 16-inch barrel, 30 round magazine. A quick visit to the IWI website, Tavor-model page (iwi.us/tavor) displays a weapon that is described as the “standard issue for [Israeli Defense Force] infantry troops.” Other descriptors on the page include: “battlefield,” “combat applications,” “open-field conflicts,” and “close-quarter engagements.” And it can be yours for just $5!

Actually, that really cool toy is out on the streets somewhere right now, because that raffle drawing was held Sep. 30. Yep, that’s right, something used by Israeli infantry troops and special forces is potentially loaded with a 30-round magazine right at this moment. Who knows, it could be heading to San Bernardino by now.

Penance: Display names of children killed by guns in 2015 on Jumbo Tron.  •

Kim Davis and her ‘meeting’ with the Pope

So many strikingly absurd things happen in this daunting age of political polarization and reactionary social media that I’m sure the editors at The Onion frequently talk about how they continuously get scooped by real life. Kentucky’s shining example is when the Pope and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis — who rose to international news fame for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses — had conflicting stories in terms of what happened at their “meeting.” After creating a shit storm surrounding viral videos of her refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, getting a lawsuit filed against her and subsequently achieving right-wing martyrdom after being imprisoned for failing to obey a basic law, Davis used her newfound — and highly improbable — celebrity to get into the same room with Pope Francis this past September. Problem is, they remember it a bit differently. Davis’ lawyer framed it as a one-on-one endorsement, but the Catholic Church’s wanna-be-hipster overlord, who recently released a prog-rock album, had his PR squad do some damage control on that shit, as it would have compromised the church’s image shift from “everyone’s going to burn in hell for breathing incorrectly, while we cover up heinous crimes” to more of a “peace and love and acceptance and being ambiguous about hot-button issues approach.” Here are a few choice excerpts from a Vatican press release, plus a fascinating Kim Davis lie (unless she would possibly counter with “the Pope was lying,” in which case this would be an even more awesomely bat-shit story):

“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” — Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican Spokesman.

“Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature (embassy) was with one of his former students and his family.” — same spokesman.

Kim Davis, less than a week earlier, to ABC news: “Just knowing the Pope is on track with what we’re doing, and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything.”

I mean, couldn’t you imagine an article in The Onion titled “Even the Pope distances himself from Kim Davis”? Stranger than fiction once again prevails. In other, yet unsurprising, news, she didn’t win Time’s Person of The Year.

Penance: Kim Davis must point to the location of Vatican City on a map before even saying the Pope’s name again. •

Kentucky Farm Bureau

After five years of protests, the Fairness Campaign finally got the attention they deserved. Unfortunately, the attention was from the state police, and it was because they were arrested.

The protests stem from stated policies by the Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB), a lobbying organization, whose mission is, “serving as the voice of agriculture … which will improve net farm income, achieve better economic opportunities and enhance the quality of life for all.” So it seems a bit looney that they include in their lobbying efforts policies like: anti-alternative lifestyles education in school, anti-benefits to “domestic partners,” promotion of traditional marriage only and support of capital punishment.

There are other ridiculous, awful … looney policies, but these don’t come close to what a voice of agriculture should be focused on. Now, these policies are not a reflection of members of the organization. In fact, the policy book is not even distributed to them, but rather to legislators. The KFB would prefer the public not see these hateful, discriminatory policies at all.

Thanks Fairness Campaign for getting your beautiful, loving, gay hands on one.

So anyway, the protest took place at the annual KFB Ham breakfast, where the State Fair’s Grand Champion Ham is auctioned off for charity. The winning bid is always insane (looney), and this year’s $400,000 winning bid was no different. Participants in the auction are generally Louisville-area businesses and organizations who don’t share the KFB’s hateful policies and simply want to support local charities. That said, all potential participants need to reevaluate the message they send by partnering, however loosely, with this despicable organization.

Penance: Free country ham buffets for all same-sex wedding receptions. •

Kentucky elects Matt Bevin

In every respectable poll, even up to the last week in October, Democrat Jack Conway held a comfortable, outside-the-margin-of-error lead. According to random samples and tried-and-true statistics, the reincarnation of Buzz Lightyear as an attorney general should’ve comfortably cruised to the governorship on Nov. 3.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the polling place (and if that’s in Jefferson County, you still don’t get an “I Voted” sticker, which should be treated as a war crime). Voting returns came in swiftly from deeply blue Louisville, showing Conway with only a slim lead. That’s very bad if you’re a Democrat. And when the rest of the state returns came through, Republican Matt “For-Whom-the-Bells-Toll” Bevin had thoroughly given Conway the business to the tune of nine points. Brutal.

Bevin ran on a platform that included dismantling the state’s healthcare exchange, often cited as one of the best implementations of the ACA in the nation, and cutting Medicaid expansion in a state with areas of extreme poverty.

And with that, columnists and pundits cried that Kentucky voters voted against their own self-interest. In fact, they did not. First, it’s not that Kentucky voted against its interests — it didn’t vote. An off-year election, only 30 percent of registered voters bothered to show up. More important, The New York Times recently discovered a startling trend of voter apathy among the nation’s poorest, which certainly includes eastern Kentucky, and in places with abject poverty; it’s usually those doing a little better who participate in the voting process. “The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder,” wrote Alec MacGillis on Nov. 20. “And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.”

For the 30 percent that did vote on Election Day, it’s a bit of a condescending assertion to claim these citizens voted against their interests. They exercised agency and their democratic rights just fine, and, right or wrong, they chose the scorched earth,  “fuck yo’ couch” approach, a strategy the entire nation ran with in 2004. Of course, voters are easily manipulated — Kentuckians overwhelmingly approve of Kynect over Obamacare even though they are the same thing — but they voted their conscious nonetheless.

Matt Bevin framed himself as an outsider successfully, which resonated with the voting bloc that votes in every election, not just presidential or Senate years  (a bloc that decidedly skews older and whiter). His election served as an indictment of Frankfort, and in some ways, a final heave ho to Obama and the political process in general — one that plays well into the narrative of the cowboyization of GOP candidates. And as an outsider with Republicans and despised by the Dems, Bevin has absolutely no incentive to give a shit. Some Frankfort politicos believe he will live up to this prophecy.

The takeaway for Democrats is, of course, to run a candidate that engenders some sort of interest or passion in their voting base. Conway’s neutral rhetoric, ideological flip-flopping, and being as charismatic as a tree burl did the party no favors. At least in 2016, Kentucky Democrats have a common enemy and clear purpose by which to mobilize the base.

Comeuppance: Four years of Matt Bevin. •

Methane Plants for the West End

After decades of having the city’s industrial insults dumped in their neighborhood, West Louisville residents are wise to corporate slick talk and empty promises. So when the West Louisville FoodPort announced that they wanted to build anaerobic digesters (commonly known as methane plants) on their property, residents stood up and said in one resounding voice, “We don’t want it.” So the FoodPort removed them from the plans (if only the story had ended there). Then Heaven Hill Distilleries said they wanted to build methane plants on their property in West Louisville, and residents again said, “We don’t want it.” But Heaven Hill and Mayor Greg Fischer wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and responded by telling everyone that Heaven Hill was a “good neighbor.” Residents looked around at all of the “whiskey fungus” destroying their homes and said, “Nice try, but we still don’t want it.” So Mayor Fischer called for a 60-day period of “education” so that residents could “educate” themselves about the project. Residents started pouring Heaven Hill liquor into the streets and again said, “Seriously, we don’t want it.” So STAR Energy (the company behind the project) offered Simmons College of Kentucky some property and a large sum of money, and residents still said “What don’t you get? We don’t want this in our neighborhood!” But despite the clear message from West Louisville residents, the project is now moving forward and STAR Energy is even expanding it. It makes you wonder if Mayor Fischer and STAR Energy have serious hearing problems, they flat out don’t care or they have been bitten by the looney bug (multiple times (on the brain)).

Penance: Mayor McPoopsAlot must build a methane plant in his neighborhood. •

Protest against Heaven Hill
Protest against Heaven Hill

Rev. R. Albert Mohler

If you’re not familiar with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Rev. R. Albert Mohler, think 18th century “Sinners-in-the-Hands-of-an-Angry-God” preacher, Jonathan Edwards, with a blog and a podcast. In response to President Obama’s Dec. 7 Oval Office address, the patriarchal podcaster lamented Obama’s reluctance to arm America theologically and battle “a theological foe” as he skewed Pew Research data to “count” the millions of Muslims worldwide he says we should all fear.

Speaking of Islam, back in October, the Reverend issued a fatwa of his own: “Christians should boycott gay weddings.” Never mind that Jesus ate with prostitutes and drunkards, Mohler says he wouldn’t even attend his own child’s or grandchild’s same-sex wedding. Never mind the permanent psychological wounding that would result. Never mind the irreparable rift within the family. That’s just how it is for sinners. They have to suffer. They have to be punished.

Or converted — which was the topic of a three-day conference Mohler hosted for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors on homosexuality and transgenderism with over two thousand church-based counselors in attendance. Yeah, while The Reverend disputed the use of the phrase “conversion therapy,” he did say that counselors should base their practice on the belief that homosexuality is a sin and sinners should repent.

Sin and war are foremost for this media mogul, who wrote in a Courier-Journal editorial that he was “far more concerned about the divine verdict of eternity” and “the reality of human sin.”

A national figure, The Reverend is among those (like Trump) with their hands gripping the wheel for a hard Right turn, ready to take the country on a road trip, with war as the final destination. And like Trump, he has a lot of followers. Of the Seminary’s 2014-15 record enrollment, he said it was “a sign of God’s good pleasure.”

Penance: 30 days of hot yoga under the instruction of Bikram Choudhury practiced to the music of fellow Reverend, Horton Heat. •

No Exit

“In 800 feet your exit will be on the right,” your GPS instructs as you cruise I-64 into downtown Louisville. You merge through tortured and twisted lanes preparing to exit, but oops! the exit to I-71 seems to have disappeared or moved to the left. Who knows? The answer might be on that reflective orange sign half covered by a tarp that you caught out the corner of your eye as you swerved to avoid the cars careening by, drivers’ faces contorted in looks of panic and confusion. Too late now, you seem to have been transported into a Seussical cityscape driving up an impossibly steep ramp that has appeared seemingly over night and looks like it might drop you right onto the half-pipe in the city’s skate park.

If you had set aside a chunk of your weekend to read the traffic alert in the C-J (now Sunday’s most substantial feature), you might have known of the Ohio River Bridges Project ramp closures and lane changes, but nothing could help those who work downtown when all of the utility companies undertook simultaneous upgrade projects and transmogrified the city into a neon orange labyrinth (perhaps the mayor’s cagiest attempt to keep Louisvillians downtown after 5 p.m.).

And with the impending construction of the Omni and a planned two-year renovation of the Kentucky International Convention Center, there’s more carbon monoxide fumes to inhale and horn blaring concerts to endure in 2016. Who’d like to volunteer to initiate a light rail feasibility study?

Penance: Brush up on GRE analytical testing skills — If Omni construction is closing Third and Liberty Streets and Convention Center construction is closing Second and Market Streets, and the Starks Building is closing Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, then HOW THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GET HOME FROM WORK?!