Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day Six - Out of the Heart of Darkness

Day Six, Saturday

Power has been restored through a large portion of town, but pockets still remain, many closer to town, especially in the Highlands, Germantown, Camp Taylor and other liberal-voting parts of town, where there are more trees and more exposed wires. I'm sure the late Reverend Falwell would attribute that to their voting patterns, but power also lacks in parts of Okolona, Valley Station, and Jeffersontown, where people voting Republican outnuber those of us of the left. The school systems (public and Catholic) have announced classes will resume on Monday. Stores have been restocked and refrigerators have been wiped clean, ready for some new purchases, which everyone has to make.

So, how have we fared? Honestly, given the enormity of the storm, I think we’ve done quite well. There has never been anything like this in the history we are aware of – such widespread destruction and the resulting lack of power. Most people either on their own or with the help of neighbors and friends, and even folks they don’t know, have cut up the limbs, swept up the leaves, and have probably made their trip to Kroger for restocking.

But there are still about 60,000 homes without electricity in Louisville, which is about 1/8 of LG&E’s entire service area. That number is still about 80% of those which were out in the aftermath of the April 3rd tornado thirty-four years ago. There is still much, much work to be done.

One of the things that has come out of this is an awareness by folks who live in the old City of Louisville, the only government in Jefferson County which was wiped away by Merger, that people in the area outside of the old City want to use City taxes to pay for tree removal. People in the old City pay both a City and a County tax to receive more services. Those services include Fire protection, street lights, sidewalks, and solid waste removal. The mayor has always argued that the old City money has never been spent in the area outside of the old City, although, frankly, I have always doubted that statement.

Thursday, for the first time since Merger came in (five years ago), a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office finally acknowledged that City folks pay double taxes (City and County) and those extra dollars are only to be spent in the old City. I’ve never heard his office expressly say that before – it is something City taxpayers have been waiting to hear since 2003. The old City also used to get the dividend payment from the Louisville Water Company, a company solely owned by the old City of Louisville. That money is now spent throughout the County, an obvious slight to the former shareholders, that is the people of the former City of Louisville.

In so many ways, the government voted in by the people in November, 2000 has been a failure. For the record, I voted no, as I usually do on any ballot measure. I also wrote a number of letters to the editor of the Courier-Journal on the subject, letters which were used against me in my 2002 race for the Council, one I admittedly lost in an overwhelming fashion, letters used to accuse me of not being a team player. Those accusations were wrong in that I was a team player, I just wasn’t playing for the mayor’s team. Now there are a number of people out in the County upset that the mayor is using City tax dollars for City residents only. It is a novel idea, something he should have been doing for the last five years and nine months. Several County members of the Council are introducing an ordinance to force the mayor to spend that money in the County. They should be introducing an ordinance to raise taxes in the County so they wouldn’t be needing the City’s money to solve their problems. But that isn’t going to happen – I know that is simply wishful thinking on the part of City residents who think the County residents are taking them for a ride with the consent and support of the mayor and members of the Council. We see what happens in the showdown at City Hall next week.

But, I digress.

All in all, the mayor and his team have responded as well as could be expected with such a large amount of work to do and they have done a good job under the circumstances. There are still limbs and wires down, streets closed, and homes and businesses without electricity. But everyday a little more work is done. The weather had, up until Friday, been cooperating with warm days and very cool evenings, but Friday’s temperature climbed back toward 90. Today has been mostly an overcast day of pleasant temperatures. That's been good for the 20,000-plus visitors here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 in town for the interantional golfing event known as the Ryder Cup. It is being shown on NBC.

As with all things, we’ll survive.


The upcoming week promises to be busy. There are political events almost every night, my 30th high school graduation reunion is this week, a big Lewis family reunion will be one week from tomorrow in Frankfort, and I'll be 48 on Tuesday.


Bruce Maples said...

48 on Thursday?!? HAH -- spring chicken.

As for the "city" money being used in the "city" -- last I checked, there weren't no city any more, just Metro Louisville. The dual-taxation system helped us get through merger (which I supported) without having to raise everyone's taxes to match the city's -- but it looks to me like it's time to reconsider that funding plan. And this storm may help shake up the status quo so that we can address things more realistically:

"You want 'free' garbage pickup, and yard waste pickup, and so forth? Great! Here's your new tax rate."

Oops -- I just said something honest about taxes and money. No way I'll get that Metro Council seat NOW. :--)


BTW -- I'm one of those thousands without power. Based on the absolute rat's nest of cables right down the street from me, I'm guessing we may go another week without. Panera sure is making a killing off me and mine.

Happy Birthday!

Jeff in Clifton Heights said...

Jeff-I certainly don't mean to reduce your posting to a single issue, but (here I go) I thank you for mentioning that former COL residents (the only residents of the Metro whose city was wiped out) pay doubly on taxes, and without a doubt (show me the books!) some of those monies go out to Shively, JTown, Valhalla, probably Hurstbourne, too. I agree that merger did not do city residents justice and am glad you put the issue out on the table again.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.