Archive for December, 2008

Friends of Otter Creek Park Meeting January 5th

Posted in Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on December 29, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Here’s an update on Otter Creek Park happenings from our affiliated blog http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com:

The next meeting of the group provisionally entitled Friends of Otter Creek Park will be Monday, January 5th, 2009 at the Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Hwy #106 in Southwest Louisville at 7 PM. This group is a citizen-led, grassroots effort to explore what possibilities exist for keeping Otter Creek Park open for recreational usage and free from commercial, industrial or residential development. Given that Louisville Metro government plans to close OCP on Thursday, January 1st, we are also committed to finding ways to reopen the park to the public as soon as possible.

As of this writing, this group has many members but no clear organization or official mission, so defining the group will be the main task of Monday’s meeting. The author of this blog, Joel Hunt, was elected Co-Chairperson of the group along with Patsy Bowman (organizer of the previous two rallies), and as such I wrote an initial email to our members, of which the elements which pertain to the next meeting I’ll share here:

… Our next meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be open to the public and the local news media, as well as any other group with an interest in keeping Otter Creek Park open. Louisville Metro representatives and/or representatives from any other relevant government agency (counties, state, federal) will be invited as well. Information about the meeting will be publicized on http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com as well as on the Facebook Save Otter Creek Park group.

As we all know, the Park will be closed by the city on January 1st, so the next steps that we as a group take will be important. With that in mind, being organized and presenting a clear, coherent message to the community at large about what Otter Creek Park means to us and our families is very important. So in turn I’d like to propose that we develop an agenda for the next meeting, with the emphasis first on organizing as a group by determining sub-committees to tackle individual goals (examples: Petitions and Volunteering; Public Relations and Media; Non-Profit and Charity Outreach, etc.), electing officers, and discussing whether this group should or should not be incorporated as some sort of legal entity. Additionally, I think we need to see what petition signatures we as a group can collect in the next two weeks, and consolidate that data into phonebanks and email lists. Lastly, we need to craft a mission statement for the group, as well develop a media strategy to inform the public. That said, these are what I think the priorities should be, but I am more than happy to keep the agenda open not only to members of this committee, but the general public as well. While saving Otter Creek Park is our goal, we should exercise as much transparency as possible to achieve it.

So send along your suggestions for the meeting’s agenda to this email, saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll put forth a rough version to send to everyone in the next few days (as time allows — obviously the holidays are busy times for everyone, myself included!). If there’s anyone you think should be involved with this effort but isn’t included on this email, please let me know ASAP! Also, if there are concerned community members out there who don’t use email but want to be involved, please put them in contact with myself and the group. We need as many committed people as possible!

With that in mind, we’re sounding the call now. If you are interested in joining our cause, you are welcome to join us at the Southwest Government Center on Monday the 5th. If you would like to take an active role in helping us develop the agenda for the meeting — as well as what direction the group may take — please contact me at saveottercreekpark@gmail.com. I’ll post the meeting’s agenda in the next few days as soon as a draft version is ready.

Additionally, please contact your Louisville Metro Councilmember and invite them to the meeting. You can do so by contacting them here:

Metro Council
601 W. Jefferson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-1100
Address postal mail to individual Councilmember.

http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil/ – This site links to individual Councilmembers.

Additionally, WFPL, Louisville’s National Public Radio station, is running a story this morning that confirms the the City of Louisville is searching for another entity, whether public or private, to run Otter Creek Park after the city closes it this Thursday, January 1st:

Otter Creek Park in Meade County is set to close this week. But efforts aimed at re-opening the park in 2009 are underway.

For decades, Otter Creek Park has been owned and operated by Louisville Metro Government. But the park will close on Friday to help meet a $20 million city budget shortfall.

Metro Parks is looking for another entity to operate the facility, such as the state or the city of Fort Knox. Spokesperson Jason Cissell says even if a new operator is found now, the park will still close this week.

“It would take some time to transition it over to another operating entity, to give them time to staff-up and prepare to operate the facility,” he says. “We don’t have a specific timeframe but we would be hopeful that it would re-open within a matter of months if someone else were able to come in and operate it.”

Cissell says if a public entity doesn’t agree to take over Otter Creek Park, the city may consider private interests. He says a private operator would still be required to keep the facility open to the public, only for recreational use.

This is the first time that Metro Parks has mentioned finding another entity to run OCP, and so far no one from Metro Parks or elsewhere in Louisville Metro government has made an effort to contact our citizens group to inform us of these negotiations. As far as we know, they haven’t contacted any other recreational-interest group, either.

Kentucky Coalition to Sue EPA Over Mountain Streams

Posted in Appalachia, Environment, Kentucky News, Kentucky Small Towns, Media, Politics on December 23, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

The Courier-Journal is reporting this morning that a coalition of groups in Kentucky and Appalachia are suing the Environmental Protection Agency after a lame-duck revision that would allow mining companies to potentially dump waste rock in mountain streams:

A coalition of environmental groups including Kentucky Waterways Alliance has sued the Interior Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to overturn a new rule that will make it easier for mining companies to dump waste rock into streams.

The revisions, made final Dec. 12, will let mining companies disregard a 100-foot stream buffer zone if they are able to convince regulators that no other option was available and that they had taken steps to minimize harm to the environment.

Attorneys with Earthjustice, Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the legal challenge yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The suit was filed on behalf of the Kentucky environmental group as well as the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Coal River Mountain Watch and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

If not overturned, the environmental groups from Kentucky, West Virginia or Tennessee said the rule change would lead to more mountaintop removal coal mining. That’s the mining practice of using explosives on the tops and sides of mountains to get at underlying coal seams.

“The notion that coal mining companies can dump their wastes in streams without degrading them is a fantasy that the Bush administration is now trying to write into law,” said Judith Petersen, executive director of Kentucky Waterways Alliance.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the federal agencies violated environmental protection standards, failed to consider the cumulative effects of stream loss from mining, and failed to analyze a full range of alternatives, among other allegations.

At issue is a new Office of Surface Mining rule that revised a 25-year-old rule that generally prohibited mining within 100 feet of streams, but has been a source of controversy and confusion since it was challenged in a federal lawsuit in West Virginia in the late 1990s. Despite the rule, companies generally have been allowed to fill the upper reaches of stream beds in mountain hollows…

Gov. Steve Beshear along with Attorney General Jack Conway and U.S. Reps. Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth wrote letters to the EPA opposing the rule change. But 20 Kentucky legislators, including House Speaker Jody Richards and House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, followed up with their own letter supporting the change.

We expect the story to get a fair amount of national coverage as well, beginning with this Associated Press piece on the lawsuit.

In other environmental news, yesterday the EPA designated five counties within the Louisville region, as well as some other counties within Kentucky, as non-compliant with federal clean air standards regarding particulates. Fun.

Tonight’s Otter Creek Park Meeting and the Next Steps…

Posted in Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Media, Metro Parks, Ohio River, Otter Creek Park, Politics, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on December 23, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(This post is duplicated from our sister site http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com. As such, we’ve dropped the third person.)

(Kevin Martin addresses the crowd.)

Approximately 150 people came out to the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway on a frigid night to discuss what we can do as citizens to try to keep Otter Creek Park from closure. Brian Tucker of The Valley Report has already posted this fantastic write-up of the night’s activities:

The Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway was reduced to standing-room-only status tonight, as around 150 people jammed the main courtroom to share ideas and plan strategy in order to save Otter Creek Park from permanent closure. Nearly 20% of attendees were from counties outside of Jefferson. The meeting, assembled by concerned citizen Patsy Bowman and moderated by local Realtor Kevin Martin, included Councilman Bob Henderson (D-14) and Mary Ann Vetter, a representative of Metro District 12 Councilman Rick Blackwell’s office. Also in attendance was Renay Davis from Metro District 25 Councilman Doug Hawkins’ office and Joel Hunt, a concerned citizen that maintains a website dedicated to saving Otter Creek Park. No traditional media attended this event.

I didn’t know what to expect because I had heard so little about the meeting, but thankfully the word got out. Those in attendance had the opportunity to throw out ideas on how to generate revenue or expand activities at the park in an effort to keep it open. Here are a few of the suggestions:

  • -Paid memberships
  • -Formation of a “Non-Profit” foundation
  • -A Tri-County Park Commission, consisting of representatives from Meade, Jefferson and Hardin Counties
  • -A First-Class restaurant with an alcoholic beverage licence
  • -Admission fees (per vehicle or per person)

Also mentioned were efforts to involve sportsman, horseman, biking and hiking groups. People seemed against any type of Wildlife Management Area status or residential/commercial development of any kind. Also heard were calls to “open the books”. There are formal petitions circulating. Please sign the petition when you get a chance.

In the end, a formal committee was formed and a chairperson was elected. Congratulations to Joel Hunt, chairperson of the new Committee to Save Otter Creek Park. There will be advance notice of the next meeting. I was very satisfied with the coming together of so many personalities and backgrounds to accomplish this feat. We have only just begun. With this diverse and determined group, I feel confident that there will be a plan developed allowing the park to remain open. They’ve got the guns, but we have the numbers. Get involved now.

So without further ado, I’m pleased to announce that, yes, I will be Chairperson of this new Ad-Hoc Committee to Save Otter Creek Park. I just wrote an email to a large group of people who stayed until the very end of tonight’s meeting to get started on organizing this group, and without butchering it too much, here are the relevant bits for our next steps:

As we also voted on, we hope to have our next meeting at the Southwest Government Center on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 7:00 PM. Patsy, who will be Co-Chair of the Committee, and I will work together to firm up that date tomorrow, and will send an email confirming the meeting to everyone here. Additionally, the meeting will be open to the public and the local news media, as well as any other group with an interest in keeping Otter Creek Park open. Louisville Metro representatives and/or representatives from any other relevant government agency (counties, state, federal) will be invited as well. Information about the meeting will be publicized on http://saveottercreekpark.wordpress.com as well as on the Facebook Save Otter Creek Park group.

As we all know, the Park will be closed by the city on January 1st, so the next steps that we as a group take will be important. With that in mind, being organized and presenting a clear, coherent message to the community at large about what Otter Creek Park means to us and our families is very important. So in turn I’d like to propose that we develop an agenda for the next meeting, with the emphasis first on organizing as a group by determining sub-committees to tackle individual goals (examples: Petitions and Volunteering; Public Relations and Media; Non-Profit and Charity Outreach, etc.), electing officers, and discussing whether this group should or should not be incorporated as some sort of legal entity. Additionally, I think we need to see what petition signatures we as a group can collect in the next two weeks, and consolidate that data into phone banks and email lists. Lastly, we need to craft a mission statement for the group, as well develop a media strategy to inform the public. That said, these are what I think the priorities should be, but I am more than happy to keep the agenda open not only to members of this committee, but the general public as well. While saving Otter Creek Park is our goal, we should exercise as much transparency as possible to achieve it.

As I just stated above, I believe in keeping our group’s goals and efforts as transparent as possible. With that in mind, I’d like to invite anyone reading this blog who may have not been able to make it tonight, or anyone who wants to help out in any way they can, to try to attend the next meeting. Additionally, please feel free to contact me about the meeting’s agenda and your ideas on what should be discussed.

You can send along your suggestions for the meeting’s agenda to the email, saveottercreekpark@gmail.com, and I’ll put forth a rough version to this site in the next few days (as time allows — obviously the holidays are busy times for everyone, myself included!). In the meantime, I’m going to work hard to get the word out once the next meeting’s details are confirmed. Also, if there are concerned community members out there who don’t use email but want to be involved, please feel free to put them in contact with myself and the group. We need as many committed people as possible!

Thanks again, everybody — especially Patty Bowman and Kevin Martin –for all your time and effort. I believe that we will make a difference for the Park that we all love.

Brett Eugene Ralph’s Kentucky Chrome Revue, at the Air Devils Inn Tomorrow!

Posted in Drink, Happenings, Louisville Music History, Music, Music This Weekend on December 19, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Photo of Brett Ralph from this nice review here.)

One of our favorite people of all time, Mr. Brett Eugene Ralph, is bringing his Kentucky Chrome Revue to the Air Devils Inn tomorrow night (that’s Saturday, December 20th if you’re scoring at home). Here’s what Brett says:

Come on out to our first show in nearly a year. We’ve got two new members, lots of new songs, and even a few Xmas surprises. The current line-up includes Chris Reinstatler on drums, Kirk Kiefer on keyboards, Mark “Lupe” Hamilton on lead guitar, Justin Miller on bass, and Jamie Daniel on violin.

The show starts at 10 PM, costs a measly $5, and also includes both Jon Ashley and the Whiskey Bent Valley Boys on the bill.

The Air Devils Inn, one of Louisville’s greatest divey bars, is located at 2802 Taylorsville Road, across the street from Bowman Field and right next to Queen of Sheba (one of the best restaurants in town!).

Welcome Centers to Reduce Hours, Maybe Close; Will State Parks Be Next?

Posted in Art, Economics, Kentucky News, Labor, Media, Politics, Transportation on December 16, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Picture of Marcheta Sparrow and Gov. Steve Beshear from http://commerce.ky.gov/cabinet.)

Here’s an interesting case in contrasting how two different local media outlets report the same story. On our lunch break, we heard a brief story on WFPL about how Kentucky’s Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet is closing Interstate Welcome Centers two days a week to save money, along with some other cuts:

Most state agencies will see four-percent cuts under Governor Beshear’s budget-balancing plan, including the Department of Travel. And that could mean the department will have to reduce hours and close all eight welcome centers two days a week, says Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow.

“I think it will have a fairly significant effect, because they’re the frontline,” says Sparrow. “They’re the people who give information on lodging and restaurants and attractions that people may see and in some cases they give our emergency information and help the traveling public.”

The cuts will also impact funding for the arts, staffing at the Kentucky Heritage Council and operating hours at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort.

The possibility of budget cuts affecting state parks is briefly touched upon, without a direct quote from Sparrow, at the end of the story:

Secretary Sparrow does not believe the cuts will require closure of any state parks, but says if the situation grows worse, that could change.

We thought we’d see how the story is being reported elsewhere, since any possible closure of state parks would be a pretty big deal.

Over at the good ol’ Courier-Journal, however, the same facts are treated much differently in their story, beginning with the headline Parks predicts closings, layoffs without tax hike:

Some state parks would be closed and about 300 employees would be laid off next year if the state doesn’t get more revenue from the Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed increase in the cigarette tax, a state official said this morning.

Marcheta Sparrow, secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said she did not know how many parks might be closed if Beshear’s proposal to increase the cigarette tax from 30 cents to $1 per pack is rejected by lawmakers.

“It could be rather significant,” Sparrow said of the closings. Kentucky has 52 state parks, and 17 of them are resort parks.

Strange that WFPL eschewed reporting on Sparrow’s remarks about the proposed cigarette tax increase entirely. Though perhaps it is stranger still that Sparrow would comment on the proposed increase considering it’s just a proposition, and the legislation isn’t even in session yet.

Additionally, the C-J’s story outlines more cuts:

She said hours at the Berea Artisan Center, Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, and state welcome centers on interstate highways will be reduced. She said there will be reduced funds and technical assistance for artists through the Kentucky Arts Council, and she said there is a “strong” chance that 10 scholarships will be cut from the Governor’s School for the Arts, a summer program for gifted high school students.

UPDATE, 12/17/08: The Courier-Journal is running a story with an even bleaker headline this morning: Budget Crunch May Force Several KY. Parks to Close.

Rep. Yarmuth Assigned to Ways & Means

Posted in Development, Economics, Kentucky News, Labor, Louisville News, Politics on December 11, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Photo of Rep. John Yarmuth from http://www.politinks.com – site appears to be inactive.)

This just in, from Business First:

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, has been selected to serve on the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee for the 111th Congress.

The committee oversees health care, retirement security, tax policy, trade and child welfare matters.

The committee “will be the front line for many of the tough challenges that confront our nation in the coming years,” Yarmuth said in a news release. “I look forward to working for solutions that will revitalize our economy, provide affordable health care to all Americans, bolster retirement security and ensure that every child in America has the opportunity to succeed.”

This could be interesting news for Kentucky businesses. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12/12/08: Here’s the Courier-Journal‘s story: Yarmuth Named to Key Committee.

Visualize Class Warfare T-Shirts Now Available!

Posted in Art, Economics, Elections, Louisville News, Media, Politics on December 9, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE t-shirt handsomely modeled by Cherry Bomb’s Nathan Erickson.)

So back in the halcyon days of August, when gas prices were higher and there was considerably more angst about which candidate would be our nation’s next President, a bunch of us Louisvillians were sitting around a campfire (out in the country near Bardstown, actually), roastin’ some dogs, singin’ some songs, and talkin’ about what the future had in store for our country. Well, let me tell you, through the course of the evening one thing that made us all laugh was that old chestnut of a slogan that you might still frequently see on some old hippy’s beat-up Volkswagen: VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE. While, sure, one could identify with the optimism of such a statement, the sheer impossibility of the task seemed, well, more than a little quaint for this age of quarrel (as 1980s hardcore band the Cro-Mags might call it). What, we thought, our age needs is a new slogan, one that sums up the difficulties of life in the latter part of the first decade of the 21st Century.

And then it came to us! Three of us present on that sweltering August night — Joe Manning, Nathan Erickson, and Joel Hunt — penned a robust slogan perfect for our “interesting” times: VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE. And what’s more, we’ve even printed that same slogan on a t-shirt, a sweatshop-free American Apparel t-shirt, which those of you who understand the troubled times we live in (which should be, like, all of you) can buy! Tired of hearing about bailouts from the federal government to already-wealthy investment bankers? VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE! Sick to death of social services being cut because of the budget crisis? VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE! Nervous about what may happen if you or someone you love is laid off? VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE! Our sloganized t-shirts may not solve any of your problems, but at least you’ll look good while you’re undergoing them.

VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE t-shirts are available exclusively at Cherry Bomb, 1602 Bardstown Road in the following sizes: men’s small, medium, large, and xl; women’s small, medium, large. $18, while supplies last! Cherry Bomb has VISUALIZE CLASS WARFARE bumper stickers for $2.50 too! And be sure to visit www.myspace.com/cherrybomblouisville. Keep up the struggle, comrades!