The Big Idea the Mayor Didn’t Like

Nice contest, except for who won.

Maybe you heard about the big project to encourage new ideas in the city. The Greater Louisville Project and Louisville Public Media promoted a contest in which locals were to generate ideas they thought would be good for the city. The idea was that some new and innovative ideas would be brought forth, and the author of the winning idea would get an audience with the Mayor.

Except a funny thing happened. 26 percent of the 2,374 votes cast went to a huge idea that every public official has pooh-poohed on a regular basis. So they changed the rules a bit, and allowed the top 5 idea-generators to sit in on the meeting.  There’s no way the Mayor was going to spend a full hour hearing all the sensible arguments for 8664.

And so the Mayor was forced, on Wednesday, to sit and talk with 8664 co-founder J.C. Stites and act interested in a plan that he has no interest in seeing through or hearing about. Fortunately for him, the rules change limited 8664’s portion of the meeting to about 10 minutes.  Still, it had to be a bit uncomfortable, and Fischer is likely happy that his Mayoral primary opponent Tyler Allen wasn’t there.

Now, of course, according to Stites, Fischer was polite and showed interest in the 8664 idea (which goes totally against the Ohio River Bridges Plan he supports). But Fischer asked Stites no questions. This entire argument is familiar turf.

“I hope he’s going to be an agent for change, but I didn’t expect him to change his mind,” Stites said.

Meanwhile, the Bridges Project itself trudges forward, though many transportation experts not getting a paycheck from the organization say the project is the wrong move at the wrong time, and the people who do have an interest in getting it done have come up with zero ideas for coming up with the necessary funding. And Fischer is just going along for the ride.

The other ideas, according to Mayoral assistant Phil Miller, got their hearings as well. There’s an interesting idea brought forward by a vendor, Ankur Gopa, that would get the city involved in texting business to both allow citizens and government to share info. There’s a tree planting idea, one for creating a fund to reward Creativity and some sort or economic development plan for the South End.

Still, I don’t think organizers of the Big Idea contest imagined that 8664 would be such an overwhelming favorite big idea, or that the contest would put the Mayor in the uncomfortable position it did.