The Merger 2.0 task force held its final public hearing at the East Government Center in Middletown tonight to hear public comments. Twenty of the 23 task force members were in attendance.
The meeting was conducted by co-chairs and former Jefferson County Judge Executives Rebecca Jackson and David Armstrong. A stenographer was taking down speaker comments and running the front and center timer. The other task force members sat in the back along the wall in two rows and seemed mostly attentive with a little side conversation.
On the outset Armstrong said, “If you are here for something other than merger, you’re in the wrong place.” Armstrong also said “We cannot answer questions here.”
94 members of the public attended with 11 signing up to talk and nine actually delivering monologues. Two apparently heeded Armstrong’s admonition and as the second and third individuals called declined to talk when their names were called.
However, other speakers not heeding the admonition ranged from special interest group leaders promoting their causes to a citizen complaining that he did not know who his metro council members were in the districts where he owned two homes, to others complaining about MSD’s high drainage fees to a complaint about how people exploited the use of dumpsters in the last West End flood. Despite the number of irrelevant comments, Jackson and Armstrong only spoke up when people were over their allotted five minutes . . . and to thank people for speaking.
One of the germane comments came from Jacob Conway who said, “I think the merger has been very successful.”
However, Conway suggested that the Metro Council be made into a non-partisan body. Conway said that he knows people who are hesitant to run for Metro Council because of the hardship of having to wear a Republican or Democratic Label. He said “I do think it would foster a higher caliber of candidate stepping up.”
State Representative Ron Crimm, (R, Dist-33) also got up and said “I think that it is the best vote I ever cast in Frankfort.” He said, “I’m happy the way it is going.”
The last speaker of the night named Mike called Merger 2.0 “ a form of tax persecution” to property owners to raise property assessments. Mike read from a prepared manuscript and recommended a local sales tax on hard durable goods. Mike had mentioned he had spoken last week. He was one of those moved to the back to the line. I thought despite his radical comments, he was actually interesting to listen to and entertaining in how he used inflection at certain times like some Nickelback songs.
At 7:49 Armstrong and Jackson opened the floor to anyone else who wanted to talk. There were no other takers and the meeting was adjourned.
Co-chair Rebecca Jackson commented at the end of the meeting “It was very well attended and we actually heard a few things that we hadn’t heard before and people had the opportunity to be heard.”
There was a glossy handout available at the sign-in table entitled “Merger by the Numbers.” There was no mention of this handout at all in the meeting. You can look at it at http://www.louisvilleky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/63990474-A283-4DD0-94F9-D4B6DABB9BF0/0/mergernumbers3.pdf
It would have been useful if a comment would have been made as to why this was made available at the meeting.
Otherwise, given the intent of the Merger 2.0 task force according to the Mayor’s executive order of January 6, 2011 and what I heard tonight, I can’t wait to see the Task Force’s report due on the Mayor’s desk October 1, 2011 (I figure it will be public record and posted on the Metro Govern
ment web site.) How the task force will incorporate all the public comments is a curiosity.