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Republican councilmembers ask Mayor Fischer to resign with resolution; Democratic member calls it ‘a colossal waste of time'

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer described Louisville's continuing trend of deadly violence as...
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer described Louisville's continuing trend of deadly violence as “very alarming.”(Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News)
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 1:04 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Members of Louisville’s Metro Council have asked Mayor Greg Fischer to step down from office.

>> ALSO: Scroll down to the read the full resolution + Fischer’s response

A resolution asking for his resignation was filed Monday morning. It was sponsored by several council members who said they feel frustrated with Fischer’s handling of the protesting and rioting; sky-rocketing numbers of homicides, shootings, and car-jackings; a lack of transparency about the Breonna Taylor case and the problems with the city’s police department, among other issues.

The resolution comes a week after Fischer sued the council in an effort to stop LMPD Interim Chief Rob Schroeder and Public Safety Director Amy Hess from publicly testifying under oath about the recent unrest. A judge will hear that issue on Aug. 24.

This is the first time the Metro Council has officially asked for Fischer to step down. However, only an impeachment proceeding could force him out if he declines to do so voluntarily. It is unclear if council members will head down that road.

The impeachment process would require 10 council members to file for proceedings. According to the impeachment guidelines set forth by the state, two-thirds of the remaining 16 council members would take a vote, meaning a total of 21 Metro Council members would have to be in support of impeachment.

If it passes, then Deputy Mayor Ellen Hessen would become interim mayor for a period of no more than 30 days. The Metro Council would then vote for one of its members to finish the rest of Fischer’s term.

Republican councilman Robin Engel said the city is in worse shape now than it was in 2010.

“We have been set back a decade,” he said.

Added fellow Republican Anthony Piagentini: “In 10 years do we have better racial relations in this city than we did? Do we have a better or worse homicide rate than we did? Do we have more or less shootings than we did?”

The number of homicides has increased from 52 in 2010, the year Fischer took office, to 92 in 2019, and 98 so far this year with more than four more months to go. The number of shootings has increased by 116 percent over this time last year alone.

Council President David James, a Democrat, has joined the chorus of Fischer critics this year.

“There is frustration with the mayor and his handling of certain situations on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

Other Democratic Metro Council members say the resolution is a distraction and that the city has bigger issues that need sorting out. Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith one even called it “a colossal waste of time.”

“It’s a colossal waste of time for anyone on the Metro Council to file a resolution of this nature, because we have so many really serious issues and challenges in our community right now,” the Democratic District 4 councilwoman said, “and the 26 members of the metro council, we owe it to the community to focus on the things that we can really do something about and we should be focused on the major issues at hand.”

Councilman Bill Hollander echoed Sexton-Smith’s sentiment.

“Louisville has real needs: reforming our police, fostering racial equity, and responding to COVID-19,” Hollander, the Democratic District 9 councilman, said. “Council Republicans are taking a page out of President Trump’s playbook and distracting us with a political sideshow.”

Sexton-Smith pointed out that the council had voted ‘no confidence’ in former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, but nothing came of it. She added the frustration she and other Government Oversight Committee members feel over the Breonna Taylor lawsuit shouldn’t translate to ousting the mayor.

“It’s obvious to me that there are a number of folks who are not happy with the proceedings, and we’re exercising the powers that we have for the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee,” Sexton Smith said. “We have launched the independent investigation, using the power and authority we have and we also issued the subpoenas and that is power and authority that we have. It’s very unfortunate that because a judge has ruled a certain way and the two legal teams are debating what the next moves are going to be, some members of Metro Council, do not want to even follow the own set of guidelines that we have in place. Just because you don’t get what you want, doesn’t mean you should throw your arms up in the air and put forth the resolution as that is as unproductive as a ‘no confidence’ vote in our mayor. If anything right now, Metro council should be standing together and standing strong for everyone in the community. There’s 780,000 folks in this community, many of them voted. Our mayor has been elected a number of times and he’s serving his third and final term. I would much rather see us focus on the LMPD issues that we are faced with, and those issues are real, and the racial issues and those issues are real, and the global pandemic. These are things that we should be focusing on and working on together.”

Monday afternoon, Fischer issued a statement responding to the calls for his resignation:

“These are the kind of partisan and divisive political games that have paralyzed Washington, D.C., and it’s sad and shameful for Republican council members to bring them here to Louisville. These are difficult times for all cities in America, ours included, and these challenges are bigger than any one person. As previously said, as Mayor I have responsibility for addressing these challenges and I am deeply sorry for the hurt experienced by so many. But now is the time for all elected officials to work together, more than ever, toward common solutions to the ongoing crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and the calls for racial justice. That’s what I’m doing. Louisville residents deserve no less.”

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