Most Georgetown City Council candidates leave much to be desired

Note: For those of you accessing this blog after reading a column in Georgetown News-Graphic, please be advised that the following is rated “M” for Mature and contains adult language, sexual situations and partial nudity.

The hard part of the upcoming Georgetown City Council election might be finding eight people to mark on the ballots. With the extreme dysfunction of the past four years (including several “What the Hell?” moments in the past two), I fully support the idea of bringing some change to the group.

Finding the right would-be leaders to bring about that change, though, might prove to be somewhat tough.

I attended a recent forum designed to let the candidates speak on a few issues, but instead of coming away enlightened and enthused, I left bored and disgruntled (mostly, and later I’ll explain four candidates who seem to get it). The event got bogged down by poor lighting, poor sound and, trumping all, poor candidates. Many spoke in dull monotones, a few appeared completely clueless about issues and almost none offered any insight as to how to improve Georgetown.

The cheap buzz word of the night was “economy,” as in “the economy is tight” or “the economy is bad” or “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.” What this translated into, though, is this: “I hear people on TV talking about the economy, and a few other candidates have suggested the Georgetown economy is tanking, so I had better say the same thing or else I’ll look stupid.”

Trust me, there are plenty of other things that make you look stupid, so why not branch out and suggest things other than the economy need the Georgetown City Council’s focus.

Frankly, I’m not sure the Georgetown City Council can do one single thing about “the economy,” at least in terms of how the national problem is impacting people’s pocketbooks in Scott County. The Georgetown City Council is not bailing out any Wall Street businesses. The Georgetown City Council is not coming up with any solutions to the problem.

Actually, if you listened at all Tuesday, you’d realize the Georgetown City Council is a big part of – and I know this is a difficult concept for the candidates and incumbents to realize – Georgetown’s problem. The council approved previous budgets. The council authorized spending. The council let money burn through the proverbial pocket, scarcely stopping to think about what happen when the cash actually quit growing on trees.

I’m going to make the argument that our city’s leaders aren’t even as smart as a squirrel because even that little bushy-tailed rodent has enough common sense to take a nut or two and, well, squirrel it away for when a harsh winter hits. Or even a mild winter. Or, really, just winter itself.

Hey, Georgetown City Council, this is the winter of our discontent.

So, instead, of accepting responsibility and trying to make amends, what has the vast majority of council candidates suggested as a feasible solution to “the economy.”

The solution, according to the city, is simple: George Lusby, please quit hogging the city’s money.

You see, Scott County’s judge-executive and fiscal court have been frugal with the taxpayers’ funds (some might argue too frugal, but that’s another day), and now that they have money in reserves, here comes the city, asking for help.

Sorry, but I don’t think the answer for Georgetown is to pass a collection plate and ask George, et al, to give generously. I’d rather see the council members prostituting themselves on the corner of Main and Broadway. Hey, if you’re going to fuck us, you might as well get paid. (It’s also worth noting that every time you ask George for funds, you’re just begging for merged government. Guess what? It’s time.)

Besides getting help from George Lusby’s House of Lending, the council candidates seem to be pushing another viable option, one that I file under the category of “huh?”. It’s not new news that Cardome is a financial drain, but it’s odd how it only really becomes a major point of contention every two years when the leaves start to change. How about instead of making Cardome a seasonal campaign issue, something actually gets done about it?

Oh, sure, this word museum is supposed to ride in on a white horse and save the day, with most candidates saying it will not only boost Cardome but will bring more money to restaurants and hotels as out-of-town guests come visit.

Really? When’s the last time any of you made a special overnight trip to visit any museum, let alone one for words? I was in Chicago a couple of months ago and didn’t visit the Field Museum, and it has a fucking T-Rex skeleton, which is infinitely cooler than any collection of words. And this is coming from a writer, a man who loves the written word. I can’t, for any reason, picture any sort of scenario that makes this word museum a success. Georgetown, including its government leaders, hasn’t exactly embraced the arts community, and last time I checked, writing is an art (just not in every publication you happen to read).

(Note: I do think some candidates would greatly benefit from a trip to the word museum, including Alan Gibson who called “growth” a big word. It’s six letters, one syllable. I’m hoping he meant it’s an important word).

What can be done? Short of moving, you can vote. In particular, you can vote for newcomers Kelly McEuen, Dick Robinson, Mark Showalter and Connie Tackett. I don’t want to speak about the incumbents – they’ve had two years (or more) to win you over. These four, though, didn’t just recite talking points or rehash statements we’ve heard for years and years. (Although he didn’t overwhelm me at the forum, I also have pretty strong confidence in Larry Prather).

No, this group actually tried to offer new ideas, positive thinking and common sense, all three of which are lacking in city government. I’m not one who gets impressed too easily by local candidates, mainly when most local candidates aren’t very impressive. But McEuen, Robinson, Showalter and Tackett are just that: impressive.

I feel comfortable voting for them Nov. 4, and I hope others in the city do the same.

Or maybe George Lusby can just tell us what to do and save us all.

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21 thoughts on “Most Georgetown City Council candidates leave much to be desired

  1. Kudos and well written. From the very short time that I have lived in this area, I have been scratching my head saying “WTF”? I have always known about small town politics but talk about people owning their kingdoms. Holy Shit, Batman. I see our lovely mayor, Her Highness, is blaming everything on the previous mayor. So be it, but Mz Mayor, your holiness grace, I see you were on the city council then and I dont see your vote against the city spending. And as of recent, what is up with the thought of laying off nine firefighters after you received a grant to bring these guys on? A Grant mind you. As for some of the city council on staff now, dont come up to me and say I want your vote. As far as I am concerned you haven’t earned it. I have had chats with some of the new faces coming in. They have some good ideas, I think I’d rather take my chances with some of those folks compared with what we have now. Is the city in some serious trouble? Oh Hell yes. I have ssen what is going on with the protection of our City and County. From the Fire Dawgs to the Law Dawgs. Hell with all the cut backs who is going to take care of the citizens of our city. Mz Higherness and City Council don’t just turn your heads to what is going on. The county was smart enough to get salt to last a few years for the roads, while you guys said, “We’ll be ok”! It has been pointed out that if we have a bad snow storm who is going to be able to respond to emergencies in the city because there isn’t enough salt to help emergency vehicles arrive safely. How about turning your head when it has been suggested about looking into how some of the business activities that go on in our city that council and the mayor turn a blind eye to., ie: business’ being run in zoned single family areas. What is going to happen when they, who have special needs folks have an emergency? Is the fire dept going to be let known that they store oxygen cylinders in these dwellings? What is going to happen when a fire does happen and a cylider explodes? Have you seen one go off before? I have and I guarantee you the next few houses will have casualties as well. Do we have enough manpower and equipment to respond to this? Simply answered, “NO”. So does that put the lives and safety of your citizens at risk? Most definitely. So have you guys taken that into consideration? Probably not. Why? I hate to say it but you either don’t care, don’t listen or not smart enough to give a shit. I know for a fact a member of emergency services went to their “business” to see if they needed assistance during a several hour power outage and the facilty refused to answer the door. I doubt they will get the same courtesy again if something else should happen in the area. I figure that they can take care of themselves and we can look to help others who may need our assistance. In the meantime Georgetown Elected officials don’t blame the Judge when he tells you to piss off about any other help, I have seen him allow you to do what you want, including cut backs on services from the county only for you to yell we want more. For those that live in the city ask the mayor why there wont be another tornado siren in the city or why there isn’t enough firefighter nor police officers on the street. Don’t listen to them tell you crime isn’t here. Newsflash it is. So if your not able to get to work because the city didn’t plow nor salt the streets because they couldnt afford to. Or you get seriously hurt because you are trying to take care of your family and have to drive on these roads to get to work. Then again the emergency services folks cant get there quick enough but are risking their lives to get to you anyway because they care. In all likelihood the mayor will point the fingers at those who didn’t make these choices for you instead of being a good leader, taking the blame and fixing the problem. I am looking forward to voting here in my new home area, we all can make a difference not only by our vote but remembering this is our city and we will need to help each other and our city council. Come up with ideas that may be a solution, make it a viable one. They may not use it but at least it is an idea that could possibly work.

  2. SOS. Different race. I didn’t make it to the forum, yet after spending two hours of my night at council listening to them bluster yet again of the Cardome and wanting to make sure it is preserved, I’m just sick of them all.

    Singer make my brain want to bleed out my ears, Cooney acts as if she’s been snorking too much aromatherapy, and Glass, well there was one point I believe the man fell asleep.

    I’ll be there tomorrow night, looking forward to someone actually stepping up to that mike and giving them an earful.

    Good write, and right on the (absent) money.

  3. Did you know that every single member of our current city council was born and raised in Georgetown, including the Mayor, City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk?
    This means they all have family, schoolmates, relatives, inlaws, and neighbors which means a lifetime collection of voters who are loyal friends and will keep on voting for them over and over again. It really doesn’t matter that they are uneducated, underexposed, and ineffective. What matters is that the old families remain in control of our city.
    There currently are no “outsiders” who might just be able to bring a breath of fresh air to the way of operating the city. How about a new view, a wealth of “outside” information, experience, culture, expertise, views, education and knowledge? It doesn’t seem like the council and/or the Mayor ever want new ideas or some new innovative solutions to old problems. There are ways to increase businesses, tourism, and economic development that they (the city leaders) haven’t even thought of or mentioned during the last few months or even years!!! For example, they would never even consider changing the alcohol laws, which might just result in successful events at Cardome, encourage small bistros downtown, encourage a performing arts center, and allow visitors to actually buy a bottle of bourbon on the “Bourbon Trail.”

    I love living in Georgetown, but it is like living in a time warp. Energetic economic development, and thinking outside of the box, would give new hope to a stale city government. Let’s elect all new people to represent us newcomers to the community.

  4. No doubt, the city has wasted money. From unneccesary property acquisitions such as the Bradshaw farm, to unneeded projects such as the water park, there has been waste. Cardome, a questionable purchase, shows the “legacy costs” these purchases have, as it has an orginizational chart of ten employees with salary and benifits of $400,000 plus. In defense of the junior members of the council, no such big ticket expenditures have occurred in this most recent term. Its just that the chickens have finally come home to roost.

    However, I think you are missing the point of Mr. Glass’s and Mr. Singer’s positions in regards to city and county taxation and revenue sharing. As you probably remember, a state statute was to stop the county from collecting occupational tax when a population threshold was reached. This law intended to prevent county governments from excessively taxing city residents once a city grew to a size that its revenue demands exceeded those of the unincorporated county. You probably also remember that Judge Lusby used the influence of Representative Hoffman to have legislation passed that specifically exempted Scott County from this requirement. If you sit down and really do the math, there is no doubt that the residents of the city are disproportionately taxed in relation to county residents and the county gets a disproportionate amount of revenue relative to its expenses when compared to the city.

    I know George Lusby is frugal. However, he had to change state law to keep his revenue stream.

    Glass and Singer are not asking for a handout. They are asking for equitable taxation for the citizens of Georgetown. There is a big difference.

  5. P.S.

    Speaking of Alan Gibson, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance website says that he spent $12,862.44 in the primary! That may indicate that his fiscal prowess is no better than his verbal prowess.

    And “word museums” are successful and prevalent. I call them “libraries”. I agree with you and thank you for putting the reality of the matter out there. It’s a stupid idea.

  6. Great blog. Why not package sales of alcohol. Revenue generation has to be tempered with reality. If someone wants a 6 pack they’re going to get it. Just look at South 25. Might as well capitalize on liquor licenses, the jobs it would create, public protection tax on the booze, etc., I really think that city/county officials exist in a vacuum. Have any of these pretentious morons ever looked outside of Scott County to see what other places are doing and evaluating what works and what doesn’t work?

  7. I’m so tired . . .

    I’m so tired of being a multi-year resident (and, yes, tax payer because of said residency) and being shut out of civic engagement because I am not a “seventh-generation Scott Countian.” I shit you not–this phrase was used on me when I applied for a job here in town. (Got the job anyway.) And not being a born native has been a barrier in my civic involvement. I hear it when I’m trying to increase involvement and when others are trying to do the same . . . .

    Everyone in Georgetown needs to get over the influx of new people into the community and take advantage of them caring enough to WANT to improve their new hometown.

    And we can start by voting for Dick Robinson for City Council. Nope, not born in Georgetown, but has the brain cells (zillions of them firing 24/7) and the energy (I should have half of his energy in my early retirement years) to move Georgetown to the community that it deserves to be–and has the potential to be.

    Let us “imports” help improve this community. We want to. Mr. Robinson wants to. He deserves our vote and support.

  8. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that none of the incumbents are unworthy of being re-elected. There are a few on there I think are good leaders. I just wanted to give some space to new thinkers who belong on the council.

  9. Kevin,

    Great article and well written. I must tell you that after watching last nights meeting I have finally figured out where the concept for the tv show “LOST” came from. Someone some where seen a Georgetown City Council meeting. It’s very simple, everyone of our current leaders (council & mayor) are either LOST or just don’t give a shit.

    Did any of you actually hear the ideas they had developed for revenue for this city? Start an EMS program from the fire dept???? Any idea how much that would cost to equip / license / insure? Not to mention how much money it would cost to train / staff (currently the city only has ONE (1) firefighter who is a paramedic… ) Now, don’t get me wrong I adore our public servants, they have a thankless job and have gotten shit on in a major way by this council and mayor, but I mean how ta hell is this even on the radar??? We have spent till the purse is dry there are tough decisions that must be made, REMEMBER WHO PUT US IN THIS SITUATION. Don’t punish the few individuals with the courage to step up and offer REAL SOLUTIONS.

    Our current leaders have failed, they have failed EVERY single resident of this city. The damages that have been done will be felt for generations to come. We have one choice next week and I pray to god the people of this city send a clear message.

    CITY HALL REPLACE THEM ALL!

  10. For clarification purposes for Jon, the law that was changed would have had absolutely no impact on the county occupational tax. The statute, as it was written prior to the change, contained a caveat that exempted counties that had enacted an occupational tax prior to a certain date from having to give a write off on city taxes. Scott County’s tax had been enacted prior to that date and would therefore not have been impacted.

    The city and county need to go back to having a mutual aid agreement for the fire departments and the city wouldn’t need all the extra firemen they have hired. Also, do a little investigating into the number of employees at city hall and what they make and it will be obvious where the first budget cuts need to be made.

  11. I’m not going to make any endorsments. However, the motivations of several of your endorsed candidates need to be questioned.

    For example, Mark Showalter’s father Gervis, along with Lewis Wolfe, and Mike Hockensmith provided the city its insurance without any competitive bidding during the Varney administration. All three donated the maximum to Varney’s campaign. Now the city’s insurance is being competitively bid and the city is paying over $100,000 less than it was. These agents are mad over this lost income. Additionally, Gervis Showalter’s agency was providing the insurance to the water company while he was chairman of its board. An ethics complaint was made over this situation. You may think that Mark Showalter is running for better government. I think he is running to get even.

    McEuen is being pushed by these same insurance agents. McEuen is also the recepient of substancial builder pac money, ie. KY Realtor Pac and Scott County Smart Growth Pac (a misleading name). I know Kelly and think he is a decent person. However, I think he has become an unknowing tool for certain interests.

    And Dick Robinson, he is a neighbor and friend of David Lusby and some even believe that Lusby urged him to run. Georgetown does not need someone who will support David Lusby’s interests. Anyone who pays any attention to city government knows that Lusby uses his position to augment his business interests. Look at his motion to buy the pool property adjacent to his own property and the road fiasco with his business partner for one example.

    These guys may have said great things at the candidate forum. Nevertheless, where they are coming from and who their primary backers are speak louder to me.

  12. Georgetown is a small town — everybody is connected to someone in some way. By your rationale, you could argue that Bill Burke, Mark Singer and Steve Glass are all Republicans like the mayor, so they’re only running to be her puppets.

    If you take the time, you can break down the background of all 16 and no doubt find so-called “hidden interests” for each.

    However (and this is kind of important), if you break down the intelligence level (which might not matter to some people but to me, it means quite a bit in local government), the ones I mentioned have given every indication they not only possess it, they know how to use it. (Note: I realize my election argument is now based loosely on ZZ Top’s “Legs,” but it’s better than picking candidates on, say, “Everybody Dance Now.”

  13. So, Michael Showalter, Ricky Gervais and Jim Varney are running for city council? How could you NOT vote for that? I’d come to the meetings just for autographs!

    … and to be spooked out by the ghost of Jim Varney.

  14. Kevin,

    What gets me is that many who are in the know don’t even blink an eye over these ethics issues (i.e.; the fleecing of Georgetown by these insurance agents and the manipulation of Georgetown policy by David Lusby for financial gain). And the only broad venue for informing the city’s residents, The News-Graphic, always looks the other way on these matters as well.

    I know who supports various candidates and I know who financially contributes to these candidates. I also know that most of these candidates are not going to forget their backers. Heck, they will be asking for their help again in two short years. Look at Marvin Thompson. Matt Welch gave Thompson $500 in 2006 and has given him another $500 in this election cycle. Well, who do you think fought hard to give Welch the payment for his questionalble road plans? Thompson, of course, as well as Welch’s business partner, David Lusby.

    My goal, and it is sad that this is my goal, is government without financial corruption and favoratism. Personally, (and I’ve heard several others say the same thing) the vote no signs seen around town will be something of a voting guide. Those who were singled out, Glass, Singer, Wallace, and Burke, are seen by those swinging the inside deals as a threat to the gravy train. I see these four as individuals not owned by anyone and overall, honest.

    P.S. Mark Showalter is a registered Republican. Your analogy of connections doesn’t really work. In fact, I see though it. However, I’m not advocating Republicans. Chad Wallace is a Democrat.

    Party connections are quite different from financial and business connections. They indicate ideological simularities, little more.

  15. Showalter’s poltical affiliation doesn’t matter in the analogy. The point is simply that if you look, you can find connections between everyone.

    I can also assure you the News-Graphic does not, in fact, “look the other way” as you claim. Having worked there for eight years (including six covering the Georgetown City Council), not once did we turn a blind eye to any accusations.

  16. If they don’t look the other way, then why is there never anything but a passing and vague reference to any conflicts of interest and inside deals? There is no investigative journalism at the paper, and there is simply no mention of what goes on. You haven’t diputed the validity of Lusby’s conflicts of interest and the fleecing of the public by Showalter, Wolfe, and Hockensmith. Why is it not exposed by the paper?

    And there is a vast difference between political affiliations and financial and business affilitations. That is where your anology fails. Fifty percent of the entire national voting population falls into your anolgy of party affilitation. Builders aren’t giving McEuen, Thompson,and Hawkins money for nothing. Lewis Wolfe, and Gervis Showalter and the aren’t pushing Mark Showalter and McEuen for nothing.
    David Lusby isn’t pushing Dick Robinson for nothing.

    To be more concise on what I earlier wrote, I will say this:

    The federal government is far to influenced by the agendas of large corporations. Look at the current finance debacle and who is getting our tax money.
    The state government is also controlled by many business interests. Look at the influence and contributions of Kentucky’s major road builders and the corruption that ensues.

    Do we really want it to continue on the local level as well?

  17. Well, folks, the city council race is over. It just goes to show that we are in the vast majority of people who think that it was time to wish “good riddance” to several who were not contributing anything but trouble to our city. I am so glad to be rid of Steve Glass. What a negative old coot he is.
    Let’s hope that these new comers get educated and will contribute some great ideas toward making Georgetown even a neater place to live!!!

  18. I voted for Dick Robinson, Alan Gibson, Don Hawkins. Chad Wallace. 3 out of 4 ain’t too bad!

    Voted straight (D) I would’ve liked to see Mitch get tossed out! But maybe we can toss out Curve ball in 2010!

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