By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.
“I know you didn’t vote for me, but how am I doing” is a running joke between Mayor Fischer and me. However, I can honestly say that Mayor Fischer’s approach to managing government is slowly winning me over.
Mayor Fischer Running Louisville Like a REAL Business!
Holy Cow! I get the impression that Mayor Fischer, a businessman, is actually running the metro government as a business. How refreshing! He pointed out today as he was grilled by Tom Monahan, publisher of Business First, at today’s What’s Brewing Breakfast Series, that he is an experienced chief executive not an experience politician. He expects a faster pace in City Hall than has been the tradition in Mayor Abramson’s 24 years of running the city. Honestly, I thought Mayor Fischer would just be an extension of the Mayor for Life but it doesn’t seem the case. As a businessman, Mayor Fischer is used to getting results sooner rather than later. “Everybody can get better doesn’t mean the Metro Government departments are bad.” My administration may be a “renewal for many government employees. There’s lots of waste in the process.”
Government Helps to Create an Environment for Business
Pardon me, did I hear Mayor Fischer say that government should help create the environment for business to thrive but does not create [private sector] jobs. In creating this environment “how do we streamline, knock out time, time kills deals.” Spoken like a true entrepreneur not a career politician. This statement shows that Mayor Fischer acknowledges that government regulations have created roadblock for business innovation and expansion.
Unlike most local politicians like Rep John Yarmuth (D-KY), Mayor Fischer did not take credit for the Ford expansion and adding more jobs plus $600 million+ investment into the Louisville market. Mayor Fischer said that Louisville had to give up its 1% payroll tax to sweeten the deal for Ford but he’s is hoping that the city will reap the financial benefits from spin-offs that will help support Ford and will be required to pay the payroll tax.
Innovation Can Help Bring Jobs to Louisville
Mayor Fischer mentioned that unemployment is still 9% in Louisville but is hoping the new innovation team spearheaded by Ted Smith will help bring new initiatives and new product and service lines that will help create private sector jobs. Mayor Fischer said that Louisville was one of five cities that that got a $4.8 million grant for civic innovation. Mayor Fischer discussed the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) project and how this partnership will help to drive economic development throughout the state. He acknowledged that much of Louisville’s state taxes are not coming back to Louisville but used for rural Kentucky. He was empowered by the willingness of Lexington and Northern Kentucky to partner to create urbanization in the major urban areas of Kentucky.
For Louisville, “we need to be a bigger city to get big projects.” He doesn’t necessarily want to be the biggest city in the country but wants bigger investments to come to Louisville. Mayor Fischer said 10% of Louisville’s economy is in exports. In creating a business growth opportunity I am trying to figure out”how do we streamline, knock out time: time kills deals.” In other words, how do we cut all the government regulations so businesses can thrive in Louisville?
Where Has All the Money Gone?
Mayor Fischer said 70% of the budget is spent on pensions and health care there will have to be some type of pension reform! Revenues are not coming in fast enough. He said unfortunately “the revenue outlook is uncertain. Do you want to fix bridges and roads or add artwork? The Kentucky constitution doesn’t allow for Louisville to have a local tax.”
Education Needs to be Fixed
Jefferson County Public Schools teaches over 100,000 children yearly. Unfortunately, 30% of JCPS students graduating need remedial work before they can get into college. When out in the community, parents have all sorts of opinions on what to do about the schools. “Parents want their kids go to school close to their homes, want to have a choice and want diversity. If we went to a neighborhood school plan rather than busing, we would have to build many new schools as a result. What it is about is student achievements. JCPS is the 22nd largest school district in the US.”
Wanted: Police Chief – Must Be an Excellent Communicator
Mayor Fischer is looking for a new Police Chief. He must be an excellent communicator, he must have good leadership skills because he commands 1200 police officers, and would like him to have experience in Louisville. When the departments were merged it had been essential to recruit a police chief outside of Louisville but 60% of the current police force is new.
Ohio Rive Bridges Project on Hold for 42 Years
“The moment of truth is here on the bridges. If the I-65 Bridge went down, we will be back to the 1800’s. The new financing plan is due the end of December plus the environmental impact statement and the litigation. It’s a $2.9 billion project. It will be paid by tolls, states and federal government.”
Public Sector Unions
Pension reform is a state issue but health care is a city issue. We must look at the cost of the contracts with unions not just the wages but the benefits, too. If you want a quick nap or for your head to explode, check the contracts out online! All the union contracts can be found at www.louisvilleky.gov.
What’s On the Horizon for Louisville’s Future?
“Economic development is very challenging because of competition. There are peaks and valleys. Louisville will focus on 4 top areas: manufacturing, logistics, food and beverage especially the Bourbon industry and lifelong wellness and aging.” The development of the Louisville and Lexington Bourbon Trail through the unique BEAM partnership may help to increase tourism for Kentucky. Mayor Fischer compared Napa Valley and the wine experience to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience. “The YUM! Center events have helped our community and business around the center have benefitted financially.” We are currently looking to bring “retail and a grocery store downtown. Four Street Live is great for tourists and conventions. We need to get people downtown, live downtown and shop downtown.” We need to “develop areas that you can live without a car,” to compete with other cities around the country.
How Can Louisville Prosper?
Mayor Fischer thinks “Our city needs to become more entrepreneurial.” But he did acknowledge that regulations are standing in the way of innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. My challenge is to “make metro government non partisan. Everyone is connected as a community. Louisville needs to be more compassionate by volunteerism.”
A Conservative Rating of Mayor Fischer
The more I hear from Mayor Fischer, the more I like him. I didn’t vote for him and I have to admit I thought he would be an extension of Mayor Abramson but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Because of Mayor Fischer’s entrepreneurial spirit and his private sector experience, I am encouraged that he is running Metro Government more like a business and less like the typical inefficient, lazy, over-spending, bloated government that taxpayers are forced to tolerate. I have said many times over the years, if government were run like a REAL BUSINESS lots of people would lose their jobs and it would become more efficient, get the job done effectively and costs taxpayers less money. Currently, it takes 2 or 3 public sector employees to do the same job of one in the private sector but who cares, tit’s only taxpayers money!
Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian (www.DayByDayNutrition.com) who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Check out Barbara’s new healthy lifestyles website: www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com.