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Firefighting District Fight, (and the truth, not watered down)

  Well, no doubt many individuals have heard of the various squabbles that have come out regarding the PRP Fire District. The sides are the ame typical voices: Doug Hawkins in one corner, and Bob Henderson with his trainer Rick Blackwell in another. To be fair, let’s give the text of what each has to state, and then give the truth to see what, or who, crashes and burns.

  Hawkins’ office released the following press release on December 7:

Mayor Ignores Election Results!

Appoints his own nominee to PRP Fire Board!

Residents who live in the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Protection district went to the polls on September 19, 2009 to vote for a representative on the fire board.  (By law the citizens are to elect four people to the board of trustees).  After the election, the votes were counted and verified that Michael A. Priddy, Sr. won with 47% of the vote in the three candidate race.  The PRP Fire Protection Board of Trustees certified Michael A. Priddy, Sr. as the winner and sent his name to the Mayor for nomination to the Metro Council.

The Mayor, however, ignored the results of the public election and has nominated his own person to fill the vacant position on the board.

The Mayor’s appointment, Rosemary Mattingly (a political insider), has no firefighting experience and is the former legislative aide to Councilman Bob Henderson.

Michael A. Priddy, Sr. is a former firefighter injured in the line of duty and forced to retire from the fire department because of his injury.  Michael wants to continue to serve the community as a member of the PRP fire board of trustees.

The Mayor’s decision to disregard the 47% of the PRP Volunteer Fire District who voted for Mr. Priddy establishes a dangerous precedent.  This tells the people of PRP that the Mayor wants to run this autonomous board – instead of the voters of the district.

“The Mayor is positioning himself to take over PRP’s fire taxing district, which has a multi-million dollar budget,” says Councilman Hawkins.   Further, the Councilman fears that the Mayor will take the tax dollars (and the fire equipment) generated by this fire district and place them in other areas of town.

The Louisville Metro Council’s Contract and Appointments Committee will be reviewing the Mayor’s nomination for this position on Wednesday, December 9 at 4:00 PM.

  Now Bob Henderson gets to launch his jabs, in a press release issued from the desk of Tony Hyatt, Communications Director for the Minority Caucus:


Henderson and Blackwell condemn Hawkins for misinformation in email blast

PRP Fire District election used as a political stunt by Hawkins


Louisville – Councilmen Bob Henderson (D-14) and Rick Blackwell (D-12) are condemning a recent email blast sent out from the office of Councilman Doug Hawkins (R-25) concerning an appointment to the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Protection District Board.

            The Councilmen say the email is an attempt to scare people with misinformation about the appointment process and is an attempt to grab the media spotlight.

            “The PRP Fire Protection board is an independent body,” says Henderson. “Metro Government has no control over how any independent taxing district operates its budget or firefighting equipment.”

            “This is typical Hawkins hysteria,” says Blackwell. “His involvement with issues usually have little regard for the actual truth and instead attempt to work people up just to score his own political points.”

            The Hawkins email noted that the Mayor’s office is set to appoint Rosemary Mattingly to the PRP Fire Protection Board of Trustees. The email calls Mattingly a political insider because she is a former assistant to Henderson.

            “The people of my district know Rosemary’s qualifications for community service because of the way she has helped the community for more than six years,” says Henderson. “I understand there were problems with the elections to the board this year. Those are concerns the Fire District needs to work out.”

            The email goes on to say that by putting Mattingly on the board the Mayor is putting himself in a situation to take over the tax districts budget and placing fire equipment somewhere else.

            “Under merged government, the Mayor has no authority to tell any fire protection district in Metro Louisville what to do and he certainly cannot take away any firefighting equipment,” says Blackwell. “Once again, Hawkins is just trying to grab media attention.”

            The PRP Fire Protection Board threw out an election held in June when charges of electioneering were levied. In that election, Michael A. Priddy Sr. lost by two votes. Only 38 votes total were cast in that election. Even though an estimated 90,000 taxpayers in PRP are eligible to vote for board members. According to state law, the Board is required to ask the Mayor to fill the vacancy.

In September, the Board held a second election in violation of state law. Only 130 people voted. Priddy received 61 votes. Other candidates received 42 votes and 27.respecfully.

 Not only was the second election a violation of state law but there were claims that Hawkins inserted himself in the second election by sending out robo calls on his machine claiming that votes for Pirddy’s opponent would lead to the closing of PRP Fire Stations.

            The Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Prevention District covers District 12, District 14 and District 25.The Mattingly appointment is set to go before the Metro Council’s Contracts and Appointments Committee on Wednesday.”

  The truth is that though Rosemary Mattingly is the former legislative aide to Henderson, and the wife of a current legislative aide, as well as a neighbor to Henderson, this fight is not occurring because of Rosemary Mattingly at all. The real cause of this fight is the mayor, Jerry Abramson. It is the fact that Abramson has inserted himself as the entity to appoint individuals to various boards after a vote had been made that has caused a great deal of consternation. As Henderson adequately stated: “I understand there were problems with the elections to the board this year. Those are concerns the Fire District needs to work out.” That is precisely why the mayor should stay out of the issue…

  Another point of contact here is that the Mayor, by inserting himself to appoint the former aide, has solidified the need to debate a mayor’s authority and the council’s authority in effort to provide a “checks and balances” that is currently missing, (and has been throughout the mayor’s administration).

  This issue is less about Rosemary Mattingly, Doug Hawkins, or Michael Priddy- this issue has to do with ethics and keeping government in balance; which it seems to be a topic which the Council itself is STILL not certain how to do!

  Another aspect of this debate is that the mayor has never gone against the will of the people previously. In essence, what Mr. Henderson and Mr. Blackwell have debated, even without them realizing, is that it is permissable that the mayor place his will over that of the people.

  To be absolutely fair, it should be stated that there was an election and that election was not without controversy. To provide absolute clarity, a different vote took place where Mr. Priddy won a straw vote in which 160 people took part of.

  There is still another aspect of this issue that has not been addressed properly, and that is the issue of proper appointment to the position in the regards of knowledge of the topic. In other words, which candidate has the best background for the position. Rosemary Mattingly states on her applications form filed with the Louisville Metro Government Boards of Commissions that was the previous owner of a concrete construction company, and on a Louisville Metro legislative staff. Never had she engaged in any knowledge regarding the PRP firedeparment, and there is no knowledge of her voting in any of the concerns regarding the department.

  On the other hand, Michael Priddy is a former firefighter who has engaged in various topics of interests to the firefighters and the department.

  Though Henderson is accurate in stating that Mrs. Mattingly is well known throughout the area, and that she is well liked, he and Blackwell have not been absolutely honest in their dealings with the topic either.

  So, why have all of these council men engaged in the wrangling, and why is the discussion of who wins the seat important to each one of them?

  First, all three councilmen have at least some, if not all of their districts covered by the PRP fire district. Second, Michael Priddy has been “kind” to Doug Hawkins. Unlike Mrs. Mattingly’s relationship to Henderson, Priddy has not ever shown to be “in the camp” with Doug Hawkins. There have been rumors that Priddy and Henderson have had some issues previously, (though that has yet to be substantiated), the fact the Mrs. Mattingly has been very close with Henderson and staff would allow Henderson a closer tie to other boards and dealings within his district.

  Who will win this fight, when will the fire stop raging in PRP?

  We will find out in round 2…

December 14, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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