Louisville’s Metro Council announced late this afternoon that the process has begun to schedule a vote over whether to remove Dr. Judy Green from her position as 1st District Councilwoman, as recommended last Friday by the Metro Ethics Commission.
According to a Metro Council press release, “… after reviewing the hundreds of pages that were part of an audit conducted by the Metro Auditor and information gathered as part of police inquiry, five members of the Louisville Metro Council have agreed to deliver a signed petition to the office of the Metro Council Clerk calling for the removal of Councilwoman Green in accordance Metro Council Rules and KRS 67C.143.”
Louisville’s Metro Ethics Commission recommended the removal of Councilwoman Green from office; finding that she violated ethics laws by mishandling funds and improperly paying extra money to her family members. Handing down the harshest penalty available, the Commission voted unanimously last Friday to find Green guilty of violating ethics laws on at least four occasions.
Remaining defiant, Councilwoman Green told a reporter that she would not resign, and called the Ethics Commission hearings a “sham” and “waste of taxpayer money.” Earlier today, a group of Green supporters demonstrated in front of Metro Hall, to protest the recommendation of the Metro Ethics Commission that she be removed from office. Saying that the 1st District Democrat has been the victim of “a dirty game of politics,” members of the group said they will fight alongside her, “tooth and nail,” until the end.
Under Kentucky law, a Metro Council member can be removed from office for “misconduct, incapacity or willful neglect in the performance of duties.” The mayor or five members of the Metro Council could bring charges against the council member seeking to have that person removed. If the mayor brings the charges, the entire council would serve as a court and determine whether the member is to be removed, but if the charges are brought by five council members, the remaining 21 council members make the determination.
It will take a two-thirds-majority vote of the members sitting as a court to remove a council member, and no elected officer can be removed without having been given the right to a full public hearing. The council member may appeal removal to circuit court and from there to the Court of Appeals.
The five members who have chosen to sign this petition are: Government Accountability and Ethics Committee Chairwoman Tina Ward Pugh (Democrat, District 9) and Vice-Chairman Kevin Kramer (Republican, District 11), Majority Caucus Chair Madonna Flood (Democrat, District 24), Majority Caucus Vice-Chair Barbara Shanklin (Democrat, District 2) and Councilman Stuart Benson (Republican, District 20). These five members met with legal counsel on Monday, where they discussed the various accusations and findings against Councilwoman Green. Based upon this discussion, the group agreed to move forward with a petition for removal.
The following is a joint statement by Councilwoman Tina Ward Pugh (Democrat, District 9) and Councilman Kevin Kramer (Republican, District 11):
“The decision to move forward with the removal process was not taken lightly. It was our hope that Councilwoman Green would resign and prevent this action. Understanding that Councilwoman Green plans to stay in office, despite the many findings against her, we have no choice but to move forward with a fair process that allows for all information to be heard in accordance with our rules.”
The fat lady, of course, has not yet sung. But, she’s warming up in the wings.
WHAS-11’S Anna Prendergast reports: