LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville Metro Council plans to hire an outside attorney rather than use its own Ethics Commission to review the actions of one of their own.
At issue is a $40 million grant from the city to the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council. Metro Councilman Anthony Piagentini, R-19, initially sponsored the measure. Louisville Public Media reported that Piagentini removed himself ahead of the vote, only to later be hired as a consultant by the group that got the money.
The same week LPM’s report came out, Metro Council filed an emergency resolution asking the Ethics Commission to look into Piagentini’s involvement with the grant. A process already launched by the councilman himself.
“I think solving the issue expeditiously is of the most importance,” said Metro Council President Markus Winkler, D-17, said.
However, the Ethic Commission replied by saying they are empowered to do “two things: (1) issue advisory opinions to Metro Officers regarding contemplated future actions; and (2) investigate adjudicate complaints regarding completed alleged actions of Metro Officers.”
The Ethics Commission could have given an opinion on the matter beforehand but was not asked. Now, it won’t investigate without a formal complaint.
“It is a sworn complaint that I believe this individual has violated the law,” Winkler. “I think that’s an extremely tall bar.”
At this point, no one has filed a complaint.
It’s frustrating for people like Kevin Fields, the CEO of Louisville Central Community Centers, who applied for money from the round of COVID-19 funding, a request that was denied.
“Nobody likes red tape. But we do like justice,” Fields said.
There was a resolution on Thursday evening’s Metro Council meeting agenda directing Winkler to take all of the steps needed to initiate a complaint, but it was never called.
“It reeks of potential cover-up if there was some misgivings,” said Fields.
But Winkler said “that’s absolutely not the case,” adding that an outside attorney would be hired next week to help with the review.
“I think this is the legal remedy to get the people the answer that they want,” he said.
That’s all Fields wants — answers amid the disappointment of not receiving the grant he said Louisville Central Community Centers needs.
Meanwhile, Winkler said he doesn’t believe Piagentini broke the law, and he will not submit an official complaint.
Democratic Caucus Chair Paula McCraney told WDRB News she was disappointed Winkler didn’t sign the complaint. She says she hopes that someone will file an official complaint with the Ethics Commission to trigger the investigation.
Piagentini included the following statement regarding the issue in his Feb. 17 newsletter:
“There have recently been media reports questioning my role in a vote that was taken in December of 2022. As a result, I decided to ask the Ethics Commission to review my actions, which included abstaining from a vote on this particular budget amendment on December 1st of 2022. Although I believe my abstention and actions were in line with our ethics ordinance, I look forward to a review by the Ethics Commission and I am committed to fully complying with their review.
During last nights Metro Council meeting a Resolution was passed that mirrored my call for an official ethics opinion. This Resolution supports my efforts to seek a quick and clear opinion to this matter. I am hopeful this process will be completed quickly and will refrain from making additional comments at this time.”
Thursday, he told WDRB News he can’t comment on the review at this time.
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