360 Fireworks Party

Saturday, June 30, 2012

NEWS ROUND-UP -- SATURDAY 30 JUNE

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
|
by Michael Monks 
|
FEDERAL BILL WON'T IMPACT BRENT SPENCE BRIDGE
The federal transportation bill passed by Congress Friday does not include much in the form of news for this region's most important transportation project: 
But there are provisions in the two-year, $54 billion agreement that indicate the federal government might place a higher priority on projects such as the Brent Spence Bridge. A provision in the new bill designates funds for projects determined to be of national and regional significance. But the program funding is just $500 million for the entire nation; the Brent Spence Bridge project alone has a $2.4 billion price tag. 
Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/Jason Williams 
|
CITIES WAIT TO SEE HOW 911 MERGER PANS OUT
Before any of the Kenton County cities served by Erlanger's 911 emergency dispatch center express any interest in a fully merged county operation, they will watch and see how Kenton County absorbs Covington's dispatch operations first: 
Officials from the cities of Edgewood, Fort Mitchell, Fort Wright, 
Lakeside Park, Ludlow and Park Hills say they’re exploring options, but are interested in seeing how the merger pans out before making any decisions.
Kenton County’s dispatch, which serves Taylor Mill, Ryland Heights, Kenton Vale and Independence and unincorporated areas of the county, is scheduled to take over Covington’s operations on Sept. 1.
After that, the cities served by Erlanger can choose to join the county’s service; officials from Edgewood, Fort Wright and Lakeside Park agree that services should eventually be under the same roof.
Comments from officials in each city affect can be found in the full story at the link.
Cincinnati Enquirer/Libby Cunningham
|
SPIKE JONES IS NAMED COVINGTON'S CHIEF OF POLICE
When he was 19, Spike Jones walked into the Covington police chief's office and asked how to become a cop. More than a quarter century later, he's sitting on the other side of that desk. Click the link for the full story and lots of photos.
|
DON'T MISS THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF COVINGTON CITY HALL
|
Budget
"I feel sorry for the people in a state of limbo because it's a time of uncertainty." The City Commission passes a budget for next year that is short on specifics, but there is a promise that more details are on the way after they hear from you. Click the link for the full story.
Specifics Will Come Later for Covington's New Budget
|
Full City Commission Recap
The City finds itself on the losing end of two settlements: $600,000 to be paid to retired & active firefighters and $150,000 to be paid to the operators of a methadone clinic. Plus, why one Commissioner did not approve the exit agreement for the departing community development director. Click it.
|
FRIDAY'S HEADLINES
The Governor was in Kenton County today for a large economic development announcement; A free concert in Covington tonight features 30 bands on 2 stages; Plus, an architect says The Ascent should be demolished! SRSLY. Those stories and much more at the link!
|
DEFENDANT CAPTURED AFTER FLEEING DURING TRIAL
A Covington man convicted of hitting another man in the head with a tree branch, costing him part of his skull and causing brain damage, fled before the guilty verdict came down. But the Kenton County Sheriff's Office and US Marshals captured him Friday night in Cincinnati. Full story at the link, along with the weekly mugshot round-up.
|
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE QUITS JOB TO FOCUS ON NKY CONGRESSIONAL RACE
Thomas Massie has resigned his position as Lewis County Judge-Executive, less than two years on the job, so that he can focus on his Texas-based Super PAC-backed campaign to represent Northern Kentucky in Congress. The tea party Republican's job will be filled by an appointment made by Democratic Governor Steve Beshear. 
|
Democrat Bill Adkins, an attorney from Williamstown, who faces Massie in November, said this via his campaign Facebook page
My opponent just quit his job as Lewis County Judge Executive after just a little over one year in office. He's had one job in ten years and quit after one year. What is the real reason behind his quitting a job that he was sworn to do, and that he promised to serve the people of Lewis County?  
|
PRIVATE AMBULANCE SERVICES DEBATED IN LEWIS COUNTY
The very county Massie no longer wants to lead is dealing with its decision to use a private ambulance company, a possibility in the near future for Covington as well, as complaints from the public begin to mount:
Richard Evans, a former employee of Med Corp, also spoke with reserve about Med Corp's coverage. Evans claimed that Med Corp had requested a $10,000 grant for equipment and that equipment was no longer usable. He also claimed Med Corp did not know where the equipment was currently located.
Arthur argued back that Med Corp did know where the equipment was located, but it was currently out of commission due to the lack of parts to fix the equipment.
Evans also told the court he had a petition with 133 signatures requesting a new ambulance service in Lewis County.
One volunteer firefighter says in the report that he had heard of no complaints. Full story at the link.
Ledger-Independent/Christy Hoots
|
QUICKIES
|
700 new jobs coming to Northern Kentucky press release
|
Kentucky woman who lost leg in tornado meets President Obama WBKO
|
US Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville)tells Republicans that they should consider actually reading the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") WFPL
|
Report: More abuse and neglect at Kentucky care centers Herald-Leader 
|
Governor Beshear signs House Bill 362 press release 
|
Businesses: File your annual reports by July 2 Secretary of State 
|
STATE SEN. THAYER: TASK FORCE TO REVIEW PENSION PROBLEMS
Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Kentucky's economic vitality is the low fund balance in the pension system. Sen. Thayer issued this release Friday: 
A new state task force charged with recommending ways to improve the financial health of the state’s public pension funds will hold its first meeting on July 2nd.
The Kentucky Public Pensions Task Force – chaired by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton – will hold monthly meetings up until a Dec. 7 deadline for offering recommendations. Members plan to take a wide look at issues surrounding the systems, including benefits, investments, funding and any other matter that impacts the financial stability of the state-administered retirement systems.
As of June of last year, the unfunded liability of Kentucky’s state-administered retirement systems exceeded $30 billion. The systems administer retirement and retiree health benefits to more than 475,000 current and former public employees.
At the task force’s first meeting, members will be provided with an overview of the administration, benefits, funding, investments, and concerns of the Kentucky Retirement Systems and a national perspective on public pension issues and individual state reactions. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. on Monday, July 2, in room 171 of the Capitol Annex.
More details here.
|
KY SPEEDWAY CONFIDENT IN NO REPEAT OF 'CARMAGEDDON'
These folks like to see cars go fast, after all: 
In the 51 weeks since parking problems at the track spawned traffic backups on highways leading to it — marring the long-awaited running of a Cup Series race at the Gallatin County venue — Kentucky Speedway and the state's transportation cabinet have spent more than $11 million to expand available parking and improve infrastructure around the track.
A new traffic management and parking plan has been developed using computer modeling. Kentucky State Police will be responsible for executing that plan with the help of a new parking vendor. One trooper will be stationed in each of the speedway's parking lots to keep order.
The real trouble will be staying cool out there around all that concrete on this very hot day.
Cincinnati Enquirer via USA Today
|
CITYBEAT REVIEWS COVINGTON'S NEWEST RESTAURANT - WHACKBURGER
So far, people seem to really like it: 
What do ground beef, onomatopoeia and a slew of fresh ingredients have in common? Well, nothing, really, unless you’re at the new gourmet burger restaurant WhackBurger in Covington. The small restaurant has been open for about a month now, serving big, juicy burgers with creative toppings right across the street from Madison Theater.
I’m a huge fan of restaurants with simple menus and a clear specialty, and WhackBurger takes the prize for both these things. They offer essentially one thing (you guessed it — burgers). There are 14 styles of burgers and six different sides. You pick one of each and pay the only price listed on the menu: $9.95. Simple, yes. But the options are anything but boring.
Take, for instance, the Egg & Green Chile burger with a fried egg, melted bleu cheese and green chile relish or the Aufiderzein with grilled sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and spicy mustard. Pow!
See what they thought of the food at the link.
CityBeat/Brian Cross
|
BOYFRIEND READY TO TAKE RELATIONSHIP TO PREVIOUS LEVEL
LOL:
"After spending every waking moment with Carol for 72 hours, I know in my heart that I'm prepared to see her face twice, maybe even once a week," said Sullivan, who met Moag, 34, at a friend's New Year's party in January. Sullivan claimed he has been considering "taking the big leap backward" since Moag suggested last month that the two get a cat.
The Onion 

CONVICTED: MUGSHOT ROUND-UP 30 JUNE

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
| 
|
by Michael Monks 
|
UPDATE: 9:35AM. Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders reports that Felix Santos Velez was captured in Cincinnati last night by the Kenton County Sheriff's Office and the United States Marshals.  Velez now faces felony bailjumping charges as well. Original post is below.
|
Convicted of serious assault charge, man flees trial
Apparently seeing the guilty writing on the wall during his trial for assaulting a man in Covington's Austinburg neighborhood, Felix Santos Velez did not return to court after the first day. More from Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders: 
Felix Santos Velez
On August 21, 2011, Covington Police responded to the area of 17th & Maryland Avenue for a report of a possible shooting. Officer James Laurence arrived and found a 40 year old man bleeding from a serious wound to his head. Officers discovered that the wound was not the result of a gunshot, but rather from being hit over the head with a tree branch. Witnesses said that prior to the assault, several younger females were involved in an altercation on the street. One of the females was the victim's daughter. Witnesses said the victim broke up the fight between the women and was in the process of herding his daughter back into their home when he was struck over the head with the wood. 
The witnesses only knew the suspect as "Felix" but did not know his last name. They did, however, know that he was dating a young woman who lived in the same direction in which the suspect fled. Officers responded to the girlfriend's residence and located Felix Santos Velez inside. Witnesses identified Velez as the man who hit the victim but said he changed clothes. A search of the residence produced clothes that Velez was wearing at the time of the assault. The victim was transported to the hospital where we would be treated for a brain injury. Eventually the victim would undergo multiple surgeries, lose a small portion of his skull, and suffer long lasting brain impairment. Velez claimed he struck the victim in self defense but his version of the events did not match those of the multiple witnesses, who all claimed the victim had his back turned and never attempted to hit Velez. Covington Police arrested Velez and charged him with 1st Degree Assault.

The case was called for trial before Kenton Circuit Judge Martin Sheehan on June 26, 2012. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Megan Mersch presented testimony and evidence on behalf of the Commonwealth in the two day trial. Velez, however, had apparently heard enough of the Commonwealth's evidence in just the first day because he failed to return to court for the second day of trial. After a long delay while the defense attorney attempted to locate his client, the trial resumed against Velez in abstentia. At the conclusion of the evidence, and with Velez still conspicuously absent, the jury deliberated for less than an hour befor finding Velez guilty as charged. After a short sentencing hearing, the jury recommended that Velez serve 12 1/2 years in prison when located. 
Judge Sheehan issued a warrant for the arrest of Velez. Formal, final sentencing will be scheduled once Velez is located. Velez is believed to be hiding locally, probably in Covington. If you see Velez, call 911. Do not attempt to apprehend him. He should be considered armed and dangerous.
|
Others convicted in Kenton Co this week: 

The following people are on the list from this week's activity in Kenton County Circuit Court. Some are going to prison while others got probation or were sent to the felony diversion program. A few more are still wanted for failing to appear in court: 
|






|
See what their sentences are along with more mugshots at the link with explanations of charges and recommended sentences from the office of Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders.   Some have been sent away, some are awaiting sentencing, and others will get probation. Whatever they end up with, let's hope as a community that they return healthy and rehabilitated, otherwise the cycle continues. Click the link below. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

SPIKE JONES SWORN IN AS COVINGTON'S CHIEF OF POLICE

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
|
by Michael Monks 
|
Chief Spike Jones takes in a standing ovation
When he was nineteen years old, Michael "Spike" Jones sat in the office of the Covington Police Chief and asked what he needed to do to become a police officer. Twenty-seven years later an aspiring cop could wander into the police chief's office and find Jones still sitting there, but this time on the other side of the desk. Jones was sworn in as Covington's Chief of Police Friday before a packed crowd inside the City Commission Chambers at City Hall with enthusiastic, unanimous approval from city leaders.
|
"I am happy and thankful to bring Spike on as the new police chief of the City of Covington," said Mayor Chuck Scheper, who admitted that before his appointment to the office last October, he had only known Jones from TV news appearances. Jones, as assistant chief, spent several years as the face of the department, always ready to answer media inquiries. On Thursday, less than twenty-four hours before officially assuming his new role, he performed both tasks, guiding invited media around town as multiple units rounded up more than thirty suspected drug dealers. 
|
Mayor Chuck Scheper pins the badge on newly
sworn-in Chief Spike Jones
|
"We have a lot of work to do and challenges to overcome, both economic and operational, but one thing we cannot lose sight of is who we are here to serve, the people of Covington," Jones said after being sworn by Judge Doug Grothaus and having his badge pinned on by Mayor Scheper. "I am proud and honored to take this position but most of all I am honored to be a Covington police officer."
|
The pride was shared by all members of the City Commission. "This is a good day for all of us," said Commissioner Sherry Carran. Commissioner Casper recommended a headline for media coverage: "Covington Spikes It Rich".
|
"This is my happiest to do something this wonderful for this town," said Commissioner Steve Casper. "I can't think of a better way to end this week," said Commissioner Shawn Masters, adding that Friday was the proudest day of his term. Jones's swearing-in ceremony was drummed into reality by the Eastside Drummers, a group of kids mentored by the new chief, a former member of the marching band at Holmes High School from which he graduated in 1984. From there he earned degrees from Eastern Kentucky University, the FBI National Academy, and a master's degree from Northern Kentucky University.
|
Also beaming with pride in the large crowd was Spike's father, Jack Jones, who remembered his son wanting to be chief for as long as he could remember. "It means a lot to him and to me, and a lot to our neighbors," said Jack Jones. "We're very, very proud of him. It goes back to his first year on duty. The police chief told me that Spike would have his job someday."
Jack Jones raises his hand when recognized by his son
|
LOTS MORE PHOTOS FROM THE CEREMONY BELOW, JUST CLICK THE LINK!
|

NEWS ROUND-UP -- FRIDAY MORNING 29 JUNE

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
|
by Michael Monks 
|
COMMISSION APPROVES NONSPECIFIC BUDGET; LOSES ON 2 SETTLEMENTS
"I feel sorry for the people in a state of limbo because it's a time of uncertainty." The City Commission passes a budget for next year that is short on specifics, but there is a promise that more details are on the way after they hear from you. Plus, the City finds itself on the losing end of two settlements: $600,000 to be paid to retired & active firefighters and $150,000 to be paid to the operators of a methadone clinic. Also, why one Commissioner did not approve the exit agreement for the departing community development director. Your Commission recap is at the link.
|
SPIKE JONES TO BE NAMED POLICE CHIEF FRIDAY MORNING
The Covington City Commission will convene for the third time this week at 11:00AM to name Spike Jones Chief of Police, removing the "interim" from his title. 
|
DRUG SWEEP NETS MORE THAN 30 SUSPECTED DRUG DEALERS
PHOTOS: Wondering why those helicopters were hovering over our city Thursday afternoon? A city-wide drug sweep was and is underway with many arrests expected -- and The River City News got to tag along for part of it. Click the link below for details and lots of photos -- including several arrests as they happened!
|
KENTUCKY POLITICIANS REACT TO HEALTH CARE REFORM RULING
The United States Supreme Court has upheld what is lovingly referred to as Obamacare as constitutional. Immediately afterwards, several of Kentucky's elected leaders caught a case of the vapors: 
|
Sen. Mitch McConnell
|
Sen. Rand Paul
"Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be 'constitutional' does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right," Sen. Paul said.
"Obamacare is wrong for Americans. It will destroy our health care system. This now means we fight every hour, every day until November to elect a new President and a new Senate to repeal Obamacare," he continued. 
|
Rep. Geoff Davis
“We cannot mistake the Court’s ruling for an evaluation of effective, commonsense policy. While the Supreme Court judged the health care law’s constitutionality, the American people and actuarial experts have already judged its quality — that it is a disaster for patients, small businesses and future generations of Americans.
“Congress must redouble its efforts to repeal the health care law so we can start anew on reforms that will increase patient access and quality of care while reducing costs.”
|
Kentucky Democrats on the other hand see value in the Court's decision...
|
Rep. John Yarmuth: 
“The law lowers costs, strengthens care, and – once fully implemented – will guarantee all Americans access to quality, affordable coverage while creating nearly 6 million new jobs in the health care sector. It is already saving seniors hundreds of dollars in prescription drug costs while offering free preventive services such as cancer screenings and routine vaccinations."
“Children can no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition – a protection that will be extended to all Americans in 2014. More than 3 million young people have been able to obtain insurance through their parents’ plan. And hundreds of thousands of small businesses have used tax credits provided under the law to offer coverage for 2 million workers."
“During my time in Congress, an overwhelming majority of Louisvillians have told me they want guaranteed access to health care, lower premium costs, and more choice in the insurance market. The Affordable Care Act accomplishes each of these goals. Casting my vote in favor of the law was my proudest moment in Congress, and today I join millions of Americans to celebrate again.” 
|
Bill Adkins, Democratic candidate for NKY's seat in Congress
“The winners today are those without insurance because now they have a chance at affordable healthcare when all the reforms are in place in 2014,” says Bill Adkins. “The cost of health care in America continues to be double that of other industrialized nations. The Affordable Care Act will take steps to reduce those costs, but most likely more will have to be done.”
“My opponent has repeatedly stated that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional,” says Bill Adkins. ”This decision today with the conservative Chief Justice Roberts writing the opinion ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and that Tom Massie is wrong,” says Adkins. 
|
Covington's State Rep. Arnold Simpson
“One of my greatest regrets is that we have so many people without insurance, and if this act is going to create a pathway to afford Americans with insurance coverage, then I think it’s good.” Simpson said.It will also ensure everyone pays their fair share, Simpson said.
“What we’ve had historically is cost shifting,” Simpson said. “We’ve been paying for the uninsured. When they go to the emergency rooms, they are provided care. The people with insurance are who are paying. They shift the cost. Finally, we have a system where we’re going to have a blanket of coverage.” 
Via Cincinnati Enquirer/Scott Wartman
|
Meanwhile, Governor Beshear is moving forward with creating Kentucky's health care exchange: 
“This Supreme Court decision removes much of the uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act. Kentucky has been systematically preparing to meet the implementation deadlines set forth in the bill as a precautionary matter, and now we will move ahead to establish a state-operated Health Benefit Exchange. I will soon issue an Executive Order to create the state health insurance exchange so Kentucky will be prepared to operate it by the date the law requires. We continue to review the Supreme Court’s opinion, particularly on the Medicaid portion of the Affordable Care Act to determine what our options may be. “ 
|
|
L'OREAL POSSIBLY TO EXPAND OPERATIONS IN KENTON COUNTY
Some great economic news involving a $42 million expansion in Kenton County: 
The finance authority board on Thursday gave preliminary approval for L’Oreal to get $5 million in payroll tax incentives and $800,000 in tax incentives to be recovered from construction costs.
L’Oreal has proposed the expansion on property the company purchased in 2010 adjacent to its current facility on New Buffington Road in Kenton County along the border with Boone County, the finance authority report states.
211 jobs could be created. Governor Beshear will be in Erlanger today for the announcement. More details at the link.
Cincinnati Enquirer/Scott Wartman
|
 BE CAREFUL OUT THERE! ANOTHER SCORCHER IS BEAMING DOWN UPON US.
|
Kentucky officials urge caution as temps rise press release 
|
NKU moves to conserve energy on these hot days: 
Duke Energy has again requested that we curtail electrical consumption as much as we can to help them meet area demand. The curtailment event will start at noon and end at 8 p.m. today, June 28. This action is necessary because of extended high energy demand due to the current heat wave. It is anticipated that the electrical system in our area will be taxed which could result in localized outages, “brown outs” and high energy prices. To help us do our share we are asking that you turn off lighting that you do not absolutely need and shut down or unplug any electrical or electronic equipment that is not absolutely necessary or will not be in use for an hour or more. We appreciate your support in helping us reduce consumption during this critical period. If you have questions or concerns please contact Facilities Management at X-1927. If your concern involves IT or AV equipment please contact IT at X-6911.
|
Officials urge caution when using fireworks this year press release
|
QUICKIES
|
US Rep. Steve Chabot attempts to thwart federal funding for Cincinnati streetcar Cincinnati Enquirer & WKRC 
|
Frankfort: Stumbo, Williams sign off on payments for redistricting lawsuits Bluegrass Politics 
|
Frankfort: Ethics commission urges disclosure on funds spent on legislative ads cn|2 
|
Fancy Farm organizers send out picnics (DO NOT MISS THIS UNIQUELY KENTUCKY EVENT!) Herald-Leader 
|
Multi-state drunk driving crackdown coming Cincinnati Enquirer 
|
Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear offers summer reading list press release 
|
WHAT TO DO THIS WEEKEND IN COVINGTON?
In addition to all the usual hot spots around town, there are several fun events...
|
FRIDAY
|
90s Tribute Show at the Avenue Lounge
There will be thirty bands rocking two stages on Madison Avenue tonight starting at 8:00PM. Admission is FREE! For details, click here.
|
SATURDAY
|
Volunteer at the Licking River Greenway & Trails
Click to enlarge
|
Take a paddleboat tour of the Licking River
From a release: 
The tour, called "Rediscovering the Licking River," is a tour to help educate the public on the importance of two local initiatives. The Licking River Watershed is an organization that works to protect, improve and restore the waters for the Licking River basin by promoting water quality monitoring, public education and citizen action. The Licking River Greenway is an effort to create an urban greenway from the mouth of the Licking River to the I-275 loop.
Tickets are $20. For details, click here.
|
SUNDAY
|
NKY's Gay Pride Festival
Click to enlarge
|
SHOULD THE ASCENT BE DEMOLISHED?
A group of architects were asked by California Home & Design to identify 25 buildings that should be demolished right now, and one of them suggested Covington's own architectural masterpiece -- The Ascent!
The Ascent's curving crescent form was designed to maximize views while the blue and white blotchy grid pattern theoretically reflects the sky and river, but Architect Neal Schwartz is less than impressed. "Just when I thought Daniel Libeskind's crass recycling of his single and dubious architectural idea had reached its apotheosis, I come across this 'gem,'" he says. Likewise, the interior of the building with its laser-like stripes of lights and mirrors on the ceiling and floor is just as lovely. 
See the rest of the list at the link.
California Home & Design
|
Hey, how about those Wildcats? Another superb class of UK basketball stars are headed to the NBA.
UK press release on the draft announcement Click here 
|
Column: John Calipari is in his element on draft night WDRB 
|
Presented without comment...
This photo was submitted by a reader from Covington who went down to Clay County this week.

COMMISSION RECAP: 28 JUNE

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
|
by Michael Monks 
|
COMMISSION APPROVES NEW BUDGET WITHOUT SPECIFICS
"I feel sorry for the people in a state of limbo because it's a time of uncertainty." The City Commission passes a budget for next year that is short on specifics, but there is a promise that more details are on the way after they hear from you. Click the link for the full story.
|
CITY TO PAY $150,000 TO OWNERS OF PLANNED METHADONE CLINIC
The City lost the lawsuit filed against it by the operators of a planned methadone clinic and will now pay out $150,000 to settle the case. The timeline of the situation is as follows: the methadone clinic operators request a permit to operate in Latonia but was denied by the zoning administrator; the operators appealed to the Board of Adjustments which upheld the denial by the zoning administrator; the operators then appealed to the state court system and filed a federal lawsuit against the City citing the Americans With Disabilities Act and discrimination; the state court reversed the Board of Adjustments decision and ordered the City to issue a permit (the methadone clinic will likely open at the former Save-A-Lot grocery on Madison Avenue); the federal court was also not favorable to the City and both parties have been in mediation, reaching the $150,000 settlement  to cover attorney costs and loss of profits.
|
The settlement passed the commission 4-1, with the majority agreeing that it was time to put this issue behind the City. Commissioner Steve Frank disagreed. "I'm not an attorney but I understand how the law works," Frank shouted. "You need a signed lease before you can claim you can lose profits!" The commissioner said the methadone clinic operators lied to the Schottenstein family, which manages Latonia Terrace, and that Schottenstein never would have agreed to rent to them. "I don't believe he lost a dime."
|
"We've lost two lawsuits," said Mayor Chuck Scheper. "Someone once told me when you're in a hole, stop digging. This is an opportunity to put this is all behind us."
|
CITY TO PAY FIREFIGHTERS $600,000 IN SETTLEMENT
Thursday night's special meeting also revealed that the City was on the losing end of another settlement, this time with retired and active firefighters. Calling it a complicated situation, City Solicitor Frank Warnock explained that over the years, the City and the firefighters union agreed to average overtime pay eight hours a week, as opposed to the thirty-two hours of scheduled overtime the firefighters often see, saving the City cash. In other cities, firefighters challenged the manner in which they were paid overtime which led to court decisions ruling the payment methods incorrect. In May, 2010 Covington was informed by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet that it was not in compliance with various court rulings.
|
While administrative action is still pending at the Labor Cabinet, a majority of firefighters have agreed to the $600,000 settlement which could have been as high as $6 million without an agreement. "It will be a financial hit to the City to do this but if the firefighters as a whole had pushed their claim forward, it would have been a greater hit," Warnock said. "We'd probably be in bankruptcy court. I don't know what the City would do."
|
JACKSON KINNEY RESIGNS AS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
"After forty years of being on the front lines, I think it's time to retire, or rewire, and I'm looking forward to that," said Jackson Kinney in his resignation speech before the City Commission. "I hope I've been able to put projects on the table that can benefit the City for many years to come. ...I will never forget the experience that I had here."
|
Jackson Kinney
|
In a news release issued Thursday afternoon, City Manager Larry Klein applauded Kinney's efforts:
According to Klein, Kinney was instrumental in organizing and staffing the City's then-newly-created Community Development Department in 2010, when several Housing Development staff functions were transferred from the Housing Authority of Covington back to City Hall in recognition of the City's refocusing on housing development.

Klein stated that "Jackson took the City's development efforts to a highly professional level and we are greatly appreciative of that. He has been a constant champion for the City since his arrival and chose to make Covington home for his family as well.

"We also understand his decision to resign at this juncture, the conclusion of the CCCAP Plan, which is the next step in Covington's plan for revitalization and redevelopment of its urban core." Klein indicated that Kinney will be available in the coming months to provide consulting service to assist the City as needed with current projects and programs. 
|
Kinney's resignation was accepted unanimously but a second item involving the departing director, an exit agreement, had one vote against it. Commissioner Shawn Masters, who was the only commissioners that did not wish Kinney well or thank him for his efforts in accepting the resignation, quipped, "I cannot and will not support quite a few of the parameters" of the exit agreement.
|
ASSISTANT CITY SOLICITOR LEAVES TO TAKE TOP JOB IN ELSMERE

Alex Mattingly is leaving his post as Covington's assistant city solicitor to become the City of Elsmere's first administrator. Mattingly called the deal "bittersweet" and thanked Frank Warnock for being a good mentor. Warnock joked that he would like to apply for the assistant city solicitor position, while calling Mattingly an honest, good lawyer. 
|
City Manager Larry Klein, an Elsmere native, thanked Mattingly as well. "I know you'll do a great job there," Klein said. 

|
Calling him a great city solicitor, Commissioner Sherry Carran said money is partially to blame. "We're just not able to pay him what he's worth," she said. "We've lost a number of good people over the last few months because we're just not able to pay them."
|
Alex Mattingly
|
PARKING AGREEMENT WITH GATEWAY IS STEP TOWARD URBAN CAMPUS
The Commission unanimously approved a deal with Gateway College which will rent 100 parking spaces at the Midtown Garage as part of a two-year agreement. For the first year, beginning July 1, Gateway will pay Covington $3,000 a month, and then the following year will pay $3,500 per month. "This is an exciting new phases for the city," Mayor Scheper said. "Five-thousand students will create demand for a lot of the amenities we are all looking forward to."
|
OTHER NOTES

Commission awarded a bid worth $109,956 to Woeste Builders to construct a roof on city-owned property on East Fifteenth Street as part of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program and payable through that program's funds.
|
The City accepted the deed to 319 Orchard Street in exchange for a $27,158 tax credit for its owners.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SPECIFICS WILL COME LATER FOR COVINGTON'S NEW BUDGET

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
|
by Michael Monks 
|
City Manager Larry Klein
"It rains an awful lot and having a rainy day fund that is less than one week's payroll is not much of a rainy day fund," said Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper at Thursday night's special meeting of the City Commission. "A city our size should have a reserve of five-percent of its general fund, or $2.5 million." But as the 2011-12 fiscal year comes to a close at the end of this month, there is far less than two-and-a-half million dollars. There is a paltry $449,080 or less than one week of the City's payroll expenses. Worse still, had the City not adopted Commissioner Shawn Masters's long proposed tax amnesty plan which generated roughly $400,000, there would be less than fifty-thousand dollars in the City's checking account.
|
While there was a technical vote on the agenda to approve the moving-around of some line-items from the 2011-12 budget, this meeting was about the approval of next year's budget, one that hopes to bear little resemblance to the shaky one that ends Sunday. But before the new budget could be presented, the old financial wounds of the past year were reopened and reexamined one last time. City Commissioner Steve Frank even dusted off his familiar refrain about what inspired him to run for the office, a stint on the City's audit committee. 
|
"We saw this train wreck coming and our warnings were not heeded," Frank said. "It's unsustainable what we've been doing for many, many, many years. We're going to put this last travesty of a budget to bed." And then, nearly one year to the day that the budget was originally passed, the 2011-12 budget was voted on and approved one last time. 
|
Specifics will come later
The new budget for fiscal year 2012-13 was unanimously and enthusiastically adopted by the City Commission following its presentation by City Manager Larry Klein and finance director Bob Due. This is a budget that aims to do more with less, so that more will be available to the City in the coming years. Klein emphasized that there are no and will be no tax increases. In fact, the City's payroll tax will be lowered from 2.5% to 2.45% and while Covington's coffers will likely collect $600,000 less in that area than it did last year, to Klein, it is a good thing, for now. "Payroll tax rates play a role in where companies look to locate," Klein said. 
|
Additionally, the budget calls for $2 million in infrastructure spending, which is $500,000 more than last year. Members of the current City Commission have frequently accused previous administrations of not spending enough in that area in order to balance their books. The numbers back up that accusation. From 2007 through 2011, only half a million was spent annually on road repairs and the like. The amount was increased to $1.5 million in 2012. 
|
But what about the other anticipated cuts and the recommended reorganization of City Hall and its departments presented by an outside consulting firm Tuesday night? No one knows for sure. The budget was passed with a high amount of generalities and a low amount of specifics. What is known for sure is that 2012-13's budget is projected to have $2 million less than 2011-12's and that cuts are going to come from somewhere, including personnel. 
|
"I feel sorry for the people in a state of limbo because it's a time of uncertainty and we will be deliberate about that," Mayor Scheper said. "We're going to do it with open eyes and open ears." To filter out the consultants' recommendations and planned cuts the mayor promises to meet with department heads in the next two weeks, and to schedule public hearings within the next thirty days, and then within the next sixty days more specific details will be known. "We still have work to do and we're going to do it as quickly and thoughtfully as possible to put this city on a better path to the future. Doing more of the same won't solve the problems of today or tomorrow."
|
Commissioner Steve Casper referenced this week's bankruptcy filing by the City of Stockton, California, the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy ever. "We here in Covington are not letting it happen. It is tough, but for you all to have jobs and streets to work on we have to do this and we'll be better for it in the long run," Casper said to the city employees at the meeting. He invited suggestions from all employees. "We're all ears," Casper said. 
|
Commissioner Sherry Carran also described the forthcoming decisions as tough, but said that she is confident in the changes that are to happen. "(NKU President) James Votruba was at a legislative caucus earlier this year and said the number one responsibility of leadership is to accept reality and that's what this is, this is reality," Carran said. "This budget is addressing infrastructure needs and at the same time, is getting us to a better spot where we'll be providing services more effectively. We have to change in order to stay ahead of the times. In a year or two years from now we're probably going to be better than we've ever been."
|
SEE SLIDES FROM THE BUDGET PRESENTATION BELOW, JUST CLICK THE LINK!