Council members call for change after Shanklin verdict


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 1 at 6:35 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- There is fallout Thursday from the Barbara Shanklin vote. The verdict came just before 2 a.m., and while Metro council members found Shanklin guilty of ethics violations, there were not enough votes to remove her from office.

"Ms. Shanklin yes! We are so very happy. I have been on her side and saying prayers and everything," District 2 constituent, Rhonda Williams, said.

In Shanklin's district of Newburg there is celebration.

"She has been with the Newburg community for a long time and I don't think we should kick her out like that, " Diane Yocum, who lives in the district, said.

But there is also outrage.

"If you do something wrong, you should be responsible for what you do. So, I feel like she should have been taken out of office," Robin Doss, District 2 resident, said.

Shanklin was found guilty of improperly controlling money in neighborhood grants, and guilty of improperly benefiting from an upholstery program for ex-offenders. However, the Metro Council voted  not to remove her from office. Thirteen voted to remove her, just one vote shy of ousting her.

Many council members expressed outrage over the final vote.

"I have never in my life been so embarrassed to be a part of an organization. This organization, the Metro Council, is better than this," councilman Kelly Downard (R) said.

The five member bipartisan charging committee did not get a vote. Tina Ward Pugh is on that committee .

"I am profoundly saddened and disappointed," councilwoman Tina Ward Pugh (D), who is on the committee, said.

Pugh, along with other Metro Council members, are now calling for two major changes.  

First, more guidelines to be set in how neighborhood grants are distributed. Secondly, to appeal to state legislators to change a state statute that would give charging members a final vote.

"There was a bipartisan group of us standing on the sidewalk trying to come up with a list of all the different changes in state as well as local legislation," Pugh said.

Shanklin was not present during the final vote, nor when the verdict was read. Her attorney Aubry Williams said this is a case of the facts being distorted.

"She may have violated the law technically but did not violate the spirit of it," Williams said.

Metro Councilman David James, who voted in favor of keeping Shanklin in office, released this statement:

"While Dr. Shanklin may not have exercised the best judgment in her actions leading into this hearing, she did not intentionally violate our ethics policy warranting a removal."

Here's how members voted. 14 votes were needed to remove Shanklin from office, but there were only 13 votes for removal.

Attica Scott - No

David Tandy - No

David James - No

Tom Owen - Yes

Kevin Kramer - Yes

Cindi Fowler - Yes

Kelly Downard - Yes

Marilyn Parker - Yes

Dan Johnson - No

David Yates - Yes

Mary Woolridge - No

Cheri Hamilton - No

Ken Fleming - Yes

Jim King - Yes

Rick Blackwell - Yes

Marianne Butler - Yes

Glen Stuckel - Yes

Stuart Benson - Yes

Robin Engel - Yes

Brent Ackerson - No

Mayor Greg Fischer's statement on the council court decision:
“The trial has exposed serious weakness in the oversight of neighborhood development funds and of projects that councilmembers add to the city budget.  I’m pleased that both Republicans and Democrats see the need to closely examine their processes and make the necessary reforms in an effort to regain the public’s trust. I expect them to proceed with a sense of urgency.”