City Hall sits empty and I am alone at my desk most of the time but the District 8 (Virtual) Office has never been fuller. Jasmine is working remotely. Former intern (2017) – now attorney – Aaron Vance is managing our campaign to register 1,808 senior households for the homestead exemption. Aaron is taking new intern Sam Stottman under his wing so that Sam can help lead the campaign after Aaron is gone. Councilperson-Elect Cassie Chambers Armstrong is getting involved, too, so that she can help finish the campaign after I am gone! In fact, Cassie and I are working together on multiple items, not only to ensure a “smooth transition” in 2021 – preservation of documents and information; regular briefings; etc. – but also to make real change now. For example, you may have read Cassie and Kentucky State Representative Josie Raymond’s Courier-Journal op-ed on Friday (Labor Day) advocating for paid parental leave for city and state employees; we are partnering with the Department of Public Health and Wellness and ACLU of Kentucky to research and draft local legislation by the end of the year. New legal intern Madeline Reed is helping to lead the interoffice effort. It is a virtuous circle: past, present and future.
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Soon, this afternoon (9/9, 3:30pm), the Metro Council Public Safety Committee is expected to vote on a resolution expressing no confidence in the leadership of Mayor Greg Fischer and asking him to resign. In reality, it is an act of council members projecting their own lack of self-confidence onto the mayor and abdicating their own responsibility to heal our community. I get it. I suffer from self-doubt in this line of work, too. We the people are reckoning with a history and culture of overt and institutional racism and brutality made manifest by the extrajudicial killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, respectively, the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis all at once. It is a lot, and we the elected officials are supposed to do something about all of it. (And we are: from police reform to support for families and small businesses to accountability for government malfeasance, the Metro Council is plenty busy these days.) But we can’t make the Kentucky Attorney General’s prosecutorial decision for him, ensure the accuracy and completeness of national election results or create a vaccine, so it is easy to feel helpless. To just blame the mayor, though – who, let me be clear: this is not an unequivocal defense of – is itself a failure of leadership. Instead, we simply can and must do more to seek justice and correct oppression, every day.