Thursday, December 09, 2004

Our "Jethro Bodine Era" sputters onward

Other cities enjoy periods of Baroque splendor, or experience Federalist eras. Some even have the privilege of Golden Ages.

We get "Mr. Bodine Goes to the Courthouse."

One month ago in this space, it was written:

"In October, the city’s sanitation department was discovered to be more than $600,000 in the red. Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Ben Hershberg apparently learned that the deficit was being covered by the sewer department, and asked Garner to comment. Until this question was asked, Garner did not know where the money was coming from, and only then, scurrying off to look into it, was he able to verify what the reporter already had determined."

In today's Courier, Hershberg returns to the long-running controversy surrounding Mayor Garner's muddled personnel moves with respect to the city's building inspectors and the still vacant post of Building Commissioner, the portfolio for which has been claimed by Garner since appointee Eddie Hancock rode off into the sunset earler this year.

The full text of Hershberg's article:

Hershberg's solid reporting provides an explanation for a surreal episode at Monday's City Council meeting.

At the meeting, a letter written by demoted building inspector Steve Broadus was read before the council. In the letter, Broadus took issue with several aspects of the situation in the inspections office, including the use of a contract inspector. In short, why insist that Broadus doesn't have sufficient work for full-time status when a contract inspector is working?

Garner conceded that a contract inspector, Ron Hartman, was indeed being used when needed, but insisted that the total amount of inspecting work still didn't add up to full-time. Furthermore, in a heated exchange, the Mayor repeatedly denied that the contract inspector had recently performed a plumbing inspection at Floyd Memorial Hospital.

Publicly, Garner said, "Mr. Broadus does not have access to the facts." The implication was clear, if unspoken: Who are you going to believe, the acting Building Commissioner (Garner) or an embittered, troublemaking inspector?

As it turns out, we should believe the embittered, demoted inspector. In today's article, Hershberg writes:

"Garner acknowledged yesterday that he was mistaken Monday night when he said Hartman didn't conduct the Nov. 23 inspection."

It would seem that Mayor Garner is wearing a few too many hats. First, as sewer chieftain, he didn't know the details of the $600,000 accounting exercise between the sewer and sanitation departments. Then, as acting Building Commissioner, he didn't know who was inspecting what, and when.

In light of this, a note to Shane Gibson (city attorney) and Tony Toran (operations director): Are you really sure your present jobs constitute upward mobility?

In today's New Albany Tribune, city editor Amany Ali contributes analysis similar to Hershberg's, but she does not catch Garner's mistake on the hospital inspection blunder. Hershberg does not confuse schmoozing with reporting, a lesson Ali could stand learning. Then again, it would appear that she has little or no supervision at the Tribune. Read her account here:

1 comment:

edward parish said...

This is all turning into a skit from the TV show M*A*S*H*. Jethro Bodine hell, Garner is evolving towards the character of Frank Burns.