LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After months of allegations against an elected leader a woman started the fight to keep her job Tuesday.
Twenty people who served with Newburg Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, (D-District 2-, on the Metro Council now form what is essentially the jury hearing her case. Five are presenting the case against her, with the help of attorney David Tachau. If found guilty, she could get kicked out of office.
"None of the members of the charging committee would say he or she is a perfect person," Tachau said.
But Tachau said in Shanklin's case the wrongs were repeated and deliberate.
"This hearing does not involve occasional oversights and inadvertent mistakes," said Tachau. "This hearing involves persistent repeated violations of disclosure obligations about conflicts of interest and personal control over taxpayer funds and what has been persistent intentional deception by Dr. Shanklin and others at her direction."
The charges involve two areas: a program funded through Metro Corrections for ex-offenders that Tachau said Shanklin ran and was primarily used by Shanklin and her family. Tachau said in some cases, the woman who provided the classes was paid twice. She told police last year that she paid back Shanklin, in cash, for the overpayment.
"Either Linda Haywood is not telling the truth and she kept the money, which means that Barbara Shanklin allowed a vendor to double dip from taxpayer funds in the program she was overseeing, or Linda Haywood is telling the truth and Barbara Shanklin pocketed more than $2,300," Tachau said.
Also in question are Neighborhood Development Grants that the Petersburg Newburg Improvement Association got. Tachau alleges that Shanklin ran the group and signed the checks, but filed paperwork that led the council to believe otherwise.
"You think this is just an oversight? Do you believe in the Easter Bunny too?" he said during his opening statements.
Aubrey Williams, Shanklin's attorney, appealed to her fellow council members to erase what they've heard in the media and instead use what they know about Shanklin.
"Everybody on this council, present and past, knew of her involvement in these NDF monies," said Williams of the grants. "Why are we pretending?"
Williams also said, "you are going to buy this story that this man (Tachau) has given you, that you were duped year in and year out? Dr. Owen, are you that dumb? Are you that oblivious?"
Williams was referring to Councilman Tom Owen, who represents District 8. After the comment, Council President Jim King (D-District 10), the hearing chair, asked Williams to refrain from addressing specific council members.
Williams said Shanklin may have made mistakes but she shouldn't be removed.
"That's why they're known as grassroots people," said Williams. "They may not keep perfect records. They may not be very efficient. They may be sloppy. They may make mistakes but they're trying to uplift. If Barbara Shanklin did anything wrong it is that she's guilty of loving her people, number one."
Fourteen of the council members hearing the case would have to find her guilty for Shanklin to face punishment which could include losing her council seat.
The hearing is expected to last through this week and probably into the next.