Mayor Fischer: No gag order on budget talk, much ado about nothing

Councilwoman claims city employees under gag order, mayor rebuts the claim

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Gag order: It’s a phrase that has at least one Metro Councilmember and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer annoyed for different reasons.

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney, who said she’s trying to help figure out how to make up the city’s $35 million budget shortfall, claims the mayor is trying to stop city employees from talking about it to the council.

McCraney, a Democrat representing District 7, said it’s a gag order and it’s wrong. Fischer fired back, answering questions about that accusation Friday.

Fischer said while there’s a chain-of-command process for providing financial information to the council so it’s accurate, there is no gag order. The two only agree on one thing in this matter.

“It’s ridiculous and blown up by the media as well,” he said.

Added McCraney: “It’s ridiculous that someone would be told not to speak to an elected official.”

McCraney explained how it all started.

“I had been talking to employees all along, trying to see if they had any ideas about efficiencies,” she said, adding that she was trying to ask a city employee about possible budget savings ideas. “It was stated they were told not to talk with Metro Council.”

McCraney said she was shown an e-mail originally sent out from LMAS Director Ozzy Gibson. It read: “Per the mayor’s office, should a council person or one of their staff reach out to you about LMAS operations or LMAS budget, you are required to inform me and will handle.”

Fischer said the director just wanted to make sure council questions were handled appropriately.

“All of our budget is online, and council people and citizens can talk to our employees about anything at any time,” he said.

The mayor said his office even set up a website just so employees could give input to the city on budget saving ideas.

“We asked the entire public for their ideas,” Fischer said. “We asked the entire council for their ideas, and I’ve yet to receive one from the council yet, but we’ve asked all employees so this is really much ado about nothing.”

McCraney responded, “I believe (Fischer’s office is) aware that we are aware that they have indicated not to speak with us. I don’t believe that will happen again.”

McCraney said some employees don’t want to write down their information on the website, saying they would rather just relay it to city officials by phone or in person. Fischer’s spokeswoman said councilmembers have a designated liaison from the mayor’s office who coordinates with them on any questions or concerns.

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