Fischer chooses new director of public service; choice unsettles some Metro Council members

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 12:07 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In the wake of Mayor Fischer’s announcement Thursday that Matt Golden will be Louisville’s director of public service, members of Louisville’s Metro Council are asking questions about his appointment.

Questions over his qualifications and Fischer’s motives have come into play for some Metro Council members, including Metro Council President David James.

“I’ve worked with him many times. [He is a] fine person — a good professional attorney, but I have not seen him in this role,” James told WAVE 3 News. “So, I’ll have to reserve my judgment.”

Golden recently retired from the Jefferson County attorney’s office. He also is a tax attorney and worked as interim counsel for TARC.

His new role will have him overseeing Louisville EMS, the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, and the Louisville Fire Department, as well as serving as a legal advisor to the Louisville Metro Police Department on a six-figure salary of $129,500.

However, Fischer’s office made clear Golden wouldn’t be overseeing the police department. That job stays with Fischer, with his spokesperson, Jean Porter, telling WAVE 3 News there’s no timeline on when or if Golden will assume more responsibility and oversee the police department.

“Which is what led to the tragic death of Breonna Taylor,” James said. “By the mayor directly supervising Steve Conrad, chief of police, during the Explorer case, overtime issues, officers in jail, all those other things — the failure of the mayor to hold the police department and chief accountable. We already know how that looks.”

James said the September 2020 conversation surrounding Fischer’s leadership, or lack thereof, still stands.

“Metro Council voted no confidence in Mayor Fischer’s leadership, and we haven’t since voted we have confidence in his leadership,” he said.

WAVE 3 News reached out to several other Metro Council members, who did not want to comment on Golden’s new role in an on-camera interview. Some said they worried speaking out about Fischer’s decision would put a target on their backs.

However, Councilman James Peden said off-camera that Golden’s hire is strategic by Fischer and he said he believes this is Fischer’s way of continuing to call the shots.

In July 2020, it was reported that Golden, while he was serving as the interim counsel for TARC, did not release information during the investigation into former Director Ferdinand Risco. Fischer’s office said that an investigation into another city employee is not a conflict of interest.

Fischer released a statement about Golden’s appointment Thursday:

“Matt brings a wealth of institutional knowledge and experience in dealing with Louisville Metro issues and departments, and of course, has extensive legal expertise, which will be extremely beneficial. I have always admired his passion for public service. He will be a great addition to our team.”

Golden was not available for an interview with WAVE 3 News on Thursday.

He starts in his new role on Monday.

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