Ethics trial that could remove Shanklin starts today - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ethics trial that could remove Shanklin starts today

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When the ethics trial for Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin begins this week, Mayor Greg Fischer and two members of the ethics commission will not be among those forced to testify.

Jim King, the chair of the council court, agreed to quash subpoenas from Shanklin's attorney demanding that Fischer and ethics commissioners be forced to testify.

Aubrey Williams, Shanklin's attorney, argued Fischer was a key player because of his administration's role in terminating a controversial upholstery program that city records show benefited Shanklin and her family members.

The program, which was initially intended to teach ex-convicts a skill, was canceled in November of 2011 in a letter written by Corrections Director Mark Bolton.

Mayor Fischer's general counsel Pat Mulvihill says Fischer "had no knowledge" of the controversial program until that letter in November of 2011.

Mulvihill told the council court: "The mayor didn't have personal knowledge of this... the mayor didn't make a judgment call."

A WDRB News review found Fischer's name appears on several checks written to the program's instructor, Linda Haywood. Fischer's spokesman Chris Poynter told WDRB News those are merely stamps that appear on every city check.

"And I don't mean any disrespect but that's a whopper. And to think something this big, this controversial, the community has been inundated with it. And the mayor was oblivious?" Aubrey Williams said during a council court hearing Monday.

After the hearing, Williams did not want to comment on the council court's rejection of his subpoenas.

""Surprise, surprise," was all he said to WDRB's Bennett Haeberle as he left the council chamber. Shanklin is accused of using her position on the Metro Council to benefit herself and her family.

Prosecutor David Tachau says his case will rely on bank records. Shanklin is accused of steering council money to neighborhood groups she controlled. Tachau says that involved writing checks for those associations.

Upholstery instructor Linda Haywood told police Shanklin would often pay her in advance and that she would use cash to repay Shanklin.

"Either Dr. Shanklin, who was effectively operating this program, allowed the vendor to be paid twice for the same thing and let taxpayer money be wasted or Shanklin got the money back and didn't put it into the accounts," said David Tachau, the charging committee's prosecutor.

Williams denies that, claiming Shanklin did nothing wrong.

"Aubrey says it's all lies and garbage and we'll see if that holds true," Tachau told reporters.

The ethics trial for Shanklin begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The council members will act as jurors and it will require a two-thirds majority to remove Shanklin from office. The trial is expected to last all week.

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