Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin will not be removed from office - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin will not be removed from office

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Barbara Shanklin Barbara Shanklin
Metro council members began their deliberations behind this closed door of a city hall conference room at 10:04 p.m. Wednesday.  Bennett Haeberle/WDRB News Metro council members began their deliberations behind this closed door of a city hall conference room at 10:04 p.m. Wednesday. Bennett Haeberle/WDRB News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Council members have voted not remove council woman Barbara Shanklin. The verdict was delivered just before 2 a.m. Thursday after four-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Closing arguments finished about 7:50 p.m. Wednesday.  Shanklin, a Democrat and 2nd District representative, was accused of two ethics violations.  While a majority of the council jury found Shanklin was guilty of misconduct -- there were not enough votes to remove her from office. There were thirteen votes in favor of removing her from office, but seven votes helped her keep her seat. If just one vote had gone the other way, she would have been removed from office.

Council members voting in favor of removing Shanklin from office:

Tom Owen - District 8
Kevin Kramer - District 11
Cindi Fowler - District 14
Kelly Downard - District 16
Marilyn Parker - District 18
David Yates - District 25
Ken Fleming - District 7
Jim King - District 10
Rick Blackwell - District 12
Marianne Butler - District 15
Glen Stuckel - District 17
Stuart Benson - District 20
Robin Engel - District 22

Council members voting in favor of keeping Shanklin in office:

*Attica Scott - District 1
*David Tandy - District 4
David James - District 6
Dan Johnson - District 21
Mary Woolridge - District 3
Cheri Bryant Hamilton - District 5
*Brent Ackerson- District 26

Council members who found Shanklin guilty of misconduct:

*Attica Scott - District 1
*David Tandy - District 4
Tom Owen - District 8
Kevin Kramer - District 11
Cindi Fowler - District 14
Kelly Downard - District 16
Marilyn Parker - District 18
David Yates - District 25
Ken Fleming - District 7
Jim King - District 10
Rick Blackwell - District 12
Marianne Butler - District 15
Glen Stuckel - District 17
Stuart Benson - District 20
Robin Engel - District 22
*Brent Ackerson - District 26

*Denotes the three swing votes that found Shanklin guilty of misconduct, but voted to keep her in office.

Council members who did not believe Shanklin was guilty of misconduct:

David James - District 6
Dan Johnson - District 21
Mary Woolridge - District 3
Cheri Bryant Hamilton - District 5

Council members deliberated into the early morning hours in the ethics trial against Shanklin. The way Shanklin used city grant money was at the center of the ethics case against her
She was accused of using friends and relatives to steer council funds to neighborhood groups she controlled. While a majority of the council jury found Shanklin was guilty of misconduct -- there were not enough votes to remove her from office.

Some council members had harsh words for the three swing votes that were cast by Councilmen Brent Ackerson and David Tandy and Councilwoman Attica Scott. "I wrote down what each one of them said and some of what they said was outlandish," said Councilman Kelly Downard.

Others were flat-out embarrassed by the whole ordeal. "I think the integrity of the Metro government and Louisville has been hurt by this," said Councilwoman Madonna Flood.

Ken Fleming was more vocal.

"This is going to fracture the community, it will fracture this council, and it's going to be a disgrace and we're embarrassed and we are so ashamed of what we went through that we are going to have a long time recovering," Fleming.

During the trial, prosecutor David Tachau characterized Shanklin's record keeping about funds for an upholstery program and a neighborhood group as "intentional", not sloppy bookkeeping. "It was willful neglect," Tachau said.

Tachau later claimed to have "shot down" ten of Shanklin's "lies"; he used a "Whack-A-Mole" carnival game reference.  He urged the council court "to do what you did with Judy Green."  A previous council court removed then-former council member Judy Green in an ethics proceeding two years ago.  Green had resigned before her ethics trial was complete; the council continued it to ensure she could not run for re-election after her resignation.

Shanklin's attorney, Aubrey Williams, had said earlier that his client was guilty of being stupid, ignorant, and of sloppy bookkeeping.  But those did not violate the city's ethics code.

The jury of council members decided her fate. They could have removed her from office. With 20 council members making up the jury, Shanklin needed seven votes in her favor to keep her job.

Shanklin is accused of using her position on the Metro Council to benefit herself and her family members.

Throughout the proceedings, prosecutor David Tachau relied on bank statements, canceled checks and witness statements to try to show that Shanklin used family members and friends as a means to steer tens of thousands of dollars in council funds to two neighborhood groups she controlled. 

Tachau contends she used some of those funds to pay her grandson's girlfriend $600 -- money which Tachau argues she can't prove was ever paid back.

He also contends she created and hand-picked upholstery instructor Linda Haywood to teach an upholstery class Shanklin and her family members took part in. The program, which was funded through Metro Corrections, was meant to teach ex-convicts a skill.

On the stand Tuesday, Shanklin repeatedly admitted to "making mistakes" but said she "worked hard for her community."

Her attorney, Aubrey Williams, has lambasted the proceedings from the beginning, picking fights with county attorney Mike O'Connell and council court chair Jim King.

Shanklin also contends that the bad blood between her attorney and O'Connell has tainted her trial, saying "how can I get a fair trial?"

Williams' argument has been that his client is a "grassroots" person who worked and during her tenure in office helped the Newburg community by creating tutor programs and working with the federal "weed and seed" program to end crime in her neighborhood.
 
This trial marks only the second time that the Metro Council has attempted to remove a member from office. Prosecutor David Tachau contends Shanklin's financial missteps, sloppy bookkeeping and conflicts of interest are enough to prove she violated the city's ethics code.
 
Councilman Brent Ackerson, who found Shanklin guilty of misconduct but voted not to remove her from office, released a statement Thursday morning.  It said, in part, "I have not been happy with the evidence that has come to light during these proceedings.  In fact, I'm personally upset with not only Councilwoman Shanklin but also with various other persons within Metro government that taxpayer funds were allowed to be spent in the manner they have.  It is clear to me that this system of how funds are allocated and monitored is flawed – and we need to correct it." 
 
But Ackerson also said he felt he could not legally vote to remove Shanklin: "Does stupidity, ignorance of procedures, or misguided intentions rise to the level of removing an elected official from office?   Under the law they do not."
 
 
 
Copyright 2013 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.
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