Sunday March 29, 2020
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Mayor Greg Fischer today announced the appointment of Sabeen Nasim as Director of the Louisville Metro Office for Globalization, which works to implement new strategies to engage and welcome Louisville’s international community.

“As evidenced by the fact that we were only the second city in the U.S. to achieve Certified Welcoming City status, Louisville is leading the country in welcoming foreign-born residents and giving them the tools and support necessary to reach their full human potential,” Mayor Fischer said. “Sabeen’s commitment to empowering people and encouraging them to be trailblazers within their community makes her the right person to lead and maximize our city’s globalization efforts.”

Nasim joins the Office for Globalization as an experienced leader and public servant with more than 15 years working in various roles related to community development.

“Joining the Office for Globalization has been a dream come true where I can focus my passion on cultivating economic, educational and cultural opportunities for our diverse community and promote a welcoming agenda for all residents of Louisville,” said Nasim.

As a Pakistani-born immigrant raised in Southern California, Nasim said she’s overcome obstacles throughout her life, balancing two cultures while acclimating to a new country. With life lessons as her foundation, she pledged to pay it forward by working to ensure everyone has every opportunity to succeed – the definition of the city’s value of compassion.

Prior to her role with the Office for Globalization, Nasim served as UPS Air Region Public Affairs & Community Relations Supervisor, the primary field representative and liaison for the UPS Foundation. In this position, she was responsible for overseeing the foundation’s local grant program and helped drive a culture that supported giving back to communities through strategic philanthropy, partnerships with local nonprofits, skills-based and in-house volunteerism, board engagement, and public policy.

Nasim also has held a variety of positions within Jefferson County Public Schools, including middle school science teacher, assistant principal and project manager, orchestrating the work of all accountable grant components and sub-committees, research and planning, community development and organizational leadership.

Nasim’s enthusiasm to help others reach their full potential resulted in her being recognized as Louisville’s Business First Top 20 People to Know in Education and the Workforce. Nasim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from California State University of Long Beach and a Master of Education, Leadership and Administration degree from the University of Louisville. She recently graduated as a member of Leadership Louisville’s 2019 Class of Bingham Fellows. Her dedication to the community involves work with various boards, including TreesLouisville, the World Affairs Council and Fund for the Arts.

She replaces Bryan Warren, who led the office for four years and now serves as the vice president of education for Kentucky Performing Arts.

Today is Nasim’s first day leading the Office for Globalization.

Louisville Metro Government closed on two agreements through its Energy Project Assessment District (EPAD) program that will provide more than $2 million in private loan funds for energy efficiency projects at Tennis Club at Springhurst and a new La Quinta Del Sol hotel.

“The science behind global climate change is indisputable, and in order to make a difference, individuals, organizations, business and government must all take action to reduce emissions and shift to more renewable energy sources,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Offerings like the EPAD Program help property owners invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades to benefit our environment.”

The EPAD Program (known nationally as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or “PACE”) is a financing mechanism that helps property owners repay loans for energy efficient, renewable energy and water conservation projects with no down payment. All the capital comes from private sources.

Unlike a traditional loan however, loans through the EPAD program are affixed to the property title, rather than the property owner, and are repaid through a voluntary annual assessment administered by the Jefferson County Sheriff. Applicants also can receive loans that cover up to 100% of the project’s hard and soft costs.

Company Sachi LLC received a 25-year, $1.7 million loan from PACE Equity to install a high-performance building envelope, a high-efficiency HVAC system, 52 solar panels, and 20 windmills at a 94-room La Quinta Del Sol currently under construction near Old Henry Road.

Dr. Sunny Dronawat, managing member of Sachi LLC, said investing in renewable energy makes good business sense. “Consumers feel good when they spend their money on goods and services that incorporate sustainability, green energy elements and energy conservation elements into their business practices. The Millennial generation is spending money on hotels that incorporate green elements.”

Installations began in April 2018 and are estimated to be completed by Summer 2020. A Utility Impact Analysis completed by PACE Equity estimated total projected energy savings of more than 420,000 kWh annually – enough energy to power 50 houses for one year or take 63 passenger vehicles off the road.

“Working with Sunny on the La Quinta Del Sol in Louisville is a shining example of utilizing PACE financing. It allowed the hotel to incorporate substantial energy efficiency and renewables but also a low-cost funding mechanism to pay for those items. PACE Equity continues to be the leader in utilizing Property Assessed Clean Energy financing for new construction,” said Ethan Elser, executive vice president of PACE Equity.

The La Quinta Del Sol and Tennis Club at Springhurst are the third and fourth projects funded through Louisville Metro’s EPAD program.

Tennis Club at Springhurst received a $400,000 loan from Lever Energy Capital to upgrade its existing lighting system with state-of-the-art LED technology and install a new HVAC system.  The loan will be repaid over 15 years.

“The EPAD Program has allowed us to easily finance a much better system than we could afford through general cash flow. And the financing process is so easy and straightforward. We loved the process and love the product,” said Chris Mather, owner of the Tennis Club at Springhurst and Louisville Sports Academy.

Learn more about the EPAD program at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/epad-program.

In addition to the EPAD Program, Louisville Metro Government, through its Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability, offers incentives to property and business owners to invest in measures via its Cool Roof Rebate Program to combat the Urban Heat Island effect and reducing cooling costs.

The Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability released a draft Emissions Reduction Plan in late 2019 and will finalize that plan in February 2020. Learn more about the Emissions Reduction Plan here: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/greenhouse-gas-inventory

In 2020, Louisville Metro Government will continue to electrify its vehicle fleet, will replace 25,000-square-feet of roofs on Metro-owned buildings with cool roof technology, will explore an environmental purchasing policy, and will release a climate adaptation plan with actionable items for Louisville Metro and other partners. The city also is in regular conversation with LG&E regarding more renewable energy options for Louisville Metro operations

For more information about the Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability and its efforts, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/aps.

Louisville Metro Government has filed a federal lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc., the largest manufacturer and seller of e-cigarettes and vaping products, for its role in fueling the community health crisis of nicotine addiction, especially among young people.

The suit, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under the direction of Mayor Greg Fischer and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, seeks damages to help Louisville combat the health crisis of nicotine addiction that has impacted the city.

At a time when cigarette smoking is on the decline, especially among young people, data shows that Kentucky has the second highest rate of e-cigarette use in the country. The Louisville Metro complaint alleges that JUUL is responsible for an explosion of nicotine use and addiction, here and across the country.

By marketing and selling the product as a safe alternative to cigarette smoking, JUUL’s actions have contributed to an entire generation using a product that has never been proven safe, the suit says. And as a result, nicotine use among America’s youth is sharply on the rise. E-cigarette use in general increased 78 percent among high-school students and 48 percent among middle-school students from 2017 to 2018.

“From the very first day that I took office, my team and I have been working to make Louisville a healthier city, because health is the foundational element of everything we do as people and as a community,” said Mayor Fischer. “JUUL’s goal has been to turn our kids into nicotine addicts and, in terms of the company’s focus, long-term paying customers. This has serious medical and economic repercussions for our community.”

JUUL, in concert with its advertising agencies and others, followed Big Tobacco’s playbook in developing a product and marketing strategy to appeal to young people. JUUL sought to portray its products as trend-setting and used by those that teenagers admire. JUUL promoted itself as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco use, and utilized social media extensively, mindful that those platforms are teenagers’ predominant communication forums.

“JUUL delivers levels of nicotine cranked up much higher than traditional cigarettes, and they’ve targeted their product to impressionable kids,” said O’Connell. “This has been a surgical strike against our young, addicting a new generation to nicotine for life. The damage is done, and JUUL must be held accountable for their actions.”

Nicotine is a toxic chemical associated with cardiovascular, reproductive, and immunosuppressive problems. Research has also shown that e-cigarette users are at an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, including blood pressure and arterial stiffness, which increase the risk for strokes and heart attacks.  Other than its use as a stimulant, nicotine’s only other known use is as an insecticide. It’s been banned as a pesticide in the U.S. since 2014.

“Research tells us that nicotine addiction in their developing brains can leave our children and young people vulnerable to learning and attention deficits and to future substance use disorders” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, Chief Health Strategist and director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “It’s up to us to keep them out of harm’s way. We must take decisive action now to protect the next generation.”

Louisville Metro’s complaint alleges the following causes of action against JUUL:

1) Violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act,

2) Public Nuisance,

3) Negligence,

4) Gross Negligence,

5) Punitive Damages,

6) Strict Product Liability – Failure to Warn,

7) Strict Product Liability – Design Defect, and

8) Unjust Enrichment.

Louisville Metro filed in California as all litigation involving vaping and e-cigarettes has been aggregated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Judge William Orrick III will preside over these now more than 200 cases. Several other states and local governments have joined the MDL; Louisville is one of the largest municipalities involved. Louisville is also one of the more than 2,000 state, local and other governments in the National Prescription Opiate MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The city has hired the law firms of Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery of Louisville and Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP of Kansas City, Mo. as outside counsel in this matter. The lead attorney, Ronald Johnson of Louisville, has twice been appointed by federal judges as lead counsel in MDL cases, and served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for another. He also recently filed suit against JUUL on behalf of a number of Kentucky school districts, including Jefferson County Public Schools and districts in Fayette, Bullitt and Marion County.

The outside attorneys will pay all expenses to litigate the case; Louisville Metro is incurring no costs. The attorneys will receive their contingent fee plus reasonable expenses as awarded and approved by the courts, only if Louisville receives an award at trial or in a settlement.

Mayor Greg Fischer recently announced Amy Hess as Metro Louisville’s new Chief of Public Services, a role where she will oversee such critical departments as Public Works, Emergency Services, Corrections, Fleet and Facilities, and Animal Services.

Hess currently serves as Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, and is the highest-ranking woman in the FBI.  A native of Jeffersonville, Ind., she previously served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville field office, with responsibility for all FBI personnel and operations throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. In that role, she led the FBI’s participation in strategies to reduce violent crime and combat the opioid epidemic; and oversaw the pursuit and capture of fugitive Eric Conn. (See her full bio here.)

Louisville’s Business First honored Hess among its Enterprising Women award winners in 2018, naming her “Woman Making a Difference.”

“With her vast management experience, and her deep knowledge and experience with our region and complex systems, Amy is an incredible addition to our team,” Mayor Fischer said.  “I welcome Amy home, and look forward to her helping Louisville continue on its path as a global, breakout city.”

Hess thanked Mayor Fischer for the opportunity to return to the community she has served and loves, adding, “I know from my previous role here that the men and women of Louisville Metro Government are hard-working, talented and committed to public service. I look forward to contributing to this great team.”

Hess will start on February 1, 2020, after transitioning from her current job and moving back to Louisville.

Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) Director Ozzy Gibson, who has been serving as interim Chief of Public Services, will continue as LMAS director, assist with Hess’ transition into her new role, and take an additional role in the Mayor’s Office as Senior Advisor on Special Projects.

“I am deeply grateful to Ozzy for stepping up in this interim period and serving as a strong leader for the Public Services Cabinet,” Mayor Fischer said.  “We will continue to utilize his vast talents, knowledge and love for our city by having him not only continue to serve as Director of Animal Services, but also in this new role as Senior Advisor on Special Projects, or, as I like to call it, Senior Troubleshooter!”

Louisville Metro Government is moving forward with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change. The city also will provide a progress report on the goals set out in the city’s first sustainability plan, Sustain Louisville, later this month.

On Nov. 1, Mayor Greg Fischer announced the release of a draft of the Emissions Reduction Plan at the annual Louisville Sustainability Summit. The plan, part of a commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors, serves as a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Louisville Metro’s Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability, which helped guide the Emissions Reduction Plan, also is developing a climate adaptation plan, Prepare Louisville, to address existing and anticipated effects of climate change. Input on both will be critical to determining the best approach to tackling climate change now and in the years ahead.

“Despite national action to abandon the Paris climate accord, Louisville is listening to our residents, especially our young people who spoke out during the Climate Strike, and are stepping up to keep fighting climate change,” said the Mayor. “The release of the Emissions Reduction Plan and formulation of a climate adaptation plan takes us to the next stage as a community – to an urgent and critical conversation about how we move forward to achieve the necessary greenhouse gas reductions and how we work together to address the current and future impacts of climate change.”

The strategies included in the Emissions Reduction Plan were derived from best industry practices and reflect our best understanding of where current trends will take us in the years ahead. It is intended to be flexible in nature as new technologies and regulatory changes drive change in our community.

Louisville Metro recognizes that since the plan’s 80% emissions reduction target was set, recent scientific reports have expressed the need for more urgent and accelerated action to avoid irreversible impacts of climate change. In response, the city will continue pursuing actions that will propel Louisville beyond the 80% reduction target laid out in the plan.

Residents can submit their feedback on the Emissions Reduction Plan now through Saturday, Nov. 30 at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/greenhouse-gas-inventory .

Residents also are asked to help shape Prepare Louisville, the climate adaptation plan, by sharing their experiences, concerns, and ideas via a short online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/preparelouisville . The deadline to complete the survey has been extended to Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Lastly, the Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability will be releasing a progress report on Wednesday, Nov. 13, updating the goals and initiatives set forth in Sustain Louisville. The report will describe the strides made and highlight the key successes toward these goals, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

For more information about Sustain Louisville, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/sustain-louisville

Joined by more than 250 members of the Louisville Metro Snow Team, Mayor Greg Fischer today declared that the city is battle ready for the 2019-20 snow season. After the announcement, the Snow Team worked through a mock snow event that included driving all road treatment routes.

“I’m honored to stand along with our Snow Team to declare Louisville is ready to tackle significant winter weather,” said the Mayor. “This team will jump into action any hour, any day, to make it safe for the rest of us to get where we need to go when it snows.”

Mayor Fischer also named dozens of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) students as honorary members of the Snow Team.

The students – from Eisenhower, Gutermuth, Jacob, Layne, Sanders and Wilkerson elementary schools – decorated six snowplows to be used in the upcoming winter season. Some of the plows will be part of the Lots of Lights Parade during the Light Up Louisville celebration on Friday, Nov. 29. The plows were displayed during today’s event in the Cardinal Stadium parking lot.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said, “We appreciate the diligence and hard work of the Louisville Metro Snow Team in keeping roads safe and passable every winter. We depend on that commitment to ensure students and employees can get to and from school in inclement weather, limiting the number of days that students are away from the classroom.

“I’m also proud of our students who used their artistic talents to show their appreciation in their own way — Louisville’s streets will be both safer and more beautiful this year when the Snow Team is activated.”

The Snow Team is led by Metro Public Works under the leadership of Director Vanessa Burns and Assistant Director for Roads and Operations, Brian Funk. The Public Works Solid Waste Management Division, Metro Parks, the Department of Codes & Regulations, and the Division of Fleet and Facilities are also part of the team.

The Louisville Fire Department also is preparing to help residents combat winter fires and indoor home safety.

“It’s important for the community to play a key role in keeping their home, families and neighbors safe,” said Major Bobby Cooper, Louisville Fire Department. “Simple safety precautions like maintaining home heating equipment, using space heaters and generators with caution, and replacing batteries in smoke alarms can help ensure a warm and safe winter.”

While the Louisville Metro Snow Team is focused on keeping things moving safely on the ground, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport has a team that’s focused on making sure people can get in and out of the city through the air.

“The dedicated snow teams for both Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and Bowman Field are prepared and ready to respond anytime inclement weather is in the area,” said Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “As SDF remains strong as the seventh busiest cargo airport in the world with more than 300 daily flights from our cargo partners, plus 80 flights from the passenger airlines, we play an essential role in connecting people and goods around the globe. It’s crucial that our airfield is operational and ready for use 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Just as Louisville Metro takes great care of the city, we remain focused on ensuring the airport is ready for business at all hours of the day.”

Louisville will begin the snow season this year with 38,500 tons of salt on hand. Most of the salt will be stored underground in Louisville Mega Cavern, 1841 Taylor Ave. About 15,550 tons are distributed to four above ground locations where the salt will be loaded onto spreading vehicles as needed. Total salt used in the 2018-19 snow season was 10,505 tons.

The city will also continue to pretreat roads with brine ahead of snowfalls. Brine is a saltwater solution that reduces the adherence of snow and ice to pavement and reduces slick spots.

The city’s snow removal progress can be followed via an interactive online map. During snow events, a snow map will be posted on the city website, www.Louisvilleky.gov, and the Department of Public Works site at www.louisvilleky.gov/publicworks. The latest updates will also be posted on Twitter at LouPubWorks.

Louisville Metro Government today closed on its sale of $45 million of tax-exempt bonds to Morgan Stanley & Company, with nationally recognized credit rating services S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service again affirming the city’s positive bond ratings of AA+ and Aa1, respectively.

Both credit rating agencies cited Louisville’s vibrant economy and sound fiscal management as strengths — but also expressed concern regarding Louisville’s growing state pension obligations and relatively low fund balance, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund.

The bond sale will provide long-term funding to capital projects from the FY19 budget that had been temporarily funded with a line of credit. The competitive sale generated bids from 11 companies and resulted in a True Interest Cost (TIC) of 1.89 percent for the city.

“Louisville continues to receive external validation, from both independent rating agencies and the credit markets, that we are well-run with an expanding economy,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.  “But they also recognize that we will have very limited opportunities to invest in ourselves the way our peer cities are doing because of the growing and sustained state pension increases, unless we structurally address them through either new revenue or continued budget cuts.”

The bond proceeds will fund a variety of projects from the FY19 capital budget, including the completion of the recently opened Northeast Regional Library and the Metro Animal Services shelter. Projects also include ongoing maintenance and repair projects related to street paving, sidewalks, bridges, parks, the Zoo, Metro facilities, and public safety vehicles.

S&P again affirmed its second-highest rating of AA+ with a stable outlook for Metro Louisville.

In its report, S&P factored in Louisville’s “strong economy” and “strong management” but warned that their assessment “could be weakened in the future if we believe its budget shows signs of strain in accommodating future pension contributions.”

Moody’s again affirmed its second highest rating of Aa1 with a stable outlook for Metro Louisville.

Moody’s report cited Louisville Metro’s “sizeable and growing tax base serving as a regionally important economic hub” as a factor in assigning the Aa1 rating, but also expressed the city’s credit challenges related to “lower reserves and liquidity relative to national peers” and a “higher pension burden compared to medians for the rating category.”

The rating agencies recognized the strength of Louisville’s economy, evidenced by $14 billion of capital investment since 2014, 80,000 new jobs and 2,700 new businesses since 2011, rising wages and an unemployment rate below four percent, said Louisville Metro Chief Financial Officer Daniel Frockt.

“Mayor Fischer’s vision of an equitable and vibrant Louisville continue to garner positive results when we go to the capital markets,” Frockt said.  “We are also receiving feedback that we will need a longer-term plan to address the mounting pension obligations over the next several years.”

On Thursday, Frockt will be providing an update on the sale and credit reports to the Metro Council Budget Committee.

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