LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Spectrum News 1's Amber Smith caught up with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer this week for a one-on-one interview about several topics affecting Louisvillians.
First, Mayor Fischer was asked about the current efforts to fight the coronavirus in the city. Fischer said this is a critical time to slow the spread. He said Louisville's positivity rate had been in the low six percent, but currently, it is around 7.4 percent. To provide some perspective, the state positivity rate is lower at around five percent. By the White House's standards, five is the recommended percent to achieve before rolling back restrictions.
"You want numbers to be going down in a positivity rate. Above 10 is when uncontrolled spread takes place. It's really simple. The solution is in our hands right now. Wear a face mask. Stay socially distanced. Wash your hands," Fischer said.
He also asked people to refrain from house parties and traveling for vacations, as contact tracing shows those are frequent ways the virus spreads.
With the current state of coronavirus in Louisville, some have been wondering if upcoming events will still go on as planned. Earlier this week, Mayor Fischer was asked if the Kentucky Derby will have to adjust by running without fans. He said the next two weeks are going to be critical for any decisions about the Run for the Roses.
The Kentucky State Fair is scheduled to start just over two weeks from now on August 20. We asked Mayor Fischer if that is a concern, and if he has been in contact with event organizers.
“With the fair coming up in a couple of weeks here, if we don’t get the virus under control, numbers going down, it is obviously a concern. Any time people come together, the virus can spread," Fischer said. "That being said, State Fair organizers have severely curtailed the amount of events going on and the amount of space between events also. We will have to keep a close eye on that as the Kentucky State Fair day gets closer.”
This week, Louisville Metro Police Interim Chief Robert Schroeder and Chief of Public Safety Amy Hess were set to testify before the Metro Council Government Oversight Committee. Instead, given a recently filed civil lawsuit, they left before answering any questions about the city's handling of protests. Some council members then asked if the public would ever get answers. To that, Mayor Fischer says they will.
“I want to be very clear that all the answers will be there. The truth will come out. It needs to come out at the appropriate time with all the different legal activities going on. Some issues we're precluded to talk about because of ongoing criminal investigations. We don’t want to hamper any criminal investigations or criminal charges that could be coming. In other cases that are not involved with that, you want to give people the opportunity to meet with their legal counsel to make sure they can share appropriate information as well," Mayor Fischer said.
The lawyer representing Schroeder said he told the council committee ahead of time that, due to the lawsuit, Schroeder would not be testifying in a public manner this week. Instead, the attorneys offered that Hess and Schroeder could answer questions in a closed session. To that, Committee Chair Brent Ackerson (Dist. 26) said no, holding strong that it would be public record or there would be no discussion at all.
"Metro Council knew that as well, but they still proceeded forward with the hearing on Tuesday, but all of this activity belongs to the public in terms of the truth of actions as well. It will all come out. The truth always comes out. We look forward to being a major participant in that," Fischer said.
The council ended up voting to formally subpoena Hess and Schroeder to compel testimony. It will now be up to a judge to decide.
This quest for answers comes as months have gone by with no word on whether or not the officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death will face any criminal charges. While that decision is out of the city's control, we asked Mayor Fischer how the city is preparing for the day the investigation results are made public.
"What we are going to do is be ready for the day, no matter when it is. It’s going to be a day where I hope we define our city in a really positive way. To have justice for Breonna in the actual case itself, and then justice for Breonna in a bigger view. What does it look like for a city to have racial equity? What does it look like for a country to recognize that everybody needs to have the same opportunities, whether they are the son of a privileged family or the niece and nephew of someone who is not so privileged? That is what Justice for Breonna needs to look like. That’s what we can all be working on right now," Fischer said.
He provided examples of what the city has done to address racial equity.
“One of the things we do is we keep improving no matter what. That’s why we passed Breonna’s Law. That’s why we changed use of force policies, duty to intervene, a Civilian Review Board so citizens can be involved and understand what’s going on in these investigations from the very first day and have better balance between a citizen’s right to know and police due process. Right now, that’s out of balance. Good police officers want to see that balance as well so there is more legitimacy between policing and community trust," Fischer said.