When confronted with the cold stark fact that Lexington Urban County Council 3rd District Representative Diane Lawless has the worst attendance record on council, some of her supporters just blithely assert that she has protected important programs in Lexington. They falsely suggest that she takes positions that respect those among us who are in the greatest need. Any leader has priorities.
What did Diane Lawless choose to vote against funding last year? Well, according to Lawless as quoted in the right-wing Kentucky Club for Growth, which wrote glowingly of her vote with the three other Republican council members, Lawless stated that: “while there are some good and worthwhile projects in the budget, we cannot afford them now.”
It’s good to know Lawless has priorities. Unfortunately, she and the other three Republicans on the council voted against funding for:
It is the purpose of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission to safeguard all individuals within Lexington-Fayette County from discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, familial status and sexual orientation/gender identity in connection with employment, housing and public accommodations.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission shall serve as an investigative, consultative, educational, persuasive, and enforcement agency in order to guarantee equal opportunity for all people of the City of Lexington and Fayette County.
Then there’s the Hope Center, which just tries to help by giving Lexingtonians
- Food, shelter and clothing to people who are homeless.
- Recovery for those who are addicted.
- Health services for those who are sick.
- Diagnosis and treatment for those who are mentally ill.
- Employment services for those who can work.
- Transitional housing for those who are on their way back. Permanent affordable housing for those who need it.
- Housing, child care and higher education opportunity for single parent families.
Clearly, such programs are rightfully voted down as unimportant by Lawless and three others. It’s all about priorities.
Lawless also voted against funding Moveable Feast:
Moveable Feast Lexington prepares and delivers hot, freshly cooked meals, five days a week, to people living with AIDS/HIV-related illnesses as well as individuals who are patients of Hospice of the Bluegrass.
Clients can receive nutritional counseling, and menus are modified to address specific nutritional needs. We serve Lexington/Fayette County of Kentucky.
Individuals are served without regard to race, sexual orientation, political affiliation or national origin.
Free food for AIDS patients and hospice patients? What was the rest of the council thinking?
Lawless also voted against funding Lexington’s Chrysalis House. What does Chrysalis do?
More than 34 years and counting—that’s how long Chrysalis House has been saving families one life at a time. We could not do it without the generous support of the community. Chrysalis House specializes in treating substance dependent expecting mothers, allowing them to keep their newborns and toddlers with them while in treatment.
Chrysalis House is making a difference in so many ways. Graduates are staying sober, working in jobs that support their families, earning their GEDs, living in their own homes, and giving back to their community as their lives come full circle.
And against the Blue Grass Rape Crisis Center, whose site states:
The Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center (BRCC) is made up of people with diverse backgrounds, skills, and philosophies who are united by a commitment to end sexual violence.
While striving toward the long-range mission of eliminating sexual violence, BRCC provides comprehensive services to all victims and awareness education to the entire community.
Salvation Army of Lexington, which provides homeless services, food pantries, clothing banks, rent and utility assistance, holiday assistance, emergency disaster assistance, early learning centers, boys and girls clubs, camps, and music schools.
Baby Health Service, which began as Mother’s Milk Supply in 1914 to supply formula to infants of indigent families.
There are dozens of similar programs that the three Republicans and Lawless voted against funding. It’s all about priorities. Another loser?
Community Action Council, which combats poverty by offering opportunities for low-income people to achieve self-sufficiency and providing services so that each community member and family is able to reach their full potential. The Council works to serve the low income population through advocacy, service delivery and community involvement.
Public safety? Is that a priority for Lawless? Not last year, it wasn’t. The council voted to add back 11 security officers and several public information employees, plus a police recruiting class of 25 officers. Lawless and the three Republicans voted against that funding too.
After the council voted for the above programs, their budget had the items line item vetoed. And once again, Diane Lawless voted with the three Republicans against overriding the veto, and voted against funding the above programs and dozens of similar ones.
The most eloquent summation of why it is so wrong to not fund such programs came from another council member, Kevin Stinnett, who stated: to balance the city budget on the backs of “people who need us the most” was wrong, and he could not support that action.
So if there’s just not enough money to help those people, then for Diane Lawless, what IS an appropriate use of oh, say, $100,000 of taxpayers money?
How about an investigation and legal bills for a fraud claim that Diane Lawless says she didn’t realize she made? Can’t fund infant formula for indigent mothers, or rape crisis programs, or meals for AIDS patients, but it’s always good to spend $100,000, especially when Lawless later claimed she didn’t realize she had made the fraud allegations. The Herald Leader reported that:
The Urban County Council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to halt spending on a lawsuit that blossomed from an investigation of fraud allegations made by a city employee.
One day after State Auditor Crit Luallen’s office released a report stating it found no evidence of fraud, the council voted to stop paying lawyers representing the city’s Internal Audit Board and an investigative committee of the council. The board and the committee were fighting over the council’s authority to subpoena the fraud allegations.
Meanwhile, several council members seemed shocked by the revelation in Luallen’s audit that a council member had a copy of the fraud allegations at least a month before the investigative committee was appointed.
After Councilman Jay McChord challenged his anonymous colleague to come forward, Councilwoman Diane Lawless said she had met with the state auditor and turned over a large stack of documents. However, she denied knowing the fraud allegations were among those documents.
“I didn’t know what I had,” she said. “That may sound strange, but as you know, a lot of my life is stranger than fiction.”
Asked Councilman Tom Blues, “Why take documents to the state auditor if you did not know what they were?”
Councilman Ed Lane told Lawless she could have provided the allegations to fellow council members. “It ended up we had an investigative committee, incurred legal fees and a lot of bad publicity,” he said.
Lexington deserves a council member who shows up, whose personal life isn’t stranger than fiction, whose priorities are feeding the hungry and the most desperately in need among our citizens, and not a council member who votes against funding such help while wasting $100,000 of taxpayers money on a fraudulent fraud allegation.
CORRECTION: After receiving some thoughtful input from someone who is respected, I correct myself on the use of the word “fraudulent” fraud allegation. Fraudulent is an extremely difficult intent to prove, and was not appropriate. As was pointed out, I agree that more appropriate words to describe Lawless’ actions would be a “bungled” or “screwed up” fraud allegation.