In the wake of Insider Louisville’s report this week detailing a former Economy Inn desk clerk’s account of increasing criminal activity at the troubled motel, the caucus chairs of both parties at Metro Council indicated support for a renewed city effort to crack down on what neighbors call a public nuisance.
Councilman Steve Magre, D-10, who represents the district where the Economy Inn is located, is attempting a multi-faceted approach to shutting down the hotel, which has long had a notorious reputation for drugs and prostitution. He’s currently working to strengthen the city’s public nuisance ordinance, which the Louisville Metro Police Department says applies only to incidents at individual motel rooms and not to the owners of the entire property.
In light of the IL story this week — in which motel records and desk clerk Angel Bennett suggest Economy Inn owner Tony Yaldo knowingly allowed underage prostitution there last month — we asked Mayor Greg Fischer’s office if he has a comprehensive approach to cracking down on crime at the motel and making them comply with city laws.
“Hotels are regulated by different agencies depending on the situation (Public Health for health matters; LMPD for crime; Codes and Regs for any code issues; Louisville Fire for Fire Inspections),” replied Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter over email.
Asked if that response meant that the system is working, Poynter declined to reply.
Councilman David James, D-6, the chair of the Democratic Caucus, said he is “100 percent on board” with Magre’s effort to reform the city’s public nuisance ordinances, and that the police and health department should be given all the tools necessary to address the issues at crime-ridden hotels like the Economy Inn.
“I’m very supportive of whatever we can do as Metro Government to get this place under control,” said James. “I think we need citizens to put some pressure up front and if we need to stand out there and protest, I’ll be glad to stand out there and protest, too. The things that are going on there are absolutely ridiculous.”
Councilman Kevin Kramer, R-11, the chair of the Republican Caucus, also said he was concerned with the new revelations about the Economy Inn and commended Magre’s willingness to tackle the problem.
“I look forward to reading the proposed ordinance and hearing from LMPD to better understand the situation,” said Kramer. “I’m hopeful that the council can provide the police and other Metro agencies with the tools they need to effectively address these issues.”
Magre told Insider Louisville that he’s received positive input from the directors of various city agencies, and hopes that Bennett’s information will lead to a renewed effort to shut down the Economy Inn.
“I can only stay focused on the legislative side of it, and I’m only one of 26 votes in the end,” said Magre. “But I’m certainly working with a whole lot of people who are supportive of making this a community effort. I’ll do whatever I can to make sure we move through every facet of the problem.”
Correction: The original version of this article listed the wrong district for Councilman David James; he represents the 6th District.