Tom Austin, MSD board vice chair
Tom Austin, who resigned today from his position as the MSD board’s vice chair

After a week of criticism from MSD’s former board chairman, local labor unions and state Rep. Larry Clark, MSD vice chair Tom Austin submitted his letter of resignation to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today.

“I received a letter of resignation today from Tom Austin,” read Mayor Fischer’s statement. “I appreciate his role in helping MSD and its Board respond to the state audit, implement reforms and move towards the One Water model of greater efficiency and accountability, and also his decision to step aside for the greater good of MSD and the entire community. We will be moving quickly to fill the vacancies on the MSD Board.”

Austin faced criticism after former MSD board chairman James Craig accused Austin of deliberately derailing contract negotiations due to “anti-union” bias, as well as calling MSD workers “animals” and “union terrorists.” LIUNA Local 576 — which was stripped of their recognition as the collective bargaining unit for 150 MSD workers by the MSD board last week — and state Rep. Larry Clark subsequently called for Fischer to demand the resignation of Austin, whom the mayor appointed to the board. A group of union members and activists protested the actions of Austin and the MSD board this morning, blocking trucks at the MSD Central Maintenance Facility and calling for Austin to resign. Additionally, LIUNA began airing a new ad today that criticized Austin and encouraged people to call Mayor Fischer.

Fischer’s spokesman declined to answer a question asking if the mayor requested Austin’s resignation, or if it was unsolicited.

***** UPDATE 3:52 p.m. *****

In a statement to Insider Louisville, James Craig says he is proud of what the MSD board accomplished during his tenure, and has been informed that Austin agreed to drop both of his ethics complaints filed last week against Craig and current MSD board member Lonnie Calvert.

“It is time to move forward and pursue what is best for MSD, including its employees, and what is best for this community,” says Craig.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]