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How Will Keith Hall Lie His Way Outta This One?

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments

A coal-mining company owned by state Rep. W. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, spilled an undetermined quantity of a chemical into his constituents’ drinking water supply in Pike County earlier this month, state and local officials said Thursday. [John Cheves]

Two members of the U.S. Supreme Court indicated on Thursday night that the court will ultimately have to decide the legality of National Security Agency surveillance activities. [HuffPo]

The super PAC supporting the re-election of Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has reported raising $739,300 in the first quarter of this year in very few — mostly very large — contributions. [C-J/AKN]

Sixty years after the Supreme Court outlawed “separate but equal,” ProPublica and the Race Card Project want to know what you think about the state of race and education in America. [ProPublica]

A Kentucky State Senate candidate who sued for access to absentee voter data has a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the First Amendment, lawyers for Attorney General Jack Conway argue in a recent court filing. [WDRB]

As a candidate, he touted a proposal to curb the influence of lobbyists and donors. As a senator, he shelved that plan—and accepted contributions from influence peddlers. How Rand Paul bailed on his bold plan to reform big-money politics in Washington. [Mother Jones]

Don’t miss Comment On Kentucky tonight on KET at 8:00 P.M. It’s not so great in the post-Wellman era (Bill Bryant is maybe the least good interim host ever) but Ryan Alessi, Jack Brammer and Laura Ungar will be guests. [KET]

The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded. [The Telegraph]

Kentucky U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, said Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes probably should have spoken up earlier about her frustration with the Legislative Ethics Commission handling of a sexual harassment case. [CN|2]

Former Sen. Bob Packwood’s sexual harassment scandal has resurfaced as a campaign issue — nearly two decades later. [Roll Call]

Louisville: The city is ranked first in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2014 list of the most challenging locations to live with spring allergies. [WKYT]

Conservative activists have become less optimistic about Bevin’s chances of beating McConnell. Because the race is over and any money contributed to Bevin at this point is a waste. [The Hill]

A Campbellsville doctor is challenging the state Senate’s failure to vote on his reappointment to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission. [H-L]

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul claimed that 20 million jobs were created after President Ronald Reagan’s dramatic tax cuts in the 1980s, and that this was the “last time” such job growth took place. Paul is wrong on both counts. [HuffPo]

→ No CommentsTags: Alison Grimes · Campaign Finance · Corruption · Discrimination · Eastern Kentucky · Economy · Education · Environment · Flashback · Jobs · John Yarmuth · Journalism · Mitch McConnell · Rand Paul · Senate · Wiretapping

Steve Beshear Has Pension Egg On His Face

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments

Here we are, a day later, with the governor’s office releasing this in a statement:

Governor Steve Beshear has appointed Randy K. Stevens as a member of the board of trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, representing the Kentucky Association of Counties.

Stevens, of Bedford, is district manager for the Trimble County Water District No. 1. The appointment replaces Richard L. Tanner, who has resigned. Stevens shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term ending July 1, 2017.

Fortunately for you?

You already know the truth.

→ No CommentsTags: Corruption · Steve Beshear

KY Pension Revisionist History Efforts Continue

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments

The Arnolds are now pretending to have saved Kentucky.

Spoiler alert: they didn’t. But you already know that.

From Philanthropy Roundtable, whatever that is:

A foundation-led compromise in Kentucky

In 2012, the Arnold-Pew pension team played perhaps its most active role in catalyzing a major pension reform. Legislators in Kentucky knew they had a big problem. But while the Republican-controlled Senate wanted to go all the way to 401(k)-type plans, the Democratic House wanted to stay with traditional pensions. As a compromise, legislators created a bipartisan task force. The group received extensive advice and support from the Arnold-Pew team of experts, who advised adopting a hybrid “cash balance” approach.

State Senate majority floor leader Damon Thayer, who co-chaired the task force, credits the foundations for breaking the stalemate. “I would give them the highest recommendation,” he says. “I’m not sure we would have been successful without them.”

Bryan Sunderland of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says the Arnold-Pew experts were able to “help provide an unbiased, nonpolitical approach.” The Chamber got involved because the pension system “was drawing needed resources away. We were seeing less money invested in colleges and universities,” and schools had to delay purchasing text books.

As elsewhere, the (c)(3) research and education assistance from the Arnold Foundation was undergirded with (c)(4) investment in political advocacy from the Action Now Initiative. ANI, for instance, paid for a media campaign run by the Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky League of Cities, which cost more than $100,000.

Kentucky’s reform bill passed in its House 70-28 and in the Senate by 32-6. It was signed into law in April 2013. Its three main components are an agreement that retirees get increases only when there is money to pay for them, an increase in contributions to the fund amounting to about $100 million a year, and a new hybrid cash-balance system for all future enrollees. Employees now have a much more certain future. And “taxpayers will save $10 billion over the next 20 years,” according to Thayer.

Ah, now it’s clear. Just a Damon Thayer reach-around.

This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.

→ No CommentsTags: Corruption · Wasted Money

Meeks On Harassment & Corruption In Frankfort

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments

State Rep. Reggie Meeks just popped another cap in Frankfort:

Much of the morning of our last legislative day was used recognizing members who have decided to, eh, “pursue other options” in the public or private sectors.  Several are running for other offices.  Others returning home to loved one’s and regular jobs.  I suppose this peaceful turning over of elected office is one of the hallmarks of this system of democracy.  Peaceful transitions of power occur all too infrequently in this violence-prone, testosterone-filled space in our world of politics and power.  Indeed, there is much to be touted about this system of government.  Events over the past months, however, starkly reveal much we have to improve upon.

Witness the long-running saga of abuse and hostile working environment three (3) of our LRC staff members have been attempting to resolve.  Notice I do not say “alleged abuse” or hostility.  I was a witness to it and confronted the individual perpetuating some of these atrocities.  So, when I learned of the Ethics Commission’s decision to let him walk, I could only presume the one Commission member whose vote was the deciding vote either 1) didn’t believe me, or 2) that it didn’t matter to him what I personally witnessed and testified to.  From my perspective, an empty seat held more sway over the outcome of this matter than did my own testimony!  Where is the justice for these staff members?  Where is the virtue in this process?  The Ethics Commission may be pondering these same questions.

Any building, structure, or institution is only as strong as its foundation.  This is evident both as a matter of fact and as a matter of history.  When a foundation is touted to be something it turns out not to be; touted to do something it chooses not, or it cannot do,  reasonable people quickly find justifiable reasons not to  believe, not to trust, and certainly not to rely on that foundation.  We are at a crossroads.  Do we live up to what we claim to be our high moral and ethical standards, or are we satisfied we’ve done our job, because we went thru a process, everyone had their say, and the majority prevailed.

Oh, but the majority didn’t prevail, did it?  Of the five (5) Commission members present, four (4) found him guilty; only one (1) voted to let him walk — and so he walked.  WHAT. . .?  After their decision, it was revealed the rules call for a finding of guilt by the majority of the entire Commission.  So, with only four (4) votes against him, one (1) in his favor, three (3) not present or voting, and with one (1) vacancy–case closed?  I think not.  There are nine (9) members on the Commission.  In addition to various, very public indications of the legislature’s dissatisfaction with the actions of the Ethics Commission, House Leadership has sent a strong letter requesting a reconsideration and a reopening of this matter at the next May 8th Commission meeting, which, by the way, is open to the public. 

It bears repeating.  When a foundation is touted to be something it turns out not to be; touted to do something it chooses not, or it cannot do; reasonable people quickly find justifiable reasons not to believe, not to trust, and certainly not to rely on that foundation.  I happen to believe in and use the Ethics Commission often when I have questions, choices, and decisions of an ethical nature to be made.  I know them to be thoughtful and prudent individuals.  But they are human.  They, too, are at a crossroads.  We should all be watchful as they choose to revisit their decision in these cases, or not. 

-SNIP-

Sadly, the Restoration of Voting Rights bill and the bill providing greater protection for victims of domestic violence both failed, and the 18–yes, you heard me–the 18 Amendments on the heroine bill killed it.  As time ran out, the House floor was in a tizzy, and I think we were just happy to be getting out of there.

-SNIP-

I have also heard Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is lobbying for yet another crack at getting approval for $80M of your tax dollars to renovate CoRupp Arena, but that shot is an air ball, if ever there’s been one on that floor!

Preach.

→ No CommentsTags: Corruption · KDP · Wasted Money

Look What Greg Stumbo Got Drunk & Tweeted

April 18th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Um…


LINK DEAD – TWEET’S BEEN DELETED

Yeah.

After being called out, it appears “he” claimed he was hacked. Which we all know didn’t happen.



BOTH FROM TWITTER

Mary Karen, who is no stranger to keeping up appearances, immediately chimed in claiming he was asleep (after she sent out those tweets about being hacked?):


FROM TWITTER

That would be a great excuse. But Greg Stumbo wasn’t asleep at 8:46 P.M. He’d been communicating with a couple Democratic House members up until that point.

It’s just dumb to claim you were hacked over something like that. Particularly when that’s one of your big go-to stories you always tell — about how Mitch McConnell is a “closet case”. Like when you’re in the front passenger seat of the Suburban on the campaign trail, with an open can of beer (“it’s only a little illegal”) as you tell stories about how cowardly you think Bruce Lunsford is for not wanting to hit Steve Beshear with the attack ads you filmed (and we later leaked).

Whatever’s clever. Whatever excuse you can come up with. Maybe you can continue sending out your teenage daughter to defend you every time you’re rightfully criticized. Because that seems to work really well.

P.S. Maybe check yourselves when your daughter is around recording videos for Instagram? Particularly when trash-talking local elected officials? That’d be a good starting point for damage control because people won’t be able to save them to hang over your head at a later date.

UPDATE: Aaaand, of course, the great Stumbo parenting is on full display. Using their 14-year-old daughter to troll and engage every single person who mentions her father.

ANOTHER UPDATE — Here’s another reason it’s silly to believe Stumbo’s excuse:

A prominent Democrat questioned Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s military service — specifically his discharge from the Army Reserve — as McConnell launched his latest commercial Tuesday criticizing veterans’ health clinics with ties to his Democratic opponent.

Democratic state Rep. Greg Stumbo, the former Kentucky attorney general, called on McConnell to release his military discharge records.

“Elections should be about informed choices. He’s obviously not proud of his record, Sen. McConnell isn’t, or he would have shown it by now,” Stumbo said. “Something isn’t correct about it that might cause a lot of people, including veterans, to take a second look at him.”

-SNIP-But Stumbo — Lunsford’s running mate in the 2007 governor’s race — said Lunsford should use it as a campaign issue. Lunsford joined the National Guard and after a year transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve, where he served five years.

McConnell has brought the scrutiny upon himself, Stumbo said.

“I’ll tell you how sorry he is, he’s sending young men and women to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he will not share with the people of Kentucky how he got out of military service — how in the height of the Vietnam War he was able to dodge military service,” Stumbo said Tuesday before an event for Lunsford in Paris.

Stumbo said he doubted that McConnell was discharged for medical reasons.

Again, Stumbo spent much of the 2006-2007 gubernatorial campaign complaining about McConnell.

→ 1 CommentTags: Greg Stumbo · Humor · Mitch McConnell · Spotted

Your Weekly Transportation Lady Video Update

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments

This week the Transportation Lady is excited about the Milton-Madison bridge:




→ No CommentsTags: Spotted

Democratic Harassment Scandal Just Won’t Quit

April 18th, 2014 · 2 Comments

The troubled Fleming County school district likely won’t have money to properly fund its high school because it hasn’t followed Kentucky Department of Education recommendations, Commissioner Terry Holliday said in a sharply worded letter. This is a couple days old but needs to be shared again. [H-L]

As anyone who’s ever paid a health insurance premium or a hospital bill knows, medical care is expensive. What Americans may not know is that residents of other countries don’t pay nearly as much for the same things. [HuffPo]

The University of Louisville’s athletic department announced Thursday a lucrative, five-year extension to its contract with adidas that ranks the Cardinals’ apparel deal in the top five nationally. Companies and coaches get wealthy while the kids doing all the actual work get nothing. [C-J/AKN]

Tuesday wasn’t just the deadline to file your taxes. It was also the deadline for congressional candidates to file their fundraising totals from the first three months of 2014 with the Federal Election Commission. [WaPo]

House Democrats took to the floor Monday to repeatedly express their “outrage” at the Legislative Ethics Commission’s decision not to punish former state Rep. John Arnold on charges of sexual harassment and to praise the “moral courage” of the three women who came forward with the allegations, according to the Associated Press. [Messenger-Inquirer]

Don’t ask Sen. Rand Paul why he’s supporting Mitch McConnell for reelection. He doesn’t want to talk about it. At least publicly. [TPM & Glasgow Daily Times]

Candidate for sheriff finds his stolen political signs in a meth lab. An Elkton man was arrested on multiple charges Wednesday after deputies found a methamphetamine lab in his garage. [Kentucky New Era]

For decades astronomers have been searching for a world like our own outside the solar system that could host alien life. And now astronomers have announced that they have found one – a planet 1.1 times the size of Earth orbiting a star just 490 light years away. [Daily Mail]

The latest appointment to the Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees by Steve Beshear is unsettling, to say the least. [Page One]

President Barack Obama delivered a vigorous defense of his signature healthcare law on Thursday, saying private insurance enrollment under it has reached 8 million people and faulting Republicans for failing to agree with him that “this thing is working.” [Reuters]

State Rep. Keith Hall’s girlfriend filed a financial disclosure statement with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission Tuesday, though a key official said she was not required to do so. [State Journal]

With Congressional pressure and media scrutiny intensifying, the defense secretary came out with a bold plan to fix the Pentagon’s struggling mission to recover remains of missing service members: reorganize the effort into a new agency. [ProPublica]

Ten candidates in the May primary for Lexington Urban County Council at-large seats told residents at a candidate forum Wednesday night that more should be done to help the homeless and to ensure that low-wage workers can afford housing in Fayette County. [H-L]

Federal investigators have uncovered evidence that Sallie Mae cheated active-duty soldiers on federal student loans, according to people familiar with the matter. [HuffPo]

→ 2 CommentsTags: Barack Obama · College Sports · Corruption · Education · Health Care · KDP · Military · Mitch McConnell · Rand Paul · Senate · UofL · Wasted Money

Last We Checked, KDP Was Silent On Harassment

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he has a history of handling sexual harassment cases the right way, and Frankfort Democrats are “scrambling to try to belatedly get it right.” [Sam Youngman]

In 1942, still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government ordered thousands of Japanese Americans to leave their homes behind and take up residence in remote detainment camps. [HuffPo]

A deal to finance the $310 million renovation of Rupp Arena died in part because of a perception among senators that the University of Kentucky was lukewarm toward the project, two senators said. [C-J/AKN]

If you bought health coverage through one of the online insurance marketplaces, you might have a tough time determining whether your plan covers abortion services. [NPR]

A more than $47 million expansion project to the Hazard ARH Hospital will begin opening its doors this week. [Hazard Herald]

Liberals like to imagine a political future in which increasing ethnic diversity will inexorably shift the partisan balance in America from Republicans to Democrats. But demography is not destiny, and the political implications of increasing diversity cannot be inferred simply from projected demographic shifts. [WaPo]

Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive. [Ashland Independent]

A star player accused and a flawed rape investigation. [NY Times]

This sounds like a supreme waste of taxpayer dollars. Kentucky’s Office of Highway Safety will be the title sponsor for Kentucky Speedway’s June 27 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. [WLKY]

Deportations through U.S. immigration courts have fallen 43 percent in the past five years as the federal government brought fewer cases before those courts, according to Justice Department data. [Reuters]

The General Assembly passed the few remaining mandatory bills left standing before adjourning Tuesday, but inaction on legislation targeting the state’s growing heroin problem may draw lawmakers back to Frankfort. [State Journal]

US banking giants Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have reported contrasting results for the first quarter of the year. [BBC]

Sazerac, which owns Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown and The Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro, announced on Wednesday $71 million in expansions at the three distilleries to meet growing demand for Kentucky bourbon and other spirits. [H-L]

Segregation now. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened. [ProPublica]

→ No CommentsTags: College Sports · Corruption · Discrimination · Eastern Kentucky · Flashback · Health Care · Immigration · Investigation · KDP · Kentucky Business · Mitch McConnell · Wasted Money

Bevin Teabaggers Still Delusional On Cockfighting

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Just how delusional are the Matt Bevin teabaggers?

Get a load of this:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

Embry is the guy who signed filing papers for cockfighting defender Craig Davis but was ineligible to do so. And he’s one of Bevin’s biggest supporters.

That’s how Bevin’s campaign is handling the cockfighting mess.

→ No CommentsTags: Embarrassing · Senate · Spotted

Musical Chairs At Kentucky Retirement Systems

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

The game at KRS continues.

Randy O is out.

Tommy Elliott is once again chair.

Dan Bauer vice-chair.

Elliott was a unanimous vote, Bauer was 6-5 along appointee/elected lines.

The CERS vacancy was filled by William Summers.

→ No CommentsTags: Corruption · Wasted Money