Oh Snap Monday! Lexington Is Screwed, Hard!

With David Huber out as U.S. Attorney, what will become of the Robert Felner prosecution? [C-J]

Aww, Barry called Pork Rind while he was at Kroger. It’s the second time this has happened. [Heffalumps]

Where is Governor Steve Beshear’s long-term solution? Can the Commonwealth survive with quick fix after quick fix? Greg Stumbo’s slots at tracks bill isn’t going to save us. The cigarette tax isn’t going to save us (it’s Kentucky, so you know we can’t even reach a $1 with it). And David WIlliams certainly isn’t going to help. [Larry Dale Keeling]

It’s silly that the state is planning to take a loss on Jon Draud’s luxury car. Why not keep it for his successor? The Commonwealth will just end up buying a new car for that person, anyway. Maybe someone should think this decision through before actually going through with it? Goodness. [C-J]

Dozens of northern Kentucky high school students are traveling to Washington, D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration. Despite, of course, refusals to help from Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning. We hear the only person who bothered to help in gaining access to the massive event was Rep. Geoff Davis, who doesn’t even represent the district the kids are from. [Pat Crowley by way of Kentucky Women]

Mitch McConnell isn’t a conservative. He’s not the savior of the Republican Party, as many spinning members of the RPK would have you believe. He’s a pork machine and sells out to the highest bidder. [The Daily Beast]

State lawmakers are looking at $656 million in school district contingency funds to balance the budget. Meanwhile, Kentucky remains uneducated, poor and broken. It’s right up Frankfort’s alley to dumb, I guess, by spending education dollars like crazy. [Mark Hebert]

The feds have reversed an earlier decision and now will allow the Transit Authority of River City to continue providing circulator service in and around the University of Louisville. And Miller Transportation is probably back at the drawing board, trying to figure out a way to kill the public service (it loses money) TARC provides the community. [C-J]

It’s not surprising that Lexington’s failure of a mayor (Jim Newberry) is silent on the Blue Grass Airport scandal. Vice Mayor Jim Gray is spot-on to say the public expects accountability and they expect a public voice that insists on it. So much for Newberry saying we shouldn’t be meddling in airport business. We think Newberry needs to be investigated, audited, yadda yadda. What the hell is up with this guy? Really? Newberry is done. [H-L]

You’ve gotta read all about the $332,000 flushed down the toilet by the Blue Grass Airport buffoons. Ryan Alessi and Jennifer Hewlett have pieced together a disgusting timeline of the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted. Strip clubs, Wiis, sports tickets, concert tickets, meals, hundreds of dollars worth of gasoline per day. [THIS IS SICK]

Fancy State House Committee Assignments & More

Haha, so, funny story. We’re finally back at the computer and are getting work down. Here are the fancy new committee heads in the State House:

A & R, Rick Rand* (click here for the full committee list)

Ag & Small Business, Tom McKee*

Banking & Insurance, Jeff Greer

Economic Development, Ruth Ann Palumbo

Education, Carl Rollins*

Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs, Darryl Owens

Health & Welfare, Tom Burch*

Judiciary, John Tilley*

Labor & Industry, Rick Nelson*

Licensing & Occupations, Dennis Keene

Local Government, Steve Riggs*

Natural Resources & Environment, Jim Gooch

Seniors, Military Affairs & Public Protection, Tanya Pullin*

State Government, Mike Cherry*

Subcommittee on BRAC, Jeff Greer

Tourism Development & Energy, Eddie Ballard*

Transportation, Hubie Collins

* these are the ones who may have lied to Richards and/or Stumbo about their support and is only an educated guess on our part

And more along those lines, The Paducah Sun is all up on Greg Stumbo. Thanks to some fancy copyright lawbreaking, Osi has provided a lot of text for us (seriously, thanks):

The Paducah Sun/Editorial
CHANGE?
Local representatives naive about Stumbo

“I’ve known Greg for a long time, and even though some of us from western Kentucky supported Jody, (Stumbo) understands that and won’t hold a grudge.”

Fred Nesler
Representative from Mayfield

We wish we shared Mike Cherry’s optimism.

The state representative from Princeton says Greg’s Stumbo’s victory in the race for speaker of the House won’t hurt western Kentucky. Even though Stumbo’s victory now means all the House leadership hails from east of the Purchase, Rep. Cherry is confident that this end of the state will still get its “fair share.” Mm-hmm.

Of course, Cherry also predicted Stumbo’s challenge would fall short. As did Reps. Fred Nesler of Mayfield and Rep. Will Coursey of Benton. All three not only supported incumbent Jody Richards, speaker since 1995, but voiced confidence that Richards would win re-election. Handily.

Memo to the local Democratic delegation: Greg Stumbo plays to win. And he doesn’t appreciate those who stand in his way.

Nesler said, “I’ve known Greg for a long time, and even though some of us from western Kentucky supported Jody, (Stumbo) understands that and won’t hold a grudge.”

We wouldn’t bank on that. This is Greg Stumbo. He kicks you-know-what and takes names. If you don’t think he’ll remember those who opposed him, let us refresh your memory on the new king of the House.

P.S. The H-L has the full committee assignments list here.

Kentucky’s New “E-Transparency” Website is Live

The Governor’s office just announced the launch of the Commonwealth’s e-transparency program called Open Door. The site is alleged to provide citizens access to all state expenditures and other vital information about state-funded programs.

“In today’s difficult economic times, it is even more important for government to be transparent and accountable, and for citizens to feel confident that their tax dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “I’m proud of our administration’s efforts, along with the bipartisan support of all of the state’s executive branch constitutional officers, to put our checkbooks online for public view in such a comprehensive and user-friendly manner.”

Some of the features of the site include (from a press release):

  • Your Money: A section with dozens of helpful charts, graphs and descriptions that summarize state revenues, expenditures and budget priorities.
  • Cabinet/Agency Search: A search engine that provides agency-by-agency data on state expenditures.
  • Budget Basics: A tutorial that allows the average citizen to log on and find out basic information on state expenditures, revenues and how budgets are developed.
  • Budgeting for Kids: A fully interactive children’s section that offers games, cartoons and interactive lessons on budgets and government finance.
  • Vendor Income and Expense Watch (V.I.E.W.): A pioneering effort by Treasurer Todd Hollenbach that allows citizens to search all of the state’s vendor and contractor data.
  • Links, links and more links: Providing taxpayers easy access to state audits, investments, tax incentives, election finances and more.

Through the site, you’re supposed to be able to access a list of features that are coming soon, along with their estimated arrival dates. So. Check it out and praise it or complain about it.

State House Updates – The Day After

Jody Richards received a major standing ovation after now-Speaker Greg Stumbo reviewed some history of the chamber, praising Jody.

Wonder if that takes some of the sting out of losing?

Here’s the general consensus from folks we’ve spoken with today: Harry Moberly is definitely out as Budget Chair. The big rumor is that Darryl Owens could be Judiciary chair and Derrick Graham could be named Education chair.

And that’s all for today. House reconvenes tomorrow at 11:00 A.M. and the Senate will be back in session at 2:00.

Thoughts?

Oh, and Tom Burch was fined $500 by the Legislative Branch Ethics Commission. I.E., he was found guilty. Like Stephenie reminds us, Burch sent a letter to a judge on behalf of a friend– asking the judge to reconsider a decision. He won’t be appealing.

Wednesday Dept of Yesterday Was Pure Insanity

In case you missed it last night, check all the shenanigans of the House Leadership elections. [Page One]

Louisvillian and musical icon Will Oldham gets profiled in the New Yorker. Probably one of the best articles about him that we’ve ever read. [New Yorker]

Ha – Jody says he’s not the super counter he thought it was. At least he has a sense of humor. And then there’s this: When asked whether he thought Gov. Steve Beshear meddled in the race between him and Rep. Greg Stumbo, Richards declined to comment. His wife, Neva, however, stood next to him and swiftly nodded her head up and down. [Stephenie Steitzer]

So how right or wrong was Mark Hebert? [Mark Hebert]

Larry Dale has the vote totals. Stumbo 34, Richards 31; Clark 47, Jenkins 18; Stacy 33, Thompson 32; Bigoted Damron 34, Hoffman 31. We hope Kelly Flood feels great about supporting Bob Damron. We hope she’ll feel even better the next time he attempts to legislate hatred and ignorance. [Larry Dale Keeling]

Indeed, Andy, indeed. The governor is certainly flirting with disaster. [Kentucky Club for Growth]

The United States Attorney’s office says it needs more time to prepare for the case against Robert Felner. Meanwhile, Scott Cox is still babbling on about Felner’s right’s being violated when he was interrogated about squandering/stealing millions and millions of OUR tax dollars. [WLKY]

Is Harry Moberly out as budget chair? Harry got the best line of press yesterday, in reference to Greg Stumbo, “I was one of the ones who engineered the revolt that made it more open and broader,” Moberly said. “If he’s saying I’ve been against that, then he’s lying.” [Ronnie Ellis]

Greg Stumbo admits that there were fights within the caucus yesterday. [State Journal]

Don’t you love how the Associated Press refers to Martin Cothran’s hate organization as a “pro-family” group? He’s now communications director for Say No To Casinos, which means we know that it’s not really about casinos or gambling. The far right wing thinks gambling brings in the scary homosexuals who want to recruit your children! [WAVE3]

Speaking of Cock-run… Yeah, Marty, I’m here. Bend over, sweetie, and take it like a champ because you’ll need Democrats on your self-hating side if you want to stop gambling. [Self-Hater]

Oh Snap Monday! Leadership Races Go Crazy

Goodness, ladies. This week is going to get interesting. Rumors of a certain governor’s chief of staff pulling people aside to tell them they’re “for” Greg Stumbo and really need him to win. Rumors of, well, they’re not rumors– but Stumbo’s people defecting and supporting Jody Richards. The fur will surely fly tomorrow in Frankfort.

And speaking of tomorrow, Greg Stumbo’s entire crew is out trying to defend him. From former employees to his annoying wife, they’re all leaving comments on the site. You’ll probably just roll your eyes, but maybe you’ll get lucky and laugh a little bit at the absurdity of Mary Karen constantly meddling. [Clicky Clicky]

References to my personal friendship with Diane Brumback aside, here’s what she has to say about Greg letting Mary Karen spout off uncontrollably: “Mary Karen Stumbo decided to leave a most disturbing comment. I honestly read and reread her comment wondering how a person even begins to think like she does. And equally disturbing is that Greg is OK with her spouting off whether it’s on weblogs or radio talkshows. People have told me that Greg “needs to muzzle her,” and “she will be his downfall,” and “Greg can’t control her but can’t do anything to stop her.” … Geez…. Mary Karen is a smart gal. She needs to figure this out on her own and realize the damage she is doing. … There was a time when I thought so highly of Mary Karen and Greg Stumbo; that no longer holds true. I find them both to be extremely self-serving. Mary Karen attacked me with a comment she left here on KY Women in the past and I was shocked.” [Kentucky Women]

Does anyone else laugh uncontrollably when Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell come together to preach unity? Haha. We can’t even deal. Those two. Hahaha. [Politico]

Are we crazy for liking this Republican tax plan, kinda? [H-L]

It’s kind of hilarious watching Republicans sit in denial about Mitch McConnell. Can’t be objective and avoid rushing to judgment for a Democrat, but they sure can for Mitch McConnell. [KY Progress]

For all of you Robert Felner aficionados, check this fancy Felner bio that just re-hit the web. Someone at the State Education Department at the University of the State of New York must have edited this page, triggering a fresh Google alert. [NYSED]

Governor Bill Richardson won’t be Commerce Secretary. He pulled his name from nomination yesterday. [NY Times]

What on earth are the governor and his handlers thinking? They’re still trying to push this budget mess without trying to work with the House at all. No calls made, no meetings, no effort. It’s a shame, really, to think these folks still believe bullying is the best way to do business. [C-J]

Sorry, no matter how much you try, you can’t tell us it’s not silly to limit Secret Service protection for former presidents to just 10 years! We need to change this law. It’s not right. Should be a lifetime thing. [McClatchy]

Beshear: Give Pension $$ to Cities, Counties

Steve Beshear held a press conference today asking the retirement system boards to provide $37 million+ to cities, counties and school districts in the wake of major shortfalls.

The governor recommended that cities and counties be allowed to spread their required contributions over a ten-year period instead of the current five. He says it would provide $37.5 million of immediate relief in the next fiscal year.

From a press release:

“Just as the state is struggling to cope with the worst national financial crisis since the Great Depression, cities and counties are straining to provide the most basic services to their residents,” said Gov. Beshear, who was joined in today’s announcement by Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, Sylvia Lovely, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) and Bob Arnold, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo). “My proposal will provide more than $37 million of immediate relief to our local governments in a way that keeps our pension systems financially sound for years to come.”

Gov. Beshear’s recommendations are in response to the report of his bipartisan Public Pension Working Group, chaired by Finance and Administration Cabinet Sec. Jonathan Miller. Gov. Beshear said he hoped the KRS board would meet prior to the start of the upcoming legislative session to address his recommendations.

“Allowing additional time to achieve full funding of the actuarially required contribution is a critical component of our strategy to bring desperately needed financial relief to county government,” said Bob Arnold of KACo. “We look forward to working with the governor and legislative leaders to assure that the public pension system and the local governments that support that system remain financially strong.”

Other reform issues recommended today include:

  • Adopting effective securities’ litigation policies to enable the pension systems to claim millions of dollars of damages from Wall Street losses where companies have engaged in illegal or unethical practices;
  • Exploring creative health-care reforms adopted in other states to provide affordable health benefits, while ensuring the long-term financial stability of the funds;
  • Promoting the state’s existing optional defined contribution, 401(k)-style plan, the Kentucky Public Employees’ Deferred Compensation Authority, to encourage individual retirement savings;
  • Providing more oversight and transparency of pension system funds to enable the Governor and the General Assembly to ensure that the systems are properly funded; and
  • Amending enabling law to authorize the Kentucky Asset Liability Commission (ALCo) to issue pension-related bonds when funds are appropriated by the General Assembly to pay off unfunded liabilities of the pension systems. Specifically, consideration should be given to authorize the issuance of bonds, if market conditions are favorable, to repay funds to the KTRS pension fund that have been used to cover health insurance costs for KTRS members.

Mike Cherry has pre-filed legislation to provide the $37.5 million if the Kentucky Retirement Systems decide not to adopt the governor’s recommendations.